Posts Tagged ‘Oda Eiichiro’

One Piece 606

December 8, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

It’s reassuring to see that, for as intelligent as he is and for how much he’s grown, Chopper still has enough moments of overpowering naivete as to make him resemble the sheltered little reindeer-boy we met so long ago. How he finds it acceptable to attempt to interact with a deep sea creature is beyond guessing.

Unlike Nami, Brook actually functions fairly well as our science correspondent, given his tendency to use brief snippets of correct information only as passing remarks en route to talking about himself being a skeleton. It’s a silly little throwaway joke, but this type of information conveyance is much more effective than Nami’s barrage of facts.

Just when it seems Caribou has the chance to make a stand and come off as a decent (if still minor) villain, his internal monologue reveals his desire to sneak into the girls’ room. With that, any shred of credibility he had left has gone. Frankly, though, I don’t find that much of a disappointment. Even if he does turn out to have Logia abilities, his current personality isn’t suited towards making him even a mid-card villain.

Of course, Caribou himself is still under the impression that he is menacing, and while his thoughts turn to more nefarious acts, Franky’s slow approach and subsequent containment of the barrel housing Caribou is a great comedic foil to the would-be antagonist. Interestingly, while not directly addressing the issue, this series of panels serves as the best evidence to date that Caribou is a Logia. The way he has manipulated his fairly large frame into a barrel would likely be impossible without the ability to restructure his body. If this does turn out to be true, then the nonchalant attitude shown by the crew towards Caribou is a strong indication of just how far and how powerful the Straw Hats have grown. Previously, only Luffy had managed to defeat Logia users, and even then, victory in each instance required some kind of natural counter. Franky’s assessment of the situation might be correct, in that Caribou hindered his own plan by being an idiot, but the mere fact that Franky (who is by no means at the top of the Straw Hat hierarchy) was able to so calmly analyze the situation and deal with it quickly is representative of major evolution in the strength of the crew.

… and naturally, this serious analysis of battle savvy and character progression is immediately followed by Morse Code nipples.

Can't wait until he greets an approaching ship like this

Despite the apparent mastery of undersea biology and general science demonstrated by the crew in the last few chapters, they somehow manage to fall into an incredibly obvious trap set by a huge angler fish. It’s hard for anything underwater to be cliché, given that it’s not the most common of settings, but this comes pretty close, and as such is difficult to reconcile with the recent National Geographic-like dialogue.

The acorn-headed Umibouzu is a unique find that truly helps to set the tone of just how grand this adventure is. Beyond the folklore charm, an Umibouzu would seem to be a major enough creature for its existence to be accepted knowledge throughout the world. However, only Usopp (and perhaps the silent Robin) is able to identify the creature, indicating not only fear but also surprise, which reaffirms the sense that the voyage to Fishman Island is perilous and rarely attempted. These aren’t exactly “uncharted waters,” but they’re unknown enough to instill appropriate feelings of discovery and wonderment to the crew, and by proxy, the audience.

On the other hand, the Flying Dutchman isn’t particularly impressive or exciting. It’s odd to say such a thing about a ghost ship, but Brook and Thriller Bark have given One Piece all the undead flavor it needs for years to come. Any more introductions of ghouls, zombies, or the like will only lessen the major impact of Brook’s role.

Ho hum, a legendary ghost ship

I don’t have any particularly colorful language with which to describe the intervention of the Kraken. A gigantic squid-beast delivered a right straight punch to a mythical sea-person. That’s colorful enough.

Quite unsurprisingly, Luffy delivered on his intent to tame the Kraken, and he even had the decency to do it off-screen, so the audience can later learn about Luffy’s new abilities in a more serious scenario. Vows of revenge, reunion reactions, and imminent eruption round out the chapter.

Final Flash: Some truly interesting setting establishment is somewhat hindered by a lack of a real driving force behind the plot. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable adventure.

One Piece 605

December 1, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Apparently Usopp has been away from Luffy too long, because a question like “Are you nuts?!” is rather unnecessary when directed at Luffy. The answer is pretty obvious.

Caribou is pretty much cementing himself as a minor character with lines of internal monologue that convey his bewilderment at the actions of the Straw Hat crew. He’s obviously in way over his head.

Wonderful deadpan comedy

Barefoot Coating is an interesting idea, and a nice contribution from Caribou, but this scenario is highly reminiscent of the early stages of the Jaya (and subsequent Skypiea) arc, when the same Monster Trio traveled underwater in individual “suits.” The material of the protective outfit may be different, but the setup is largely the same.

The conversation between Usopp and Caribou is unusual. Usopp clearly understands Caribou’s message, but Caribou’s dialogue is inside of a thought bubble, not a speech bubble. Is this intended to indicate hushed whispers from Caribou, or does Usopp have the innate ability to understand another liar?

I’m still not sold on the character’s altered design, but Franky Rocket Launcher is a pretty useful move. The Straw Hats were fairly limited in their long-range options, with only Usopp providing consistent quality from a distance. Franky seems to have evolved into a more complete fighter.

Chopper’s use of the Rumble Ball reveals another improved version of his original forms, this time showing off his huge Guard Point self. There’s no telling whether part of Chopper’s timeskip improvements will include new forms, but I’m satisfied with tweaked versions of what he already had.

Meanwhile, Robin demonstrates a little of her improvement, with Manos Gigantes. This isn’t unimpressive, and it certainly has potential for dealing with giants or large-human opponents, but it’s not the most creative addition to her arsenal. I often wonder if Oda ever feels written into a corner with Robin’s ability, given how easily it can be overpowered; as a result, she often feels deliberately underpowered, as though Oda is actively preventing her from being too strong compared to the rest of the crew. I’m not saying I’d like to see Robin evolve too much, as some potential uses of her power would be far too strong (entire cloned bodies, a mecha-like giant version of herself, etc.), but it’s difficult to see her use her powers without thinking that Oda is treading a fine line.

Better than Manos: the Hands of Fate... which says very little

Luffy’s Gear Third is at least familiar, though the Color of Armaments Hardening is going to take time to get used to, and Zoro once again displays his propensity (and talent) for cutting things, but the real shining star of this sequence is Sanji, whose Blue Walk grants him incredible speed despite being underwater. I hope to see his newfound speed more clearly defined in his next fight.

That clothed shark will certainly carry some significance, and is another candidate to serve as guide to Fishman Island, but there simply isn’t enough evidence to properly theorize about that yet.

The large panel illustrating the Deep Sea is stunning, and it marks the first time that this young arc has felt like a true One Piece adventure. With 3,000 still left to go, I’m finally suitably excited about the environment and setting of this trip.

Speaking of excited

Final Flash: As expected, the Kraken was a good way for the crew to demonstrate some new abilities without investing serious time into establishing even a minor villain. Good chapter.

One Piece 604

November 14, 2010 4 comments
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Lackluster Jump cover, but the chapter cover page more than makes up for it.

Brook mistaking a whale for Laboon is funny enough, but Luffy correcting him by claiming it’s Whitebeard is even funnier.

Any worries over Caribou attacking pretty quickly are being assuaged by the appearance and reaction of Mohmoo. These circumstances are funny, and I appreciate that we aren’t diving into a serious battle right away, but reintroducing Hatchan might have been enough of a nod back to Arlong Park. That said, this the precursor to Fishman Island, after all, so I can’t criticize it for simply being a forced attempt at nostalgia.

It would be uncharacteristic of the Straw Hats to simply throw Caribou into the ocean, but I’m a bit disappointed they didn’t. Caribou isn’t a particularly interesting character so far.

Usopp serving as the crew’s lie-detector would be an amusing touch.

Trust him, he's a professional

Sanji kicking Caribou for ogling Nami leads to a comedy scene, but the kick itself should not be ignored. The fact that Sanji was able to make contact with a character who has claimed to be a Logia user means either that Sanji has developed Haki more than was perhaps expected of him at this point, or that Caribou was being deliberately vague, and he isn’t a Logia at all.

What is this, Bill Nye the Science Guy? I’m supposed to be reading about a glorious adventure into an amazing undersea world. Stop scientifically explaining away every last detail of the mysticism.

Magic everywhere in this bitch

At least all of Nami’s intelligent dialogue led to a great group punchline. Luffy judging things as “mysterious” truly never gets old, and he finally has company.

Caribou giving a warning to the Straw Hats to turn back makes me think that he may end up serving as a “guide” type of character instead of an antagonist. I could easily see him being frightened by a display of strength from Luffy, realizing he has no chance, and instead offering some guidance and advice to help push the Straw Hats forward into new territory, both figuratively and literally.

Ignoring unfunny catchphrases and jokes, the use of a Kraken here is actually a positive choice. It’s too early for the crew to get involved in a major battle against a particular antagonist, but a limited demonstration of their newfound strength against a neutral creature is a perfectly acceptable way to show a little action without requiring a major investment of time or future consequences. This also lends some credence to my thoughts regarding Caribou, as taming the Kraken would seem to be more than sufficient proof that he is outmatched.

Final Flash: The Caribou stuff is acceptable but not hugely engaging, and the explanation of climate and currents was too lengthy, but the Kraken seems like it will provide the first genuinely interesting plot element since the timeskip.

One Piece 603

November 4, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

We’re off to Fishma– wait, still Sabaody? This whole chapter should be exploration and wonderment.

Granted, Caribou secretly being a Logia user and wanting to infiltrate the Straw Hat crew and destroy them from the inside is pretty interesting. Still, his passive introduction and grotesque character design make him look distinctly like a “stepping stone” villain, someone whose only purpose is to be a punching bag for our protagonists. If he was going to matter even this much, I wish Oda would have given him a more distinct look.

One page of Sentoumaru explaining how strong the Straw Hats are now is one page too many. Let’s get on with the adventure, please.

Rayleigh’s brief flashback reveals a pretty major piece of information: Luffy’s straw hat was originally Roger’s. On one hand, this is a nice little tie-in meant to make Luffy feel even more important and destined for greatness than he already did. On the other hand, I don’t want any Luffy/Roger similarities becoming reminiscent of the endless string of Vongola Primo tripe in Reborn. Compare your protagonist too often to a famed character in the past, and nothing your protagonist does will create any sense of achievement.

It took until the seventh page to focus on the Thousand Sunny. That’s not a good start.

Gorgeous art showcases the undersea world surrounding the ship, though apparently all this natural beauty isn’t as great the second time around.

Still the highlight of crew interaction

Sanji couldn’t even handle Nami moving? This new reaction to women is hilarious for now, but it could become stale over time. This character trait will need to evolve; hopefully, this scenario will mesh with the need for Sanji to resolve the question marks surrounding him since back in Enies Lobby, where his vehement refusal to kick a woman seemed to allude to some backstory waiting to be told.

Franky playing with his own retractable hair is pretty amusing.

Fun confirmed-robo

Silliness aside, Franky also has some pretty amazing information to reveal. Aside from Hachi, Duval, and the Flying Fish Rider, Sunny-go was ultimately protected by Bartholomew Kuma. Franky’s ensuing explanation cements what has been made pretty obvious already: That Kuma was secretly helping the Straw Hats escape. That confirmation is appreciated, but the highlight here is learning more specifics of Kuma’s modification, particularly his agreement with Dr. Vegapunk. The slow trickle of meaningful Kuma moments has not only helped solidify him as a good character, but it has now also provided impetus for the rest of the Straw Hat crew (besides Robin) to eventually meet with the Revolutionary Army.

Franky, staring into the future

We have yet to make it to Fishman Island, and Caribou and Coribou have caught up to the crew. This still feels a little early for the crew to engage in a major fight, and it would also be awkward for the crew to demolish someone in the middle of the ocean, so I hope that either a friendly acquaintance from Fishman Island (Jinbei? Caimie?) personally or indirectly interferes, or that Franky has a new ship modification to get them down to their destination in a hurry.

Final Flash: An unexpected choice of plot direction in Caribou does little to detract from an enjoyable chapter with some important revelations and some overdue adventuring.

One Piece 602

October 28, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

A title like “Rudder Straight Down” must mean we’re finally off to Fishman Island, right? … right?!

I’m immensely appreciative of Oda keeping the flashback of Luffy training under Rayleigh to two small panels. It appropriately conveys the feeling of gratitude without ruining any pacing.

Perona looks lovely after her timeskip redesign, but you didn’t need me to tell you that; Sanji made that quite evident.

This is the face of addiction withdrawal

Brook has finally arrived aboard Sunny-go. While his interaction with Nami was funny, it doesn’t make up for how much focus he’s received, and how long it’s taken for him to get here. Of all the crew members who could have been justified becoming famous and being hinted as being bigger than the crew, Brook is dead last.

Finally. For the first time since chapter 512, released September 1, 2008, the entire crew is together. Despite some truly excellent storytelling throughout the War arc, it’s been an agonizing wait. I still don’t feel like the weight has been fully lifted, because of some of the outlandish crew redesigns, but complaints aside, seeing everyone reunited is a major relief.

A moment literally years in the making

Of course, they’re not back together for an entire minute without Luffy being awestruck by Franky’s redesign, or without Sanji spilling his body weight in blood from his nose at the sight of the ladies. This kind of crew interaction has been long overdue.

The Straw Hats are getting quite a lot of help in escaping from Sabaody Archipelago. That’s actually a positive; it removes the need for them to fight their way out and reveal all (or any) of their interesting new abilities. Also, it provides an interesting look at these mentor characters outside of their previous surroundings, and creates the opportunity for crew members to react to each others’ helpers.

Of course.

I sincerely hope we’re treated to some cover stories chronicling the whereabouts of these mentor characters. Many of them are too interesting to cast aside for good after this arc.

After a satisfying explanation of Sunny’s bubble coating and how the ship will sail using undersea currents, we’re off to Fishman Island. If waiting for the crew to reunite felt like a long time, waiting for Fishman Island has been an eternity; it was first mentioned in chapter 69, way back in 1999.

Final Flash: Another setup chapter for the next arc, but a completely acceptable one, given the amount of interesting events in it. After years of waiting, we are finally at this incredible moment. Everyone ready for next week?

One Piece 601

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

It’s so odd to see so much focus on Brook during all of this. Yes, he’s in a very prominent position right now, as an apparently world-renowned musician, but he’s definitely one of the less relevant crew members. Seeing full-page shots of him when we’ve seen so little of everyone else is frustrating.

Sanji talking down to Zoro is absolutely hilarious. To me, even including all the crew changes and serious plot set in motion, this is the standout moment of the last four chapters.

Unsurprisingly, fake Luffy’s makeshift crew fails to even follow the first order he dictates. The “big picture” question is, though: Do we have another confirmed death?

That looks pretty serious

The Pacifistas turning up so promptly after hearing of Luffy’s arrival is an effective reminder of the notoriety of the Straw Hat Crew. It’s also a useful way to disperse this crowd full of one-note pirates without Luffy having to show off.

Doughty, no! Who's going to bust up a Starbucks now?!

I’m glad Oda didn’t neglect to give us a name and appropriately pathetic bounty for our Luffy impersonator.

Finally, the cloak comes off and the world sees Luffy again. The scar is going to take some time to get used to, but his pose is distinctly indicative of his familiar personality.

There’s the first major sign of concern, and it mimics the worries I’ve announced on Beamcast almost verbatim: Luffy coolly dodging an attack and dryly calling it “Slow.” That may be befitting of a powered-up shonen hero, but it’s for that exact reason that it isn’t suitable for Luffy. Luffy may not be the antithesis of a shonen hero, but he’s been shown to eschew enough stereotypes to set him apart from other protagonists. To have him so composed in the face of attacks is a betrayal of the lovable hero that has been so well crafted in the entire first half of the series.

Please don't become a trend

Fortunately, right after putting away the Pacifista, Luffy does return to his smiling self upon seeing Zoro and Sanji, who combine to take out a Pacifista themselves. Interestingly, Luffy is shown using Gear Second and Jet Pistol to defeat the Pacifista, and the trailing smoke behind Sanji’s leg (as well as the end of Sanji’s leg itself) seems to indicate he’s using Diable Jambe. Zoro, however, is not seen using his Enies Lobby power-up (Asura). Could it be that compared to where each of them were pre-timeskip, Zoro has made the most progress?

In any case, I have mixed feelings on all this. I don’t want the crew to be so strong as to make any challenges they face in the New World seem convoluted or overly situational. On the other hand, I can’t overlook the feeling as a fan of pure enjoyment upon seeing these “good guys” who I love so much stomping all over the “bad guys.” Also, if the “monster trio” hadn’t been able to dispose of a Pacifista with such little effort, I’d have to question exactly what the timeskip was for. Overall, then, I’m more pleased than disappointed, but I’d prefer more creative developments than a generic display of strength.

Luffy’s parting exchange with Rayleigh rounds out the chapter in a manner appropriate to the title of this chapter.

Final Flash: Still no full crew reunion, but at least this time there was some action that deserved the focus.

One Piece 600

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

It seems Oda’s cover page commission wasn’t a one-off. One for each crew member, perhaps?

Chopper didn’t look any different in Brain Point, but his face definitely does in Walk Point. Whether that is an active change in character design or simply a subtle change in art style is difficult to determine, though. Reading on a couple more pages reveals that Chopper is also much larger than before. If he has grown this notably in Walk Point, I have to wonder what he looks like in all forms now.

Thankfully, Usopp and Chopper are still on the same comedy wavelength. This interaction has been sorely missed.

How badly do you want to see Usopp's signature?

Speaking of characters falling back into their preferred interaction, the argument between Zoro and Sanji is hilarious.

Poor Number Sev-- er, Sanji

The collection of pirates waiting to join Fake Luffy’s crew is impressive in terms of individual bounty values, but their character designs are all a little too “generic evil,” which in One Piece usually translates to a warped face and a scowl. It isn’t worth wasting too much time intricately crafting throwaway pirates, but at least one of them looking a tad less bizarre would have helped variety in this scene.

Stole the Rinnegan during the timeskip

Luffy is still dumb! He may not be as overtly stupid as before (which could be a result of him trying to keep a low profile), but he’s definitely still oblivious if he believes that those are the real Zoro and Sanji.

So much for the .0000000001% chance of Brook leaving the crew. Also, I stand by my dislike of the excessive glamorizing of his character by focusing entirely on his comedy elements, but they did set up the opportunity for Brook to announce to the world that Luffy is alive, which is a powerful moment.

Similarly, I still have a negative opinion of Franky’s redesign, but I also still respect Oda’s inventiveness. Franky’s hand-within-a-hand is clever, his robot speech is amusing, and while I wish it was always there, I’m at least somewhat relieved that his hair can regrow instantly.

Push three seconds for personality

The crew’s reactions upon hearing of Luffy’s imminent arrival are exciting, and Rayleigh’s speech builds tension nicely heading into the new arc, but all thoughts of chapter 600 being the milestone reunion chapter were wrong.

Final Flash: The pieces are falling into place, and the comedy elements really helped this chapter stand above the previous two, but ultimately this was yet another setup chapter, and we still have at least one week to wait until the highly anticipated full reunion.

One Piece 599

October 6, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Oda takes cover page requests now? People of the internet, this must be used for the greater good.

This flashback involving Hancock really seems like the last time we’ll see her for a long while. If that is indeed the case, her last appearance aptly showcases her blind love and her hilarious misunderstandings. She may not have fit in with the crew, but she was a tremendously enjoyable arc character.

Cover story, please

I’m inclined to believe that the claim of a 400 million Beli bounty is just as fake as this would-be Luffy is. We’ve seen no hint of such a number anywhere, let alone confirmation. Furthermore, a 100 million Beli increase seems incredibly low for everything that has taken place since Enies Lobby. It could be true, but I’d be disappointed if it was.

Luffy’s small demonstration of his Haki is an acceptable amount of suave, but it mustn’t go too much further than this. It was the fact that Luffy has been so lovable and carefree in most of his adventures that made the times when he got serious so impactful. If Luffy is now always calm and collected, there won’t be an appropriate sense of importance when the plot moves towards a climactic revelation or fight.

New Franky is… bad. Honestly, I like the idea of one of the crew members being huge compared to the others, especially considering the giants and “large humans” we’ve seen in other crews in the series, but these new modifications are far too outlandish, even for Franky. At this rate, he might as well just turn himself into the Strawhats’ ship.

… actually, that isn’t a terrible idea. Franky is too weird for the crew, and yet his position is a vital one. Turn him into the ship, and he remains integral, but he won’t take focus away from the rest of the crew.

Where is your hair?!

The conversation between Robin and Franky about Brook brings up another interesting potential twist, and one that I would support: Brook should leave the crew. I like his personality, I like his humor, and his backstory is acceptable (if not great). However, unlike the rest of the crew, his dream is already directly attainable. If he is already so successful as to be able to hold a world tour, there’s no reason he couldn’t travel to Laboon right now. Seriously speaking, I don’t believe Brook leaving is even a possibility, considering the emphasis the series places on unity (and being “nakama”) and just how long we’ve waited to get a musician, but I miss the 5- and 7-person crews we had earlier in the series. Perhaps this long-winded idea only serves to reaffirm that Brook being a famous rock star was a bad writing choice, because of how it crosses over with Brook’s primary objective.

In stark contrast to the last paragraph: Chopper is still adorable. That is all.

The Marines are inept enough to focus all their resources on the fake Straw Hats. This could be seen as a necessity for the real crew to escape quickly, but given how strong everyone must be now, I’m sure they could still escape even with the Marines right on them. Demeaning the Marines like this is rather unnecessary.

Zoro’s reintroduction is the most satisfying moment of the last two chapters. He hasn’t lost his terrible sense of direction, he’s incredibly powerful, he made a dramatic statement, he provided a funny scene, and he has a seemingly specific and important new quirk: a scar over his left eye, contrary to the color spread in the last chapter, when it was on his right. This is an admitted mistake from Oda, who has since said that it is intended to be over Zoro’s left eye (and will continue to be, going forward). I’m tremendously curious as to how something as seemingly innocuous as which eye is scarred matters enough to make a public admission of error.

Even setup chapters can't contain how badass Zoro is

Final Flash: Still no reunion. As a setup chapter, this one is perhaps more enjoyable than the last, if only because we’re this much closer to finally moving on with the plot. This chapter also provided more interesting material for theorizing. Overall, though, it seems quite obvious that Oda has deliberately set up chapter 600 as an important milestone.

One Piece 598

September 30, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

It’s been too long, old friend.

Excellent Jump cover. Right away, we get to see one of the character redesigns, in the form of a huge scar on Luffy’s chest.

Beautiful color selections (as always) in the opening color pages. Particularly amusing is Luffy’s dismissal of Hancock’s marriage plans, and particularly notable is that Luffy mastered everything Rayleigh had to offer in half a year less time than needed.

The color cover page reveals all the redesigns, so let’s go over them:

Luffy: Aside from the scar, not much has changed. We can’t see if he still has the tattoo.
Zoro: I hope he’s closing his eye to accentuate the scar; one one-eyed character is enough in the crew. The slightly longer hair is a nice touch.
Nami: Long hair will take a while to get used to, honestly. It looks good, but short hair represented her character better. Perhaps she has matured.
Usopp: He’s thin again, and his hair is longer. Nothing unexpected.
Sanji: His hair is covering the other eye?! That’s priceless. I could live without the facial hair, though.
Chopper: Still adorable.
Robin: Her facial features are more defined, giving her even more striking looks compared to other One Piece women. Good choice.
Franky: … he’s huge. Where’s the hair?
Brook: 2 years turned him into a glam rocker, apparently. I’d say that’s weird, but it’s a talking skeleton with an afro. This is par for the course.

Of all the Supernovas, the narration specifically mentions Kid and Drake. Kid is understandable, but Drake wasn’t in focus nearly as much as Law. Whether or not it’s a deliberate hint, I think this is a further sign that Drake bears some serious importance to future plot.

Brook becoming a world-renowned rock star is a bit much. By design, Brook is more comic relief than serious crew member, but any extent to which his place in the crew (and in the series) has been legitimized is entirely because of his serious plot (Laboon). Pandering too much to his comic side makes him feel more out of place in the crew than ever.

I do want a Sharkuitar, though

So much for Sanji having a scar or facial deformity or any kind of unique feature on his left eye. Oda’s nonchalance in switching Sanji’s hair parting is the perfect kind of character redesign. Also, I’m glad Sanji’s taste for women hasn’t changed.

The new Fleet Admiral is already shaking things up, by switching the locations of G1 and Marine HQ. I wonder about the explanation, though; if the emphasis of moving the HQ was to put it closer to the Yonkou, that could have been done anytime. To our knowledge, there hasn’t been any plot point involving the Yonkou that would have triggered this move. Perhaps the barkeep is an unreliable narrator, and the move relates more to the pirates from the first half of the Grand Line. This could even be a reaction to Luffy’s actions at Marineford.

Please tell me the fake Straw Hat Pirates are in line for a cover story.

Not that she’s in any trouble here, obviously, but thinking back to Jaya, Nami has bad luck in bars.

Usopp’s brief demonstration of his Pop Greens is exciting. His fights have so much more potential for variety now. Meanwhile, his claim that he’s grown stronger and more confident is worrying. This could just be a lie, or it could be false bravado in the face of a weak opponent, but if Usopp really is brave, that would mean that the single most important change in his life happened off-screen, and that would be unacceptable.

Interesting "confirmation" there

Zoro was first to return? He better have had some help getting there. I don’t think I can accept Zoro having a sense of direction.

Not enough time to learn to wink?

Robin wouldn’t really feel right without someone chasing after her, would she?

Like Usopp, Chopper can’t tell the fake crew from his own nakama. He is too cute.

I, uh, have to point out that where and how fake-Robin is holding that cucumber looks a bit… well…

I agree with Chopper.

How incompetent are Robin’s potential captors that they could fall for these fakes? That’s laughable.

Luffy’s response to this “threat” in the next chapter will be a key sign of how his character has changed, if at all. Will he rampage like old, immature Luffy, or will he expand on the maturity and restraint he showed in the face of Bellamy’s men assaulting him at the aforementioned bar in Jaya?

Final Flash: Not much to go on. Some of the redesigns are good, some are great, and some are slightly disappointing. There wasn’t much plot, either. It’s fantastic to have One Piece back, but long hair and new clothes aren’t what we’ve waited a month for. Hopefully, the good stuff (reunion, finally heading to Fishman Island) starts next week.

One Piece 597

August 26, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Now that is a manly cover page.

Zoro is asking Mihawk to teach him? “Asking” might not be strong enough, even; Zoro is “begging” Mihawk, the man he intends to defeat, to teach him. I’m thoroughly disappointed. Yes, it shows that Zoro is mature enough to put aside his own ego for the sake of his crew, but what now of his fierce ambition to become the world’s greatest swordsman? Zoro has always shown maturity when necessary (such as his stance on Usopp as they arrived at Water 7), so this doesn’t introduce any new positive side of his personality, but instead waters down his character.

An unfortunate sight

As if the impending four-week break wasn’t enough, the revelation of Luffy’s tattoo confirms a timeskip, and it’s more major than anticipated: Two years. I trust Oda to exceed my expectations more than I trust any other mangaka, but I’ve also never seen a shonen timeskip that didn’t seem like the gratuitous and easy alternative to proper storytelling.

Jinbei provides yet another reminder that Fishman Island is coming up soon, just as it has been for years. I’ve long been excited to get there, but after this long of a wait, some of the novelty has worn off. Still, if it’s the next major arc, I’ll be pleased.

Hancock remains completely adorable. Switching from love-clouded to furious only accentuates how fun she is to read when she’s fawning over Luffy.

Too cute

Luffy will be training his Haki directly under the tutelage of Rayleigh. Not a bad teacher, the right-hand man of the Pirate King. That said, I hope Oda does justice to his own characters; as Rayleigh explains the Haki with the “color of observation,” I shudder at the prospect of Luffy knowing Mantra, as that just wouldn’t suit him. Obviously, Luffy must learn the “color of armaments” Haki, since it seems that the entire point of introducing Haki was to find a way for Luffy to be able to harm Logia users. Hopefully, Luffy learning Haki won’t terribly devalue past characters like CP9, since one of the major strengths of One Piece has always been a lack of clear, linear progression in enemy strength. If ultimately we’re able to explain away enemy strength differences based on increasing Haki ability, I’ll be disappointed.

Fortunately, Rayleigh suggests that Haki users gravitate towards one “color,” meaning that Luffy could still end up reasonable after all this training.

Final Flash: In four weeks, we’ll have spent two years. The interim will be both frustrating and exciting.

One Piece 596

[scanlation by Binktopia]

Great cover page. Importantly, that’s a grown-up Sabo there, with his gaze averted away from the “camera,” deliberately setting up some suspense as to what he would look like now. Surely, we must meet him at some point.

Nami is following the same pattern as Sanji and Chopper, by forgoing a return to the prearranged meeting point in favor of improving herself. Power-ups for all the crew members are all well and good, but couldn’t we have assumed that they’d be getting one? I’m becoming a little tired of how long it’s taking for the crew to reassemble, and for the plot to progress.

It seems Nami’s upgrade will either be a further improved Clima Tact, or a completely new weather-controlling weapon. Nothing surprising there, but it should be interesting to see the Weather Ball in use.

Now, it’s Brook’s turn for a moment of introspection. This one feels worst of all, since he’s the newest crew member; I don’t need a flashback to remember how/why he joined, no matter how short it is.

Funny regardless of circumstance

Will Brook’s power-up be a new musical ability? That’s the only thing I can assume, given his current predicament. Perhaps the next time we see Brook, he’ll be out of the cage and running away from a group of collapsed onlookers.

Robin’s up next, and her scenario is by far the most interesting and potentially world-shaking. She is set to be the direct link between Luffy and Dragon, which could either force a monumental reunion or simply make huge waves through indirect affiliation.

Franky being mistaken for a gorilla is both apropos and quite funny.

While not quite as huge as Robin’s impending connection to Dragon, Franky’s continued study of Vegapunk is potentially fascinating. Of course, the feeling of importance is tempered slightly by mandatory Franky comedy (which is still hilarious and well worth it, mind you).

Classic Franky

Last up on this week’s whirlwind tour of the crew is Usopp, who is still fat and now learning about Pop Greens, which (from the little information we have on them) seem to fit Usopp’s arsenal nicely.

Final Flash: Only a decent chapter. The comedy was funny, but the perils of having so many main characters have never been more obvious; giving everyone equal exposition simply takes too long.

One Piece 595

August 5, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Absolutely fantastic color page. I anxiously await a poster version.

Law using Bepo as a pillow is adorable.

Looks comfortable

More importantly, the exact phrasing of the Binktopia translation is interesting. Law says, “I’ll be sure… to steal the proper throne!!!” Now, “proper throne” could still very well be referring to the title of Pirate King, but that’s a peculiar phrase to use in reference to such a position. It seems to me that Law could be referring to something else.

X Drake is alive, well, and terrorizing some poor unsuspecting underling of the highly-anticipated Kaidou.

Still the coolest Zoan

Scratchmen Apoo is fine, too, leaving Jewelry Bonney as the Supernova taken down by Blackbeard.

There she is, no less. She might not have been the least likely target of the 11 (I’d give that title to Apoo), but I’m still fairly surprised to see the sole female put in this position. I’m certainly not calling Oda sexist, but this is an unusual move, especially considering how she’s hinted at having a worthwhile subplot.

Akainu is speaking to Bonney in a very familiar manner. He could just be familiar with her, but his relief at finding her is interesting. Could he be something more than an acquaintance?

I am your father?

Confirmation that Moria survived. That’s good news to me. He may not deserve to be a major recurring villain, but he’s more than worth keeping active in the background. Also of note in this scene, Doflamingo continues to emphasize his independence, and the person he’s talking to is unusually kept out of focus. As with all minor details in One Piece, this could end up meaning nothing, or this hat-wearing government official could later reappear as a hugely important character.

Maybe I was wrong about the whole “coolest Zoan” thing.

Unbearably cute

Hilarious moment as Chopper unintentionally thinks the more offensive part of his thoughts out loud.

To close the chapter, both Chopper and Sanji have finally had their direct power-up routes revealed. Chopper seems to be aiming to further alter his own body, while Sanji is seeking to learn Attack Cuisine, which presumably would support the entire crew. The former is an obvious and highly necessary power-up, but the latter is a little worrying. With every passing arc, Sanji seems to fade further away from being the third component of the “Monster Trio,” instead developing into a behind-the-scenes roleplayer. Attack Cuisine could be used very well, and I’ll certainly trust Oda, but I don’t want Sanji’s role reduced.

Final Flash: Another intriguing chapter that presents several new long-term plot possibilities.

One Piece 594

[scanlation by Binktopia]

Right from the start, we see the Gorousei. This surely will be an important chapter.

Huge news. Blackbeard has already taken out one of the Supernovas.

But which?

Garp and Sengoku both being forced out of their positions brings about a notable change in the World Government, specifically relating to where it stands in the moral gray area in One Piece. Garp and Sengoku have both been portrayed as “good” characters, even if they have opposed some protagonists. The rest of the upper echelons of the World Government are painted as a more traditional antagonizing force. This should prove pivotal going forward.

Aokiji as the next fleet admiral would be the most appropriate of the choices we’ve seen so far.

Smoker is still working behind the scenes to chase after Luffy. I hope for him to feature prominently at some point soon. He’s too good of a character not to.

There’s the long-awaited news: Luffy rang a bell at Marineford 16 times, as a memorial and/or a declaration of war. Stunning.

Furthermore, he got a tattoo! Great touch from Oda.

Focusing on Kid is both appropriate (given the tone of the manga right now) and exciting. He’s positioned to become a fantastic rival to Luffy.

Some kind of force is sucking everything into the air. Assuming this has nothing to do with Blackbeard’s ability, the New World is already a terrifying place.

... what?

Luffy is sending a direct message. His involvement with Rayleigh in doing so makes me wonder if he’s reaching out to more than just his crew, since it seems like there would have been simpler ways to reach only them.

I may never have laughed as loudly at a manga panel as I just have upon seeing Franky.


No! Basil, don’t kill Brownbeard! His legend must live on!

The end of the chapter shows an island in the New World overflowing with lightning. Very creative design.

Final Flash: Reestablishment of several hugely important characters, introduction to the true terror of the New World, excellent subterfuge within the World Government, and a truly powerful moment from Luffy. Wonderful chapter.

One Piece 593

[scanlation by Binktopia]

Robin continues to be involved in the most intriguing subplot of all the Strawhats. Not only is her connection to Ohara fascinating, but now the Revolutionary Army is revealed to have been out to protect her. Excellent.

Great to see Robin’s confidence in her crew. Thanks largely to her involvement and backstory in it, Enies Lobby still stands out to me as the strongest arc in all of One Piece. Any further storylines that can be derived from her past are more than welcome.

Poor Sanji. His reactions are priceless, though.

Best imagined in the voice of Hiroaki Hirata

Hugely important news being discussed here, even if the audience isn’t being made aware of any details yet. Even finding out that the Revolutionary Army has various “leaders” spread around the world is notable, as is Dragon reaffirming the change in Kuma. Also, Dragon seems to have been drawn to look older than in previous scenes.

Noticeably older

Duval! The Thousand Sunny is perfectly safe in his handsome hands.

Even more focus on the duality of Kuma, as again highlighted here by Shakky mentioning the earlier meeting between the still-human Kuma and Rayleigh. With this much focus on Kuma, a revelation must be forthcoming fairly soon.

In an already stunningly vague chapter, Vivi’s comments stand out the most. What could she possibly be reading about Luffy that would lead her to question whether something is “stylish?”

Crocodile is heading to the New World, and Daz Bones is coming with him. Crocodile’s expression is fantastic; he might still be more evil than good, but it seems he’s regained the fire he once had as a young pirate, the fire that he mentioned back in Alabasta.

Livelier than usual

Closing out the chapter, some more foreshadowing, this time involving Buggy. It’s unusual (and equally intriguing) that his crew would interpret the contents of the paper in a way that Buggy has been hailed as a hero.

Final Flash: What an overwhelmingly forward-looking chapter. Deliberately confusing, but thoroughly fascinating.

One Piece 592

[chapter link]

Hooray! Zoro and Perona are next.

Mihawk. Zoro was sent to Mihawk. Absolutely incredible.

It’s so good to see Zoro in action again. His presence has been sorely missed.

Great dialogue between Zoro and Mihawk. They’ve had very little time together, but that time has always been meaningful.

Zoro would have gotten lost on the way to the ocean anyway

The battle Mihawk mentions will surely someday have some kind of significance. Remember this moment.

Good old Nami. A perfect mix of deviousness and true emotion. These individual character scenes are excellent.

Franky’s side story is amazing as well. I like how we’re slowly learning about Vegapunk through small mentions here and there. This is how to appropriately build a future character’s importance.

Urkel was never cooler

How nice to read about the heroic deeds of … Satan-sama.


Final Flash: Fantastic scenes of the crew, most notably Zoro and Franky. Wonderful chapter.