Archive

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.

Advertisements

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.