Everyone, please welcome back the delightful Lori Henderson of Manga Xanadu (whose guest review of Naruto 50 you can read here), who has once again saved me (and you) from myself by reviewing One Piece volume 56 for me. Thanks again, Lori!
Title: One Piece
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump)
Volume: Volume 56 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2009 by Shueisha in Japan, February 2011 (out now) by Viz Media
Genre: Action, adventure, comedy, pirates
Monkey D. Luffy has always dreamed of becoming not just a pirate but the King of the Pirates. He accidentally eats a devil fruit as a child, which gives him the power to stretch like rubber, but at the cost of being unable to swim, a necessity when going to sea. But Luffy is determined and doesn’t let such a minor detail slow him down. He puts together a strong crew, and aboard a custom built ship they go out in search of the One Piece, the greatest treasure in the world.
If there’s anyone you can count on for doing the impossible, it’s Monkey D. Luffy. As the Impel Down escape finishes up, Luffy has not only broken into the World Government’s strongest prison, Impel Down, but now he is fighting his way back out again, all in order to keep his brother Ace from being executed. Lots of old faces join new ones in helping Luffy on his quest. A sacrifice is made to help Luffy and Co. escape, and there is a major revelation as a warm up to Ace’s execution.
The majority of this volume is fighting. Luffy, Crocodile, and Jimbei vs. the Jailer Beasts. Luffy vs. Warden Magellan. Ivankov vs. Warden Magellan. Luffy, Crocodile, and Jimbei (again) vs. the navy fleet. The good thing about these battles, though, is that they are short. We’ve already seen the long, dragged out fights against these characters. Now, it’s all about getting out of Impel Down and onto a ship to Marinesford, where Ace is being taken to be executed. Along the way, Luffy has met with a lot of old faces, mostly from the leaders of Baroque Works, including Mr. 2 Bon Clay, Mr. 3, Mr. 1, and Crocodile himself. Buggy the Clown, Luffy’s first pirate opponent, ends up helping, too, though it’s not his intention.
There are some new faces, too. Jimbei, a fishman and former Warlord of the Sea, and the very disturbing Ivankov, whose ability to control hormones allows him to not only increase the size of his body parts (especially his head), but also change gender at will. What really turns out to be important, though, is his other ability, the Death Wink, which creates a strong air current to blow his opponent across the room, through stone walls, and even all of the escapees away from Impel Down and out to sea. I wonder if Oda likes the song “Ballroom Blitz”? Jimbei has some moves, too, as we see him manipulate the ocean currents and call for help from whale sharks. He’s nothing like Arlong, the first fishman Luffy met way back in the Arlong Park arc.
To complete their escape requires someone to stay behind and open the Gates of Justice. It isn’t so surprising this time who it is or why he does it. And it really couldn’t have been anyone else. It’s a tearful farewell not just from Luffy, but also from the other escapees, who know what awaits him. It’s sad to see him go. He will be missed.
The volume ends with a three chapter reprieve before we move into the next mini-arc. The Impel Down escapees get to take a breather and recover as they head to Marinesford, the Navy’s headquarters. There, Adminal Sengoku reveals the truth about Ace’s past and the reason his execution is so necessary. Oda balances this revelation and the crowd’s reactions with Garp’s memories of how Ace came to be in his care. These scenes seem to make the World Government’s actions all the more brutal. It’s not until the last two pages that Whitebeard finally makes his long awaited appearance, and sets things up for the next part of the story arc.
I really enjoyed this volume of One Piece. The battles ran almost like a tag-team match, with Ivankov and Luffy trading off fighting Magellan. Crocodile and Jimbei added a lot of power for some more great moments. Fans of the fighting will love this volume, but there’s also some good plot movement, and even some emotional moments, so really, there’s something for everyone in this volume.
As for me, I can’t stomach the art (the cover kind of makes me want to barf) or characters, and we’ll leave it at that. I do, by the by, have an extra copy of this volume sitting here taking up space, and I would be happy to give it a loving home. Leave a comment or drop me an email if you’re interested. I also have a copy of Jormungand volume 5 and Bakuman volume 3 I’d like to get rid of. Friday we’ll be going back to a genre I prefer and discussing a couple of new shoujo titles from Viz Media, Kamisama Kiss and Oresama Teacher.
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Review copy provided by Viz Media.