With volumes 64 and 65, Oda brings One Piece a step closer towards an epic conclusion to the awesome battle on Fish-Man Island, demonstrating why fans love this series so much, as it gets better with each volume as it juggles action and humor into one hip package.
Volume 64 opens up with a flashback where it appears the Queen has been murdered by humans, giving us the back story to why a chunk of the Fish-Men hate humans so much. As this civil war erupts on Fish-Man Island, the Straw Hat Crew gets caught up in the middle of things, as per their luck. Much of the volume plays out as Hody and his crew one by one capture the princes and finally the princess, in addition to the King, during the course of battle, as Luffy and friends try and be patient to find the right move. Hody reveals the truth that he’s the one who really killed the Queen, and that’s where all out fighting really hits the fan, both sides taking their hits as the Straw Hats finally jump in, using a variety of methods which include Franky in a giant mecha-bot form, and Luffy reminding the Kraken that he tamed as a pet a few volumes back to stick with him in the battle.
Volume 65 picks right up in the fire of the battle. Not only is Luffy facing off against a powered-up Hody, but we get Brook against Zeo, Daruma against Usopp, Dosun against Chopper, and Sanji against Wadatsumi (as he rest of the crew fights against Fish-Men gone bad, as well as Fish-Men vs. Fish-Men action; it is a civil war, after all). While all of this goes on, Decken has taken the ancient ark of Noah and decided to drop it on Fish-Man Island, which would nearly wipe out the entire place upon impact! Suddenly it’s a race against time for Luffy and Hody to stop the Ark from crashing into the place, as well as for one the sides to come out the victor!
Volumes 64 and 65 are intense stuff, but solid adventure manga storytelling. A huge chunk of both volumes are on the fighting and action side (it is a Shonen Jump manga, after all), but Oda has made sure to flesh out all the background stories, while at the same time balancing a good chunk of time highlighting all the main characters and giving fans of those characters a decent amount of time to enjoy their favorites, all while enhancing the plot. Everything that bogged down the “Paramount War” arc is fixed here, and clarity is the key to success even though there is A LOT of plot going on in these pages. Oda is still a very busy artist who tries to cram a lot on the page, but he does it in these two volumes without confusion for unfamiliar readers, bringing up to bat the strongest volumes of One Piece in a very long time. Also, I have to add I just love his designs for the Fish-Men and Mermaids. They are these manga/cartoon hybrids that just work visually and are really cool artistically. The fact that he not only draws them but then also executes drawing them in battle sequences without a problem, is even cooler, proving to us he is a grade-A artist.
One Piece volumes 64 and 65 are great shonen manga works to feast your eyes on. Available from Viz in both print and digital.