By Eiichiro Oda. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz. Translated by Stephen Paul.
Ah, it’s another of those “200 pages of fighting” One Piece volumes. It’s quite enjoyable, but as always somewhat hard to squeeze out 500+ words on it. But let’s do our best. First of all, the cover lies a bit. Looking at Bib Mom there, you’d think that she was in full control of her faculties as she’s attacking everyone else. Nothing could be further from the truth. Luffy and company have come up against some tough ruthless villains in the past, but I don’t think any have quite felt like a giant Force Of Nature as much as Big Mom here once her cake is destroyed. And, as we’ve seen from the flashbacks before, she also has no qualms about completely devouring any allies that happen to be in front of her, either. It’s no surprise that everyone’s immediate goal at the start of this book is “run away”, and for once Luffy even agrees with them – for a while.
We should probably address the other big thing that happens in this book. The old “nobody dies in One Piece” credo has been a bit on the decline since the events of Marineford, but it does merit saying that MOSTLY nobody dies in One Piece. So seeing what happens towards the end of the book here still manages to be a surprise – indeed, there’s a bit after the event when Nami thinks that we’ve somehow managed to have a last-minute escape… but no. Fortunately, Jimbei is with them now and is able to inject a bit of “yes, we’re all grieving, but may I remind you of the fact that we’re about to die?” into the proceedings. As deaths go, it’s not quite up there with the Big One from many volumes ago, but it is pretty sad.
Let’s also talk Charlotte Pudding. Well… I dunno. She seems to be swinging back and forth between a Charlotte who loves Sanji and wants to save him and a Charlotte who wants to see Sanji and everyone else fall to Big Mom’s Pirates. Sometimes she’s swinging back and forth between the two by the second. I’m not sure if this is meant to be Dissociative Personality Disorder, but I rather doubt it – I suspect it might be Oda simply having fun with the “tsundere” archetype. It’s honestly not a very good character twist. Much better handled is Nami, who I always love seeing brutally manipulate people to get what she wants. The Straw Hats are not true-blue Shonen Jump heroes, but all have major flaws and foibles, and I enjoy seeing Nami’s intelligence come to the fore whenever she does this. Also, nice lightning.
With Luffy going back into the mirrir to have a huge battle with Katakuri, it doesn’t look as if we’ll be escaping Big Mom anytime soon. But that’s fine, this arc is already better than the Dressrosa arc, and I look forward to seeing how Luffy gets out of this one, because I’m fairly certain Katakuri is about to hand his ass to him.