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.
Because One Piece has been running for so long, there aren’t a lot of plots that it hasn’t at least taken a glance at along the way. That’s probably why Oda is having so much fun with the time travel angle introduced here, with the long-lost heroes reappearing twenty years later, seemingly the same as before. The eventual beat when they all finally arrive hasn’t happened yet, but we do meet Momonosuke’s little sister, who is now of course a young woman, and also a striking reminder of how Oda loves to contrast ugly men and gorgeous women when he draws. (Or in this case ugly boys.) She’s got a lot going on in this volume, so it’s amusing that the thing I noticed most was Oda mocking shippers in her interactions with the completely sexless Zoro. (To be fair to Zoro, he does get that people would take them sleeping together the wrong way.) And then there’s Toko, which… well, I’ll get to her.
As with previous Wano volumes, the action slips from place to place almost too fast to follow, trying to make sure that everyone gets something to do. This means we get to see Nami and Robin in the baths (and Nami accidentally flashing everyone, which reminds me of her deliberately doing this in Alabasta); Sanji being, well, Sanji; Luffy, still in prison, having to fight off most of the guards one by one for entertainment, and meeting up with an old, seemingly feeble man who of course has a very badass past; and Shopper trying to deal with the fact that he’s now allied with Big Mom, who has lost her memories and thus is bright, cheery and friendly again. Chopper, of course, knows this will only last till her memories return, so spends a lot of the time terrified. (There’s some interesting lettering going on in these scenes to show “girly’ speech – excellent job by Vanessa Satone, the letterer and touch-up person.)
And then we get to the end of the book, where Oda reminds us how well he can have chaos quickly turn to tragedy, with the public execution of Yasu, who turns out to have a secret identity (not a surprise). He’s spent much of the time bopping around the manga dressed up as the stereotypical Japanese jester, with a giant grin on his face. The grin remains even as he’s about to be executed (by firing squad, a particularly dishonorable death in the period that Oda is riffing on here), and there is an explanation of everyone smiling and laughing in the face of tragedy… but then after his death, it turns far too creepy for that to really be the case, especially when his daughter sees his death and can’t stop giggling (as she has the entire book) even as she cries out that her father is dead. The cliffhanger, unfortunately, implies that it may be the One Piece equivalent of drugs at work once more.
So yeah, everything is kind of terrible at the moment. Sure would be nice if we could start a revolution soon. Still, this was a chaotic but solid volume of One Piece, a bit better than the last couple of books.