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.
Food has always played an important role in One Piece, from Luffy’s voracious appetite to Sanji’s chef skills. And in this arc we’ve seen the dangers of food as well in a kingdom where everything is edible. But I don’t think we’ve ever quite gotten as terrifying as Big Mom and her backstory, one of the most truly unnerving and creepy moments in the entire series, especially because it’s implied – we don’t quite see it, as we’re seeing things from Charlotte Linlin’s point of view. Big Mom is certainly the villain of this arc, but I’m not sure we’ve seen a villain quite as psychologically damaged from a very young age as she’s been, and it makes her ravenous appetite far less of a joke than it had previously seemed (and it was always meant to be disturbing). Kudos to Oda for getting really, really dark here.
Elsewhere in the volume, it’s becoming more apparently that Jimbei actually IS going to be a new crewmember, provided he manages to survive the upcoming battle without a tragic sacrifice. This is actually rather interesting, as he’s the first semi-serious crewmember to be added since Nico Robin. Jimbei’s really cool here, standing up to Big Mom and refusing to cower, and I’m actually looking forward to seeing what he brings to the crew. Admittedly, the gender imbalance of the crew is starting to show itself a bit as well. Maybe we can get Vivi back? It’s certainly not going to be Charlotte Pudding, who despite her best efforts to be super evil, and her genuine irritation at Sanji’s goofy pervert persona, is backsliding into being a good person. I’m not sure how happy I’ll be with this, we’ll have to see.
As for Luffy, I have to hand it to him, that was a very clever (and funny) way to crash the wedding, and shows that he’s starting to strategize rather than just burst in fists akimbo – or rather, he still bursts in but works strategy into it. Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned (big surprise there), and it looks as if we’re settling in for the long haul, introducing several of the Charlotte family to no doubt battle our heroes one by one and show off their quirks… sorry, Devil Fruit Powers. I have to say I won’t cry if Capone ends up dying (though it’s always hard to have actual named characters die in One Piece), given that his plan to take out Big Mom relied on basic mental cruelty. I was also amused at the Straw Hat Crew (even Nami!) all sleeping like the dead before the big event, because, as Jimbei points out, they’ve been running flat out for days before this.
I suspect the next couple of volumes are going to be pure chaotic fighting, though hopefully it won’t go quite as long as Dressrosa. Still, this was a stronger volume of Once Piece than we’ve seen lately, and I look forward to seeing how that chaos plays out. Definitely recommended for fans.
Also, the Grand Line has a Pleasure District? How adult!