By Eiichiro Oda. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz.
First off, I can’t help but note that Vol. 59 is solicited in the back of this book for Feb. 2012. Oh Viz, you caught up with One Piece so well and now you fall behind again… sigh. However, first we get to read Volume 58, which is filled with one gigantic melee fight… again. This is a classic case where the release schedule is hurting the arc, as seeing these volumes so infrequently makes us more frustrated that the battle is moving, for Oda, relatively slowly.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot going on here, because there is. Whitebeard continues to have his forces inexorably move towards Ace’s execution scaffold, even as he takes mortal wound after mortal wound. Akainu proves to once more be a completely insane rabid dog (I was chilled when he asked “which platoon was that traitor with”, and the other marines desperately pointed out it was a pirate in disguise, clearly seeing that he planned to kill the whole platoon out of spite). And Luffy is leveling up with something called Haki, which we’ve seen before on occasion but really gets pointed out here. On the surface, it would appear to be ‘shouting so that people stop’, but is more about force of personality, I think. It’s something Luffy would have to develop instinctively, I think, and fits him well.
Our minor characters get stuff to do as well! Mr. 3 really astounded me here, not only disguising himself as a marine and making hi way to where he was one of the two men there to execute Ace (!!), but when asked about it reluctantly admits he’s pissed off about what happened to Mr. 2. We’ve seen gangs of villains turn out to have strong loyalty to each other even within Baroque Works before, but honestly, I was not expecting Mr. 3 to be one of them. I hope he makes it out of this. As for Coby… well, poor Coby. He really should have known better. If it helps, Coby, Garp also got punched out (though that was clearly deliberate).
And finally (FINALLY) Ace is freed… once he has admitted to himself that he doesn’t want to die, and allows himself to be freed. There’s a bit of a callback to Nico Robin in Ace’s arc, with his desperate please turning out to be a very deep self-hatred, but like Robin he is now ready to be proactive. Unfortunately, like Luffy, he is also ready to be impulsive, and is easily baited by Akainu, who starts tearing down Whitebeard as a useless failure in front of Ace. I’ll give Akainu credit, he may be the nastiest villain the series has ever had, but he’s no dummy. He knows exactly which buttons to push. And, in the end, we get… well, the final shot of the volume. Yipe.
This is a solid shonen volume of One Piece, but like some of my fellow reviewers, I think I’m getting a bit of arc fatigue, and would like Nami, Zoro and the others back in my story now. One Piece is the opposite of Bleach – it reads well weekly, and sometimes suffers in Volume form. Ah well, if it helps, the next volume will conclude the battle.