Review: “One Piece: Skypiea vol. 31-33” by Eiichiro Oda

Review:

A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why this series of reviews will be broken up into three volume books. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

Eneru is trying to destroy the Sky Islands, in search of the endless Vearth. Vearth is what the Sky Islanders call earth or as we call “dirt.” There is only one person who can stop him and that is Luffy. Eneru has the power of lightning and mantra. Luffy is made of rubber and is a bit of an air head. Eneru never really had a chance.

There is a flashback about why the Shandians are fighting the Sky Islanders. Basically, they come from the island Jaya. The Knock Up Stream sent the Shandians into the air, ringing a giant golden bell all the way. The bell alerted the Sky Islanders, and they found the biggest collections of Vearth anyone on the Cloud Sea had ever seen. The Kami at the time quickly took over the island, kicked the altitude sickened Shandians out, and turned the former Jaya Island into Upper Yard. There has been war ever since.

The crew leaves Skypeia while running away from the natives in true pirate fashion. They had retrieved a bunch of gold from the ruins and thought that the natives would be angry with them for this. That’s not true, the natives haven’t assigned a worth to gold. It’s just shiny and yellow, apparently.

The Straw Hats land back in the Blue Sea. They meet another pirate crew and take part in the Davy Back Fight. This fight takes place in three rounds. A boat race, a ball game of sorts, and a brawl between the captains. The winner of each round gets to take a crew member of the opposing crew as their new crew. Cheating abounds and the crew lose Chopper in the first round. But they get him back in the second. Volume 33 leaves off with Luffy facing the other captain in a boxing match, declaring that he will win even if it kills him.

Overall I have always found the Skypiea arc to be kind of pointless and too coincidental for my taste. They only show up because Luffy is self centered and wanted to go up there. Then they just so happen to arrive at the same time that Eneru is putting the finishing touches on his “destroy everything” plan, and the civil war that has been raging for 200 years happens to kindof involve this guy they met a few days ago. Most of the other story arcs are entwined with the crew in a way that makes the what happens seem very important. This arc is more about setting things up for the future.

This is my last review of the One Piece arcs. If I haven’t convinced you of the great and wonderful adventure that is One Piece, then you are losing out. If you feel that it is too intimidating (it’s been around for twenty years), all I can say is that the effort is worth it. Watching these characters grow stronger and closer over the years has been a true delight.

A few things that you will miss if you do not continue the story: Robin’s secret and terrible past, Luffy’s family, a cyborg, a living skeleton, zombies,the crew gets separated, Amazons, the biggest war between marines and pirates that the world has ever seen, Zoro cutting a ship in half, Sanji flying, Nami manipulating weather, Ussop using killer plants, Chopper’s monster form, Robin summoning giant legs to crush everything in her path, and Luffy changing gears.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Overall series rating: 5/5 stars.

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Review: “One Piece: Skypiea vol. 28-30” by Eiichiro Oda

One Piece: Skypiea vol. 28-30

A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why this series of reviews will be broken up into three volume books. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

The battle for Upper Yard has started. There are 54 warriors (including himself) in the Kami Eneru’s army; there are 20 Shandian warriors and 7 Strawhats. How many will be standing in three hours? According to Eneru, who has the power of Mantra, there will be five warriors.

Luffy, Zoro, Chopper, and Robin are headed for the legendary city of El Dorado, which used to be part of Jaya. Sanji, Usopp, and Nami are sailing the Going Merry out of Upper Yard with the injured Ganfor. Luffy gets swallowed by a giant snake.

After meeting with the Going Merry, Conis learns of Eneru’s ultimate plan for Sky Island. She must warn the citizens and the Shandian to evacuate. No one wants to believe her, but with the help of the White Berets, the people start to leave.

These volumes honestly make a better anime than manga. There is a lot of fighting with a lot of different characters. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of who is fighting who and how. It looks amazing, but it can get a little confusing.

My biggest pet peeve with these volumes is that Robin is not as big of a badass as she could be. When she was Ms. All Sunday, she incapacitated the Straw Hat crew single-handedly without moving. She was a partner to Sir Crocodile, a former Shichibukai. She reads a language that has been outlawed for goodness sake. Now, she can’t win a fight without taking a ton of damage. Admittedly that is the Straw Hat way, but I really wish her opponent was more impressive.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Review: “One Piece: Baroque Works 22-24” by Eiichiro Oda

One Piece: Baroque Works 22-24 by Eiichiro Oda

A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why this series of reviews will be broken up into three volume books. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

Sir Crocodile is gloating to Princess Vivi over his victory in the royal courtyard. The battle has started, King Cobra is under his control, and just in case the battle stops, he has a bomb hidden near the town square, set to go off in 10 minutes. Koza, the rebel leader, overhears this and attempts to warn all the fighters in the battle below. Baroque Works shoots him before he can get the word out. So it’s up to Princess Vivi and the Strawhat crew to find and defuse the bomb before everybody is killed. Luffy shows up after figuring out Sir Crocodile’s weakness. Ms. All Sunday has King Cobra take her to the Tomb of the Royal Family.

Ms. All Sunday finds what she is looking for and King Cobra figures out that she is really Robin Nico, an archeologist who has been wanted by the Marines since she was eight years old. Luffy defeats Sir Crocodile in less than 10 minutes and Alabasta’s Civil War ends in a cleansing rain. After the dust clears the Marines surround the island nation and are searching for The Going Merry. Princess Vivi says goodbye to the Strawhats and volume 23 ends with the most iconic images of the series.

Volume 24 opens with Robin Nico joining the Strawhats. She earns the acceptance of the crew right before an ancient ship falls on them. Turns out there is an entire ocean in the sky with islands floating on the clouds. Luffy decides that they will go up there, so the crew goes to Jaya, the closest island on the regular sea, to get some answers.

If you do not get at least a little misty eyed during Vivi’s goodbye speech, there is a chance that you might not be human. She went through so much with the Strawhats, became a part of the crew, and all she wants is to know that she will still be their friend if they ever meet again. The crew can’t tell her anything, because the Marines are listening and they don’t want to get Vivi in trouble, so they show her. Princess Vivi of Alabasta is now and forever a member of the Strawhat crew.

This is not the last we’ll see of the Alabasta gang. Starting with chapter 35 (Vol. 4) the chapter titles are also a “where are they now” story for important characters, usually people who show up again later in the series. It starts with Capt. Buggy(vol. 2) and crew, then it’s Kolby and Helmeppo (vol. 1), next is Django (vol. 4) and currently Hachi (vol. 8). This is great, because it shows just how small the world is (many of the characters run into other characters from different story arcs) and it allows characters to return to the main story in a natural way.

Translation wise, it seems like it went stagnant. Zoro is still spelled Zolo, Luffy still says “Gum gum” before their attacks, and a devil’s fruit power that changes a man into a jackal is called the “Mutt Mutt Fruit.” I personally would have gone with “Canine Canine Fruit.”

I really like how the crew reacts to the transition of Vivi to Robin. Princess Vivi is an optimistic, driven, and self sacrificing girl. Robin is an older, disillusioned career criminal. They are opposites in just about every way possible, but both fit in well with the Strawhat crew for practically the same reasons. Sanji fell instantly in love with both of them. Nami was motivated by greed. Ussop, Luffy, and Chopper had a new playmate. Zoro remains aloof.

These are the volumes of One Piece that made me fall madly in love with the series. They show everything wonderful about the series. Action, character development, jokes, and incredibly satisfying sucker punches.

My rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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Review: “One Piece: Baroque Works Vol 16-18” by Eiichiro Oda

Review, "One Piece, Baroque Works Vol 16-18" by Eiichiro Oda

A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why this series of reviews will be broken up into three volume books. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

Luffy survives the avalanche relatively unscathed, however now he has to carry a sick Nami and a severely injured Sanji up the side of a cliff. They are being followed by Drum Island’s former king, Warpol, and his crew of pirates. At the top of the cliff, Luffy finds Dr. Kureha and her assistant Tony Tony Chopper. Chopper is a blue nosed reindeer who ate the Hito (Human) Hito Fruit. Dr. Kureha gives medicine to Nami, fixes Sanji’s spine, and tells them about Chopper’s tragic back story. After defeating Warpol in battle, Chopper joins the Straw Hats as their much needed doctor.

On the way to Alabasta, the crew learns how Sir Crocodile is taking over the country by being a hero and undermining the trust the people have in the king. They also meet Bon Clay a.k.a. Mr. 2, who can transform into anyone he has seen. The crew devise a plan to counteract his power.

Alabasta is a desert island in the middle of a drought. In Alabasta, we meet Captain Smoker again (vol. 11) and Luffy’s older brother Ace. Ace is a member of White Beard’s crew on a mission of vengeance against Black Beard, who committed the most heinous of pirate crimes. He also ate a devil’s fruit after leaving Luffy a few years ago. After a quick visit, he leaves with a promise that they will meet again on the high seas, then promptly destroys five enemy pirate ships single handedly.

The crew make their way to Yuba, where we learn more about Vivi’s childhood. She was friends with the rebel leader, and now he is being manipulated by Baroque Works into starting a civil war. Will the crew be able to stop the bloodshed before it’s too late?

What’s fun about Luffy is that he has secrets. He is an upfront, honest character, but the more you get to know him, the more you realize you don’t know anything about him. He’s not even hiding anything. He just doesn’t think about the past that much.

On Ace’s back is a tattoo with a symbol that looks like a face over a reversed swastika. This is not a case of an artist being a Nazi. The symbol in question is called a manji. Manji is an ancient Buddhist symbol and is often used on older maps in Japan to indicate the location of a Buddhist temple. Usually this symbol is used in a manga to indicate a bond between an individual and a family/institution. Often times an artist will use these symbols in the manga but any anime that follows will use some other symbol.

These three volumes are a build up. There is plenty of tension, but also plenty of laughs. We get to learn about Chopper, Princess Vivi, and Luffy. It’s a little slower than the other volumes so far, but it shows just how complicated the situation in Alabasta is.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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Review: “One Piece: Baroque Works Vol.13-15” by Eiichiro Oda

One Piece: Baroque Works Vol.13-15 by Eiichiro Oda


A review by Hannah.

One Piece was started in 1997 and is continuing today. There are 81 volumes to date, which is why I’m breaking the manga down into story arcs for the review. From now on there will be spoilers for what happens in the rest of the series. You have been warned…

When last we left our newly minted Straw Hat pirates, they had been tricked by Mr. 9 and Ms. Wednesday, of the criminal organization Baroque Works, into going to an island of bounty hunters. After throwing a party and getting the crew blackout drunk, only Zoro has retained his senses. He decides to test his new blade against all the bounty hunters. During the ensuing battle, an incredible secret about Ms. Wednesday comes to light. She is actually Princess Vivi of Alabasta and she needs the Straw Hat crew to help her save her kingdom from Mr. Zero, leader of Baroque Works, a.k.a. Sir Crocodile, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea.

After an encounter with the mysterious and powerful Ms. All Sunday, partner to Mr. Zero, the crew will travel to Little Garden, a prehistoric island where two giants are dueling to the death. There they have their second run in with some of Baroque Works’ top agents and Nami contracts a deadly virus. The next stop is Drum Island in order to find a doctor to cure Nami.

Character dynamics really come into play during these volumes. Sanji and Zoro are rivals who antagonize each other just by existing. Nami is a tyrant who rules the crew with an iron fist. Luffy and Usopp are best friends on a grand adventure. It’s really fun to see how relationships are forming on the tiny Merry Go.

Zoro is the king of drama and impulsive decisions. When trapped, his brilliant idea to keep fighting is to cut off his feet. When that doesn’t work (duh) he chooses a dramatic pose to die in. Sanji is the king of flakiness and snark. He finds a strange building made of wax, decides to break in, and drink tea, while he’s supposed to be searching for his missing crew. Later he answers a phone call from Mr. Zero and during the conversation, gets a hit put out on the one who should have answered the phone (Mr. Three).

The illustration’s eyes, ears, and hands are still slightly too large for the bodies and their torsos are too long. It doesn’t detract from the story or get in the way of the action. What I love about the artwork throughout the series is that it evolves with the characters. As the characters grow stronger, they begin to fill out more. Any change to their appearance is part of the journey.

Some of the translation is better. “Gum Gum” is still a thing and it continues to make me cringe. Luckily it is saved by Princess Vivi calling Zoro “Mr. Bushido.” in the anime she calls him “Bushido-san.” Bushido means way of the warrior and san is a gender neutral title. The translation is transitioning from direct translations to adaptive translations. Puns and jokes make more sense.

In the manga, Zoro’s name is spelled with an L (Zolo). In Japanese Rs and Ls are interchangeable because they are the same letter. I chose to spell his name with an R for two reasons. The first reason is that One Piece merchandise with Romaji (the English spelling of Japanese words) spell his name with an R. The second reason is that Zoro is the agreed upon spelling of his name among fans.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “New Lone Wolf & Cub Vol. 1” by Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori

Review of "New Lone Wolf & Cub Volume 1" by Kazuo Koike and Hideki Mori

A review by Hannah.

This is the sequel to the 1970s manga masterpiece Lone Wolf & Cub. There are 28 volumes of the original work and I have not read any of them. There are currently 8 volumes of New Wolf & Cub available to read in English.

After Oogami Ittou and his rival Yagyuu Retsudou kill each other, their bodies are left in the middle of the road for fear of the political repercussions. Young Daigoro, son of Oogami, has been left to guard his father’s body and survive on his own. Luckily for the child, Tougou Shigekata, a samurai of supreme skills, is not afraid to take Daigoro under his wings. Soon the two are smack dab in the middle of a plot orchestrated by the Hattori clan. Will these two survive?

This is a pretty easy manga to get into, but it does rely heavily on the original Lone Wolf & Cub at first. The death fight was witnessed by many important people, but the bodies were left in the road and a child abandoned to the elements because of what happened in the original story.

Daigoro appears to be about 3 or 4. He doesn’t say much, but his body language speaks volumes. He trusts no one, smiles rarely, and can dodge melee attacks like a seasoned pro. He is a strange and quiet child. Clearly he became this way during the original Lone Wolf and Cub.

Tougou is an odd duck of a samurai. He knows exactly who Daigoro is, laughs whenever he is in danger, and speaks with a Satsuma dialect. There are words he uses that don’t have a direct translation to English, but that’s okay because they don’t have a direct translation to Japanese either. The fact that he is from the Satsuma region is very important for the story.

The artwork of this manga is incredibly detailed. The few color pages are done with a watercolor effect that looks simple but elegant. The rest of the book is in black, white, and a few shades of gray.

I appreciate the way Dark Horse translated this story. For any words that didn’t translate directly into English, they kept it Japanese. For Tougou they kept everyday Satsuma words in his conversation, to show the difference between the way he spoke and the way everyone else did. They also did their best to translate accents to the English (language not country) equivalent. One of my biggest pet peeves with translations is when they try to force an English definition for a word that isn’t quite right. For example reading “Yamamoto teacher” instead of “Yamamoto sensei.”

I am going to continue reading this story. First though, I’m going to go back and read the original Lone Wolf & Cub.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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