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sahugani
February 23, 2008, 08:59 PM
Sahugani’s One Piece Review 489

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Happy day!!!

Hey guys. Although I’m sure a good many of you were depressed by the lack of One Piece last week, I think its safe to say that Oda made up for it many times over with this chapter. In a single chapter he has offered us finality and peace of mind on so many different issues and at the same time given birth to new ones. Even before writing this I can tell with this many topics to cover this review will be a monster (in the best possible sense of course). No sense wasting time with this intro. The pics in this review come from the Binktopia scanlation and the title pic is an Oda original.


Putting the Past Behind

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what would you store in your empty skull if you died?

As we left things last chapter, Brooke had stopped playing the piano himself and instead took out a sound dial on which he had recorded his old crew’s final performance. Although it had been created for the sake of sharing the final moments of the Rumba pirates with Laboon, the nature of Brooke’s solitude forced it to take on another purpose. After being ransacked by the pirates that killed the crew and left with no one to care for it for a year, the ship was in no condition to sail with a broken rudder and tattered canvas. Brooke’s only way of combating his loneliness was to remember his deceased crew. Since looking upon the bones of his nakama only reminds him of their bitter end, the only remaining evidence of their lives were in the music recorded on the sound dial. Since it could not yet fulfill its true purpose, he instead used it to help him deal with his own sorrow. Memories fade with time and one can even forget what the voice of his closest friend sounded like. The dial allowed him to keep his memories of the crew fresh at all times during the 50 long years of solitude. Even though they were no longer living with him, hearing their voices allowed their presence to feel more real and made the isolation bearable. However the appearance of the Strawhat crew has ended his loneliness and misery. Thanks to them he not only has companions with whom he can enjoy life but has also learned that Laboon is still waiting at the lighthouse where the Rumba pirates left him. He no longer needs the tone dial as a weapon against his sadness and so he stashes it away. Although he has no intention of forgetting his past life, he is now at the start of a new adventure. While the past should be kept close and treasured, it is the future that should be his driving force and so the dial is put away until the day it can fulfill its true purpose.


Official

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it doesn't get more official than this

While it was obviously hinted at the end of the last chapter, the inclusion of Brooke into the Strawhat crew is made official this week in a way that breaks the mold of recruitment in the series. With the exception of Zoro and Robin, each of the Strawhats had some bond that caused them to deny their own dreams and resist recruitment until the last very dramatic moment. Even Robin, the only other member to ask for recruitment outright, was met with opposition by the crew at the time. Due to the fact that like Robin Brooke has no bond holding him back from joining, he has no need to be convinced anymore like the others were. The difference from Robin’s recruitment is that this time the new member is celebrated. Nami points out that this means another freak has been added to the crew. The crew now has in it a reindeer, a cyborg, and a skeleton that make up a third of the total members, making the Strawhats one of the most bizarre pirate crews in the world. That is not to mention Luffy whose personality is exceptionally ill matched to the stereotypical pirate captain. Since the last two recruited members of the crew are Franky and Brooke, two men who are now the freakiest members of the crew both in anatomy and personality, I can make a bit of a profile on the next member. Since the last two are such oddballs, I’m pretty sure the next one will be used to counterbalance the increasing insanity of the crew (though by no means diminish it). I’m quite certain it will be a normal human or at least a human with a devil fruit. There’s a good chance it will be female due to the ratio currently being seven to two in favor of men though this is less of an issue. As the crew has basically filled up the traditional pirate jobs on the ship, I think the person’s role would be more like Robin’s archaeology in that it provides knowledge to the crew and helps advance the plot. For quite a while I’ve thought that this new member would be a devil fruit researcher since the mystery of the fruits is just as big as the poneglyphs and would also be highly beneficial to the crew as so many DF users are onboard. However, I’ve also come up with another idea due to the latest developments.


After seeing the latest developments of the story, I’ve gotten the idea that Ace might in fact join the crew. I’ve long been against the idea of a logia joining the Strawhats as it might end up causing the captain to be overshadowed in terms of power, but after thinking about plot and battle dynamics I’ve come to reconsider. However, Ace is still the only logia I can see joining though.

First of all, I’ve reconsidered my position on the logia powers overshadowing Luffy due to a trend I’m seeing in the world powers. Although logia users do hold tremendous power, it is merely an illusion that they are as invincible as they seem. If you look at how they are ranked in their various careers you see that they are not considered ultimate powerhouses by the upper ranks. Smoker for instance was ranked a mere captain and now commodore despite the invulnerability his power provides. Ace, who left home with the same dream as Luffy, eventually gave up on this dream to follow Whitebeard and is implied to be still weaker than Marco, the first division commander. Although Crocodile was a Shichibukai and logia user, his former bounty was pathetic compared to the rest. In fact, the only logia user whose strength is truly recognized (other than Enel but Sky Island is unrelated here) is Ao Kiji, whose ice based powers are a good deal slower and lack the destructive capability of both Ace and Crocodile’s devil fruit powers. This is clear evidence that in the New World especially there are strengths that are held in much higher regard that the logia fruits or devil fruits in general. As true powerhouses like Ao Kiji, Moria, and Mihawk (representing an inferior logia, a paramecia, and a fruitless fighter respectively) show, findng true strength is less about the fruit and more about how one’s strength is applied. I’m sure that if Ace does join the crew, we’ll find that despite his enormous strength as a logia user, he still has quite a bit of growth to match the upper echelon.

As for story reasons for Ace joining they are becoming somewhat abundant. With this chapter’s hint at the end towards an Impel Down arc in the near future (I’ll explain later why its not likely to be next), the Strawhats will for the first time be truly drawn into the global storyline that we have gotten glimpses of at the ends of each major arc. Up until now they have had skirmishes with the members of the great powers such as the Shichibukai and Enies Lobby, but it has been for their own reasons and has not gotten them tied up in the global war. If they attack Impel Down to rescue Ace there is no doubt that this will drag them into the conflict as well as all members of the great powers will recognize them. If they are to be entered into the global conflict, having a member who is intimately associated with it like Ace would be invaluable to the crew, fulfilling two of the three qualities I predicted (he’s a normal and somewhat serious human and his usefulness is related to the plot. However he’s not a woman). Now as for the fact that Ace has already sworn loyalty to Whitebeard remember that his battle with Blackbeard was said to be the catalyst for world changing events. The loss of Ace to the Yonkou’s forces as well as the person who beat him added to the ranks of the Shichibukai would more than likely give the World Government the guts to attempt actions against their enemy. Add to this the fact that Whitebeard now has fresh grudges against both Blackbeard of the Shichibukai and the World Government, it would only be natural for him to take an immediate offensive. However, one Yonkou against the united strength of the World Government and Shichibukai doesn’t offer great odds of victory. If Whitebeard was beaten and captured, he would likely be kept somewhere in Marine HQ or another government base in the New World rather than Impel Down due to his high status. This would both dissolve Ace’s current crew alignment and give him motivation to return to the New World as his “Strawhat dream” is to free or avenge Whitebeard.



Comrade Rejoices

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that is some really quality paint to last this long

With the Strawhats and Lola’s group celebrating where they are, we get a glimpse of their happy spirit reaching a dear friend back in another part of the world. Although there is no way for Laboon to know the good news happening where the Strawhats are, he can somehow sense that something joyous has just occurred. It really is important to see this from Laboon as it matches a trend for each Strawhat to have some kind of official sendoff from those close to them to show that they are glad the new pirate is following his dreams. There are some exceptions that can be pointed out but even in these cases it can be applied. Nami didn’t get hers when she first joined but did after settling things back home and officially accepting the title of pirate. Robin didn’t get one as everyone she knew and loved had died but after the rescue from Enies Lobby Ao Kiji pretty much gave her his blessing and acted in Saul’s place. Zoro’s really the only one that didn’t get a sendoff but him and Luffy were the only ones who left their homes by their own wills to achieve their dreams, so a sendoff means less in their cases. All others including Brooke had tragedies in their lives that made them put their dreams on hold, so a sendoff from their loved ones is necessary to show that they are finally moving forward with their lives and they can follow their dreams without feeling guilty for leaving friends behind. As Brooke, like Robin, has no one precious to give him this send off, it is Laboon we see so that we know his dream is appreciated. If Yorki ended up surviving as I suspect he might have, we may get another send off from him at the end of a later arc.


Proper Introduction

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now we just need the government to add in his bounty

Now that Brooke is officially part of the crew, he feels he must reintroduce himself so that they know who he truly is. We find out that his bounty is actually 33 million (which the shape of the numbers we saw before look nothing like) and that in his previous life he was known as “Humming Brooke.” In terms of his battle strength and standing I’d say that the number is very fitting for him. The more significant thing though is that the bounty makes the total bounty of the Strawhats an even 700 million…and fifty beri. This nicely rounded number implies that the total bounty won’t change for a while, which is further supported by the World Government’s announcement to keep the events of Thriller Bark a secret. This means two things. First of all, the next one or two arcs will likely be unknown to the World Government (like beating Enel on Sky Island was) or will offer just enough evidence for them to officially add Brooke’s name to the crew list and make the rounded number official. Secondly and sadly, this means Chopper will not get a chance to prove his strength in front of the World Government for a while, but this was expected anyways.


Final Resting Place

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Oda has heard our cries

After a couple days pass it is revealed that Usopp and Franky had undertaken the task of creating a grave for Brooke’s former crew. One minor thing to note is that this could be a precursor of the two of them working together on a number of inventions and we may see some upgrades to Sunny in the future. More importantly though, this project is very important to Brooke. It allows him to finally put to rest the bodies of his deceased nakama so that he doesn’t have to keep them with him at sea. He also notes the happy coincidence that as Thriller Bark is from West Blue just as they were, the crew would be buried in the soil of their homeland. After Brooke is left to honor them by himself, he is soon joined by Zoro, who has now awoken. The swordsman gives many of us what we have long been hoping for and we see him honor the death of Yubashiri. Zoro has carried this deceased sword with him until finding a new blade to take over its purpose, which parallels the way Brooke has carried the bones of his nakama up until now. Now that Brooke has the Strawhats and Zoro has Shuusui, the two pirates can tell their deceased comrades that their purposes have been passed on to a new generation and they can finally rest. At this time, Brooke also informs Zoro that he has joined the crew, which was previously unknown to the swordsman as he was sleeping. To this Zoro simply responds with a lighthearted warning and the most peaceful face I can ever recall him making.


Liftoff

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Pervs unite!!!

Now that Zoro is awake, Luffy decides not to waste any more time on Thriller Bark and to go straight to the underwater paradise of Fishman Island. Meanwhile Zoro gets scolded by Chopper as always for removing his bandages and some general goodbyes between the Strawhats and Lola’s group commence. We also find that Franky has taken the liberty of fixing the rudder and sails of Brooke’s old ship so that Lola’s group can make their way off the island. In looking forward to the adventure of Fishman Island, the two that are especially pumped are Brooke and Sanji, who are fueled by the idea of meeting beautiful mermaids. As usual, Brooke’s obsession lies in the mermaids’ panties, but this is quickly disputed by one of the Risky Brothers who announces that mermaids don’t wear panties. This information causes nosebleeds for the two pervs and they join their informer in a dance to celebrate this happy news. They don’t even notice when Robin points out the obvious flay in their celebration. As mermaids have tails instead of legs there is no need for panties. The only mermaids that would require the use of panties are the older ones whose tails split like Kokoro.


Lola’s Origins

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i'm scared to see the tree that bore this fruit

When questioned about how Lola’s group knows so much about Fishman Island, it is revealed that they are originally from the New World and came through the underwater paradise on their journey backwards through the Grand Line. There are two important things to note about this news. First of all, this means that travel backwards through the Grand Line is indeed possible despite the fact that log poses supposedly only point to islands in a path that leads forward. It could be that Lola was simply using an eternal pose to some point earlier in the Grand Line, but as her group seems pretty carefree, I’d assume that their journey was more of a general adventure and so the point was to experience a number of islands, which the eternal pose would cause you to skip. One idea I like is that there could be another type of log pose that points opposite the regular one and allows backwards travel. The second point to take out of this conversation is that Lola’s mother is a great pirate. As many of you have probably already considered, this might mean that her mother is the fourth Yonkou (as the third was revealed to be Kaidou). If the eventual Impel Down arc throws the Strawhats into the global conflict, having friendly relations to a Yonkou would be critical. Since reuniting with Shanks is still a long ways away and Whitebeard might be taken down (see my spoilered theory in the earlier section), this leaves Kaidou and possibly her. Since I’m of the opinion that Kaidou is representative of the evil member of the Yonkou due to the way he treated Moria’s crew, if he ever becomes an enemy of Luffy, having the forces of another Yonkou to back up the Strawhats is more than likely.


Magic Paper

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this doesn't seem physically possible...then again what does in One Piece?

In revealing her mother to be a powerful pirate, Lola decides to give Nami a piece of her mother’s vivre card, which is the same type of paper that Ace gave to Luffy back in Arabasta. This paper has been a mystery in the One Piece universe for a long time and it is nice to finally get some closure as to its purpose. Apparently by taking some fingernails to a special shop in the New World, you can get a piece of paper that is linked to your life force. It does not get damaged by fire or water but technically it could still be destroyed by shredding it to itty bitty pieces. After receiving it the person can give it to important individuals so as a link between them. The paper is naturally drawn in the direction of the person who it is linked to and so can be used as a compass that leads directly to the person though it cannot be used to determine the distance. Although Lola says that pieces are torn off and given to people, both the piece Lola initially has and the piece Luffy was given by Ace have no tear marks. It can be assumed that pirates as influential as Lola’s mother and Ace can afford to make a number of vivre cards and so give unripped pieces of paper to the important people rather than tear them as Lola said. This allows the recipients of the cards to rip off pieces and give them to others as a form of introduction to the original bearer. It is proof that the holder of the ripped piece is able to be trusted.


Brother’s Fate

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such sad circumstances under which to see this mystery resolved

In addition to the already named properties of the vivre card, it is revealed that the card is representative of the person’s life force. Upon seeing the burnt state of Ace’s vivre card, Lola becomes concerned because it means Ace is close to death. As I’m certain many of you have already concluded, this is a strong hint towards an Impel Down arc. However, I would not be so rash as to think this arc is what comes next in the Strawhat journey. One very important thing to notice about the card is that it is burnt, not burning. It is highly likely that Ace’s battle with Blackbeard put his life at risk and caused the card to be reduced to its current state. After that he was imprisoned in Impel Down and locked in with kairoseki, which would keep him weak but not dead. His life is not in direct danger right now so even if a rescue arc comes, the Strawhats have time to make one or two stops on the way. I think of this Impel Down arc as being of a similar nature to the Arabasta arc. Just like in the Arabasta arc, there was a grave threat that was learned early on but before actually getting to Arabasta the Strawhats had to make their way through a couple other islands. It is also important that before the Strawhats enter the global conflict by attacking Impel Down we have to give said conflict some time to develop further with one or two world changing events such as the fall of Whitebeard I predict or something along those lines. In any case, I’m pretty sure that this hint at the arc will not derail the current path to the underwater paradise. In fact, since the prison of Impel Down is underwater itself, going to see the fishmen might be a critical step in finding a way to infiltrate it. On top of all of this is the fact that the Strawhats just recently were blamed for the destruction of the Judgment Island of Enies Lobby, so Oda needs to put a bit more space between that event and an assault on another World Government stronghold.


Overall

I know I say this all the time, but Oda is by far the best mangaka of them all!!! Just a few chapters ago I hailed one of his chapters as epic due to the beautiful nature of Zoro’s sacrifice and how it was comparable to Merry’s unforgettable funeral chapter. This chapter shows its awesomeness in a totally different way. This chapter has given us more closure on more different issues than any other I can recall. It finalized Brooke’s recruitment, revealed the skeleton’s former bounty, gave us Yubashiri’s funeral, revealed the secret of the vivre cards, and foreshadowed a future plotline all in a single chapter. This is the equivalent of finding out Luffy’s father and grandfather and seeing the fruits of Coby and Helmeppo’s training back in the Water 7 wrap-up. This is definitely a spaz worthy chapter for any OP fan.

Absolutio
February 23, 2008, 10:10 PM
Awesome review which I've been waiting for! :D You didn't disappoint!
I really liked the analogy between Brooke's nakama and Zoro's sword. Both of them lost them, but got themselves "new" ones, and buried their remains at the same place. :D
About Lola's mother being a yonkou, that was my guess, and even further more, I think that this yonkou would be this Hancock.
http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/489/16/
Empress Hancock. Empress=female empror. emperor=yonkou. So I think it's pretty safe to bet that hancock IS the 4th yonkou. Moreover, it was mention right before lola's "mama" was mentioned, so maybe that's the connection.
Indeed an awesome chapter, and you summed it up excelently in your review.
great job! :D

Luckas
February 24, 2008, 06:47 AM
Excellent review, but there is a thing of which I'm not sure: do you think the top middle panel of this page (http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/489/14/) where Zoro says:"Luffy is the man who will become the Pirate King" happened when Zoro was talking with Kuma or in another occasion?

Absolutio
February 24, 2008, 06:50 AM
I think it was when Zoro talked to Kuma.
In my earlier post I forgot to say that I too think that there's a connection between fishman island to Impel Down. Both of them are underwater after all, so there might be some way that connects them both, like in Water 7 and Enies Lobby.

Splat
February 24, 2008, 10:26 AM
thanks for another great review. not sure if you didn't include it cos you thought it was too obvious or not, but "vivre" is french for "to live" which makes the property of it displaying life force much more intuitive.

sahugani
February 24, 2008, 10:39 AM
@Absolutio - i'm actually not so certain that Hancock and Lola's mom are one and the same. the way they mention her feels much different than the way they talk about Lola's mom. Hancock may even be a pirate of legend known for her beauty but long since dead or retired while Lola's mom is a Yonkou of the present day.

as for Impel Down and Fishman island i doubt that there is a direct route between the two as Impel Down is a high security prison and thus is required to limit its access routes. however i do agree that going to Fishman Island will yield the Strawhats some method of infiltrating it through an underwater raid

@Luckas - ya it was from when he talked to Kuma. Brooke was concious while Zoro gave that little speech and is recalling the moment as talking with Zoro now has reminded him of this man's strength and devotion
[hr]
@splat - i figured it had some lingual connection with life as the name sounded somewhat familiar but its been 4 years since i've had any French classes so no wonder i didn't notice

Highseas7
February 25, 2008, 11:16 AM
well man a review that doesn't disappiont but when do they ever? i was just wonderin and wanted ur feed bak on this if at all possible but now since there are two swordsman on the crew you think brooke and zoro will get along or have like some sort of rivarly/ training sessions with each other?

Absolutio
February 25, 2008, 03:35 PM
they will get along.. It's pretty obvious that zoro is way way stronger than brooke, so they shouldn't have any rivalry feelings.. But that's just my opinion.

sahugani
February 28, 2008, 06:24 PM
i'm with Absolutio on this that there won't be any swordsman rivalry between them. Brooke is not the same type of swordsman as Zoro (and i don't mean merely in the sense of their styles). not only is Brooke nowhere comparable to Zoro in terms of skill right now but his personality does not promote the idea of getting stronger at the same rate either. also, his personality is not the type to hold grudges and thus the same applies to the idea of rivalry. as for training together, as i said before, Zoro is so far above Brooke's level that the idea of helping eachother get stronger is a bit farfetched. at most we'll see Brooke act as he did in the Zoro/Ryuuma fight. while he doesn't have the strength to enter the same tier as Zoro, the fact that he is a swordsman gives him some insight into Zoro's skills and the skeleton voices that insight to the reader

lastly, we already have the rivalry angle with Zoro and Sanji, so why intrude on that with a new one?

Mooncrow
February 29, 2008, 03:24 AM
Not to mention that Brooke's true source of pride is in his music, rather than his swordsmanship.

Koen
March 04, 2008, 05:43 AM
excellent review, tells everything what I had in mind when reading the chapter though I am not good in reviewing you really do a great job and I'll read more in the future

Yashi
March 06, 2008, 07:33 AM
There won't be a swordman rivalry for sure, Brooke has shown before he's perfect for combinated attacks, he could also technically fight on water, and given his difference in strength compared to Zoro, there will never be a rivalry I'd say.

Interesting read about Ace, great review as always.

captainjustin
March 06, 2008, 01:37 PM
great review sahugani!

it's always nice to hear words from someone who is as obsessed with OP as i am, and it's a relief that it is written coherently, intelligently and with great understanding for all the characters.

for the record, i think you are spot on with your predictions. my guess is that there will be another female added to the crew before the final (10th) one you predicted.

looking forward to your future posts!