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sahugani
April 14, 2008, 05:33 PM
Sahugani’s One Piece Review 493-496

http://img527.imageshack.us/img527/2900/sanjirockbynami86nv0.jpg (http://nami86.deviantart.com/art/sanji-rock-64554734)
Sanji is just flat out cool

Hiya! Unfortunately, the time for reviews the past couple weeks were eaten up by spring break, but I’m back now. As you’ve likely noticed, I have gone black op from my global mod position because my schedule is a bit less predictable at the moment. Unfortunately I’ve had to stop my Bleach reviews this quarter, but I would never forgive myself if I stopped these for One Piece. At least now I won’t be faced with the task of attempting both and ending up with neither, which is good. I want to just get into it, but first there is a separate matter to attend to. JuniZorofan (http://youtube.com/user/JuniZorofan) has provided for us a whopping 4 AMVs since my last review. The first, Your Stupid Mother (http://youtube.com/watch?v=yiEtc3tx8XY) is comedic and done in AMV Hell fashion but has some Bleach mixed in. The second, They Not Gonna Get Us (http://youtube.com/watch?v=w02_Vo9MbjM) is without a doubt one of her best ever and I can’t stress enough how good it is SO WATCH IT!!! The next one, Let Go Control (http://youtube.com/watch?v=W8LTVwdroJI) is quite fitting for the latest turn in the story in relation to Sanji as it is a Baratie tribute. Finally, the latest of her creations is a tribute to both Sanji and Zoro titled Zoro & Sanji Lying My Way From You (http://youtube.com/watch?v=SmAKG2ObAhw). The pics in this review come from the scanlations by Basement scans for chapters 493-495 and the scanlation by des and Kylara for chapter 496. The title pic is a piece created by nami86 (http://nami86.deviantart.com/) over at DeviantArt, so go check out the rest of her stuff later.


Assassins Unite

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aww. they really do care about eachother

Since the side arc comes one page at a time for each chapter, I’m just going to deal with the whole side arc thing separate from the chapters. In the third chapter of this arc, we see the CP9 huddled together amid the rubble of Enies Lobby. Understandably absent is Spandam, who though head of the CP9, was not respected by the members. Another amusing little detail is that Kalifa is wrapped with a sheet. I think back to Franky’s little thumbs up as Nami looked for Kalifa’s key and wonder just how much clothes needed to be torn off and where exactly it was hidden. The title and Lucci’s slumped over position imply that he is still unconscious from the beating Luffy gave him. Though the CP9 is supposed to be a group of emotionless assassins, they looked up to Lucci as their leader (even Jyabura though he won’t admit it). as the title implies, their new goal is to save their leader.


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so the CP9 is now afraid of regular soldiers?

As their little story continues, Bleuno and Jyabura run recon and find that the World Government has sent forces to kill them. It is quite understandable. As the assassins who were not supposed to exist, if the information they knew was made public, it would be catastrophic for the government. After losing to the Strawhats, the government no longer trusts the strength of the CP9 and given that the option of firing them is too dangerous, they must kill them. Under normal circumstances, they might just assume that they fell in the buster call, but their former employers know that even when damaged by their latest fights, the strength of this CP9 was enough to survive a buster call and so they must go all out.


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and Kalifa still looks sexy

As they decide to leave the island, the CP9 walk on the tracks of the sea train to avoid detection. Jyabura is reluctantly carrying Kaku, who was apparently damaged by his fight with Zoro more than anyone else save Lucci. Kaku also seems to be giving directions, which on the straight train tracks could mean they are about to come to a split in the tracks. In addition to Water 7 and Enies Lobby, the tracks also lead to Saint Poplar, Pucchi, and San Faldo, one of which is revealed in the next chapter to be the destination. On a final note it seems Jyabura has sacrificed his shirt so that Kalifa has something to wear. I never thought of him as doing something gentlemanly but here it is.


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kind of a gloomy look for the name "Spring Queen"

Finally, the CP9 arrive at Saint Poplar, the City of the Spring Queen. I must say, when I think of “Spring Queen” I don’t think of rain. Unlike Pucchi, the City of Cuisine, this island’s title doesn’t give much to go on, so we can’t really tell what is in store for the guys here yet. Due to the rain and stone archway designs of the city, I am reminded of Burmecia, which those of you who have played Final Fantasy IX may understand. Whatever “Spring Queen” refers to, I’m not certain that we’ll be spending the entire side-arc here. Like other side arcs, we’ll likely be moving from island to island quite a bit. It seems it is now Bleuno’s turn to loose his jacket as a blanket for Lucci in this downpour.
[hr]

493: You Know

Luffy’s Whim

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that does look like fun

Well, the battle with the Flying Fish Riders has officially begun and Luffy calls for the other side to make their move while the other Strawhats get ready to defend the ship. The riders bolt out of the sea and into the sky. As I noted in a previous review, the flying fish fly more by gliding dives than by flapping their wings. The best description pointed out by Absolutio is to flying dragons from the movies. They gain high altitudes and from there simply use high speed dives and then use their “wings” to grab air currents at the bottom of the dive and glide back up. However, the drawback to this is that it takes a great amount of control to time that glide upward and prevent a high velocity crash into the water’s surface or the side of a targeted ship. Luffy however does not even consider this and decides to try his hand at flying one of these creatures. He commandeers one and throws the original rider off the back of the fish. In addition to this lack of training on Luffy’s part, it is revealed that the fish themselves are well trained and with the word of a different rider, all of the fish including Luffy’s dive into the water. While at first it seems a bit odd that Luffy’s fish would obey an order not directed by the handlebars on its head, it can be explained by the idea of fish schooling together. No doubt you have seen video of schools of fish in the ocean all turning in complete synch with one another. This case is much the same. Naturally, the flying fish act synchronously as a unit. The skill and strength of the flying fish riders allow them to control the fish’s flight paths and act individually, but if control is relaxed, the fish instinctively act as a school again. For someone like Luffy with no experience controlling the fish, it will instinctively return to the schooling behavior and dives with the rest. With this, the Flying Fish Riders have temporarily incapacitated Luffy and for some reason, Chopper and Brooke decide to save him despite sharing the same weakness of the devil fruit users.


Hachi’s Vengeance

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it must be useful to throw three right punches at the same time

With Luffy gone, the Macro crew sees an opportunity to recapture Caimie but unfortunately for them, Zoro has already cut down Hachi. As they prepare to take on the octopus fishman, we learn what their fighting styles are. It turns out that Tansui is a student of fishman karate like Kuroobi though it seems his version is likely pathetic in comparison. Gyaro is a swordsman that knows goldfish fencing, but we can assume that like Tansui’s karate, it is quite insignificant. Macro’s style though is not revealed as we’re not given time to see any of them fight before Hachi punches all of them into the sky. Although he was able to quickly dispatch those three, he is soon in trouble as a flying fish comes up behind him but is subsequently defeated by Zoro. After a bit of a walk down memory lane for these two we at least know that Hachi is sorry for trying to kill Zoro before even though technically he didn’t even hit the swordsman once with his six swords.


Kamikaze

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well that idea failed miserably

Back on the ship we are witness to Usopp’s first real job as the ship’s sniper since the Sunny is much better stocked with cannon power than Merry was. Making full use of this he is knocking flying fish out of the sky one by one with deadly accuracy. However, the Flying fish Riders change tactics and the large club user among them decides to attempt the “zero fight” approach. Basically this is a kamikaze run into the ship that under normal circumstances would be deadly, but since they mention medical fees rather than funeral fees before actually starting it, it seems it’s just painful as hell. Fortunately though, Luffy is back on his feet and together with Sanji mounts a counterattack. While Sanji kicks right through the guy’s club and into his face, Luffy blocks the fish with a gomu gomu no fuusen and slams it unconscious on the deck of the Sunny. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Luffy’s first thought after getting it onto the ship is to eat it. After that though he quickly returns to his desire to ride one.


Power of Music

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Brooke is Jigglypuff!!!

Next up to bat is Brooke, who feels the need to make himself useful as the latest addition to the Strawhat crew. The crew notices that there are still quite a few enemies flying around and it’s an insane idea that they could defeat them all one by one as they have been doing. Brooke comes up with an idea to thin the numbers a bit. Using his sword as the bow for his violin, he jumps into the air and releases a musical note that puts the flying opponents (along with Luffy and Chopper) to sleep. Once they drop from the sky, he runs along the water’s surface and slashes each of them. One of the reasons I had been skeptical about Brooke joining the crew throughout the Thriller Bark arc was that I could not really see any way that having a musician would be beneficial in terms of jobs on the ship, moving the story forward, or battle potential. Now we finally get to see how it can be effective in the third option. It’s not uncommon in video games and such for music to be used as a way to induce the sleep status effect in battle and that is exactly what Brooke does here. We can probably expect more musically induced status effects in the future but not too often or it will get old fast. We might see some confusion and have the enemies attack each other but sleep is still most likely the most useful and potent of his musical talents.


Oops

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the horror! THE HORROR!!!

With the Flying Fish Riders asleep, Luffy attempts to get his ride in the sky one more time. This time though he decides to let the rider steer as he lacks the skill to do so himself. Unfortunately, the rider is still asleep and can’t steer anyways. Fortunately for Luffy though, this time the fish isn’t headed into the water but instead headfirst into one of the buildings on the Flying Fish Rider base. As one of the riders points out, the building that was crashed into belongs to Duval, who the riders call head. This is a bit of an unusual term to use for the boss of an organization but as Duval is known for his iron mask on his head, it serves quite well as both a term of respect from his subordinates and as a nickname. When Luffy crashes through though, he sees the big man’s face without the mask and instantly recognizes it. With the Strawhat captain knowing what his face looks like, Duval picks up his harpoon gun and gets ready to let loose.
[hr]

494: Duval’s Tragedy

The Three Swordsmen

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the flash of Strawhat blades

As the fight outside continues on, the first image we see is Zoro panting. This is not due to the current fight since these guys are nothing in comparison to Ryuuma, Kaku, and Das Bones. He is still suffering from the aftermath of his confrontation with Kuma. The situation as a whole seems quite reminiscent of his state in the Arlong arc. After being brought near to death by a Shichibukai, he forces himself to continue fighting against weakling enemies while still carrying that previous damage. The presence of Hachi just goes to further this image. Luckily for him though, this time he had Chopper to attend to him instead of Usopp and Johnny. Concerned for Zoro’s health, Brooke skims his way over to the deck of the rider HQ to join his fellow swordsman. With both of their guards apparently down, a flying fish comes up behind them that Hachi takes notice of and defeats with a set of six swords he pulled from somewhere. Zoro was most likely fully prepared to raise his guard by the time the fish arrived, but I guess he decided to let Hachi have his moment. After the octopus fishman gets to enjoy the idea that he saved Roronoa Zoro, the flying fish rider that he had just felled rises once again and comes after him. This time his guard is down and so Brooke and Zoro take up the task of finishing the guy off.


Defending the Ship

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Franky is conditioned to people calling him hentai and rightfully so

With Luffy in Duval’s room and the swordsmen fighting from the rider HQ and defending Caimie, the rest of the Strawhats are left to defend the ship. Each of the remaining Strawhats demonstrate the highlights of each of their repertoires to defend their boat but notably absent is Sanji. Unfortunately this is not another case of Sanji leaving to something brilliantly strategic. This fight is still a brawl and nothing more. Oda is just saving the cook’s face time for later in the chapter. Meanwhile there are a few noteworthy nuggets from watching the others protect Sunny. The most notable thing is that Chopper has used his rumble ball to enter arm point. At the very least this gives us a bit of a timeframe on this upcoming major arc. Him using this once-a-day drug means that unless we are going to see a return of the all powerful monster point, this arc will not be a one day romp like Thriller Bark. We can expect a decently long time of peace before we get any major development of the arc’s major villains. While that fact is a little saddening, it means we’ll get some pretty good development of side characters in the meantime. Also of note in the battle but of lesser importance is the emerging habit of Franky to react every time he hears the word “hentai” no matter what the context. This is one little gag that gets easily lost in translation but is just classic and so I must thank Calos Net for including a translator note for it and hope that translators in the future don’t neglect to point out instances of this happening.


Rampage

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in Luffy's mind - thats a lot of steaks

While the crew deals with the ship, Luffy comes busting out of a building with harpoons flying at his feet and a gigantic bison chasing him. Apparently this bison, Motobaro, is Duval’s steed the same way his men ride the flying fish. It seems somewhat odd that the leader of a group known for their unique steeds would opt instead for such a creature for his own ride as it limits him to the ground. As the boss though he doesn’t do the regular jobs himself and instead relies on his subordinates, so he does not need the mobility of the flying fish while they do. Instead, his only concern is the sheer power to defeat the Strawhats when they come into his sights. He shows no regard for the stability of his HQ and simply demolishes everything in pursuit of Luffy. As he continues to rampage, he starts to explain bits about his past. Apparently he did not enter the business of human trafficking by his own desire. At the very least this makes him not an entirely dislikable character but the fact that he went into it at all still does not say much for him. I’ll get into that more later though.


The Target

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who could hate such a pretty face?

After a bit of monologuing, it is revealed that the person among the Strawhats that ruined his life was in fact Sanji. This came out of the blue because we had assumed before that Duval’s hatred had been boiling for years. In that case the best candidates for Duval’s enemy were Zoro for his bounty hunter past or Franky for a large number of reasons. In any case, Sanji and the others try to figure out why Duval would hate him and come to the conclusion that it must have been due to an incident at the Baratie. However, Duval says that the inciting incident was much more recent. However, Sanji just cannot figure it out and Luffy decides to unmask the guy so that everyone can see what he saw.


Unveiling

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you poor soul

With Duval unmasked, everyone present is shocked. It is revealed that his face is nearly identical to the hand drawn face on Sanji’s bounty poster save that the swirl on the right eye is upside-down. His grudge comes from the fact that he would regularly be mistook for Black Leg Sanji by marines and bounty hunters, making him live his life constantly on the run. The only outlet he could figure out is to don a mask and take revenge on the person whose bounty poster ruined his life. We all knew that Sanji’s bounty poster would be the source of a few running jokes but I don’t think anyone saw this coming. During the last arc we got to see Oz use Luffy’s simple mind to recognize Sanji by the poster instantly (while still easily foiled by Sogeking’s mask), but this is on a whole other scale. At the very least this means we won’t be getting a new bounty picture for Sanji for a while if ever since Oda has too much fun with it. I think that also means its safe to assume none of the Strawhat bounties will change either. I’ve long held that we won’t see a new bounty until at least the arc after Fishman island and this only makes me more sure of it. There is also another matter of time that comes out of this matter. Just how much time has passed since Sanji’s bounty poster was issued? We know that the events of Thriller Bark took one day and a few days of recuperation after that, so all the other time since the bounties are simply undefined days at sea. In that time, Duval has supposedly had a number of encounters with marines and bounty hunters, moved away from his country home to here, and established a reputation for himself while his subordinates mastered the art of riding the flying fish. That lends quite a bit of evidence that at least two or three months have passed since the bounties were issued. If that’s the case, then it means similar timeframes can be applied to the times between other arcs and it means this journey as a whole must have passed a year at least. It would be really nice of Oda would say the overall timeframe and update the crew’s ages through an SBS or something.
[hr]

495: The Gaon Cannon

Reactions

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buy him a fake mustache

Each of the Strawhats react to Duval’s face exactly as we would expect them to. Robin morbidly talks about Sanji’s likelihood to have an interesting death, Franky starts crying for Duval’s painful story, Chopper wonders in amazement at the odds, Luffy and Hachi see no difference between the two, Zoro agrees with the similarity just to irk Sanji, and Brooke just laughs hysterically. As for Sanji, he at first just gets angry but then offers ideas on how Duval could have changed his appearance to look different from the poster, an idea that apparently never occurred to him or his subordinates. When you think about it there are a number of ways he could have done this. Had he justified himself by wanting to maintain his own identity and appearance as it had been before the bounty poster, it would have made sense. It would just be a matter of not wanting to be forced to change against his will. However, in this case it is just a matter of being a dumbass.


Old Life

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damn that bastard is tall

As Duval tells the story of his life before Sanji’s bounty popped up, he reveals that he used to run a mafia out in the countryside. He describes this mafia as if it was an entirely peaceful and legitimate practice compared to pirating, which is somewhat amusing. After the picture came out, he was attacked by a crew of strong marines. To me this seems a bit odd and I know its useless getting nitpicky about Oda’s logic, but these marines must have been insanely stupid to attack Duval. As it is confirmed and widely known that Black Leg Sanji is part of the Strawhat pirate crew, it is illogical that they would go after a lead about the Black Leg when there is no evidence of the rest of the Strawhats and there are plenty of people around to confirm his identity as Duval. Unlike a pirate that moves from island to island, a mafia is firmly established and everyone around would know the head very well. For the marines to not check up on this lead first, they must be idiots. That’s just me being nitpicky though.


Pinned

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oh noes!!!

After Sanji proves he is quite clearly stronger than Duval, he is ambushed by two Flying Fish Riders carrying a steel net, which they use to drag him down into the ocean. This is somewhat of a parallel to when Luffy first recruited Sanji. After the fight with Krieg, Luffy was trapped under a sinking net and being dragged to the bottom of the ocean. Sanji was the rescuer then, but now the tables are turned and he is trapped under the net. Unfortunately, Luffy’s devil fruit makes him incapable of being the savior this time. On top of that both Zoro and Hachi are not able to save him because the flying fish are so much faster than both humans and fishmen. However, it is revealed that there is still one person more than capable of rescuing Sanji, Caimie.


Sea’s Fastest

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this is exactly what Sanji wanted way back during Enies Lobby

We find out that mermaids are in fact the fastest beings in the entire ocean. While generally, being the best at something is a qualifying mark at becoming a Strawhat, in this case it can’t be counted as it is a trait of her race and not just herself. Each Strawhat is unique and special in a way that transcends races and preconceived superiorities. Traits that are unique on a racial level but not on an individual level cannot be counted. If we find out that she is in fact the fastest of the mermaids, I’ll admit that she has a shot at being a future Strawhat but until then I’m staying on the side against the idea. She also still has yet to display any offensive ability so right now I’m sitting pretty firmly against her recruitment. On top of that, this info brings up the very good point of how she could be captured or eaten so often if she is supposedly faster than any pursuer that could come after her. Unfortunately for her, the reason for this is her own stupidity and gullibility.


Super Sunny

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this goes down as one of my favorite Luffy faces

While Caimie deals with Sanji below the ocean’s surface, the Flying Fish Riders drag something out of the water that threatens the safety of the Sunny. Using a number of flying fish, they hoist up a huge anchor directly above the ship and get ready to drop it. to counter this, Franky reveals a couple modifications to the Sunny that had not yet been revealed. The first is a fast moving evasive maneuver called chicken voyage that spins the mane of the lion figurehead to become a propeller. This bolts the ship backwards with quite a bit of force in order to dodge the anchor. The second modification is much more incredible. Franky tells Usopp to enter the gunner seat in the prow and reveals a cannon from the lion’s mouth. The targeting scope is wide enough to allow Usopp to get a number of flying fish in its range before firing a massive blast of air titled the gaon cannon. In addition to the air coming from the cannon at the front, there is also a blast of coup de burst coming from the back end of the ship. For those of you that read Reborn (and I suggest that you do cause it is great) it is quite similar to the x-burner in that it uses a backwards blast to stabilize the ship while firing a forward blast to deal insane damage. With a normal ship, firing two such blasts would cause the boat to be crushed in between them but the Sunny’s Adam’s wood frame allows it to withstand such an incredible force unscathed. After the blast settles, the destruction has decimated Duval’s HQ, took out most of the flying fish, and left Luffy, Usopp, and Chopper starry eyed.


Gone to Heaven

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tch! Sanji's so lucky

While the gaon cannon wreaked its destruction above the water’s surface, Caimie made quick work of her job saving Sanji. In addition to rescuing him from the net, she proceeded to tangle the flying fish and riders in the net. I guess in terms of battle potential, this underwater speed is indeed a remarkable asset but as I said before, the fact that it is a trait of the race and not her as an individual dampens the spectacular aspect of it. However, the effectiveness of it is enough to suggest that she might take quite an active role in later battles of the arc. Caimie and Hachi will likely fill battle roles similar to Pell in Alabasta, Gan Fall and Wiper in Skypeia, and the Galley-la foremen and Franky Family in Enies Lobby. While still nothing compared to the Strawhats, their usefulness in combat is nothing to be laughed at. Other than that, the one noteworthy thing about her rescue is that she made the mistake of resting Sanji’s head between her breasts, which nearly killed Sanji in pure happiness.


Ability’s Birth

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Bwahahaha!!! This is the power of the Pirate King!

Now comes what I consider to be one of the greatest early-arc moments of all time. Duval has lost his HQ and men to Franky’s gaon cannon and has lost his opportunity for revenge on Sanji due to Caimie’s speed, so all he has left to fight with are his poison harpoons and his gigantic bison. Since the Strawhats have thus far proven their skill in dodging the harpoons, he decides to unleash his pet on Luffy before turning it to his curly-brow enemy. Unfortunately for him, the beast’s charge fails and then feints and foams at the mouth after Luffy merely threatens it. This is the exact same skill we saw Shanks use to knock out a large number of Whitebeard’s men when the two Yonkou last met. Essentially, it is simply the person’s mere spirit and will overpowering the consciousness of weak willed individuals. This is huge in a number of respects. First of all, it proves that this is not an ability that Shanks consciously developed but rather was simply born to him the same way it was to Luffy once his own ability to intimidate reached a certain point. This means that it is also likely not limited to these two but is also most likely an ability shared by a number of such powerful beings. On a more symbolist level, it represents a growth of Luffy to a tier closer to his goal. Achieving this ability puts him on the same path as Shanks in becoming a world power. While at the moment this ability is downplayed, I’m certain that it will pop up again later this arc or at least by the next arc as someone draws a more direct connection between him and Shanks after seeing the skill. This is too big a benchmark for Oda to simply ignore.


Finishing Touch

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no appointment needed. free plastic surgery by Sanji

When Luffy is about to finish off Duval, Sanji interrupts and lays claim to the privilege of decking the big guy. It really is a matter that Sanji needs to deal with himself in the end since Duval’s issue is with him. After dodging a barrage of poison harpoons, Sanji unleashes the same technique he used on Wanze. When used before, Sanji restructured the guy’s ugly face to resemble a character from bishounen manga. i would go more into it, but as we actually see the results next chapter, I’ll save it till then.
[hr]

496: Yarukimon Grove

Feast

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blarg! this reminds me that i have yet to try takoyaki

Well Luffy finally gets his takoyaki from Hachi and plenty of it. For saving Hachi, Caimie, and Pappagg, the Strawhats are treated to a limitless free meal. Luffy can’t stop stuffing his face though that has always been the case with practically any food. Meanwhile Sanji is wondering how Hachi makes it so good. Though he is a world class chef, he still makes it a practice to pick up recipes as he travels in order to better his craft, so though Hachi refuses to give up his secrets, we may see Sanji trick the stupid octopus into revealing it in the end. We know from his previous interactions with Zoro just how easy he is to trick. While he is happy that the Strawhats like his cooking, the person he is most concerned with is Nami. While he by no means expects her to forgive him for his part in Arlong’s gang, he at least wants to remake himself in her eyes so they can begin to make peace. To his delight, she compliments his cooking so they are definitely on the path of healing the wounds. While most of the Strawhats eat their takoyaki at the counter of Hachi’s floating shop, Robin, Zoro, and Franky are left on the Sunny. For Zoro and Robin this is quite fitting as they prefer quiet meals anyway, but for Franky I can only assume he is there due to lack of room at the counter for his wide shoulders.


The New Duval

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Sanji's Plastic Surgery - 1 satisfied customer

While the Strawhats eat their meal, they are approached by the new Duval. He is so pleased with his new appearance that he has started mistakenly calling himself Handsome. Like it did with Wanze, Sanji’s attack altered Duval’s bone structure to dramatically change his appearance. At least in this case the end result is a bit more normal looking than Wanze’s version was. In addition to the shock of his new face, we also see that his bison, Motobaro, is capable of swimming at the water’s surface through the use of some steam powered contraption. Also, now that he no longer needs the mask to hide his identity, it seems he has also dropped the need to suppress his accent. He has come back in order to thank Sanji for the new look. While he now plans to go back to his countryside mafia, he will be around the area for a while longer just in case the Strawhats need to call in a favor. I think it is safe to assume that we will see Duval again before the arc is through as I can’t see Oda introducing such a character if he didn’t have some later significance. As they continue their chat with him, communication with the guy becomes more and more useless as his new sense of narcissism becomes clearly apparent. By the end of the conversation, he interprets anything the Strawhats say as praise of his beauty or simply ignores it as he is distracted by his own reflection. In the end, he gives the Strawhats his den den mushi number and rides off.


Peace with Hachi

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if there was ever a former bad guy side character deserving of redemption, it is Hachi

With Duval gone and the giant meal over, a number of the people present are passed out from exhaustion due to eating or cooking. Now that peace has been reached between the Strawhats and Hachi, they invite him, Caimie, and Pappagg to have some tea aboard the Sunny. While the tea is served, the serious members of the crew discuss Fishman Island and the Red Line while Chopper makes sure Luffy is still healthy after eating so much food. According to Pappagg, one of the two routes to cross the Red Line is the overland route that, while safer, bears a number of problems for the Strawhats specifically. One issue that infuriates Franky is that in order to go this route, the ship must be abandoned and a new one must be bought once the New World is reached. Suffice it to say that that reason alone is enough to make this route a bad option for the crew that just got the wonderful Thousand Sunny. However, the biggest reason against this idea is that Mariejoa, the Government holy land, lies at the summit of the Red Line. Since requesting passage though there is known as the legal method, anything else must be considered extremely illegal. As pirates, The Strawhats have no chance of gaining clearance to pass through. Finally, using that method bypasses Fishman Island entirely, which is not acceptable to either Luffy or Sanji.


Fishman Island

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woot!

With the overland option impossible for this crew, the only other option for them is to pass underneath the Red Line through Fishman Island. I said a while back that Fishman Island would be inside the Red Line and it is apparently the case (though my thoughts on how to enter it were seemingly wrong). It is located at the seabed in a wide tunnel that spans the base of the Red Line. However, this option includes the danger of being eaten by sea monsters and so most people opt for the overland route. One thing to consider is that if the overland route is considered the legal route that must be approved by the Government, we can assume that the route through Fishman Island, which requires no Government clearance, is considered an illegal passage. This would mean that Fishman Island is inhabited by outlaws. This supports the idea that the events here would not be counted by the Government in creating bounties or at least would take a while to reach them. It is likely that the main enemy of this arc will be an outlaw himself based on both this and the fact that the last two opponents have been Government affiliated. In many respects this arc will be the underwater parallel of Skypeia though I am hesitant to say that due to Oda’s impeccable ability to stay original. There will be many similar aspects, but in the end it will be its own unique arc that stands separate from the others.


Mangroves

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quite possibly the coolest trees ever

Eventually, the Sunny comes to the Shabondy Archipelago, which is a series of seventy nine mangrove trees that never sink below the tide. Although Robin initially fears that the log pose will react to this stop and change course, the fact that these are merely a collection of trees and not a true island quells these concerns. Each tree is numbered as one of seventy nine groves and each bears a town that while separate from the towns of other groves is closely connected to each of them by a series of bridges between them. Grove 44 is known as the civilian entrance and to the Sunny is piloted through the roots of this grove to enter the archipelago. The presence of a civilian entrance implies the existence of non-civilian entrances, which would be fitting with the idea that Fishman Island is considered outside the World Government’s control and as the only place that provides human passage to the underwater paradise, the Shabondy Archipelago is the same way. There are certain VIPs that are allowed to enter through other groves due to connections. In any case, the Strawhats end up parking the Sunny on Grove 41, making the number system for the groves act like a parking garage for visitors. Since one of the groves seems to house a theme park, this makes perfect sense. Sadly, regarding the theme park, it is Caimie’s dream to ride the ferris wheel but for some reason she is incapable of it. due to the presence of the park, I’m sure we won’t be going down to Fishman island for a while, so there is still time for us to find out the details of this.


Resin

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these make me want to blow bubbles for the first time in years

In addition to the odd nature of the mangroves existing so far at sea, the crew is also shocked to find that the numerous bubbles surrounding the archipelago are actually secreted directly from the exposed roots of the trees. The roots secrete a resin and as the trees release lightweight gases either from their own metabolism or carried from the ocean bottom, the gases are encapsulated by the resin to form rising bubbles. The resin is also tough enough so that Luffy can hop on them rather roughly without them popping. Apparently, the goal of coming to this place is to find a coating mechanic who will cover the Sunny in this resin in order to allow it to sink to the ocean floor safely. I think I can see the basis behind what the plan is but this is really just speculation. We have seen through Luffy’s jumping around that the resin bubbles are extremely tough. If these bubbles were to be pulled down to the ocean bottom instead of into the air, I have no doubt that the resin would be strong enough to maintain its shape even under the high pressure of the ocean floor. By coating the ship in the resin, the ship becomes able to withstand these pressures as well. After that, they are able to use some kind of system in order to pull the boat under the sea all the way down to the island. I am still convinced that Fishman Island itself exists within an air-filled cavern under the Red Line that is accessible through the undersea tunnel, so once the crew is in there, Fishman Island will be little different than other islands except that it is lit by bioluminescent fish or liquids rather than sunlight.


Fear of Nobles

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dun dun dun!!!

Before heading off to the mechanic, Hachi makes Luffy promise one thing though it’s a promise I can easily see being broken or almost broken. He makes them promise not to defy the world nobles even if it meant ignoring a murder. This clears up two major things in my book. First of all, I mentioned before that Fishman Island would be considered out of the government’s control and in light of this new evidence I’d now say that is half true. The truth is that with Fishman Island being known as an underwater paradise, it attracts the rich and influential individuals from the world of humans. For these people, money is power and so they are basically given free reign to do whatever they want on their private property and the government does not stick its nose into it because it doesn’t want to anger its financial backers and in their eyes it’s only fishmen being victimized. When you recognize that just outside at the water’s surface there is a thriving industry of kidnapping humans, fishmen, and mermaids, it becomes clear that these people are the buyers in this market. They purchase these kidnapped people as slaves to work for them at their paradise estates. The second point this makes is that it identifies the pool from which the Strawhats’ opponents will rise in this arc. These are people who consider themselves above the law and are granted such status by the government’s blind eye. Luffy will clearly not stand for their actions and while on Fishman Island, some incident will push Luffy’s anger over the edge. Luffy’s opponent will most likely be an influential noble. Regarding how his strength could end up rivaling Moria’s and Lucci’s it is still far too early to tell, but as I said before, money is power for these people. He likely either hired individuals strong enough to fight the Strawhats or used his money to purchase the most advanced weapon systems. On the issue of the arc’s aftermath, as the government would want to keep quiet the issue of the identities of who funds them, they would likely hold back on issuing bounties once again until the Strawhats fought a battle that it was alright to go public with.


Overall

Blarg. The true problem with reviews this size is not the sheer magnitude of the material being covered but how much of a pain it is to get back into the swing of it after real life issues make me stop and start again later. Oh well. In terms of the chapters themselves I must say I am more than pleased. In addition to Luffy acquiring Shanks’ technique and Duval’s becoming one of the most amusing side characters ever (both before and after Sanji’s face surgery), I absolutely love the Shabondy Archipelago’s design. While I do really enjoy each of the individual aspects of this arc, the thing that really attracts me to it is that even though the manga is black and white, it feels so much more colorful than any arc that preceded it. This is especially the case after coming out of the very dark Thriller Bark arc. It seems to be a return to the Strawhats running headfirst into trouble rather than it coming after them, which is something we haven’t had since Skypeia.

noonethere
April 15, 2008, 09:25 AM
Thanks a lot for the review.Nice to see you back:)

Highseas7
April 15, 2008, 10:26 AM
man once again man another one out of the park and i agree that this one does seem to have more colorfulness both physically and methaphorically spelled wrong i know but when does Oda ever do something normal?

Serpent
April 15, 2008, 10:52 AM
what can i say it was worth the wait
its somewhat sad you wont be able to review bleach now but i am thankful you havent given up on one piece

I really like the way things are progressing now the strawhats are becoming really organised and strong

Raysen_ht
April 15, 2008, 02:13 PM
Great!!!!!!!! ur back!!
I loved the Gaon cannon i think the sunny is a preety strong ship!!
can u imagine just how berseck franky would get if they decided to leave the ship??
i cant even imagine what he would do...
This archipelago is a great place to hide since the log never points to it, so i think almost everyone there has done something wrong, but not illegal.
on the nobles subject...
i think they are protected by the WG and thats why Hacchi dont want the SH to mess with them...


OFF:
Shahugani, have u ever read "Death Note"?? i think u would really like it, its very intelectual

Sarmad
April 15, 2008, 03:02 PM
First of all - thank you soo much for this! ^^

Though i like your single-chapter-supernew-reviews (weird name ..^^) a little better than the reviews in this format, it's still fantastic and since you got to study, it can't be helped anyway! :)

I really loved reading the last few chapters as they were pretty fun and easy to read. But i gotta say, the latest chapter is just "suuuper"! ^^

Where can i even start?
The JOKES! The jokes in 396 were freakin' hilarious! Brook blurping and farting and Nami's reaction to it!! WTH? XD and there were so many more scenes like this!

And I really couldn't agree more with you that Duval is one of the funniest minor characters in One Piece! I wonder what kind of help he will (certainly) provide for the strawhats. As his new face offers many possibilities, i can imagine that Duval could have the exact same or at least similar looks like someone of those world nobles! XD It's a long shot, but the more super if it would actually happen.

What i also liked about this chapter was the rather little scene between Nami and Hacchi, though it was obvious from the start that they'll make their peace somehow, since Hacchi was never that bad/evil a character to begin with.

And what makes me really curious about the future arc is the whole deal about these "World Nobles".
I probably would've never made the connection between the Nobles and the human trafficking if you hadn't mentioned it!
But what i thought, when Hacchi warned the crew about those seemingly either very influential or powerful individuals, was that if they're really Nobility, they must have a deeper root in OnePiece history! [Hail to those flashback chapters of Bleach :)] Maybe they'll provide info about why Mariejoa is holy.^^ Can't say for sure just now ..
What doesn't or wouldn't makes sense about them yet though is why they live or walk around Fishmen Island, when there's holy land about 10000feet (was it?) above them.
Anyway i'm all psyched about the coming arc and we certainly can expect much, as it started pretty promising! :D

sahugani
April 15, 2008, 04:13 PM
noonethere - thanks

Highseas7 - true. Oda is rarely conventional and that is what is so great about the series

Serpent - i'm going to miss reviewing Bleach especially now that the current awesome gaiden has started but it's too exhausting trying to do both and One Piece is still superior

Raysen_ht - yes it is certainly a possibility that the nobles do indeed have the protection of the government, but i still feel that even if that is the case, the opponent this arc will not have a direct connection like the last two did, as for Death Note, i have read it and it is an incredible series. L is one of my favorite characters ever

Sarmad - i'll try to keep up with the singles each week, but as this last run proved, there are no guarantees. as for Duval, it certainly would be an amusing thought for his new looks to get him in with the nobles, but i think most of them are probably ugly anyways with just a high status and lots of cash, so it wouldn't help. regarding Nami and Hachi, i too loved that little moment because it is nice to see rehabilitation from likable bad guys but except for the antihero types that join the main cast in many stereotypical shonen, its rare to actually get hints of forgiveness. while Hachi's forgiveness is still a while away, i'm glad to see him on the path. i like what you said about the nobles' history in the One Piece world as well. since they are entrenched so near to the holy land, perhaps they are the families of the government's first generation. they got rich during the government's conquest in the hidden century and established their family houses near the holy land and act as the government's secret keepers. this arc promises to be spectacular in any case

Absolutio
April 26, 2008, 11:16 AM
glad to have you back! Almost reviewed those chapters myself, but due to me being in the army now, I don't have any time at all but at weekends, and that's only every 2nd weekened or such.. :s so that's also the reason for the late reply. :s
Well, since already 2 chapters were out since this review, nothing much to be said. Only thing I can think of is that the chapter that showed duval's face was probably the funniest chapter of all One Piece, and after reading this chapter and crying with laughter, I thought "thank god for me not reading One Piece spoilers!". The wait just worth it! xD