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haruka9
September 23, 2008, 11:06 AM
CHAPTER 515: ADVENTURES ON THE ISLE OF WOMEN

After missing the previous story for review, I make sure that I find the time to write one for this new chapter. Even if it seems to be late, I still have this interest to post and share my ideas. I will insert some of my thoughts regarding the previous chapter in some of the panels that I will take into account. I hope you appreciate reading my review. I also apologize for lacking thumbnails for my review. Imageshack is not working by the time I post this review and I don't have any membership to other file hosting sites. So, please bear with this. I guess I'll just post links to subsitute this lack of pictures T__T


Small Token of Appreciation
http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/515/01/

Last chapter, the CP9 agents decided to leave the island. After impressing the village people with their strength and shocking them with their tendency for violent punishment to criminals later, they think that departure will be their next best move. Though their actions are intended to protect the people, the casualties they create are palpable. Because of such damage, it is inevitable that this incident will be reported to Marines and even to World Government. With this, an investigation might take place and their identities might be traced. The result won’t look good for them. Since their failure to capture the Straw Hats in Ennies Lobby, their former bosses have surely been looking for them; they have held many top secret missions which usually included assassinations. This is why CP9 should be kept somewhere; otherwise, the possibility of the revelation of World Government’s secret will get higher.

This time, a little girl expresses her thanks with a flower. She gives this to Califa while Fukouru, Kumadori, and Jyabura seem to have shocked expressions. This gesture shows unspoken appreciation for saving the village. Califa seems to understand the meaning behind this flower as she smiles and moves to accept the child’s gift. On the other hand, the other three’s expression is only natural and understandable since this is possibly their first time to experience such a sweet gesture. They have been working under the command of World Government, carrying murderous missions. Of course, there won’t be any welcoming reactions from their victims or witnesses of their brutal goals. But now that the CP9 agents are departing, we might see another panel showing the other four members in the next chapter. Another CP9 feature or two, and this mini arc will probably move on to Moria’s new adventures. If Oda dedicates few panels for them in the following chapters, it will be a display of the CP9’s new location. After that, I guess this will be the best time to move on to CP9’s mini story and head to Moria’s new life.


Female Empowerment
http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/515/02-03/

Luffy landed to what seemed an uncharted territory. But even before setting his foot in this deep jungle, he noticed a gigantic paw that appeared like a helicopter pad. I guess this pad is the indication of Kuma’s ability for instant transportation. He used Rayleigh’s vivre card to guide him back to Shabondy Island and to his nakama. His reactions, on the other hand, regarding what happened back then were far from what I expected. I was hoping to see another side of Luffy, where we can actually see him falter from solitude and exile. Even so, what he showed us in the previous chapter seemed to fit his personality. Luffy isn’t really the type to sulk in one corner and cry for a long time. He always manages to pull himself together, though inside of him, he is falling apart. He even uses the “laughing mushroom” to cheer himself up even if he is fully aware that he feels so alone. His adventure in this island can be described as “arc within an arc.”

Moving on, Luffy’s location is actually Amazon Lily, the land of female warriors. I think Sanji will be really envious once he gets to know that Luffy gets to be surrounded and pampered by beautiful women. But kidding aside, Luffy still cannot bask, for the Kuja women “shouldn’t be taken lightly.” Awareness of his real gender will immediately put him in danger (though not in an epic scale like in Shabondy). We are already familiar with the nature of Amazon warriors since their stories have been used in many series. However, I find it better to research about them and share it here in my review.

The usage of “Amazon” in this chapter can be characterized in two ways: one refers to the Amazon river/jungle located in South America; and the tribe name of all-female warriors told in Greek mythology. What makes this interesting is that Oda synergizes two characteristics to accentuate Luffy’s mini arc. The Amazon jungle is home to 1/3 various species of animals around the world. Snakes are one of the famous animals that live there. The setting of the movie “Anaconda” is Amazon river and is used to describe the danger and the eminent life of the snakes. This idea is applied here in this chapter as “Kuja women” are accentuated with snakes (can be actual ones) that rest on their shoulders. Even their weapons have some touches of their scales. The Amazon women (in Greek mythology), on the other hand, live with an annual practice of visiting a neighboring village called Gargareans. This is where they are allowed to have sex with men and all the male children are either thrown out or are given back to their fathers. They are also skilled in hunting, agricultural pursuits, and war. These ideas are clearly used as reference for this chapter. On a different side of note, Kuja is believed in Hindu society that literally means “ burning coal” or “fair person.” It is often associated with a myth named “Kuja Dosha” which brings marital problems. Contrary to its snake and Amazon theme, the setting of their village looks like a fortress similar to the façade of The Great Wall of China and their houses looks very similar with ancient Chinese temple.


Golden Bag
http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/515/08/

After being cured from the venomous danger of mushrooms, Luffy finds himself waking up amidst the curious gazes of the women. Since this is their first time to see a man, they never fail to give comments to every move that he makes. Even his physical features aren’t saved from their casual remarks. Furthermore, they generalize the characteristics of men from Luffy. The “kintama,” that’s first introduced in Sky Island is brought up again but in a very hilarious way. This can be a good forum topic as to how the other Straw Hat men and other male One Piece characters will react if they were in Luffy’s place. Anyway, the Kuja women’s ignorance about men and about outside their village can harm them. The danger behind it is that villainous people might take advantage of their innocence and use them as instruments to get what they want. Good thing they are trained to possess strength and courage in order to protect them. This characteristic definitely opposes the idea spread in fairy tales where their beauty is defined with the fairness of their appearance and usually portrayed as damsels in distress.


Defense Mechanism
http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/515/10/

After the funny part where the curious women asks Luffy to remove his kintama, the scene shifts to the shortage of his temper as he realizes that his famous red vest gets decorated with “frills.” His total admittance that he is a guy, with a stern tone triggers the women to harden their guard, pointing their bows and arrows at him. The next ideas that I will discuss are somewhat gender-sensitive, but please do not mistake me as a sexist; I will merely state an issue that has been bothering many people for many years. The idea behind Amazon women is “female empowerment,” where they do things that are comparable to the works of men. Hunting is an example of this, where guys usually do the trouble of finding brute prey and kill them. On the other hand, their isolation is mirrored as “women’s independence” where they show that they can live properly or conveniently without the help of men. The same idea is applied in this chapter. There is also a notable issue behind Luffy’s short temper and the Kuja women’s on-guard reaction after his burst of temper. Luffy’s anger after finding out that his vest is changed can be described as a man’s annoyance from a girl’s tendency to overkill things. I have seen in many TV series and have read in many reading materials a scene where a man gets annoyed after his girlfriend/wife overdoes things. This thought can be seen in Luffy’s reaction. Meanwhile, the Kuja women feel wronged, saying “going wild without a thought for the kindness of those who have saved your life.” This phrase and their immediate, defensive response reflect abuse among women. I phrase Oda for depicting such a serious matter without making the scene too dark or too disturbing. One Piece is a shonen series, yet, the mangaka doesn’t fail to incorporate important issues while maintaining the casual tone of the series.


Men, Forbidden!
http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/515/11/

Luffy realizes that he is in deeper trouble as Kikyou, a fierce-looking warrior explains their law. Because the women are overcome by their curiosity and sympathy over his poor condition and his characteristics, no one seems to think of the rippling effect in their village. Since, for the first time, they see a man, the consequences can be serious for Margaret, Sweetpea, and Aphelandra since they are the ones who brought Luffy in their village. It can be similar in Conis and Pagaya’s situation back in Sky Island. Despite Kikyou and the others’ refusal to welcome Luffy in their village, it is undeniable that the appearance of a man will open doors for different dogma among these women…. The only problem is whether this belief will create a new, good ideology regarding men or their thoughts on the opposite gender will remain firm, or will even become stronger.


Doubtful Intentions
http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/515/15/

While Luffy doesn’t have any bad intentions with Margaret, taking the girl with him and escaping to the jungle make him look guiltier. This means that in the eyes of the Kuja warriors, his reasons for coming to their island bears bad intentions. Since he appears to be defenseless against their wrath, Luffy takes Margaret as his hostage. Their point of view probably tells them that the latter will become the instrument for his freedom. On the other hand, his true reason for taking his savior is to get Rayleigh’s vivre card. Aside from the fact that he doesn’t have the time to lounge around the village, it is much safer to ask for what he truly needs away from the eyes of those who accuse him. Moreover, this will save Margaret from looking guiltier, since giving Luffy his vivre card might appear that she’s aiding an intruder.


Stranger's Story
http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/515/18/

As he manages to escape from raining arrows with Margaret, he immediately takes his doorway to his nakama – his vivre card. With the absence of tension, he’s able to explain what really happened to him and to his nakama. Since Margaret seems to be less anxious around Luffy, she will have the chance to know not only about Luffy and his good nature but about the world outside as well. This might become the way for her to become his alliance for a moment and might actually aid him, if not to reach Shabondy, but to escape the wrath of their island.


Another Yonkou?
http://www.onemanga.com/One_Piece/515/19/

Despite the women’s ignorance about the things outside their village, “piracy” is not a foreign term to them. In fact, as explained by Margaret, the one who leads the Kujas is a pirate, with the title of “Pirate Empress,” Boa Hancock. Like the combined application of ideas regarding Amazon jungle and Amazon warriors, the origin of the names “Boa” and “Hancock” may have significance in this chapter. “Boa” is in fact, a name of a snake specie which can be found in the Caribbean. It is very appropriate to name the Amazon Lily's leader/snake princess after an actual snake name. “Hancock” on the other hand, can be derived from many different origins. There are numerous famous people sharing similar name, but I guess the closest one comes from Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock, Massachusetts. Its famous construction, the Shaker Barn, is round in shape, similar to the fortress of the Kuja’s village.

Boa Hancock’s title certainly triggers us, readers. For one, she can be one of the yonkou, or the four pirate emperor ruling Grand Line. Since she’s a female and expresses some sensitivity in gender, it is only natural and even civil to call her an “empress.” But then again, it can be a random title given to her where “empress” indicates her hierarchy in their village. As intriguing as her name is her role in her imminent encounter with Luffy. She can either view Luffy as a rival in terms of piracy and even as an intruder of their island, or look at him as an ally since they both share the same title as pirates. The former brings an alarming effect to Luffy because he has to deal with the most beautiful (meaning the strongest fighter) among the village along with her two sisters (can be a reference to Greek mythology where the Amazon queens are sisters named Penthesilea and Hippolyta). Plus, the title of “pirate” can bring a stereotypical idea of a person who plunders villages and causes destruction to island. Besides, Boa Hancock, being a pirate herself must be aware of the harshness of other pirates sailing the seas. But, if she is indeed one of the Yonkou, then we can possibly see her Luffy’s new ally since the Yonkous seem to have an open mind and good moral standards. Besides, Shanks will become a way for Boa Hancock to welcome Luffy as the former is a fellow Yonkou (assuming that are civil and respectful to each other). Nevertheless, this can give effect to the village, since Boa Hancock’s acceptance of Luffy means breaking their law regarding banning of men in their race.


Overall:

Though this is less epic compared to the events that take place in Shabondy island, a mini arc within an arc is a great way to welcome a breath of fresh air from all the actions and destructions we’ve seen so far. Even if this mini arc doesn’t seem to be filled with jaw-dropping surprises, it still hasn’t lost its unpredictability (it's still difficult to predict what will happen), creative ideas (as new race/new culture is introduced), and excitement (Boa Hancock with the prospect of being one of the Yonkous). Maybe in the next chapters we see the other Strawhats deal with their own mini adventures, but not like the extent we’ve seen in Luffy's. (And hopefully next time, I'll get to post pictures T__T).