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haruka9
November 08, 2008, 11:41 AM
CHAPTER 521: THE HOOF OF THE SOARING DRAGON

Woohoo!!!! I’m really excited to write this week’s review!!!! This chapter is filled with many revelations, and to top it all, my speculation is finally right!!!! Geez, this is one of the rare moments when my speculation gets accurate, which is why I am quite excited to write this one. So, I’ll stop spending my time with ranting and start doing my business.


Bad Karma
http://img355.imageshack.us/img355/2687/firstzc7.jpg

A very familiar Marine Captain makes another appearance in today’s cover story. But this time, he’s not here to separate his limbs and capture the pirates, but to seize his former allies. Since CP9 is considered as top secret organization, the World Government can’t just let the agents set loose, especially if they hold threatening information about it. If the former agents start to speak, there is a huge risk that the foundations that the government has built will crash. We don’t know the other missions they carried, but the way Lucci and the others impressed the secrecy of work, it is apparent that they have done many illegal stuff. The Poneglyph is one of them.

The World Government is not certain if the agents will keep quiet about their old profession. To be certain, they have assigned a group of Marine soldiers, led by a captain to capture them. Aside from the average-looking soldiers, there are also men in well-pressed suit who are assisting the captain. It might be the next generation of Cipher Pol…. CP10, perhaps? Anyway, people wearing sleek suits like theirs are direct employees of the World Government. These people handle dirtier business and possess a great deal of strength to protect themselves in case a threat appearance. Or, if they are like Korgie or Spandam, then they will surrounded with powerful bodyguards. If my speculation is correct, then this “CP10” must have geared themselves with some Rokushiki abilities. I’m not sure if they are as capable as the former CP9 though.


Test of Character
http://img355.imageshack.us/img355/1263/secondlr1.jpg

After all the surprising and the touching events that took place in the Battle Arena, Hancock loses her mood for “fun.” With the four of them being alone in the area, (with the exception of Grandma Nyon), Hancock proposes two options for Luffy as an exchange for the favor he did to Sandersonia. Luffy both expressed his desire to leave the island with their ship and his plead to bring back his heroines. She uses these things to determine his true nature. If Luffy chooses to get a ship, then the protection he does for Sandersonia is nothing but a senseless show so she’d be forced to return the favor. Thus, she would provide him the ship and it would prove that he is not as pure and kind as he appears to be. He’d be a selfish and superficial guy who just puts an impressive show to get what he wants. On the other hand, if Luffy chooses the lives of the heroines in the price of losing his chance to leave the island safely, then it means that he is indeed a pure-hearted man. Only a selfless person can risk his own safety just to protect the lives of the people he doesn’t even know. It would show that he never has any sordid intention of causing trouble nor putting people in shame. Furthermore, it would reveal that his intention for covering Sandersonia’s back is to really protect the thing she values.

While it appears that Hancock looks suspicious about Luffy, what she does is actually reasonable. By providing two options for him, she’ll determine his true nature. That will reveal if he is indeed worthy of being spared by their lethal judgment. There is also another reason for this, a more important one, in fact. However, I will impress that on the following discussion.


Passed
http://img515.imageshack.us/img515/7066/thirdkd0.jpg

Much to the sisters’ surprise (and even Grandma Nyon’s too) Luffy chooses the lives of the three over his own safety and his personal necessity without any hint of hesitation. Grandma Nyon is absolutely impressed because not only he shows his remarkable selflessness, but he also displays a great deal of humility. People who can utilize King’s Disposition are upscale fighters. They possess unbelievable power and excellent skills. It will only be natural if they act arrogantly towards other people because they have proven themselves and have gained every right to belittle the weaker ones. However, Luffy is not like them. Even if he is aware that he can wield such a prestigious power, he will remain humble and will be willing to bow down to someone who can grant him enormous favor. This also reveals to Grandma Nyon, the two sisters, and most importantly to Hancock that Luffy is indeed pure and kind. He is worthy of being spared and being admired. His willingness to protect Sandersonia’s back is not an act but a pure display of understanding one’s valuable possession. Despite of their previous fights, he proves that his intention is untainted and means no harm to any of them. He just wants to protect her secret and to protect the people who save him. And if only the four knew his story at Shabondy Archipelago, that Luffy’s urgently and desperately looking for his nakama…. They would surely be more impressed because he still thinks over the safety of the “strangers” over his own need to find to his nakama.


Revived
http://img355.imageshack.us/img355/4334/fourthqp9.jpg

So Hancock grants Luffy’s request to bring back his heroines. Of course, if she can petrify them with her Mero Mero no Mi, it means that she can also put them back to normal. We aren’t given the privilege of seeing how she “de-petrifies” them, but what truly matter is that the three are back. However, it seems that none of them know what happened afterwards. According to one of Hancock’s crewmate, a person suffers to a very mild “amnesia” after being cast under the spell of Mero Mero no Mi. That person will not even know that she is turned into a stone and she has just been “de-petrified.” Another important thing that should be noted is what happens during her petrification. If we use her point of view, it appears like she’s just knocked out. It would feel like they just slept for a certain period of time. Mero Mero no Mi’s effects must be different from Ao Kiji’s Ice Logia. If I remember correctly, the person who turns falls victim to his ice power is conscious and suffers suffocation from being completely covered with ice. He can die either from being suffocated or by being crashed into tiny pieces. However, a victim of Mero Mero no Mi puts people into “unconsciousness,” putting her into some “spell-bound sleep” and confusing her memories. Thus, she is alive as long as her petrified body remains intact.


The Cursed Crest
http://img515.imageshack.us/img515/3356/fifthxt8.jpg

Sanji would die from jealousy once he hears Luffy’s story. Kidding aside, the controversial mark has been finally revealed. No, it’s not an actual eye, but a sun-like symbol imprinted on the back. It has been confirmed that the controversy about the Gorgon curse is a lie, but the true appearance of those eyes are not yet revealed until this chapter came. Luffy’s familiarity with the symbol mirrors a trace of resemblance of Hachi’s “sun tattoo” on his head. He mistakes it as something quite familiar to him, because Hancock’s mark resembles the octopus’s tattoo. In reality, the mark on Hancock’s back is called the Hoof of the Soaring Dragon. Its design might be influenced by Chinese Dragon, having four to five claws on each legs. It is a Tenryuubito emblem that is burned into the individual’s body to signify that he is a possession of the world noble. The act of burning the crest into one’s flesh is actually a metaphor, indicating that the fate of the slave is already sealed by the Tenryuubito. It is burned so that the slave cannot erase the crest, meaning, he cannot change nor escape from his fate no matter what. He will be forever a slave in the eyes of the world and the nobles. He is treated as “less of a human” to emphasize the discriminating nature of the Tenryuubitos. Like an outcast/untouchable in Caste System, he is perceived by the world like a disgusting creature. He is no longer a person, but a possession of the nobles.


Luffy's Heroism
http://img355.imageshack.us/img355/7266/sixthfl8.jpg

While it doesn’t directly state that my speculation regarding Hancock’s tears is correct, well, at least this panel proves that her tears indicate that she is being moved by Luffy’s kindness and selflessness. For the three sisters, Tenryuubito is the epitome of an undying terror, where no one has the capability of extinguishing the fear they cast on their slaves. While Luffy thinks of his attack on Tenryuubito as something natural, the sisters perceive his action as absolute heroism. He did something no one (except another man) has ever dared to do: going against a group of people treated as gods. What makes it more impressive and more moving is that he doesn’t show any speck of regret in his attack despite its serious consequences.

I said in the first panel that testing his character is reasonable. This section contains the second explanation for that. To question his true nature is to find out if he is indeed worthy of unlocking the truth behind the famed “curse” on their backs. Hancock must have anticipated the thought that he might be pure and selfless, which is why she provides two options for him (his needed ship or the three’s safety). If he proves that he is worthy, then she will risk their deepest secret. People, who possess pure and selfless hearts like Luffy, can be trusted and do not judge the others.


Childhood Hero
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The three’s childhood hero. Fisher Tiger, the first man who ever stood against the Tenryuubito, is known as the savior of the slaves and the captain of the Sunny Pirates. His pure compassion was manifested by his very heroic and very heart-warming act of climbing the dreaded Red Line and charging Mariejoa all by himself. Though he’s under the race of Fishmen/Mermen, he didn’t seem to have a heart of a racist since he also freed human slaves. That act displayed his wide understanding and extensive sympathy, as if he could feel their wrecked souls. Fisher Tiger must have gathered all the slaves belonging to the same race, thus, founding the Sunny Pirates. Because the Tenryuubito’s crest cannot be erased, he must have altered it and formed it into sun, so the Hoof of the Soaring Dragon wouldn’t stand out. Hachi must be one of the members of this crew since he bears the same symbol. Either he is one of the fishmen who gets rescued by his captain or manages to escape from a similar form slavery and discrimination and joins the Sunny pirates later.


Trauma
http://img355.imageshack.us/img355/7130/eighthzb8.jpg

Yeah, yeah I forgive Hancock. I don’t think it is that cruel to lie to the whole nation if she suffers from that trauma. In reality, people with such trauma protect themselves too much to the point that they spread lies to other people. They don’t want to suffer from the same fate again, so they barricade themselves with lies just to make sure that they are safe. Hancock and the two younger sisters manifest that thought and I guess we can give consideration on her disposition. Her arrogance must also be a form of defense mechanism. She is belittled back then, and now that she has made herself a renowned Shichibukai, it’s time to turn the table and degrade the others. Of course, her treatment to others is still bad, but at least she has strong reasons for being that way. I guess she isn’t born with rudeness and arrogance; she just grows up with so much trauma and pain. (*Marigold looked hot back then)

The Spectacle:http://img515.imageshack.us/img515/2481/spectaclegz0.jpg

There are two best things in this chapter. The first one is Hancock’s character build-up. The way Oda has established her from someone obnoxious to a woman with horrible past is very outstanding and very consistent. Hancock’s role in the series is not just the seventh Shichibukai member who happens to cross path with Luffy, but a character possessing depth and development.

The second one is the alliance built between the two former enemies. This is what I mention at my introduction – that my speculation finally becomes right. That miracle is introduced with Luffy’s showmanship of his true character and with Hancock’s realization that the man before him is worthy of praise and admiration. At least, one of his problems is solved. I hope that he learns Ace’s disposition while he’s onboard so we can also determine her response to the World Government’s order.

The Downside:http://img507.imageshack.us/img507/3312/downsidebb6.jpg

The conflict present on this chapter is Hancock’s immobility to her past. While her nasty treatment towards others and her lies are fairly reasonable, she has to take at least a small step to redeem her role as their leader. By the time she claims her leadership among the Kuja warriors, she has already abandoned her integrity. I cannot say that she is obliged to reveal her secret (I really feel empathetic to her), but she should at least act more kindly to them. Even if her arrogance is just a form of defense mechanism, she has to sympathize and treat them fairly since she herself has felt the pain of degradation. If she continues to act obnoxiously towards others, it will only mean that she remains imprisoned on her past.

Final Notes:http://img411.imageshack.us/img411/6779/finalnotesjp3.jpg

I really enjoy reading this week’s chapter. It is filled with depth, development, information, and emotions. This also explains why spending most of your time thinking and writing reviews is worthwhile. You sit for several hours typing, revising, editing pictures, and posting…. and yet you won’t feel troubled nor tired because it is truly worth it. It even becomes more enjoyable when your speculation becomes accurate, mufufufufufu. I guess I am just really excited with this chapter (I was about to post my character evaluation about Luffy when this was released so I had to postpone it and prioritize my weekly review). Anyway, it seems that this mini arc is about to end. We'll finally see the other Strawhats and what has come to Shabondy. Hopefully, Vice-admiral Momonga will be featured on next chapter and showcase his next encounter with Hancock. And I can't wait to see Luffy's reaction when finds out about Ace.

Raysen_ht
November 08, 2008, 03:05 PM
Great review!! I dont have much time right now... ill be back to coment properly later

MAX_COLA_POWER!
November 08, 2008, 04:59 PM
Nice review Haruka sis! Looks like Luffy has done it again. Somehow his nice guy attitude keeps gaining him more members for his future Luffy harem. Margaret joining seems farther away now, but it would still be really nice. A further development of Hancock's character would be to leave the protection of Amazon Lily to her sisters so she can actually JOIN Luffy on his adventures, and probably, to get revenge on Doflamingo if she ever finds out that he was the one who made the slave trade business. Well, I know it's seriously unlikely that Hancock would join Luffy, but it still would be nice that, if any of the Kujas join Luffy's crew, they would act like a female Sanji only towards Luffy^^;;. By the way Haruka-sis, you're technically a Luffy fangirl right? How are you handling your idol being surrounded with all of this womankind? It's probably eating you up isn't it?;) , I'm kidding^^. Still, very nice review as always.

haruka9
November 09, 2008, 11:31 PM
Raysen_ht: Thank you very much ^__^

Max_Cola_Power: Thank you. I also love to see Hancock helping him sail. She might assist him in finding his nakama when he's onboard. However, it is still unclear if she will lend her aid in regards with the war against the Whitebeard. She might deceive Momonga though, so the Vice-admiral won't do any step to stop them. This might also give way to Luffy's realization of Ace's execution. And yes, Luffy is one of my favorite characters in One Piece. I guess it's only natural for women to fall for his "charm." Thank you again ^__^