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Aikyet
July 22, 2009, 05:34 AM
Seven Moments of One Piece Chapter 550:
Marine Headquarters

Hallo MangaHelpers!
What I always loved about our forums – it had those awesome review subforums. Almost every week you could find some well-written article. For some series, the reviews were even better than the chapter itself. And I hope it stays that way, even though some of the best authors have retired.
I am not sure, but One Piece reviews actually helped me find this site back in the beginning of 2007. Since then much time has passed, but I still remember great pieces of work by Gold Knight, sahugani and hilarious bittman. I really miss them guys. Oh well. If I continue this, I hope to grow up to be just like them.
I don’t really know why have I written this. Probably, I wanted to write a big post in defense of this chapter due to the amount of groundless critique in the discussion threads concerning this chapter on various forums. But a big post turned into a little review. Somehow.

Don’t really know what else to say.
Ah, right. Pictures were taken from Binktopia (http://mangashare.com/dl/One-Piece_550/11800) scanslation. These are guys are the best among One Piece scanlators. Except for [NULL] (http://www.n-u-l-l.net/?a=manga-view&i=6&d=2&t=0), of course :)
So I will start, okay?

Moment I

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A spaghetti waterfall. I'd love to see such a landscape.
The Lost Mugiwara side story continues as this week we catch a glimpse of Usopp’s heroic deeds on the Boin Archipelago. Actually, no heroism is involved, he simply tries to enjoy a meal which Heracles-un treats him to. Still, it is good to see a familiar face – we do miss you, long nose buddy, just a little.
One thing that I didn’t enjoy – is that Oda broke the pattern and showed Franky after Robin. At first I thought we would see all the girls of the Mugiwara crew.

Moment II

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Strange. Usually only evil overlords have such fortresses.
The actual chapter begins with Oda making a little interlude and showing us the reactions of the world to the coming execution. Oda excels at world building – so it is a real pleasure for me to take a look at the other parts of the One piece world.
First we see some rocky island in South Blue. It is raining, and people at the market fit the mood – those commoners doubt the power of White Beard. Boring people.
Another panel – and we are already in East Blue. Here we get quite a different location from all the places we have seen through Luffy’s journey. Ancient buildings, shepherds with their cattle – gives me a middle-eastern vibe. And in the front some cool old guy correctly analyzes the War and its consequences.
Flip the page – and you’re in North Blue. Stereotypically, it snows there. And no one sells you a drink to enjoy the show and keep warm at the same time. However, the clever people always have a flask with the wonder liquid on them.
A bit down – we are in West Blue. People in the west wear hats – Shanks and robin approve that. And veterans there have experience – they know what White Beard is all about – and lack some legs.
Last stop – Grand Line. Desert, cloth on the heads, long vests – have I seen it somewhere? Well, while no whining royalty is in sight, we can laugh at children singing a song about White Beard. Brats.
However, the excursion is almost over – as we are nearing the Red Line. A short stop at the Shabondy Archipelago – where locals and Marinford refugees are experiencing the live War Show on the giant flat Den Den Mushi Screens.
Wait, Marinford? Yes, we are finally there. The Marinford, Marine Headquarters. The place we caught glimpses of since the defeat of Arlong. The highest point of the Justice triangle. The Marinford. This place leaves a magnificent impression of its impressive magnificence. The sheer size of the castle presses you down to your chair. For example, look at he sea level$ there are five shichibukai six Giants. Now compare the Giants’ height to the mountain’s. Yes, as I said, impressive. And this is the place where the drama will ensue.

Moment III

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So, how many copies of this grioup foto do you want, master?
But however impressive this fortress might look, even more impressive sound the forces protecting it – 100 000 of Marines. Including Jango and Hina, Coby and Helmeppo, six Giants with the first Giant woman among them and countless nameless cannon fodder – well, they still get the job done. But forget about them, for now. And look at the avant-garde of these forces. There five Shichibukai reside. Rawr. Yes, they are our boys. And girl.
Marines failed to summon all seven – but nonetheless, five is a good number. The five who have dined at Mariejoa came to Marinford almost unchanged – except that Teach turned himself into a mighty woman. Wait, Teach is in Impel Down, isn’t he?
Then, the first shichibukai must be Boa Hancock – a gorgeous dark haired woman in a sleeveless dress. Yes, this is what wars are all about. To suit her new dress she wears her arrogant face #3. But we know, that deep inside her heart she is worried sick about one little Monkey D man.
Second to the left stands Dracule Mihawk wearing his usual cape, bored face and a gigantic sword behind his back. The war is nearing – but he isn’t even flinching and almost sleeps from boredom. Sometimes I wonder – what does he do for fun?
Right in the middle a certain Donquixote Doflamingo is being happy and cheerful as always. In the meantime he is being sarcastic with a Marine officer in front of him – however, it seems to be too much for a poor soldier.
The fourth in the line is my favorite demon looking gothic styling Gecko Moria. He seems to be more happy with no Teach around, and eager to fight – he even threw away his bandages. I can’t say for sure, but isn’t Moria slightly bigger – like some five to ten shadows? I doubt he would start to chop shadows before the battle starts.
No to sound dull, last but not lest stands Bartholomew Kuma. Or is he? Couldn’t some Marine doctor replace him with some PX model robot and give it some book? I don’t really know, but your favorite cyborg looks as pimping as ever.
There you have the twisted Shichibukai. Oda enjoys to draw them together lately, doesn’t he? And if you think there is something wrong with perspective, I strongly advise you to take some art classes. Seriously.

Moment IV

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From left to right: The good, the bad and the ugly.

It is understandable that Marine placed the most disposable force at the front – and logically enough, 3 admirals sit right below Ace’s execution platform as the most powerful force of the Marine.
Wait, 3 admirals? Yes, we finally see a real tie Akainu admiral. To tell the truth, his cap from 20 years go still hides his eyes and hair – I predict him to be bald from bitterness – so we can’t say who is his model actor for sure. But, thank God, it surely isn’t Takeshi Kitano.
Not much else can be said about him now. He sits in a not really manly pose and probably sleeps. Also he wears a stylish suit, a rose flower on his chest and a floral tattoo on his shoulder. I think it would be ironic if the most cruel and manly admiral had some floral paramecia to fit this theme. But I suppose Oda won’t break the pattern and will give him a standard logia.
To the left of Akainu sits Kizaru who tries to copy Sakazuki’s pose and simply glares at the reader. Bah, I hope he does something more entertaining in this war like being flattened to the ground in the middle of the Marinford Square. Or not.
While to the right of Akainu you can find Aokiji, whose pose is more cool, relaxed and manly than of those two other admirals. Kuzan stares at something in the crowd – perhaps, he noticed a cute lady who he would hit on after the battle?
So there you have them – Marine Headquarters Admirals.

Moment V

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Daddy, daddy, can I have an ice-cream?
If you still remember, the main protagonist of this manga is called Monkey D. Luffy, and at his moment he and 200 more escapees from Impel Down travel the Tarai current to reach Marinford. Nothing has changed on the ship –Jimbei drives, Luffy does nothing, Buggy parties. What makes me sad, this chapter lacks Sir Crocodile showing who is the true villain around this parts. Oh well, may be next time.
And of course, the fact that the Gates of Justice are closed is still there. And I see them opened only from outside –come on, those gates are several kilometers high and twice as wide!
So, stay tuned.

Moment VI

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Now that's a relief. Fake spoilers stated that Roger was my son. Am I lucky or what?
What makes One Piece different from all the shounen genre – its logic and consistency of all the unexpected and unbelievable plot twists. Eiichiro Oda calmly turns your conscience upside down – and you can’t say anything without sounding like an idiot. Such a shocking impact has the 550th chapter.
It begun pretty strange – 3 hours before the execution Sengoku comes to the platform and talks about the true meaning of the execution of Portgas D. Ace. This seems unneeded – in the eyes of the World Government “sins” of the White Beard’s Second Division Commander are obvious. But Sengoku keeps talking and even before him you come to a certain conclusion. And finally, Oda via Sengoku drops the bomb.
Portgas D. Ace is the son of Gol D. Roger and Portgas D. Rouge.
Now that is a plot twist.
Family is a serious theme in Japanese culture. Considering the important role of the D clan, it was only a matter of time before the heritage and relations of their members were revealed. Though even here Oda took his own original path – and joined the Pirate King by blood bonds not with the protagonist of the series, but with other important secondary character – Ace. What was confirmed by both physical data and plot points.
This step brought other advantages with it. Having broken the blood bond between Luffy and Ace, Oda made their brotherly relations even more meaningful. Sharing not even a drop of blood, the D brothers still became true brothers ready to protect each other to death.
Aside from all that, Oda introduced the mother of Ace – Portgas D Rouge – and once more underlined how strong does the power of will and dream make people in this world. 20 months of pregnancy for due to the safety of the child deserve praise, not critique. Remember, we are reading a fantasy shounen, in the world of which devil fruits and grand Line exist. Remember, that humans of that world aren’t analogical to us enduring millions of volts and losing liters of blood. Remember, that the probability of a prolonged pregnancy is one to a billion in both worlds. So, please remember all that – do not bean idiot – and give Ace a chance.
I am not trying to say that this is an ideal twist from Oda – like Poneglyph of Shandora or Defeat at Shabondy Archipelago. But nonetheless, it is a decent turn of events written correctly. And hey, all the arisen discussions only prove that.

Moment VII

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Okay? then I'll draw you a map where to find him.
As Sengoku reveals the truth, we see Garp’s flashback with Roger begging him to take care of his child. Fighting and rivaling Garp for all his career, Roger forged a true bond with him and as the most wanted criminal he couldn’t find anyone better to secure his child than a higher officer of his enemy organization.
Truly, the irony of life.

Conclusion
Thus – it’s not such a scary word – ends my review. What can I say of this chapter? I liked it. It wasn’t one of the best, but it was good. You could call it an exposition chapter – we were introduced to the next scene of the One Piece drama and explained the meaning of this war. The last admiral appeared. Ace’s parents – Roger and Rouge were portrayed even more awesome than before, while Ace himself became even more an emo to whine about such a father.
I believe, the exposition is almost over – nest few chapters the last actors will arrive on the stage and the War will start.
Nothing more to add, really. Eh?

Bonus Moment
Historical facts, observations and other non-relevant stuff will be written here, I suppose.

Did you know that the name of all time favorite skull and crossbones flag’s name “Jolly Roger” came from the French name of the flag “Joyeux Rouge” which meant “Red Merryman”. The British simply took the name and turned it to “Jolly Roger”.
And like that, Oda married the old and new names of the flag via Roger and Rouge. Nice, isn’t it?

For those who didn’t notice Pandaman. He is already in Marinford.


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And pwngoat is on the execution platform. He must be sure everything goes according to his plans.


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And that is it. Thank you for taking a look. Or even reading :)
Oh, right. And feel free to comment :)

Obligatory P.S. As you can see, I am not a native english speaker. Fell free to bash me for my mistakes :)

gfire2
July 24, 2009, 07:27 AM
thanks for a review u even spotted pandaman and goat chan

Aikyet
July 24, 2009, 12:16 PM
My first comment! Woo-hoo :D
I'll try to do the 551th chapter as well, but am not sure how fast will I manage.

Black Lagoon
July 26, 2009, 08:16 AM
thanks for the great review, and the goat :rofl

Lord Rayleigh
July 26, 2009, 11:54 AM
A really good review, thanks.

jung_dalglish
August 02, 2009, 12:53 PM
i love your review, pls continue

Aikyet
August 03, 2009, 10:16 AM
Thanks - and if you are still interested - even chapter 552 review is up already :)