CHAPTER 533: THE SCORCHING HEAT HELL
This chapter is just oozing with tremendous excitement. I bet you can all relate, especially when “Red Hair” and “Gaidou” are mentioned. Does this mean they too, have major roles in this arc? Anyway, I’m out of words for grand introduction so I’ll just start reviewing.
After a bad-ass colorspread of the Royal Shichibaki, the special cover of One Piece is back to featuring the members of Strawhat Pirates. This time, Sanji makes his appearance together with a ram whose horns is as “swirly” as Sanji’s brow. The two seem to be too busy discussing UFO stuff to notice the actual UFO gliding across the starry and snowy skies behind them.
As Luffy and his three companions celebrate their victory over Minotauros, Hancock and Vice Admiral Momonga on the other hand ride a special boat at the back passage of Impel Down which leads to the location of their Marine Ship. It’s thanks to her question that we finally get a full grasp of the time in One Piece universe. There are numerous things that have taken place since Luffy and Hancock’s arrival in Impel Down and trying to trace the remaining hours before Ace’s execution is quite hard. I for one have been calculating the period of these events from the Sabondy incident to Luffy’s intrusion; I wanted to post and share the outcome of my calculation, written in chronological order, but sadly, I wasn’t able to come up with a decent evaluation. So this panel spares me from further distress. Back to the topic…. Luffy needs to save Ace and escape from Impel Down within 29 hours, otherwise his efforts are going to be meaning. Within this period, he has to escape from the forces that await him in Level 4, escape from the might of the gaolers, the demon guards, Vice-Chief Hanyabal, Chief Magellan, and if not beat the hell out of them, then rescue Ace and hopefully establish a rapport between Jinbei and him (and build a long-lasting bond), and flee from Impel Down. It’s one hell of a job and Luffy certainly needs one hell of a strength in order to pull this off.
Another additional information which can be picked from Vice Admiral Momonga’s answer is the convoy that will pick up Ace and will bring him to the Marineford. If Luffy fails to meet Ace within the given time, he needs to catch this convoy and use this vehicle for escape. I also have a feeling that this convoy will trigger an ambush done by the Whitebeards. It is plausible that Newgate and his crew will attack this convoy and other assisting Marine ships in order to get Ace, assuming they will be able to reach Impel Down before the execution.
It’s not just Luffy who surprises the wary officials of the Marines. The bigger personalities, too, have their own way of astounding these poor soldiers. Shanks and Gaidou are somewhere in the New World, deeply engaged in a war of their own. This is truly a big deal, not only because two pirate emperors are involved, but because the cause of this war reveals their position in the impeding battle of the Marines and the Whitebeard Pirate. Shanks fights Gaidou because he wants Newgate to carry out his plan to save Ace. His interference with Gaidou’s plot means that he is supporting and assisting the Whitebeard crew. And that will only solidify the World Government’s suspicion that the Whitebeard and the Red Hair have established an alliance. On the other hand, Gaidou makes his move to stop Newgate from saving the Fire Fist Pirate. His plot shows his apathy towards Newgate’s fatherly affection to his nakama and maybe, even shows his desire for the latter’s downfall. If the Whitebeard Captain loses his Second Division Commander, that will mean his failure to protect his nakama and will eventually lead to his depression. With that, Gaidou will have an upper hand in achieving the title of the Pirate King and will even make him look stronger. But this notion only lies in the naked eye (especially if you have a negative impression towards him). If we dig into this more deeply, we may come up with a deduction that Gaidou’s desire to stop the Whitebeards perhaps mirrors his concern towards the latter. Gaidou, being a Yonkou himself, knows the weight of this execution. He knows that the Marines anticipates the revenge of the Whitebeards and with that, it will prepare such a powerful force in order to put an end to Newgate’s reign. This Yonkou might be anticipating that this attack will eventually lead Newgate to his own downfall, and worse, to his fatal end. This can heavily affect the status of the four Yonkous. If the latter’s revenge will put Newgate to end, then the emperors will be left with the task of balancing the power in One Piece World. That will be hard since the Marines will earn higher and stronger reign. Since this Whitebeard Captain is one of the pillars of Piracy, he should remain strong and safe, otherwise the pirates will have lesser chance of gaining the power.
Another Familiar Face
Another familiar face is on the loose…. Well, probably not…. That long line which crowds the bridge just above the dreaded Pond of Blood is not a line of ant workers but inmates who act like workhorse to keep that stupendous pot boiling. It looks like Mr. 1 is walking in the park with his relaxed manner even in the midst of this madness. Just like his fellow prisoners, he carries this huge block of wood for the Pond of Blood, clueless that his former allies and old enemy are on the loose and are just a floor away from him. It’s too early to tell if he is going to join Luffy and the others in this crazy rampage; his appearance might be a prelude to his participation in this arc or just a mere glimpse to show his current disposition. But at least we get to see him in Level 4, ha!
So all of the demon guards are animals, oozing with cuteness and snot. The Koala whom we saw a few chapters ago was one of them. Their names all start “Mino” – Minorhinoceros, Minokoala, and Minozebra. Both of the “Bashful” (Minorhinoceros) and the “Shy” (Minozebra) possess a spiky weapon, while ironically, Minokoala lacks one when he is called the “Armed Fighter.” However, that prickly bracelet in his arms looks like his weapons, or perhaps, his title “Armed Fighter” pertains to the strength of his arms. Due to adorable faces and child-like outfits, it is quite challenging to tell the kind of ability they possess. But if they have comparable skill to Minotauros’s then they can wield a type of strength powerful enough to instigate Luffy in using his Gear techniques. It would be more interesting if they hold different abilities, i.e. Minokoala has an incredible punch attack (similar to Garp’s) and Minorhinoceros has an excellent weapon technique.
Groups of Guards
Poor guys. Never do they know that Luffy doesn’t have proper sense of direction. All of the forces of Impel Down have gathered in this room, beautifully prepped up, waiting for the escapees’ grand entrance, fully expecting that these crazy intruders will use the most convenient way to the Scorching Heat Hell. On the other hand, Chief Magellan is literally enclosed in this huge box to spare himself from the blistering environment of this prison level, and probably to limit himself from going to the restroom. But thanks to this gaoler’s report, they finally track down Luffy’s current whereabouts. Then the collected and cunning chief divides his forces into groups of three: (1) Vice Chief Hanyabal guards the same location, but without the assistance of the gaolers. This is to corner the escapees in case they decide to take the safer route. Leaving this area to Vice Chief Hanyabal alone reflects Chief Magellan’s confidence in his strength. We don’t know what the former’s actual skill is, but it looks like he’s also a force to be reckoned with; (2) Sadie-chan and the prison guards will be waiting for Luffy and his companions in Level 5. Since gaolers are left surprised with the sudden entrance of the escapees, the Chief takes strict precautions to avoid this from happening again. And so he assigned the other demon guards, led by Sadie-chan in Level 5 not only to tighten the security but to make sure that the intruders will no longer go further. This is a brilliant choice since dividing them and letting them confront the escapees individually might pave way to another demon guard downfall. Of course the Chief will never want that, especially when these monstrous guards have the reputation of lambasting the inmates instead of the inmates lambasting them; (3) the gaolers will chase and pursue them. This cannot assure Luffy’s apprehension, but their large number and their cunning formations might impede the former’s goal.
So Luffy, Bon-chan, Buggy, and Mr.3 have reached the bridge, just above the boiling pot of Pond of Blood. It’s a pity that they reach here after Mr. 1 makes a brief appearance in the same bridge; their unexpected encounter would have been such a sight. But the good thing about this is that they are just a few steps away from the kitchen, where all the food supplies are kept. They will finally be able to replenish their thirst and restore their energy with mountains of food. Based on this map, Chief Magellan’s room is just beside the kitchen. If Luffy and the others are lucky enough, they may find the chief’s room, abandoned, and reach the “Big Lift,” directing them to a short cut to Level 5. They won’t be able to determine, though if the Guard Chamber in Level 5 is as deserted as the chief’s office, so it’s pretty much a gamble to take this elevator. At the left side of the map are the staircases which connect Levels 3, 4, and 5. These are the places where Vice Chief Hanyabal, Sadie-chan, and the demon guards are assigned (Sadie-chan can separate her troop into two and place them in Level 5 staircase and Level 5 Guard Chamber). With this, we can easily picture that Luffy and his companions are cornered. They’ll find Impel Down forces whichever they will head to.
On the other hand, the more prudent Mr. 3 has become more wary than ever. Among the starving escapees, he’s the only one who remains in-touch with the reality, fully realizing the danger surrounding them. He deciphers the formation of the gaolers and their “buddy-system” which will make their escape even harder. Although these masked guards are just weaklings, the system they carry out proves the kind of preparation they have for such situation. Furthermore, it reflects the impeding movement of the “All Stars,” hence the anticipation of Mr. 3 for their appearance.
"Jelly Poop" and "Mice"
Luffy and Chief Magellan finally meets. As the Strawhat and the pirouetting friend charges at the kitchen, the chief makes his astounding entrance just before them. His appearance introduces the “fourth group” in the division he builds after learning about Luffy’s location and he is ready to take them all out without any assistance from his subordinates. The determination and the strength he possesses clearly shows the kind of a leader that he is and how his leadership has given Impel Down such a strong and solid reputation in spite of all the powerful inmates who can besmirch it. He first appears as a “Jelly Poop,” giving a notion that he is a Logia-natured devil fruit user.
Perhaps the succeeding chapter will encompass their fight. Luffy might strike occasional Gomu Gomu no Techniques with Bon-chan backing him up and Chief Magellan might show another legendary monster, interpreted and shaped in his poisonous way. On the other hand, the Strawhat Captain should upgrade his techniques if the chief is indeed a Logia user; his basic Gomu Gomu no skill will only prove fruitless against a Logia attack. With this notion, it’s easy to speculate that Luffy will activate his Gear Second again, and will use it for a longer time since he’s dealing with The Boss. Good thing Bon-chan is there to assist him in case he starts to feel the excruciating effects of Gear Second. And speaking of Bon-chan…. It looks like he knows the chief so well so well that he gets intimated like that. And with his frightening impression to Chief Magellan, he will either charge and fight him just to help Luffy or grab his friend and run away.
Well, we don’t catch another glimpse of Ace’s development in this chapter, but at least we see a different side of Mr. 3. Amazingly, he remains collected and reserved despite the promising convenience he can find in the kitchen. He still chooses to stick to the plan and endure the heat and stress since he senses the further danger that awaits them. This is very rational of him; staying in the Scorching Heat Hell will lessen their chance of escaping, especially when the gaolers have started to surround them. Anyway, they are just inches away from Luffy and Bon-chan leaving them with the option to go “south” (the opposite direction of the kitchen) or proceed with the two and head to the kitchen.
Luffy and Chief Magellan meet! Finally! I have been picturing how the chief will introduce himself to the Strawhat Captain, but just like Bon-chan, I am caught off guard and find myself surprised by the sudden appearance of this big guy. Their clash will be one hell of a spectacle and more importantly, it will show the result of the improvements he made in Amazon Lily – whether he truly incorporated Haki in his attacks or merely updated his Gear Second with further speed and strength.
Mr. 3 presents the problem in their situation. His brilliant deduction which implies the impeding appearance of the “All Stars” from observing the movements of the masked gaolers show the gigantic pinch they’re in. The gaolers are trained to capture wild escapees like them so they must have carried some kairoseki-based items with them like nets. The formation which Mr. 3 mentioned is not actually shown, but it seems that it portrays a structure especially designed to capture fruit users like them. Their gathering at the southern portion of the bridge (assuming the kitchen is positioned in the northern area) is very ideal since their chief appears near the kitchen. That leaves the west and east sides of the bridge free, but it won’t give them any decent choice since these are located within the range of the Pond of Blood. So the four are awfully cornered by the forces of Impel Down. Yes, they can just shrug the poor gaolers (they have to be careful, though, since they anticipate their next move) but they should also remember that Chief Magellan is there - and he does not look like he’s going to let go of the opportunity to finally capture them.
The inmates in Levels 4 and 5 appear to be clueless about the madness that is currently taking place in the upper levels of Impel Down. And if these guys manage to break free like how the previous inmates do, then the madness will grow bigger. On the other hand, it’s either fight or flight for Luffy – with the former idea being more plausible. The best thing about this is that one of the climaxes for Luffy’s intrusion finally takes place as he faces the biggest force in this gaol. But I strongly believe that the intensity of this arc will soar higher when he reaches Level 5 and when he is only a miniscule away from saving Ace.