One sec, bub... we're not done just yet...!
Well, as I said in my Bleach Comments this weekend, I'm now doing these reviews in the order of the nicer scanlations that come out for them. As Binktopia did a good job with their quick scan for Bleach 243, so did Harrmd for his version of OP 427. Thanks a lot, guys. This way I shouldn't have to wait so long to write my reviews as I had to for a while, though Naruto 323 is still taking a while. But I guess that's mostly due to the HQ Raw still not having come out yet.
Well, this was a dramatic chapter, and finally brings to an end one of the more epic battles in the series. I did like how it finished, after all. So let's get crackin', shall we! Feel free to comment as always!
* * * Gold Knight's Ten Comments on One Piece Chapter 427: It's Not Like It's Hell! * * *
There's a sucker born every day...!
1. Gods and Spirits. Aha, back to the one-shots looking at how the Skypiea cast are doing. This time we see the Shandian chief getting drunk and apparently being very jovial with the nearby chuckling Gan Fall. Judging by the sly expression pasted all over the restored "God's" face, the Sky People seem to have some sort of agenda in this little friendly reprise. Might the Shandians be brought into their culture after all?
Suddenly, I wonder if Oda is trying to show with these one-shots that even villagers do tend to exhibit some "pirate tendencies" every now and then. A while ago we saw the womenfolk of Skypiea exploring a forest, like a scouting party of buccaneers who just arrived at an island hoping for some treasure. And then some warriors taking a lunch break from exhausting work not unlike what sailors would have to do on any pirate ship. Now Gan Fall seems to be about to pull the wool over the Shandian chief's eyes with the aid of a drink, as much as pirate captains might do while drinking rum. Fun.
Of course, it could also just be that they're having a fun evening together. But then, that wouldn't be so interesting...
Down for the count...!?
2. Get Up, Luffy...! Usopp getting after Luffy here reminded me of how most sports fans would act when their favorite teams would be losing for a while. Of course, one would tend to be pretty pissed, and be yelling at them to get off their butts and do a better job, and encouraging them to know that in fact they still have a chance to get back into the game.
Since Luffy and Lucci's fight almost feels more to me like a boxing match than a realistic battle between deadly enemies, Usopp's reaction wasn't too unexpected at all here. He's like a member of the audience at a highly-anticipated match, who had just bet on Luffy to win and is about to see that money go down the drain. Except he's wagering his life here.
On the other hand, if it had been just a boxing match, Usopp, as a friend, would likely have been more concerned for Luffy's welfare than about losing any money, so would have been telling him to stay down. Just like Rocky Balboa's coach did - but of course, different circumstances calls for different reactions...
That's the Straw Hat Pirates for ya...!
3. Shock and Bewilderment. I have to admit, I don't blame the Marines for being totally flustered here. After all, they just sent 200 of their best to take care of a motley crew of five, and after seeing their efforts amounting to pretty much nothing so far, there's a sense of awe creeping into their minds now. Count me in - I would have thought that Luffy's crew would have been captured by now, making the situation even more desperate.
I still believe that Nico Robin is definitely Luffy's most powerful member of the crew at the moment though. When she does Ocho Fleur Flip to a number of opponents, there's not much they can do to get free at all. I wonder just how many arms and hands she could grow at once, but at the moment it certainly looks like she's handling the Marines just fine...
Whoa! You're Sogeking!?? For real???
4. Surprise, Luffy...! Heh, figures that Luffy never did suspect who Sogeking was, despite the disguise not exactly being all that clever. Still, doesn't take a whole lot to fool Luffy I guess... luckily he's got a crew around him that knows what's going on.
Well, I suppose the dramatic build-up to Luffy's realization that Usopp had indeed come with them wasn't a bad idea. Also kills two birds with a stone - one, the rescue of Robin, and two, the reconciliation between Luffy and Usopp. Ever since their duel, Luffy's crew hasn't been the same.
I do like the climax of this battle, I just wish Oda hadn't taken so long to get around to it. But now that it's finally here, I enjoyed it a bit. Luffy obviously still cared for Usopp a lot, judging by how angry he still was at Franky for having beaten him up. And vice versa here for Usopp concerning Luffy's welfare, as he had just revealed. These two are definitely going to have more trust in each other after this whole arc ends.
YEAH! Bring it on, pussycat!
5. One Hell of a Challenge...! Although I found Usopp's challenge to Lucci somewhat hilarious at first, I have to admit that took guts. We have to remember that after all, Usopp IS a coward at times - and to say something like that to Lucci, even if just to spur Luffy on, definitely took courage.
Usopp had to choose his words very carefully to get Luffy all riled up again. In doing so, he showed flashes of being a genius. Of course, he was always good at being a talker, but this time he had to deal with a friend instead of trying to fool his opponents. There was still that spark of rivalry that still existed between them since that duel, because even though Usopp lost that one, he had certainly surprised and even scared Luffy. So Usopp counted on that first with his challenge to Lucci, and in doing so somewhat saying that Luffy was losing out again in their little rivalry. That got Luffy's attention (and concern for Usopp's safety at the same time).
Nope, that would be RAW Day...!
After that, Usopp entirely woke Luffy up by reminding him that he wasn't dying yet - that he wasn't a ghost in the underworld, that he was still a pirate captain with all the world around him still waiting to be explored. All the oceans, all the sky - everything awaits him. All he had to do was beat Lucci. Despite the carnage and the wreckage at Enies Lobby, Luffy hadn't gone to hell yet.
This part is what I liked the most about this chapter. Usopp's speech to Luffy here was what really got him back into action. Good pep talk, for sure!
Fresh out of the oven...!
6. One Last Round...! Cool scene to see Luffy finally get up and face the villain again, even though it is a bit cliche.
You know what I mean - whenever the antagonist believes that the hero has finally fallen down, he/she usually walks off without finishing him off. And even if somebody seems to be on the verge of talking the hero back into action, the villain doesn't take any action. He just waits and sees if the guy does get up for another round. After which, he proceeds to get spanked.
In reality, this is what probably would have happened - while Usopp's going on about Luffy not being in "hell," Lucci would have taken the opportunity to speed over Luffy and stomped his head into the ground with a foot, and then grinned, saying, "NOW he is."
Of course, that would have been the end of the series, too...! (Sorry for any disturbing thoughts, kids!) All the same, still a well-done scene. Somehow Luffy getting up and radiating steam at the same time is even more badass than when he did it without the hot air.
Dammit, stop poking me!
7. Let's Try This Again...! A while ago, I complained about Luffy not using another technique in order to try to take Lucci down for good instead of the usual 'Jet Pistol.' Now we see Lucci fall victim to the same mindset of feeling like his attacks were getting the job done and not having to improvise any more - and relying on the Rokuougan for the THIRD chapter in a row. Tsk tsk.
Well, if nothing else, Luffy is going to come out of this battle looking like he was used as one of Zoro's practice dummies. He'd better eat some more meat as soon as possible!
Sidenote: Here's my one major gripe of the chapter. Right after Lucci does the Rokuougan here, we get a sense of Luffy being on the ground again, and we never did get to see Lucci turn around again leading to the next scene where Luffy would stand up again and do his final attack. That's a little bit of poor sequential storytelling right there. I actually wondered if there was a page missing, or if the pages were arranged in the wrong order, when I first read the RAW. So - I have to take a few points away for that. However, I LOVED what came next...
Take THAT for threating Robin, you scumbag!
8. For Robin! Alright, I have to admit I loved that Oda had Luffy think back to when Robin finally confessed that she did want to live (nice touch in making her look like her little girl self, too!) Made the next double-spread where Luffy totally schooled Lucci (finally!) all that more incredibly satisfying to me.
Sometimes flashbacks are definitely good to remind us just exactly what the protagonist is fighting for, again. In this case, it's Robin's freedom. You can tell Oda cares a lot about his characters by the emotion and passion he projects into these "final scenes," which almost always makes for good writing in the end.
Well, Robin has also always been one of my favorites since she joined Luffy's crew (probably because she seemed the most sane, even more than Zoro!) and for that reason, also, I guess I was even happier that Luffy put his all into that last move. I can definitely seeing that image of a crying Robin in Luffy's mind and empowering his rapid-fire punches even more...! Yeah, I even got a little teary-eyed during this scene. (Of course, might have just been the dust in the air... >.> )
So, adding some points back for this for my final rating, because this scene made up big time for the little lapse Oda had back there (see the sidenote in the last comment).
Bye-bye, Lucci! Been nice knowin' ya! NOT!
No dinner for Hattori tonight!
9. Take a Good Look... Probably the first time Lucci has ever been defeated.
There's always a first time for everything, eh?
Nice final scene here of his bird, Hattori, landing on Lucci's chest and wondering what the beejesus just happened to his master. Guess he was just a normal pigeon after all. Surprise...! I know some people suspected there were more to Hattori than met the eye! Strange that Lucci would keep such a pet when he probably had the appetite of a cat, too. Guess that's Oda's imagination for ya, though. All in all, certainly a bizarre scene, but very nicely drawn.
Well, here's my final thoughts on Lucci: nice antagonist, but Oda could definitely have done more with him. He always seemed more of a flunky than a major villain. Yes, somewhat unsettling that he went on and killed 500 hostages just in order to eliminate a potential bad situation for the government, but that just went to show how twisted his sense of justice and "good" was - meaning that he probably wasn't all that bright, either. A powerful flunky to be sure, but still just a flunky.
Somebody posted in one of my previous Comments that Lucci had more, shall we say, presence in his normal human self than he did as a over-muscled Leopard man. I have to agree. Lucci was a vintage example of how a quiet man could be more dangerous than he acted. He also seemed more scary somehow in that he was so cold-looking and heartless in his normal self, and absolutely looked like he could back up his talk. As a leopard man, he somewhat lost some of that aura and just looked like another Herculean monster that Luffy had to knock down. Too bad.
In a way I even think Lucci was even almost a step down from the villains Luffy had just faced in Enel and Crocodile. But hey, that's just my opinion.
I suppose Lucci's whole crew was tough, though. Definitely more of a challenge for everybody else in Luffy's party.
Way to go Luffy! ^_^
10. It's Over! ...Almost? Well, finally, Luffy's battle with Lucci is over. I was somewhat sarcastic in saying last week that I thought it would take five more chapters, but I'm very relieved that it ended. It took WAY too long. And I don't even think Lucci was as tough as Enel was, for instance, as I already said. Luffy being in such a perilious situation as that where his crewmates were being attacked from all around was pretty cool, though.
Speaking of which... they still have the Marines to go. But judging by their sheer astonishment at the end of this chapter, I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to give Luffy some leeway for now. If they gave Lucci that much respect, it's likely they don't have anybody there who are as good as he is - although all things considered, they SHOULD try to take Luffy while he's so exhausted. It's a good opportunity as any to capture a "notorious criminal," heh. But looks like none of the Admirals are there, at least.
Although I'd like to see Aokiji drop by and give the Marines the order to go away. (I kinda like Aokiji for some reason.)
RATING: 5 out of 5 stars. First time in a long time I've enjoyed an OP chapter like this, so it deserves its 5 stars here, because I can be pretty harsh in my criticism of this series at times, so for me to enjoy it that much... But despite this being a great chapter, I have to admit I came very close to hating this arc for its length. It just took WAY too long for my tastes, even for a shonen series. Well, at least it ended with a bit of a bang! Still, hopefully the next storyline will be a little better; like KISS said, keep it short and sweet - that will be a good change of pace.
Predictions: I'm glad the battle is over, so we can get around to seeing what Luffy's crew will do in order to escape the Marines (if they even have to) - they'd better have some good luck, though, because Luffy seems completely wore down, and I don't blame him. He probably won't be able to get off the floor, even. I bet Usopp will be the one to help carry him back to the ship.
Credits: For the third week in a row, I'd like to thank Harrmd for his scanlation, which allowed me to get this review out ASAP. Also major thanks to pocketmofo as well for translating.
Looking forward to seeing what you think!
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