View Full Version : Haruka's One Piece Review: Chapters 526 and 527

January 26, 2009, 07:36 AM

Holiday frenzy + successive errands + internet failure + stress = failure to write and update One Piece chapter reviews. So, free time + less work + new, flawless internet connection + enthusiastic mood = I’m finally back to my chapter reviews. So, without further ado, these are reviews for Chapter 526 and 527…. Hope you read it ‘til the last word T__T.

One Piece's Ukiyo-e

Personally, this chapter’s color spread is a remarkable eye-catcher. Compared to previous color spreads, Oda-sensei shows us a vibrant picture of Luffy, Zoro, and Nami in a different fashion. I immediately get the ukiyo-e vibe at the moment I lay my eyes on the three of them – majestic kimonos, Luffy’s and Zoro’s fierce expressions, Nami’s alluring pose, and three equally majestic creatures essential to Japanese myths and folklore. While the previous color spreads have the typical laid-back, fun-filled atmosphere where every member of the Strawhat crew enjoys his/her thing wearing new clothes, this one may take pride by possessing beauty and boldness set in Edo period. It may not provide a friendly ambience like the ones we get from the previous posts, but hey, this chapter’s color spread clearly succeeds in showcasing the creator’s tribute to the old times (Edo period, in case this style is indeed ukiyo-e) where distinctive Japanese art style flourished, without losing his own style of drawing. Yeah, I might have described this color spread too deeply or too aggressively, but this is the result of an overwhelming impression that I get from it…. It’s supposedly a simple color spread, but to me, it turns to be a graceful piece of creativity.

Ancient and Modern

After Hancock and Luffy’s monumental entrance at the greatest gaol in One Piece universe, its interiors is finally shown with one of the big bosses commencing its official opening. He is Hannibal, the vice-chief of Impel Down, who, to me is a successful mixture of ancient and pop icons. This guy is one of the most interesting characters in One Piece in terms of design and concept. Yes, he immediately establishes the kind of individual that he is as he addresses everything with “my” to claim his ownership. His ambitious personality drives him to think that everything is his possession and he is tad apologetic for being that way. However, Hannibal’s real deal lies in his appearance; his body parts and accessories are reference to both ancient and modern figures. Apparently, his head bears resemblance to that of typical Egyptian sphinkx’s or an Egyptian king since he has that Nemer headdress worn by ancient pharaohs like Ramesses II. His bat-like wings, horns, and trident can be homage to the most popular depiction of Lucifer. His body, though it looks malnourished with its overwhelming size of tummy, is also a reference to an Egyptian god whose name is something I already forget. This vice-chief name, on the other hand, definitely strikes resemblance to the famous Dr. Hannibal Lecter of the novel Red Dragon.

Our vice-chief Hannibal absolutely remains interesting in design, concept, and personality. I am not sure, though, if he can continue to capture the readers’ interest as this arc progresses. Hopefully, his contribution in this story will be as striking as his appearance and idiosyncrasies…. After all, he is THE vice chief of Impel Down. Surely, he has some powerful techniques in his repertoire to be able to maintain its security and be able to assure that the reputation of “his” Impel Down won’t diminish.

Hellish Tour

After Hannibal’s ambitious self-introduction, the task of guest inspection before going into the depths of Impel Down is carried over to Domino, the hot vice jail head. She conducts a brief orientation regarding the prison’s “rite of passage” as she and Hancock (and Luffy) proceed to the inspection room. This “rite of passage” consists of prisoners being “ironed” and being “boiled” to “disinfect” their dirt. While Domino’s usage of such words sounds like the officers are merely ironing clothes, boiling a food, cleaning a dirty hand, and disinfecting wounds and germs, the gaol’s system of torturing their inmates are clearly inhuman. And the fact that they feel glorified towards their system of punishment makes it even more repulsive. Perhaps, this is to make a firm statement that Impel Down is anyone’s worst hell. If the big bosses want to impress what kind of punishment awaits any inmates who form cunning device for escape, then they have established the perfect way to stop them from doing so. The reason they make “the ironing,” “the boiling,” and “the disinfecting” the gaol’s baptismal procedure is to weaken not only their physical strength, but to cause devastation on their state of mind. With this, any prisoners would lose hope, and any ideas of breaking out will be lost.


This is one of the scenarios where Hancock’s ability can be of total help. In just a whim, she eradicates all the risks of their little deceptive plan being spotted: the hot vice jail head Domino is petrified, the vigilant snail (One Piece’s version of video camera) turns into a beauty-loving stone, and Luffy is finally out of Hancock’s thick robes without anyone noticing him. Though it appears too soon to separate from her (since she’s only able to safely bring him at the entrance point), Hancock still manages to see this moment as the most appropriate time to let him out. Entering the inspection room while Luffy is still inside her robe, and petrifying Domino and the vigilant snail right after would only rise more suspicions. The fact that a Shichibukai wants to enter Impel Down already brings doubts on the part of Marine officials. And using her charm and her devil fruit ability at the wrong time will only prove their notions right. Thus, their guard against her will get tightened and both of them will be in bigger trouble.

School Rumble Deja Vu

Thanks to Hancock’s perfect timing, the suspicions about the absence of the images from the inspection room get all erased. Domino, on the other hand, starts to undergo the effects of the Shichibukai’s petrification, where she feels a tad of amnesia. After confirming that she has no doubtful possessions with her whatsoever, Hannibal, once again ambitiously brings her and the two Marine icons (and her snake pet of course) to the “big lift” – a gigantic, cage-like elevator which will bring them to fourth floor. Such area is described as the “scorching floor,” implying the intensity of its surroundings, and maybe even its temperature…. Which at the same time, is the current location of this prison’s biggest boss, Chief Mazelan. It not only links to our universal interpretation of hell, but it also refers to the level of torture that the inmates have been undergoing. As the Vice chief takes pride and even pleasure from the kind of torture they bring to their prisoners, Luffy heads out to get dirty and bloody to save Ace. He chooses to sneak behind the watchful eyes of the “vigilant snails” through the ceiling, using his speed and surprisingly keen observations. As Hancock quietly watches Luffy embark on his dangerous mission, she “prays for his fortune” like a lovable wife praying for her husband who is going to charge in a chaotic battle. Sweet ol’ Luffy on the other hand bids goodbye and thanks the pirate empress with a simple thumbs up and wide smile, which Hancock idiotically perceives as his way of saying his glittering “I LOVE YOU” instead of “Thank You.” This is clearly one of her ways to humor her audience (and it is indeed effective!). She’s surely a “love fool” who gets struck by the immeasurable impact of love so hard that everything Luffy does becomes a sign of his undying love and affection. She has, indeed, become the female counterpart of Harima Kenji of School Rumble.

Bulky and Mighty

Introducing Impel Down’s prison guards!!!! I was wrong to state that the bull-ish shadow shown at the previous chapter was the gaol’s guards. These axe wielders who look like headless bouncers in a rock concert look mighty with their bulky bodies and skull symbol imprinted on their masks. Aside from that controversial bull-ish shadow and Hannibal, these guys look promising in terms of physical strength and fighting skill. The way they slice that poor sea monster just so they can get everyone’s ration is really bad-ass. If Hannibal, Domino, and other uniformed officers in the Impel Down are responsible for the prison’s regulations, organization, and maintenance of security, the Blue Glory officers are the ones who do the actual dirty work, where they capture and beat inmates who dare to defy them.


The flashy red-nosed clown-ish pirate captain finally captures the spotlight in this chapter. The frequent mention of his name back at the previous chapter was held like a teaser – Oda’s way to excite the fans with the return of the flashiest man in OP universe. His “flashy return” is showcased when an Impel Down officer announces that he’s being spotted…. And there, Buggy’s shadow is shown and he seems to have grown his hair longer. If there is any way that an inmate of his caliber manages to escape the prison cell, it is the handcuff (an ordinary one) that gives him the opportunity to break out with convenience. With his Bara Bara no Mi, he can definitely get out without any brawling force. It doesn’t seem like he plans to establish a symbiotic escape with Ace though, as he starts to panic after realizing that vigilant snail no. 71 captures an image of him. So that kisses one of my speculations goodbye. My hopes of Buggy mustering all of his strength and fortitude to save Ace, just so the fire-fist Commander can help him flee are smashed into million pieces; it looks like Buggy-kun chooses to stick to his former, greedy, cunning, and silly self…. Tsk tsk tsk tsk.


I have been wondering how these old foes would cross paths. Would Buggy idiotically bump into Luffy without the former recognizing him (imagine the incident back at Logue Town)? Or would the forgetful Strawhat Captain puts himself into deep reminiscence just to remember the name of this red-nosed captain who almost cuts his head? Anyway, as I try to formulate all the ways of their aforementioned meeting after God knows how many months have passed since that Loguetown encounter, Luffy meets up with Buggy in a surprising way. The Bara Bara Captain tries to escape from the wrath of the mighty Blue Glory; the Gomu Gomu Captain on the other hand “unexpectedly” gets involved in this chaos. It might be against Luffy’s will to get into trouble, as he has made a promise to Hancock that he wouldn’t get himself involved into such ruckus, but knowing him, he’ll definitely fall into a messy commotion one way or another. Even if their much-awaited encounter doesn’t fit my speculations, the scene where they stumble upon one another is presented in a very Buggy-ish and Luffy-ish fashion. Really…. Both of them are unbelievably stupid. They have been running side by side for several seconds – long enough to recognize an old foe – but it requires a couple of axe-lashing motions from Blue Glory just so they realize that their old nemesis is at their side. This is very funny, of course. Luffy recognizes Buggy like he’s a no-namer, small-time pirate (like he’s always been) while the latter is so shocked that the infamous Strawhat is also in Impel Down. Much to his surprise, Luffy is not locked inside the cell nor is wearing that prison uniform. On the other hand, I was expecting Buggy to have a face fault like this http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/9283/insertnj3.jpg as he realizes that he just comes across his biggest nemesis. His expression on this panel is hilarious nonetheless. The only question is…. Will Buggy and Luffy form the most unthinkable alliance in the history of One Piece?

Friends or Foes?

As expected Luffy and Buggy engages in another ridiculous, childish fight where they blame each other for falling into a tight pinch. Then the Blue Glory soldiers start to recognize that there is another guy who appears to be an escapee aside from Buggy. And this is how Luffy realizes that he has broken his promise right before he finds a way to avoid getting into fight. As usual, Buggy has his fair share of complains as he thinks that it is the Strawhat Captain who puts his “Buggy’s plan of running away secretly” into a debacle. Since both of them are in a position where their choices are left into minimal numbers, they resort into going out with a bang. Really, it’s a miracle that these two think very alike at this scenario. Both have their silly and stupid sides, yet their way of thinking are in polar opposites: Luffy is willing to go for an all-out brawling just to save someone whereas Buggy prefers discreet and sly ways to save himself/themselves from the trouble. This is why it astounds me to learn that both of them have opted for the same solution.

The Spectacle:http://img156.imageshack.us/img156/6774/thespectacleqq8.jpg

There are two “bests” in this chapter. The first one is Buggy’s appearance. Finally. Since his name was mentioned back at recent chapters, we have been anticipating his appearance after so many chapters of his absence and silence. “How would he meet Luffy” and “what would be his reaction upon meeting him” are some of the questions that pop in our minds. For one, I have been calculating and speculating possible answers to these questions and boy I’m glad that the genius Oda-sensei finally grants real answers to that. His long hair symbolizes the idea that “it has been quite a while since his last encounter with Luffy in Loguetown and with his exciting meeting with Ace.” If there is a growth that can be traced in his character, it is his fearlessness for dynamic brawling even if it would put him in more trouble. Yeah, he only has limited choices, but it would still require gutful willingness to go against these hard-bulked Blue Glory warriors especially if he knows many scary things about them and the dreaded torture that awaits them. His sense of courage is not usually shown during his past appearances because his silliness is so overpowering that it plasters his good traits. At least, in this chapter, despite his usual clumsiness which puts himself in danger, he’s able to showcase the kind of pirate that he is.

The second “best” in this chapter is the type of bond that the two silly captains will form. Oda sensei has presented it in such a creative fashion that it invites diverse opinions and even speculations in regards with how their encounter will turn out.

The Downside:http://img145.imageshack.us/img145/5331/thedownsidejl6.jpg

From Luffy and Hancock’s romantic comedy affair (perhaps a “merry-go-round” type of affair like that of Harima and Tenma’s would be more suited to describe this One Piece’s new love couple), looks like the scene will now shift to Luffy and Buggy’s new tag team. I’m not against it. In fact I like how the pace of the story is able to carry the intensity of Luffy’s situation despite its surprising changes – he was clinging under Hancock’s robe at one moment, then he found himself facing a former, formidable foe just a few minutes after some petrifying, thanking, praying, and misunderstanding. However, the impact of Luffy and Buggy’s encounter isn’t as ground-breaking as I expect it to. Perhaps I have made too much expectation that I became a bit unsatisfied after seeing them. Or perhaps, this is because of the funny and silly reactions embedded in their actions which lessen the impact of their meeting.

Final Notes:http://img136.imageshack.us/img136/9314/finalnotesuw0.jpg

The interiors of the mighty Impel Down are finally showcased. Hancock and Luffy parted ways and are headed to their own journeys. How will Hancock handle the pressure and the heat of this hell? Will she use her beauty to hide her disgust and her anxiety just so she can survive this without looking suspicious? Hopefully, the answers to these questions will be shown in the next chapter. And now that Luffy faces Buggy and starts to lambaste using his ever-powerful Gomu Gomu no Mi, the chances of him being spotted by the vigilant snails are higher. And to reiterate the question that encompasses the strangest idea that the series has ever showcased….. Will Buggy and Luffy form the most unthinkable alliance in the history of One Piece?


Losers Collide

So the one who gave the den den mushi to Spandam was no mere government employee. In fact it was the long-lost Spanda, who solves the mystery of his current whereabouts by appearing in this special cover story after what, 20 years? As they figure out that their plan to annihilate the former CP9 agents goes into the inevitable debacle, they begin to brainstorm for another way to execute their desired doom for their old employees. With Spanda being a sore loser like he’s always been and with his fruit (Spandam) bearing all the loser-like qualities he has, I guess I don’t need to mention what will be the outcome of their so-called “plot for CP9’s obliteration,” do I?

Beat-up Bulgoris

Luffy and Buggy start to use their powers to contribute to the downfall of these horrific prison guards called “Bulgoris” – short term for “Blue Gorillas,” with the latter realizing that the silly Straw Hat Captain is no longer the pirate he used to know. Of course, he is quite astounded to realize that these bulky Bulgoris appear like little shrimps before Luffy’s power, while he on the other hand, seems to have sweat a lot just to bring down one of them. I think we better stop hoping that Buggy will show off some terrifying powers kept somewhere in his arsenal and should just focus on relying on Luffy who will surely do all the dirty work of beating the forces of Impel Down. What we can anticipate from Buggy, though, is his immense contribution for silliness and humor.

Separate Ways

So this is the answer to my repetitive questions on the upper portion of my review (even to other queries I included in my preeeevious reviews). Buggy leaves Luffy as he never considers himself sharing the same boat with the latter. Of course, being cautious as he is, Buggy doesn’t want to share the same sweat and blood with his old foe just so he can save a “drinking buddy” who also happens to be the Strawhat’s elder brother. His sole intention is and always has been, to escape from this pirate’s hell. He embeds his cleverness in his actions by trading some bits of information to the Strawhat Captain so the latter can cover his mess. In spite of his realization that Luffy has the strength and the guts to support his plan and even make his escape more convenient, he still wishes to take the safer route…. The longer he sticks with Luffy, the more trouble he encounters; leaving him whilst he is still at the first phase of his plot is the better way to flee from Impel Down without suffering from fatal injuries.

Sudden Changes

From being cautious and hesitant to get into brawling alongside Luffy, Buggy miraculously changes his mind and is even determined to stick with his old foe up to the entrance to Level Two – Impel Down’s second floor. He even showers the latter with more helpful information in regards with Impel Down’s construction, features, and secrets. We already know that Level Five is the territory of the inmates who are classified as the World Government’s top-tier enemies. What is surprising from Buggy’s concise explanation is the rumor behind this mysterious floor that goes beyond the depths of Level Five. The logic behind this is simple: If Level Five locks pirates worth over 100 million belli, then this rumored level restrains enemies whose infamy is much more threatening than Level Five inmates. He claims that it is just a rumor, yet there absolutely is something fishy about this said level. We are not sure though if Ace is locked up in Level Five since he is considered as a top-tier pirate. Or perhaps, he is restrained in this rumored level (assuming it actually exists) since he also shares a reputation horrifying enough to shake the foundations of World Government.

Another additional information showcased in this portion is the scope and limits of Buggy’s Bara Bara no Mi. As he offers Luffy a much speedy escape by grabbing his feet, Buggy flees within specified elevation. This panel encompasses the power of Bara Bara no Mi, presented in a creative manner. It bestows him the ability to levitate but in a limited height, plus, he can continue using his “split” technique whilst he’s mid-air, just as long as his feet is kept on the ground. (Perhaps this is a metaphorical or a back-end expression that Buggy should always remain humble, since his arrogance usually stops him to transcend into a more formidable threat).

Kind and Idiotic

In the midst of Buggy’s briefing, Luffy notices the changes in his old foe’s behavior. This is Buggy that we’re talking about, so any nice thing that you perceive in him is surely noticeable. But thanks to his good ol’ scoundrel self he’s able to demolish the boulder of randomness of Luffy’s bracelet, which then leads to him unlocking the mystery of this controversial Captain John’s map. I remember a respondent from One Piece Mega Convo expressing the eerie vibe he gets from this funky accessory. I salute this guy for keenly sensing Oda-sensei’s penchant for inserting a seemingly random item that actually possesses such a crucial meaning to specific situation – a value which will only be revealed several arcs after the said item is shown. I don’t know how such a thing becomes a map. Perhaps there is a tiny bin hidden somewhere in this accessory that will point out the legendary treasure of the legendary captain. Or maybe, this can serve as a compass once placed at the right location, at the right moment. And it’s also thanks to his silly self that we find out the vastness of Luffy’s ability to be idiotic and kind at the same time. He immediately gives his bracelet to Buggy despite being aware of the latter’s roguish tendencies – all in the belief that he will indeed point out the direction towards the Strawhat Captain’s elder brother. It just proves that it’s not just Buggy who hasn’t changed…. I can already hear Zoro saying that a person with a normal mind would first ask for specific (and real) directions towards Ace’s location and other valuable information before handing it. And I can already see Nami getting all pointy-eyed, shark-toothed, pissed off for learning that her captain just easily hands over the map that can lead to mountains of gold and treasure to their annoying foe.

Bloody Forest

As Buggy gets carried away by the joy of finally possessing the legendary and controversial treasure map, he unintentionally bumps over a wall separating the “gaolers” or Impel Down’s “watchdogs” from the prisoners. Luffy being a complete idiot that he is, mistakes it as a short cut which will lead to second level. However, this isn’t the case. In fact, their situation becomes graver when they land to a literally bloody forest, filled with sharp-edged leaves called “kenju” and pointy grass named “haribarisou.” The inmates in this Crimson Hell may have the freedom to run around and explore this huge premise, yet they suffer from much painful torture since they are constantly wounded from their razor-sharp surroundings. If not, they are chased by poisonous creatures or equally torturous prison guards who only add more horror to their pain. Even Luffy, who is in the state of unbent courage and complete determination to save Ace, is threatened by this bloody forest. He even gets more worried with the thought of his elder brother experiencing the same kind of torture. Continuing their safe exploration in this blood splattered forest, thanks to Buggy’s Bara Bara benefits, they, without a scratch, reach a huge manhole – the sole direction down to Level Two. The terror behind this gigantic hole, aside from the creepy aura brought by its pitch black surroundings, is that it even leads to a more horrifying destination. This is why no one risks of diving into this sea of darkness; the tacit notion of worse sorts of torture which await those who plunges deeper into levels of Impel Down stops any inmates from going there – even if the price is getting from the forest’s hellish environment. Luffy, on the other hand, stays collective and courageous, diving into this pitch-black hole alone…. If this is the way which will lead him to Ace, then all the horror lurking behind this darkness can just all go to real hell. Buggy’s case is different. He is, again, followed by misfortune, despite finally getting his most sought-after treasure mark. The impact created by the Bulgori’s striking axe pushes his body to fall into this hole. So, Buggy has no choice but to follow his old foe and share the adventure of dreadfulness in Level Two.

Lighting Up

It looks like Luffy’s trip to Impel Down is not just an epic journey to save an epic character, but a memory lane of previous villains as well. The first one Luffy meets for the third time is Buggy. And now that Mr. 3 has made his arresting appearance in the last panel of this chapter, he is definitely going to light up his way to get the same attention that Buggy has. I wonder how he’ll react once he learns that Luffy will bring another chaos in his path. The expression that he will make is something that I truly look forward to. And this also leads me to a belief that other members of Baroque Works will be featured in this arc as well.

But before I get quite overjoyed with the appearance of another old foe, let me just explain the hints shown in this page. The horrendous fangs look like it belongs to a gigantic animal of sorts. Perhaps it’s a monster, similar to Sea Kings which are crossbreeds of two diverse creatures. If Level One is called “Crimson Hell,” then Level Two is named “Beasts of Hell.” I’m not sure if it refers to actual beasts, but with reference to those beastly fangs and Mr. 3’s line, “We’ll only end up as food for those beasts,” it is more likely that this is floor is the territory of carnivorous creatures.

The Spectacle:http://img231.imageshack.us/img231/7841/thespectacle2wo9.jpg

A winning synergy of information, controversy, humor, and surprises is what makes of this chapter. The spirit of randomness suddenly vanishes as Buggy tells that there is indeed something quite fishy with Luffy’s accessory. Another possible Level in Impel Down can also welcome many speculations – a controversy in which the revelation will be shown few chapters from now. Of course, One Piece will not be complete without its casual episodes of laughter performed by the now-partners of ridicule named Luffy and Buggy. And with the impeding appearance of another ridiculous villain, Mr. 3, things will absolutely become waaaay crazier next chapter. Again, it opens many rooms of speculations that we, readers can ponder on. I think the ideas that we can muster for the next chapter can be described as “the sky’s the limit,” but thanks to this chapter’s many spectacles, we may all lead to a common speculation: Will Mr. 3 join this unthinkable and whimsical bond of Luffy and Buggy?

The Downside:http://img105.imageshack.us/img105/2539/thedownside2xv1.jpg

It seems that it will take an entire chapter just to showcase the “features” and the “amenities” of a particular Level in Impel Down. While it will do justice that each Level will be given their own spotlight since every floor has its distinctive characteristics, it will take maaaany chapters before Luffy even reaches Ace. Add some dabs of surprises and appearances of both old (Baroque Works inmates and Hancock) and new (Chief Mazelan and Jimbei)characters in this arc, the highly-anticipated rescue of the Strawhat Captain to his iconic Fire-Fist elder brother will be delayed. That means we have to wait much longer. Aside from that, the other Strawhats’ moments of transcendence might not be given much of a limelight. We either see some glimpses of their adventure, along with their new companions and the islands’ diverse culture or see the result of their lone journey.

Final Notes:http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/702/finalnotes2ql8.jpg

This two-part review is posted waaay later than I wanted. The other much recent chapters, Chapter 528: Jimbei Knight of the Sea and Chapter 529: Beast Hell will be done under one post. After that, I will come back to my regular chapter review. I do hope that despite my inability to update my reviews in a timely manner,b you still find this one worthy of your time. ^__^

January 26, 2009, 05:14 PM
Great review. Glad to have you back. I was worrying for a while that you had quit the reviewing business.

January 27, 2009, 10:52 AM
OMG your back!!!

Great review as usuall... i dont have enough time now to coment properly... ill come back