CHAPTER 540: LV6 INFINITE HELL
I missed another two reviews. I’m afraid this thing has become a pattern…. Well, I am hoping against hope that I can post the next one on time. Anyway, here are my reviews.
CHAPTER 538: LEVEL FIVE POINT FIVE NEWKAMA LAND
The oasis was never meant to exist in the first place, but it was thanks to a prisoner’s devil fruit tunneling-power, which by the way, appeared to be Kinjishi’s doing, the Secret Flower Garden was created. Originally built between Level 5 and Level 6, this secret passageway stretches from first to fifth floor. Its entrances are entirely concealed and even dangerous; if they aren’t guarded by the flesh-hungry mutated beasts of Levels 2 and 5, they are hidden in a site where the chances of survival are reduced to a miniscule percentage. If only Luffy and his accomplices were more astute to their surroundings, they would have gotten to Level 5.5 without causing loud mix-ups. Luffy and Buggy got past to the Crimson Hell and got chased by the beasts themselves. He and Bon-chan even anticipated to dive in the Pot of Blood. Even so, I don’t blame our intruders for not giving more attention to their surroundings considering that they are involved in this time-trial madness. Anyway, this tunneling-skill must have paved way to Kinjishi’s freedom. It’s just my speculation, but the connection between Sengoku’s story and Iva-sama’s side is present. Nobody expected that someone had the potential to break out from this highly-secured gaol…. Unless you had a very handy skill of creating tunnels. Kinjishi must have used this to successfully escape by “installing” extremely hidden tunnels at the least expected places like the needle forest. With his entrances/exits in place, he just had to move at the right time to proceed from one place to another, granting him the freedom he wanted. Perhaps the “installation” of this oasis was so perfectly and cleverly done that, for 20 years, no gaoler has ever noticed that such thing existed.
Furthermore, Iva-sama shared pieces of information as succulent as the meals before Bon-chan and him. First – the confirmation of Level 6’s existence. The Eternal Hell is home to the most dangerous prisoners kept in Impel Down. Their threat is not entirely based on their physical skill, for there are inmates who may not have the greatest of strength, but holds the scariest information, capable of ending the World Government’s reign. Second – Chief Magellan once shared his mighty authority with Shiryuu of the Rain. He may be the crazy counterpart of Akainu who is clueless about the word “mercy” and “humanity.” In terms of physical strength, he deserves to be regarded as Impel Down’s “Star.” He was nonetheless, put behind bars because he sucked at the “morality” category. Third – the revelation of other notorious pirates such as “The Most dangerous Woman in the entire Pirate Age,” Catarina Devon, “Colossal Battleship,” San Juan Wolf, “Mighty Drinker,” Busco Shot. The four (including Shiryuu) are still restrained in Eternal Hell and I do hope that their characters will be formally established once Luffy enters this controversial place. Just like how Iva-sama described them, these guys have created an immense madness in OP World and it would be frustrating if their names were only mentioned just to add color in this chapter. Of course, everyone would be gleeful if this Catarina Devon knew many Poneglyph stuff…. If this Busco Shot had insane penchant for drinks…. If San Juan Wolf had the strength parallel to that of a battleship…. If Shiryuu still had that thirst for bloody rampage. These guys are utterly interesting and they should also be given a pimp spot. Another thing…. I realize that Robin would have been locked in Level 6 if Luffy fails to rescue her.
CHAPTER 539: EMPORIO VIGOUR HORMONES
“Miracles can only descend upon those with the vill to carry on!!!! Do not take them so lightly!!!!” A resonating quote from Iva-sama. This chapter fortifies my fangirl swooning to this Queen. Aside from solidifying his character, he reveals some striking information about himself; his background is emblazoned with worldly uproar and controversies. He must have contributed so many things to Dragon’s revolutionary as an army leader and “personal compatriot” to Luffy’s dad. His membership to this group may prove a good rationale regarding his retirement as the Queen of the Kambakka Kingdom. Perhaps, he met Dragon during his reign and decided to take a different route to fight alongside a man who shared similar beliefs and to promote his way of showing miracles. Judging from his reaction about the escape issue, it appears that he merely stays in Impel Down because Dragon hasn’t given him any signals to break out. Looks like he won’t even get any problem in doing so since his settlement in this gaol is by choice. Thus, he can get the heck out of there anytime he wants without difficulty. He has all the strength and information needed to make a decent exit from this fortress. However, we can’t be certain about the actual things that encompass this “signal.” It can be a direct contact from his leader (like a Den Den Mushi call). Or, it can be an uproar initiated by the revolutionaries, scattered at the pages of their newspapers. Iva-sama can perceive this as his group’s colossal movement against the World Government and this will also urge him to get out of the gaol and have all the members gathered up to pursue their cause.
Many things are revealed as his conversation with Luffy goes on. The truth about this Strawhat’s notorious background, along with Ace’s connection with Dragon, has dived into the depths of Iva-sama’s hormones. Deciphering the puzzle that purports these three bad-ass pirates offers him the idea that this is the signal he’s been waiting for. His leader’s “kids” are both imprisoned in Impel Down - one is going to be led to his chastisement whilst the other one is undergoing some odd process of recovery. As Dragon’s ally and army leader, it is his obligation to support these two to whatever endeavors they’re making….. So…. Sigh…. Iva-sama makes up his mind, vows to help Luffy, gathers his forces of Okama, and dashes into the depth of Impel Down to save another Monkey member. But before I get totally swayed by this excitement, I want to express some concerns about this race between Chief Magellan’s gaoler group and Luffy’s team of intruders. The chief is on his way to Ace’s cell. Since his position grants him convenient access to every room he wishes to visit, he can reach Level 6 even before Luffy starts rampaging like a real monkey again. And yeah, the latter group is even spotted by the vigilant gaolers and Vice Chief Hannyabal unbelievably gives sound orders to respond to this madness. Sadie-chan, who is being asked to proceed to Level 6 along with her demon guards, can finally showcase her sadistic power demonstration in her attempt to stop the intruders from reaching Ace. Their battle may cause further delay, especially when she possesses a power strong enough to impede her opponents and to buy more time so the Chief can fulfill his obligation in safeguarding the Commander to his convoy. The manner of her appearance can be done into two ways: (1) She may meet Luffy somewhere in Level 6 (possibly at the staircase or at the giant lift), with Chief Magellan, Domino, and Ace completely out of the scenario; (2) or, she may cross paths with the intruders, standing between her boos and her enemy. Anyway, the chief wins this race as he reaches the goal first and takes Ace into “custody,” whereas the Strawhat are still on his way to the Commander’s cell. Maybe Luffy won’t reach the finish line on time, thus promoting the idea of further battle at the entrance of Impel Down. Those five battleships which await Ace can contribute greatly to the climax of this arc – whether they fight the Strawhat, the Whitebeards, or maybe…. The revolutionary. The tension in this premise is even more palpable than the Buster Call because everyone is anticipating the appearance of Newgate. Since Iva-sama’s deduction suggests that Dragon may be on his move to save Ace as well, the participation of this dude is highly speculated. However…. As much as I want those two stronger forces to pop out the scene, I do believe that this battle will go on until they reach Marineford, where Ace is still on the hands of the Marines. Even if Luffy manages to meet him at his convoy, or some pirates appear to save him, the real battle will commence at the Marineford. Otherwise, the Shichibukai-versus-Whitebeards build-up will just go into waste. Perhaps, it’ll be another debacle on the Strawhat’s part…. But hopefully, he’ll go to Marineford as well with Iva-sama and the Okamas on his side (and maybe the other Strawhats too).
A nice storytelling session from the Strawhats for this chapter. I am glad that a colorspread is featured because I am getting really tired of Strawhat shenanigans on the cover…. Not that I completely find it unfavorable, but I root for more meaningful cover page that shows past characters and their adventures after encountering our favorite pirate crew.
Luffy, Iva-sama, and Inazuma dash to Ace’s cell with all their might – but to no avail. Since it is Chief Magellan who reaches the finish line first, it is clear that he will be able to send Ace to his convoy without the Strawhat finding him. The big lift also plays a huge factor here because it serves as the Chief’s shortcut to the entrance. The gaolers at the monitor room show their contribution in trapping the intruders by sending a colossal spike to Infinite Hell’s lift, sealing the stairway, and using the sleeping gas to knock them out. Ace’s “roomie” on the other hand, realizes that Hancock’s information is indeed true, as he stands face to face with the Strawhat-wearing pirate. The latter even gains his unspoken admiration and respect by making it all the way down to Infinite Hell despite its cruel security and atrocious environment. Unfortunately, his little pep-talk remains useless because of the gaolers’ quick response to the situation. I just find it odd that Iva-sama does not pay much attention to the Shichibukai’s presence. Yeah, he already knows that Jinbei is locked in Level 6 as well, but this guy’s reputation is too huge to be ignored.
Anyway, all of their exits are shut. With the sleeping gas spreading throughout Level 6, they need to forge their actions and reach Ace as soon as possible. They’re most likely going to use brute force to get their asses out of there. Iva-sama may use another technique; his Death Wink is aimed to knock out people and his hormone-building/changing skill is entirely of no use to solid, non-living bricks surrounding them. Inazuma is also a big candidate for this demonstration. She hasn’t shown her true skills yet, so this is the best opportunity to do so.
OP's Edward Scissorhands
And she does…. Inazuma is indeed OP’s counterpart of Edward Scissorhands. I get confused, however, with her gender because the inmates address her as a “he,” and Iva-sama confirms her gender by giving similar reference. It’s just confusing on my part; without her shades, Inazuma looks like a she (her eyes are feminine), but with her shades on, she completely looks like a man. To avoid further confusion, I’ll just follow Iva-sama’s reference and completely ignore my impression about her…. Er, him.
Aside from being half-butler, half-Snow Queen, and half-Harry Potter, Inazuma portrays the mangaka’s interpretation of the famous movie character by turning his hands into crab-like scissors that can cut anything and turn the item’s physical property into a paper. Okay…. “that can cut anything” maybe an overstatement. Cutting something solid is perhaps the most basic skill of Inazuma’s Choki Choki no Mi – hard bricks, steel cages, rocks, you name it. However, cutting an element such as ice, fire, light, smoke, and sand is a different story. Inazuma has to use this own strength to pull it off. He’ll only be able to fend off Logia-based attacks/opponents if he can muster a skill similar to Rayleigh’s – a technique that can avert elements through sheer power. Then, he can combine his physical power with his devil fruit to cut Logia attacks like they are mere pieces of paper.
We have seen different sides of Ace throughout this arc. He was once portrayed as the strong, cool, courteous, and smart Second Division Commander of the Whitebeard Pirates and Luffy’s elder brother. Then we saw his seeping machismo as he fought Blackbeard. It was however, different when he lost the fight and got restrained in Impel Down. He looked defeated, weak, scared, worried…. The previous chapter showcased his anguish. It’s a bit ironic that Ace denies the legitimacy of Hancock’s news while he is completely aware that her actions can be supported with logic – or maybe, he refuses to accept the truth, wishing that there are some glitches on her information. His immense denial mirrors his further disquietude about his crazy brother; he no longer has the necessary means to save Luffy, especially with his poor physical disposition and no one is “stupid” enough to assist the Strawhat to even escape from Impel Down (at least that’s what he thinks). As the gaoler’s report reaches Chief Magellan’s camp, he realizes that his denial, no matter how immense it may be, can no longer give him even a tiny drop of peace of mind. Luffy is indeed in Infinite Hell and is looking for him. Poor Ace. He enters the gaol with the burden of losing and harming his nakama then exits with the weight of leaving the Strawhat helpless and captured. Anyway, he is being handed to the Marines. No sign of the Whitebeards yet. I am also hoping that the revolutionary will show up; Iva-sama illustrates some hints regarding Dragon’s participation in this madness. If the Whitebeards do not make their move within the premises of Impel Down, THE battle will then take place in the Marineford, with the entire force of the Marines and the Shichibukai awaiting to end the legend.
The tenacious Strawhat contends his plan if he fails to save Ace in Impel Down. This is Luffy that we’re talking about…. Of course, he doesn’t have any sound strategy for his Plan B. All he’ll have to do is to barge in the Marineford and get Ace as safely as possible. His tenacity is overwhelming, especially in Iva-sama’s eyes because Dragon projects the same aura before him. It’s a different story in Inazuma’s eyes since this guy opts for logic rather than pure tenacity. Furthermore, he gives more focus on contemplating about their current situation than anticipating on the weight of Luffy’s Plan B. But before the Okama Queen grasps the essence of the Monkey family and admires Straw-boy’s will, he makes a good argument about the situation the latter is about to enter. Relying on the Whitebeards is a sound option. Not that they are falling helpless to this overpowering battle, but Newgate has the power to decently fight against the opponents and save Ace. Besides, Luffy will just taste another bitterness of Nyon’s lecture (Luffy being an “ant”). As much as I want him to beat everyone’s ass, he is just going be shrugged off by the strength of those pros. But then again, rationalizing before a crazy, resilient, stubborn pirate is pointless because Luffy has already vowed to go there and get Ace no matter what.
Croc's Pimped Spot
I haven’t thought about this but…. “Croc-shit” makes his official appearance in this chapter in his casual, pimped way. I can already hear the same theme that keeps on playing during the Alabasta Arc – the classically influenced theme the anime plays whenever he shows up. And I find it really strange how he can introduce himself with panache in spite of this ugly gaol outfit and Kairoseki handcuff. Anyway, he surprisingly offers a deal with the man who once ruined his plan in conquering OP: he’ll help Luffy escape from this trap and even assist him in his endeavors in exchange of letting him go and giving him the chance to lambaste the most powerful man in the age of piracy. His response to Luffy’s rants about his cruelty in Vivi’s land is something I find (oddly) funny; he merely shrugs it off, saying that it is a “thing of the past” like how a guy explains his old batshit romance to his wife. Another surprising thing here is Iva-sama’s acquaintance to “Croco-boy.” Meeting him prior to his membership to Shichibukai must have given the Okama Queen the “privilege” of knowing his dark secret. Judging by his reaction regarding Iva-sama’s clear remembrance/awareness of his well-kept secret, I can’t help but think that it is an embarrassing truth about Crocodile – embarrassing enough to be used for blackmail. Hmmmm, does he have something in his body that looks feminine? Is Crocodile a closet Okama? Well, this secret of his is too controversial to be turned down. I bet it’ll be exposed one way or another, and it’s gonna be a hilarious revelation. But seriously, Iva-sama makes a good choice; giving the former Shichibukai another chance may present them wider accessibility to all the things they need in order to accomplish their goal. His Sand-based devil fruit power provides an ample catalogue of skills which are most helpful in their situation – he can turn his Logia-body part into a sharp weapon perfect for drilling holes (for convenient exits), he also has a fat collection of long-range attacks, which by the way, cannot be easily deflected given his Logia nature, his sneakiness can be distressing, but it is undeniably valuable especially in this situation. It even looks like he is the key to their escape; if Iva-sama and Inazuma have the skill useful enough for this entrapment, they would have used it already. Thus, someone like Crocodile is needed in order to pull this off (it looks like it can’t be done by pure strength alone).
Jinbei also makes his pleadings. “Croco-boy” clearly has a dark goal for this escape whereas the Knight holds an honorable, pure intention to join Luffy. He has been contending words of pride and dignity long before the Strawhat met him. It would be extremely pathetic if he would be deprived of freedom when he genuinely wants to help the Whitebeards and save Ace. Besides, Jinbei is the polar opposite of the typical, power-hungry Shichibukai members, so he is absolutely worthy of their trust. His membership to Luffy’s new set of allies also offers promising episodes of Jinbei showing his power. This Shichibukai hasn’t shown his true skills yet. His impressive underwater talent is a given, but surely, there is more to him than being an enormous, round Merman with honor. Because he is different and big-hearted, he incredibly establishes an unspoken bond with Luffy, forged by their brief, but meaningful “eye-to-eye contact.” This is perhaps one of Luffy’s bizarre ways of judging someone – if he possesses genuineness or greed.
Contrary to how the Strawhat perceives him, Iva-sama looks at Jinbei as a person whom they should be cautious of. The latter may have spoken words of honor and kindness, but he’s a Shichibukai nonetheless. The Marines and maybe the revolutionary are doubtful about the loyalties of such member; he used to be an enemy to the World Government, and becoming their (quick) allies is uhmmmm, disturbing. One would give up his old status for a prize as ego-feeding as his career as a pirate. Therefore, he accepts the title of Shichibukai because of his hidden agenda. And in the eyes of Marines and revolutionaries, that move is apparently roguish. Iva-sama must have thought that they should be really prudent in Jinbei’s presence, because he may pull something “dark.” I don’t blame the Okama Queen for thinking that way; he has shown specks of discretion from the start. However, I am rooting for Jinbei as the honorable fighter from Fishman Island.
The Eclectic Ones
There you go…. The new “Save Ace” team sets out, ready to battle their ass out to accomplish their seemingly hard goal in Marineford. It’s just odd how Luffy “acquires” new allies when he doesn’t actually plead to have one. He goes to Impel Down with only one goal set in his mind. He doesn’t even consider “recruiting” an ally or a guide to help him out – not even for a miniscule second. Oddly enough, he meets interesting characters along the way, helping him and joining him in his brick-breaking, hole-diving, beast-beating mission. His first team is comprised of silly old foes who unwillingly gets into this madness. With the exception of Bon-chan, Luffy’s teammates plan to using him as the bait just so they can pursue their personal aims. They also rely on their “leader’s” strength because their (weak) skills cannot beat their adversaries’. On the other hand, the second team is composed of new characters (except Crocodile) who project totally opposite qualities from the old ones. Yeah, they have their “interesting” sides, but these guys are undeniably more powerful, more experienced, and more cunning. Instead of them relying on the Strawhat, the former may as well depend on their astute flair because they really know what they’re doing….. they are pros.
I just discussed the best part of this chapter. Luffy’s new team truly opens a higher wave of excitement and speculation. What is Jinbei’s true power? Will Crocodile do something sneaky? What is his “dark” weakness anyway? How are they going to escape from Impel Down? Blah….blah….blah….blah. He may not notice it, but his new allies lead him into a shining path of optimism; they are immensely trustworthy (except Crocodile) and extremely powerful, making his mission lighter and more attainable. With his new allies’ “craftsmanship,” he can stop worrying about the exits, the enemies, and their means of transportation. All of the keys to reaching Ace in Marineford will be accessible, thanks to their contribution.
Dragon appeared last chapter – not in an official way, but at least, we got a glimpse of his past through Iva-sama’s memory. He amazingly appears enigmatic even before his close, trusted allies. I didn’t know what was going on his mind, but it looked like he wanted to preserve “maximum privacy.” Once again, wind is being used as a subtle reference to Dragon’s character. This only fortifies the readers’ speculation about his real power. His first appearance in Logue Town triggers the audience’s notion that the green gust was his doing. He also uttered something about the wind when he was shown in some Medieval castle, proud about Luffy’s achievement as his bounty raised to 300,000,000 belli. The reference suggests that he may be a devil fruit user – of Logia nature.
The clock is ticking and I wonder if these guys will make it in time. Manpower is the least of Luffy’s worries, but their massive rampage will certainly put Impel Down in their maximum defense. Since Ace is already handed to the Marines, the gaolers can now shift their forces into stopping the “Save Ace” team. Besides, Sadie-chan and her demon guards are on their way to Level 6. It would be completely fortunate if the team misses them, but there are other gaolers who anticipate their arrival. The battleships outside the entrance will also block them if Luffy’s team manages to reach it…. And it will be the same thing when they are on their way to Marineford. Impel Down’s forces will cause painful delay…. But let us all hope that Whitebeard (and even Dragon) will show up in the nick of time to stop this madness.
The chapter closes with er, eclectic lines uttered by the pros. So…. The big guns are out. Crocodile participates in this chaos with hidden agendas in his mind (be ready for a devious move made by this guy). Jinbei joins them to pursue his campaign for honor and pride (be ready for a superb technique wielded by this Shichibukai). Perhaps there will be more Winks and Cuts from Iva-sama and Inazuma as their new team soar to Level 1. As far as the silly old foes are concerned…. Well, I believe they will make their comeback in the midst of this madness – again, getting caught with it when all they want is a serene exit from this gaol. It’ll be the same thing with the Okamas; they’ll probably meet their Queen somewhere in Impel Down with Bon-chan revitalized and full-spirited.