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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Manga Review: One Piece GN 57

One Piece volume 57
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Viz Media/Shonen Jump
208 pages

Summit Battle: All-out war has broken out between the Whitebeard Pirates and the Navy. Whitebeard’s crew is said to be the most powerful in the New World, but they’ll have their hands full against the Navy Admirals and the remaining Warlords of the Sea. Meanwhile, can Luffy reach Navy headquarters in time to save his brother Ace?

Spoiler warning: Review contains some spoilers for the events of volume 57 of One Piece.

The Paramount War arc reaches an astonishing peak as the sea surrounding Ace’s execution becomes jam packed with ships of pirates and Navy folk alike, along with the Warlords and their lackeys, in a knock-out overwhelming battle that threatens to out shadow Ace’s own predicaments and reshape the current age of pirates as we know it. Meanwhile, somewhere in the background, Luffy is still fighting to reach his brother and hopefully save his life. In short, it’s a pretty big deal. This volume is non-stop battles of epic proportions among dozens of major players in the war on the water and if there is one thing you can not accuse this 57th book of is being uneventful, not at all.

Read the rest of the review after the jump!

The one problem, of course, with being terrifically packed with action is that you literally have to pack each page with panel after panel of stuff to the point that the page becomes far too busy for the average read-over. I had to re-read most of the chapters at least once for all the action to properly come together in my head. The pages become dense with people fighting and revealing important information about said fighting to the point that the action begins to drag dangerously behind what is Oda's usual brisk pacing. It does, however, hit it's stride about halfway through the volume, in which things truly become serious and Luffy managed to enter the calamitous stage in his usual goofy tactless fashion.

It’s not like it’s all pointless action and filler fighters, either; these people are fighting for control of the sea itself and for Ace, a pirate who has clearly touched many lives since starting out on his own first adventure – in fact, seeing Ace interact from the gallows with all the men and women fighting for his life is an eerie parallel to whenever Luffy is in trouble and must rely on his own beloved nakama from his travels all over the world. It’s even remarked upon in the dialogue when Ace tells Luffy to go back and leave him to his fate, that Ace has his own nakama and adventures apart from Luffy now.

Ace himself gets a lot of development as this volume centers mostly on his character as opposed to Luffy, who consequently gets shuffled to the periphery for most of everything. Through a series of flashbacks and related scenes, we see much more of Ace’s past history and travels that we have seen in previous volumes, giving his character a much needed depth. We also learn a few things about the true parentage of both Ace and Luffy, although I’m sure it surprises few readers that they would be descended from such high-ranking pirate lineage.

Overall, despite some serious pacing issues in the first half that makes the action drag out a bit, the explosive second half makes it a volume of shonen manga not meant to be missed by any fan of the series. Along with some serious character development, huge fights worthy of the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump, and a rather shocking twist of an ending, it’s with the fifty-seventh book of One Piece that Eiichiro Oda proves he has plenty of steam left in him and lots more story to tell for at least another fifty volumes.