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Friday, October 21, 2011

Manga Review: One Piece GN 58

One Piece volume 58
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Viz Media/Shonen Jump
208 pages

Spoiler warning: Review contains major freaking spoilers for the events of volume 58 of One Piece, especially the ending. Read on with caution – or else!

With Whitebeard injured, the Navy launches a counterstrike to finish the pirate rebellion once and for all. And as the three Navy Admirals stand in his way, Luffy will need one last trick if he hopes to save his brother Ace from being executed.

Dear folks who still labor under the delusion that One Piece is primarily a humorous shonen series with not a single serious bone in its body: I present to you the Paramount War arc, which truly builds up to a horrifying peak in this volume. And this truly is a war, one between the pirates and the Navy with Luffy caught in the middle, someone who just wants to save his brother. 

But Luffy just may end up being an essential part of this war in the end, considering his impressive lineage not to mention his awesome powers inherited from the Gum-Gum Fruit. Whether you are on the side of the pirates or of the Navy, this volume is momentous for both readers and characters alike – and definitely cannot be missed for anything.

In this latest volume of One Piece, it’s never dull on the high seas and the action doesn’t even try to take a single pause as we zip from the stabbing of Whitehouse to the massive clash on the water and the rush of the execution block to the horrific and game changing cliffhanger that ends this book and will infuriate fans once they realize they have to wait until 2012 for the next one. Yeah, I’m not so keen on waiting until February for the next volume – but hey, my birthday is at the end of February, so that would be one hell of a present, wouldn’t it? Of course, if you’re worried about the wait, you can just re-read all fifty-eight volumes between now and February . . . right? Ahem.

ETA: Apparently, the print version of One Piece volume 58 is wronger than wrong; the 59th volume will be out December 6th according to both and the Viz Media site. Apologies for the confusion; you won't have to wait terribly long after long. Just a few more months!

If there one thing that Oda truly performs best on above all, it is action scenes, and since this volume is jam-packed with them, it lets his skill shine through on the page. It also serves as an exhibition stage for all the rather awesome fighting techniques and abilities all of the various players in this waterborne war have under their belt, fighters like Akainu and his flames, Ivankov and his ghastly humongous head, and of course Luffy with his unending energy and elastic muscles. 

It’s a fantastic display of fighting techniques both glorious and straight-up odd, including some keen cameos by the ever beautiful Boa Hancock who is only too glad to help out Luffy in his fight to save Ace. And yes, Buggy shows up too – well, you can’t get rid of the guy, can you? Not that I mind; he gives comic relief that is much needed in the middle of so much chaotic pirate drama.

I’m usually bored by volumes of shonen manga dominated by action – but fifty-eight didn’t bore my in the least. But this is also because stuff actually happens in this volume. Not a metric ton of plot advancement happens, but the few decisive events that stand out amid all the fighting will surely mark this as one of the great turning points in the series overall, especially the last chapter which practically took my breath away. And that’s considering that Japanator accidentally spoiled me for this plot point months in advance! 

That’s the power of Oda: even when you see it coming, it still hits you right where it hurts – and it certainly hurts, especially if you are a fan of Ace (see, I told you we’d be dropping spoilers hardcore in here).

Still, if anything, volume fifty-eight proves that Eiichiro Oda still has the magic touch when it comes to storytelling and that One Piece is still a story worth telling. This is when everything changes – for Luffy, for Ace, for the Golden Age of Piracy itself – and if you’re not reading this momentous series for whatever reason, hopefully this convinces you to give it another go.

For more info about the One Piece manga, you can visit the official US Shonen Jump page for the series and watch streaming episodes of the One Piece anime at Viz's site.