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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Manga Review: One Piece GN 59

One Piece volume 59
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Viz Media/Shonen Jump
208 pages

Spoiler warning: Review contains major freaking spoilers for the events of volume 59 of One Piece. Read on with caution – or else!

After risking everything he had to save his brother, Luffy experiences heartbreak as Ace dies in his arms. Whitebeard will make one last stand against the Navy forces but when the epic pirate war finally comes to an end, the entire world will be shaken!

I certainly can't be faulted by thinking that the title of chapter 577, "Outrageous Events One After The Other", is an accidentally apt statement describing the series as whole - not as an insult, per se, but as a reasonable point about the line of events that have led up to this recent arc of the Paramount War, in which pirate and Navy forces clash with unprecedented force as one condemned man's life hangs in the balance. Except that, as those who remember the cliffhanger for the previous volume know, that condemned man's life is no longer in the balance; it has been extinguished, and the shockwaves from his death are what propels the rest of this volume to startling new heights of violence and raw emotion.

Just look at the book's own synopsis for a clue at how important this book is. "The entire world will be shaken"? For once that is the understatement of the century. As this most recent volume of One Piece shows, the entire series will never be the same.

First off, there are a lot of characters in this volume. I can only imagine how Eiichiro Oda keeps track of all of them; probably through a series of elaborate charts and lists set up around his work place. But at the very least, there are enough people with contrasting ideals fighting to keep the action a-flowing through all the troubling events in this recent story arc. And there is a crap ton of fighting! At least eighty percent of what happens in this volume involves Navy officers and pirates going at it with everything they've got as the Paramount War reaches its conclusion. 

I especially loved Boa Hancock, Buggy the Clown, and Emporio Ivankov during all of the commotion - and even a certain spectacled character from Luffy's earliest adventures gets a great moment as he stands up for his own ideals of how the Navy should act in the face of peril. Because let's be honest, the Navy has been acting terrible lately and it'll takes an ideal young man like Coby to set them straight. Plus, he's all older and good-looking now. Aww yeah.

Despite the events within, this is really a volume for Ace fans. It is full of moments in Ace's life that are inserted throughout the chapters for maximum emotional manipulation, leading up to full chapters of nothing but flashbacks as we explore Ace and Luffy's first meeting and how they became brothers. It wasn't until recent volumes that I really started appreciating Ace's place in this series, and now that he's no longer with us, it hits me more than ever how important he was not only to the story as a whole but to Luffy's own narrative as a young man and someone aspiring to become king of the pirates.

 I can only imagine how Luffy will act once he recovers from the immediate shock of losing Ace during the war, or what state he'll be in when he joins up with his crew again. It's one of those fundamental yet earth-shattering shifts in story that I wish more mainstream shonen manga would make; this volume further highlights that, if anything, Eiichiro Oda isn't afraid to kill his darlings to make his characters keep growing. And to that I say: bravo. And, um, more Usopp. But that's another issue all together.