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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Manga Review: One Piece GN 67

One Piece volume 67
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Viz Media/Shonen Jump
219 pages
Cool Fight: Now that they’ve reached the New World, the Straw Hat pirates are up against things they’ve never seen before! Dragons, centaurs and deadly samurai are just the tip of the iceberg compared to the true dangers of Punk Hazard! Can Luffy and his mates uncover the dark secrets of this mysterious island?! (Source: Viz Media)
It's a given that One Piece is a bizarre series. Of the triumvirate of titles that make up Weekly Shonen Jump's main trio, Eiichiro Oda has managed to create the manga which bests both Naruto and Bleach in terms of expansive world-building and strange new civilizations and creatures. Of course, after sixty-plus volumes, Oda has become a master at keeping things fresh and interesting. He pretty much has to in order to keep his loyal and monster-sized following reading and buying every new installment of Luffy's adventures.
This latest story arc, however, really takes the cake. I mean - dragons? Centaurs? Samurai, with or without torsos? Giant kids and talking smoke-liquid people and weather-defying islands - oh shoot, is this an episode of Lost? No, it's still One Piece, and somehow it all makes sense when you read it.

After saving Princess Crybaby - err, Shirahoshi - and her kingdom of fish folk from near destruction, the Straw Hat Gang are back on the sea surface and as soon as they walk out of one dilemma, they walk into another. Welcome to Punk Hazard, where one half is a fire-spewing volcano-like field of rock and flame and the other is a cold, harsh tundra where it is always snowing and the wind is as sharp as swords. Naturally, upon arriving at Punk Hazard, our merry crew of pirates are split up by circumstance, leaving half of them in the tundra and the other half in the fields of fire.
As if Luffy does not have enough things to worry about, nearby are two members of the Naval Grand Line Forces: Tashigi and Smoker, two people who are determined to capture Luffy and his crew. However, they two have their hands busy when they run into Trafalgar Law, now one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea. 
His ability with his sword has the men and women of Naval G-5 in a bind, especially when one of his special techniques ends up swapping Tashigi and Smoker's hearts and bodies - and there are few things more bizarre that the sight of Tashigi chomping on one of Smoker's ubiquitous cigars, shirt open, talking as rough as can be.
Speaking of Luffy, the rubber future king of all pirates has his own troubles. While half of his crew encounter giant energetic children being guarded by soldiers with gas guns, Luffy is chasing a SOS call received via transponder snail and sails into the land of snow and ice, only to run into "Boss" and his cronies. 
As his and Trafalgar's paths cross for the first time in years, our fearless quartet of Sanji, Nami, Franky, and Chopper have to deal with the same body swap as Tashigi and Smoker. Chopper in Sanji's body? Sanji in NAMI'S body? Oh, the shameless groping!
Something about this newest arc is pure fun. It's a lot of antics smashed into one volume, which makes for a lot going on. All of this can seem confusing, but Oda confidently guides us through the madness to tell his story. The battle between the Navy and Law is great, and the plot involving the children and the dubious candies is super fascinating - I keep wondering what Oda is going to do with them and their captors.
Speaking of the oversized children's captors, we have the odd scientist, Caesar Clown, whose body confuses me; he's some sort of tree/liquid/smoke hybrid with limbs and a face and I want more of him! Not because he's a good person, per se, but I think that he has a back story that Oda is sitting on that I really want to read. Actually, a lot of interesting characters with strange bodies are introduced in this volume. I especially liked Monet, the bird-woman harpy who is also a scientist, and the sword-swinging Yeti Cool Brothers, who we see near the book's end.

Seven volumes into the New World portion of One Piece and oh, what a new world it has turned out to be. As the Straw Hat Gang struggles in the harsh terrain of Punk Hazard, will Luffy end up leaving with one new crew member? Or will he consider an offer few other men would refuse? One thing is for sure: I really wish I already had the next volume already!