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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Manga Review: One Piece GN 68

One Piece volume 68
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Viz Media/Shonen Jump
192 pages
Pirate Alliance: As the adventures continue on Punk Hazard, Luffy decides to strike up an alliance with Trafalgar Law. But can he convince the rest of the Straw Hats to go along with it? And will this new team be formidable enough to take down Caesar Clown? (Source: Viz Media)
This latest volume of One Piece is all about team work. W-wait, don't click away just yet! It's team work in the sense that a bunch of people who wouldn't normally be caught dead in the same room must now work together if they want to survive the experience. That's exactly what we have when the Straw Hats find themselves in alliance with newly made warlord of the sea, Trafalgar Law, and they all end up having to work with Smoker and Tashigi and their fellow Navy cronies.
The reason for all of this? Caesar Clown, a maniacal morally lacking scientist whose experiments with deadly gases threatens to destroy all life on Punk Hazard once and for all. His gas robe makes him look like the heavily mascara-wearing cousin of a certain smoke monster, and his killer gas makes other One Piece villains look like kindergarten class goons. In other words, Luffy and his crew have their hands full saving Punk Hazard from CC's scientific antics.

The first half of this book is basically Oda setting up the pieces for the main event in the second half. As Trafalgar Law and Luffy become allies, some more body swapping happens, although thanks to Sanji-in-Nami being absent from the main party, we are left with Nami in Sanji's body - much to the young navigator's annoyance. We also see the first act of Caesar Clown's powerful gas-based attack, which looks like slime and annihilates all that it touches. Don't light a match near it!
Meanwhile, Sanji-in-Nami and Usopp's group, which includes the previously discombobulated samurai Foxfire, try to save the oversized children from before, one of which is apparently Foxfire's son. These children have been used as experiment fodder and become hooked on drugged candies to the point that they become violent when denied their life-saving treats. Unfortunately, these children are well under the sway of Caesar Clown, and the pirates have a hell of a time surviving the tots' brute strength.
The biggest action of this volume is in the latter half of book 68, where the mad Clown puts his plot into motion and the island of Punk Hazard becomes a battleground as its residents fight to survive a live test of Caesar Clown's latest and deadliest weapon. Everyone is hitting the ground running, weapons out, working together whether they be pirate or Navy to take down the Clown's plans.
Some of the big battles include Foxfire versus Smiley, in which fighting fire with fire actually works to the samurai's advantage, and Luffy versus Caesar Clown, which doesn't end well for the future king of the pirates. If you love One Piece for all the fighting, you will certainly enjoy this volume. I kind of wish we saw more of Foxfire's abilities on the battlefield; I'm sure his sword skills will come into play sooner than later, especially since they are highly effective against Clown's slime-looking pets.
Naturally, because Trafalgar Law is still around, we have some more body swapping hijinks in this volume. Even though a lot of characters get switched back to their original bodies, Sanji and Nami must navigate Punk Hazard in each other's bodies. I really hope Nami gives Sanji more what for when she finds out what the perverted cook has been doing during her absence. 
Although, I do find it endearing that both Nami and Sanji are very concerned about the effect their fighting has on their borrowed bodies. Nakama forever!

We are seeing more of Caesar Clown as a character, and he is just as despicable as I would have thought. Eiichiro Oda is doing an ace job of creating an antagonist who, while still terribly fascinating, is someone I look forward to seeing being defeated by Luffy and Law and the Straw Hats. I've found that this series takes some interesting turns when the main cast is cornered by danger, and that is exactly how it's looking for Luffy. When December rolls around, I'll be looking forward to seeing how Luffy gets out of Caesar Clown's suffocating trap in time to save everyone and get back to the Grand Line.