One Piece (829-831) – Review
Chapters 829 – 831
Reviewed by: Tom
Synopsis: Monkey D. Luffy had always wanted to be a pirate. But against his better judgement he ate the Gum-Gum Fruit, gaining the power to stretch like rubber– but in return lost his power to ever swim again! Eh, no matter, Luffy decided to become a Pirate anyway, his dream to one day in fact become King of the Pirates! Over the course of his journey he assembles a crew of bizarre characters, from Zoro the three-sword wielding swashbuckler, to Nami the treasure whore, and more.
(Warning: Spoilers to Follow)
Now, having saved the kingdom of Dressrosa, and gained a few temporary crew mates: Kinne’mon and his son Momo, two Samurai seeking a lost ally of theirs, Luffy and his crew move on to the island of Zou to continue their battle against one of the four emperor pirates: Kaido. Reaching the island, actually a giant elephant, Luffy and his crew helped to save the Minks from trouble with Kaido’s pirates and in turn learned a startling number of revelations about their ongoing journey. But, despite the need to take on Kaido, who’s grown unhappy with Luffy’s interference, he’s instead decided to go save his crewmate Sanji; who’s been forced into a marriage contract by the pirate empress Big Mom, who Luffy has already pissed off.
Picking up with Luffy’s group we discover they’re on the way to Big Mom’s lair located on Whole Cake Island. We’re reminded that Pekoms went missing, and while there’s some talk of looking for him, it’s more important they stay focused on sneaking onto Whole Cake Island without Big Mom finding out.
They spot land, but the plan isn’t to actually dock at the island, but rather change course and stay clear of Big Mom’s defenses. I’m definitely glad we’re not getting bogged down in visiting every island, and it feels like a change of pace. I can’t help but feel years earlier we would’ve visited every island on this journey, extending the length of this arc by a good fifty chapters or more. This way feels tighter, more to the point, and better for this arc which could become dangerously over bloated.
As the crew focuses on navigating the islands, and stopping Luffy from cooking, Pedro ends up revealing that he knows so much about the area because he’s been here before. This has been going on for a few chapters now, but this time Pedro’s hints of his past concerning Big Mom’s territory feels different. Before it felt almost like he was keeping it a secret, but here he freely mentions it without too much provocation. It’s a bit of an about face, but we’ll get into this more later. Shortly after Pedro mentions that he’s been here before a giant centipede monster appears from the depths!
While Luffy battles it out with the beast, Big Mom is on a war path on Whole Cake Island. Apparently she’s going around smashing and eating everything! The only thing that will stop here is a Croquem-Bouche, the food she’s craving for at the very moment. Her chefs work on the only food that’ll stop here as she devours yet another town in her war path.
Attempting to ease her until the food is ready, Charlotte Moscato, the the minister of Gelato, one of her own sons, attempts to calm Big Mom. This seems all a bit random, even for One Piece, but the entire point of these pages is to demonstrate not only the fearsome, odd ball, brutality of Big Mom, but her ability to suck away someone’s very life itself. Charlotte is a goner as Big Mom sucks forty years of his life away from him, killing the poor man. The way in which this sequence begins, and is eventually resolved, feels quite fast, shoe-horned and not nearly as tight as previous One Piece developments. It makes me wonder if Oda is struggling a bit to tell this increasingly complex narrative. It’s not a slight against him, but more a possible example at how unwieldy One Piece’s ever expanding story is becoming.
To save the day Jimbei arrives! A surprise entrance even though we knew he was lurking around. He hurls a group of sentient cream buffs (which is perhaps one of the more odd details tucked away in all this chaos) into Big Mom’s mouth and manages to put an end to her rampage. Big Mom seems a bit unaware of the chaos she caused while hungry, and asks Jimbei why he’s come to see her. She threatens that he better not be planning to leave her, almost as if she’s addressing the very readers screaming, “is he finally going to become part of Luffy’s crew!?”
Jumping back in time, we see Jimbei give a passionate speech concerning Luffy to all his crewmen. Jimbei finally says what most readers have been dying to hear: He wants to join Luffy and that is happening. Jimbei thinks he’s going to get push back, but as if embodying One Piece’s very readers, Jimbei’s crew gives him their blessing and reveals they’ve known he’d go join Luffy at some point. It’s definitely a fourth-wall nod at the readership, acknowledging how long this development has been in the works and highly anticipated by Oda’s fans.
Everything’s not quite so easy, however, as Jimbei’s first mate, Aladdin, married into Big Mom’s family. Aladdin’s wife arrives, Charlotte Praline, and while it looks like she might cause trouble, she announces that she’d easily pick her love, Aladdin, over Big Mom (Well that was easy.) However, Praline suggests that everyone who’s tried to leave Big Mom has died for it before. It’s clear that this whole flashback was A: a nod to the One Piece readers, and B: set up that helps to build tension with Jimbei and Big Mom’s confrontation.
Snapping back to the present we’re reminded that Big Mom already killed one of her children during her hunger pangs. Jimbei stands before Big Mom and announces his plan to leave her pirates. She explains that she’ll allow him to do so, but if he does she’ll lose a lot of power, and that isn’t fair, not unless he loses something too! She has her servants bring out a roulette wheel marked with numbers and body parts (yikes.) We immediately cut away (Oda you’re such a tease) and return to Luffy’s crew who are now passing through Big Mom’s Naval Territory. while the roulette wheel certainly sparks tension, I don’t fear for Jimbei all that much. Outside of the two big deaths in the series, most every other character has made it out of harm’s way a-okay. It’s very unlikely Jimbei will suffer too badly here.
The crew is bogged down in a sea of syrup and surrounded by sleeping ants (Apparently they’ve been through a lot since we last left them.) This new approach, skipping battles and events off page, makes me wonder if the big “world war” arc isn’t going to be nearly as massive and bloated as some fear. It’s going to have a lot of players, there’s no doubt about that, but seeing as we just skipped a non-insignificant part of the crew’s journey here, it wouldn’t surprise me if we’re always skipping events going forward as we jump back and forth between groups. It’ll certainly help this arc flow much faster and become less bogged down in jumping back and forth.
Pedro finally sheds some light on his past. He used to be a pirate with Pekoms and was searching for a Ponegliff on behalf of The Cat Viper. He traveled into Big Mom’s territory and suffered a horrible defeat. Now he sides with Luffy because Duke Dogstorm and Cat Viper both saw Gol D. Roger within Luffy. He wants to help Luffy succeed in obtaining all of the Ponegliffs. As the conversation takes a turn, the ants wake up and the crew is forced to run for their lives. I take issue with Pedro’s reveal here, as it feels slightly at odds with the hints up till now. Pedro’s secret seemed much grander, or shady, as it felt he was almost keeping it a secret from Luffy’s crew. While we could now chalk it up to embarrassment for his failure, part of me wonders of Pedro’s secret past changed during the course of this arc. That Oda decided to reinvent some of his character history between now and his first reveal. Either way, I find this reveal, that he simply tried to steal a Ponegliff before and failed, a bit underwhelming from the vibe I was getting before. I’m crossing my fingers that there was more to it, or that this isn’t the full story.
Skipping to the next morning the crew has reached Whole Cake Island! As they near the weakest area of Big Mom’s security net Luffy spots someone on the shore.
Picking up from last time (although the mention of someone on the shore line is not immediately addressed) Brook and Pedro get into the Shark Submerge 3 and make way for the island. This feels rather sudden, and I can’t remember this being a part of the plan prior to this chapter, making me wonder if Oda decided he wanted to whittle down our cast a bit further for these next few chapters. It’s an abrupt addition to the plan (or perhaps a detail lost between chapters) and caught me off guard. As Brook and Pedro head off to infiltrate, Luffy and Co. get on land and he immediately calls out for Sanji and Pudding. It’s here Luffy claims he saw them both on land, but they’ve disappeared since he saw them from up on the mast.
Adding to the mystery, Luffy spots Sanji again, but he immediately disappears as soon as they run to him. The crew decides to search for him, while also getting to try out all the delicious sweets the forest has to offer. As they’re heading across a bridge a giant monster rises from the water below to try and swallow them and the bridge up.
They manage to escape it, and Chopper wants to retaliate, but Luffy says no and the monster walks away as he notes that it was only humans he almost gobbled up. It’s enough to make Nami question going further into the forest. She wants to wait back on the shore. Before the group can settle on a course of action they spot another Luffy! While Luffy gets bogged down in challenging this new him, Chopper puts together that it’s a mirror clone of him. Again they spot Sanji, who’s now up in a tree. Spotting Sanji, Luffy and his clone get into a fight over who gets to go speak with him.
Things start to devolve into ‘lol so random’ territory, as the crew finds a giant stuck in the ground (because he wants to be.) As if that wasn’t enough an anthropomorphic rabbit attacks them. Nami, Chopper and Carrot find that they’ve lost sight of Luffy and realize (as if all the random wasn’t a clue) that there’s something very odd about the forest. Finally we close out with the forest singing creepily, about playing with our heroes to death! I get the vibe Oda is going for, that our heroes are stuck in some insanity trap and they’ll be toyed with to death. But the way in which this is all introduced strays a little too far into the ‘lol so random’ vibe and detracts from the enjoyment of this revelation. It feels very sudden, as if we’re rushing through this development.
That’s it for today’s review! Let me know what you thought of these chapters in the comments below!
One Piece is published weekly in Shonen Jump. Chapters 796-806 will be contained in Volume 80 releasing on November 1st, 2016. Chapters discussed today, 829-831, will be collected and released sometime early next year.