One Piece (832-834) – Review
Chapters 832 – 834
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.
Opening up from last time the Seducing Woods that Nami, Chopper, Luffy and Carrot are trapped in, talk of how they’re being played with by Lady Brulee. Nami, riding Chopper, with Carrot following, are being pursued by a Rabbit Spearman. Carrot says he isn’t a Mink, which makes them wonder what he is exactly. A Devil Fruit User? He’s actually one of Big Mom’s pirates, Randolph the Cranerider. The manga tells us this right out, and it’s probably best that it does as the whole situation is already not only confusing for our characters, but can be entirely confusing for the audience as well. I don’t think this whole Seducing Woods concept was introduced, or is being utilized all that well. In some ways it never goes beyond feeling like busy body work to keep Luffy and Co. occupied while other events transpire.
Nami and the others find they’ve made it back to where Luffy is still battling out his mirror self. Luffy is pulled from his face off as Nami and the others tell him they’re running for the coast. Luffy joins them as they make a dash for the Forest’s exit. He starts to say something but two hands cover Luffy’s mouth, silencing him. It’s a confusing sequence, and I’ll get back to this in a moment.
Jumping over the bridge they entered in on they quickly find that they’re back where the giant trapped in the ground was. They attempt to escape the forest again, but it’s no use and again end up right where they started. Nami looks at her log pose and says it’s acting weird. She exclaims that they shouldn’t need a map, they just need to go straight. But as she turns and points she notices the trees and ground moving and also talking!
Luffy grabs Nami from behind in a strangle hold. Realizing that Luffy isn’t actually Luffy, Chopper asks who he really is. Luffy transforms into the 8th daughter of Big Mom, Charlotte Brulee. She exclaims about how beautiful Nami is, and seeing as her own face is scarred it only makes her want to rip Nami’s to shreds! This whole sequence is confusing, and I don’t think stands up under a lot of scrutiny. When the gang stumbled upon Luffy and his doppelganger, the two Luffy’s ran in opposite directions, but as we now know the real Luffy, who tried to warn his friends, ran the opposite direction. ‘Why?’ is a big question here and even by the end of Chapter 834 there’s still no satisfying answer. Why did Luffy only try to call out and warn Nami, rather than following after them? It’s really confusing, and might or might not have an answer down the road.
Seeing as I’m not really enjoying the random/absurd nature of this Seducing Woods plot line, We thankfully turn out attention elsewhere, to Lake Aprico, located behind Big Mom’s Castle as a Germa ship enters in. As it turns out Germa, as a nation, has no land or island to speak off. We discover that their country is made up of smaller ships that can connect to form and shape their entire nation. It’s an interesting idea and actually had me exclaiming ‘cool’ beneath my breath as I read on. It’s ruled by the Vinsmoke Family, Sanji’s family. There’s also some mention of Germa’s military might, their training, etc. A lot of it is information we already knew, but with a manga as dense and potentially confusing as One Piece can get it’s always nice to revisit a few details.
Sanji watches his people train from a tower on high. He’s there with his sister, who divulges that their father seeks to once again have their family reign over the North. She attempts to convince Sanji to give up on the Straw Hat Pirates and take advantage of his royal blood. There’s a funny bit here as she points out Sanji has ten beautiful handmaidens at his beck and call and goes his classic Sanji’s goo-goo gaga for them. But despite his reaction it doesn’t actually sway him.
They’re visited by Sanji’s father, Vinsmoke Judge, who asks why Sanji is still putting up a fight against his marriage. Sanji refuses to acknowledge Vinsmoke Judge as his father and says he recognizes someone else. Judge asks if Sanji did something to his brother, Yonji, but Sanji asserts that he’s the better of two. This dialogue makes very little sense, as whatever happened between Sanji and Yonji was skipped over. I wish One Piece would avoid confusing dialogue like this and I can’t decide if it’s lost information through translation or if the dialogue was really that head scratching to begin with. Uninterested in anymore talk, Judge tells Sanji to come outside as men speak with their fists.
News quickly spreads that Sanji will be having a duel with his father. We get an explanation for last issue’s confusing dialogue and find that Yonji had attempted to talk some sense into Sanji, but Sanji did a number on him for it. Yonji gets fixed up by the castle’s ‘doctor’ and he swears to get Sanji back for this humiliation. It’s this scene here that begins the implications that the Vinsmoke are basically cyborgs in a sense, or at least enhance themselves with robotic components, but more on that in a bit.
Back at the duel the crowd is impressed with Sanji’s skills as he takes on Judge. Judge keeps trying to get Sanji to recognize him as his father, but Sanji will hear none of it during their battle and asserts that once they’ve finished this fight he’ll go back to his ship and the wedding will be off. Judge tries to remind Sanji that Big Mom won’t tolerate that, but Sanji doesn’t care what happens to the Vinsmoke as he’s forsaken them already.
We then flash back to Sanji’s childhood. Here we discover his siblings made fun of him and beat him up for bothering to learn how to cook, as it’s a peasants job. His father, even when he called out for help, wouldn’t come to Sanji’s aid. In fact, his father saw fit to tell him that he was useless and a shame on the family. The flashback is a bit heavy handed and on the nose (This is One Piece though, so it’s not like that’s unexpected.) But I really like how short and to the point this flashback. It doesn’t interrupt the flow of the story, gives us all the information we need, and shoves us right back into the present. It even feels natural that Sanji would be recalling all this, so it doesn’t feel shoe-horned in just for the audiences sake either.
Back in the present Sanji briefly stumbles in the battle with his father, but still manages to block Judge’s attack. Everyone is impressed with how strong he’s become, but Sanji still refuses to use weapons in battle and fight with anything but his legs. His hands are for cooking. This part makes me wonder how long Sanji’s backstory has been brewing in Oda’s mind. Has it always been the intention that Sanji’s legs only style combat be revealed to have come from this family fued? Or was it merely based on his cooking obsession and this revelation is a nice extra bonus? Either way it at the very least provides a strong sense of world and character building, bolstering the illusion of One Piece’s grand world.
Going at it full force Sanji finally succumbs to Judge’s might, which seems to have been enhanced through robotics and science, just like we saw with Yonji. Is this perhaps a tie into Kuma’s transformation? Are we going to learn that Germa had a hand in his robotization? Judge sends Sanji flying across the castle grounds. Sanji asks Judge if he has a single good memory of his own father, implying that the Vinsmoke line has always bread rotten parents.
Sanji prepares to strike back at Judge, who’s charging with his own attack. Judge calls for his soldiers to form a wall in front of him, forcing Sanji to hold back his attack and scream for them to get out of the way. Shockingly, Judge pierces one of his men and continues toward a stunned Sanji. Sanji manages to block the attack, but loses the fight against his father and the crowd cheers with approval.
Later, Sanji’s older sister tends to his wounds and Sanji curses his father again. Judge reveals that by partnering with Big Mom his dream of conquering the north again can become a reality. In fact, none of this marriage talk has meant that Judge changed his mind on Sanji. In actuality he doesn’t want to lose any of his valuable off-spring to Big Mom’s family. But he remembered that he has a failure and Sanji is little more than a sacrifice to him.
While Sanji is enraged by his father’s words his sister snaps a set of bracelets onto Sanji. Judge reveals that if Sanji doesn’t do as he’ll say he’ll blow Sanji’s precious hands off by detonating the explosive bracelets. Sanji has no choice but to give into the marriage as Judge will never let him go.
Sanji attempts to remove the bracelets but it’s too late and he heads to the castle walls, looking down from them in despair and screaming with frustration at his situation. During this he has a brief flashback to an older man who bandaged Sanji’s hands after he’d injured them as a child. Presumably this is the father figure Sanji referenced at the end of 832, and we’ll be in for a far longer and meatier flashback explaining who this individual is. I am hoping, however, that we don’t dwell on this too long. I suspect there isn’t too much more to Sanji’s past than we already suspect. It’s obvious that Sanji learned from a peasant individual, a cook employed by the Vinsmoke Family, and learnt his cooking and skills that way before running away from the family. In fact, without an additional twist, there isn’t much of a reason to really do the flashback outside of introducing us to this father figure from Sanji’s past. I’m crossing my fingers that whenever we finally get back to this the flashback will he short, sweet, and to the point without bogging us down in details we’ve already gleaned from what little there is here.
Back in the Capital of Sweet City word has spread of Jimbei’s attempts to get out of his service to Big Mom and apparently the price she’d given him via her roulette wheel was too high and he gave up on his request. Now everyone thinks he’s nothing but a cowered. Within the crowd is Brook, who realizes that Jimbei is a part of Big Mom’s operation. Brook doesn’t think the news sounds much like how Jimbei would respond to the situation, but wonders if Jimbei has given up on joining the crew. It’s clear to me that by keeping us in the dark on what happened with Jimbei we’re in for one of two possible outcomes: Either Jimbei slunk away from Big Mom in order to prepare to fight back against her, or perhaps she took him prisoner and spread fake news surrounding his decision. Thanks to Brook’s line about this revelation not sounding like Jimbei it’s clear that Jimbei didn’t simply cave to Big Mom’s threats.
Pedro calls for Brook’s attention as he’s found Pudding, trapped in a shop, forced to choose dresses for the wedding and night of. They realize if she’s here there’s a good chance Sanji doesn’t even know they’ve come to rescue him. Pedro then spots Baron Tamago, who receives word of the Straw Hats arrival and Brook and Pedro realize their rescue plan has already been found out! Luffy’s group may as well have already been captured, but Pedro and Brook are still an unknown to them, thankfully. However it only gets worse as the Baron knows exactly who they’re looking for, even that Pedro is adding them.
Meanwhile elsewhere on the North East Coast Pekoms has been captured by Capone Gang Pez and Big Mom’s 22nd daughter, Charlotte Chiffon. Pekoms is about to be fed to a sea of sharks and Capone reminds Pekoms that he’d given him a chance and this is the result. Capone aims his gun at Pekoms and as Capone’s baby cries in Charlotte Chiffon’s arms Pekoms screams that Capone doesn’t realize what he’s gotten into by siding with Big Mama. Capone fires and sends Pekoms to his death. This part perhaps has been the most curious. The focusing in on Capone’s child makes me wonder if there’s far more to Big Mom and her children that we’ve been lead to believe. While the next pages detail Big Mom’s secret plan she’s been brewing with Caesar, I do have to wonder how her own children factor in and what exactly Pekoms meant before he plunged to his ‘death.’ (I doubt he’s really dead, practically nobody with actual page time ever dies in this manga.)
Meanwhile in Big Mom’s chambers she meets with Caesar Clown. She blathers on about her dream of seeing all people of all races gathered around the same table at the same eye level. She wants to make her family grow to the size of giants. This part is confusing, as I’m not sure I entirely see the connection, unless she means to marry off her daughters and sons to every single person across the planet, and family just happens to be code for world population.
After all her funding she asks Ceasar how his research on that has been coming. Ceasar reveals that that’s why he’d been experimenting on turning kids giant, but there’s no way to actually implement that plan effectively, let alone guarantee people would survive the giantification. So instead he pumped Big Mom for all her cash and lived it up with women and booze. But now without Joker’s protection, he’s kind of screwed. This is a nice call back, and ties up the lingering questions left during the Punk Hazard arc. It’s also fun to learn that Ceasar is, in a lot of ways, just a con-man.
Caesar tries to blame Luffy and Trafalgar, claiming that he was so close to perfecting the giantification drug, but they showed up and destroyed everything. Unfortunately for Caesar, Big Mom already built a whole new lab, much to his horror. She’ll even give him unlimited funding and asks when he can finish his work. One week? Two weeks? It gets worse for Caesar as Sanji had given Big Mom’s men his heart that Trafalgar had removed. Now, Eldest Son of Big Mom, Charlotte Perospero, is giving Caesar two weeks and if he doesn’t succeed it’ll be the end for this clown.
Finally, back with Luffy he comes upon the Giant stuck in the ground again. Not at all up to date with what’s been going on, Luffy has apparently been running around rounding up all the doppelgangers of his crew and wonders why Nami, Chopper, Sanji, Pudding and Carrot seem to be multiplying! Oh Luffy.
With how many moving pieces we’ve got going it’s a really good thing we’re only focusing on the Big Mom story for now. Aspects of this arc are more interesting than others. The revelations surrounding Sanji and his family are interesting, and lend a sense of scale and history to the One Piece world. Brook and Pedro didn’t get much to do here, although I’m sure with the revelations they’ve learned they’ll be spurred into action shortly. My biggest disappointment thus far is the Seducing Woods with Luffy and the rest. While I understand the concept of the Seducing Woods, I feel like it often goes too far, allowing random, silly, and confusing developments to become the main focus of things. Unlike the other events going on I don’t get a sense there’s some grand plan guiding things and that Oda exactly has a sense of where this little side story is going. If anything it feels like filler, a way to keep Luffy and the rest out of the way until the rest of the story is ready for them. I’m really enjoying just about everything else though, and once we’re finally past the Seducing Woods hopefully it’ll be smooth sailing.
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, 832-834, will be collected and released sometime early next year.