One Piece 844-846 – Review
Chapters 844 – 846
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 ability 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.
Sanji and Luffy square off, with Luffy refusing to believe anything Sanji says about not wanting to be a part of the crew anymore. Sanji tries to beat it into Luffy, and while Nami is prepared to leave Sanji alone, Luffy still refuses. The beating goes on for quite a bit before Luffy finally goes down. Nami slaps Sanji and tells him goodbye. It’s a pretty brutal beat down, and at the very least allows more cynical, weathered readers to appreciate the sheer heartbreak of this friendship’s brutal rending.
But as the procession continues Luffy rises again, screaming after Sanji that this isn’t over yet and he won’t leave from this spot until Sanji comes back to him. Sanji secretly cries to himself and Luffy screams after him that he can’t become king of the pirates without his help. This moment did finally pull at my heartstrings, as the dialogue managed to hammer home the idea that Sanji really has been there with Luffy since close to the beginning of the series. He’s one of the main cast and it makes it all the more painful a blow that they’re being forced apart like this.
Nami asks Luffy if he’s really going to wait there and Luffy affirms that Sanji will come. Suddenly the weather gets bad and the Homie with them proclaims that the sudden shift is because of Big Mom’s bad mood: she can control the very weather! Nami appears absolutely horrified by this revelation, although I could’ve sworn other characters made this clear several chapters ago, so I’m not sure why she’s reacting as if this is big news.
As the Vinsmoke Family arrives at Big Mom’s palace an army prepares to head out and deal with Luffy. The rain picks up outside, which is made of syrup, but Luffy refuses to eat it as he won’t eat anything again unless it’s Sanji’s cooking. It’s a bit overly melodramatic, but par for the course for this manga.
Back inside Big Mom gathers her children and heads out to meet the Vinsmoke family. Sitting down to dinner Big Mom welcomes them and talks of how much she’s heard about Sanji’s abilities as a cook, although it doesn’t really matter to her as it’s nothing more than a political marriage. The dialogue here is painfully on the nose, and while One Piece isn’t always known for subtlety, this feels especially unnecessary. During the meal Sanji gets a secret message from pudding, who asks to talk with him alone later.
Outside Nami spots the army coming to cream Luffy and urges him to go into hiding, but Luffy refuses to move from that very spot: He promised.
Inside Sanji meets with Pudding in private. She blames herself for what’s happening with Luffy and Co. Sanji reveals how little his family thinks of him by removing the healing mask his sister gave him and shows Pudding his bruises. He explains that he knows there’s no way out of this situation anymore so he’s decided to stop resisting in the hopes Big Mom will let his friends go along their way without harm. Pudding is moved by Sanji’s compassion and promises to do everything she can to make sure their marriage isn’t hell.
As Luffy battles against an endless stream of enemies Sanji tells Pudding that she is his salvation and hugs her tight, telling her they’ll get married tomorrow itself. This is the part that really got me. Seeing Sanji so defeated, so pathetically brow beaten that he now sees no hope forward but to submit. It’s the first moment in this plot line that I felt was truly powerful and I hope we can continue down this degrading avenue with Sanji’s character, that’s where the real drama lies.
Outside Sweet City Luffy and Nami are barely holding on. It doesn’t take much before they’re finally overwhelmed by Big Mom’s forces. Nami is taken captive and they find the Vivre Card she’s been using to control the Homies. Realizing it’s Lola’s they accuse Nami of having stolen it from her after she killed Lola. Nami rejects that claim, and states that Lola is her friend, but they’ll let Big Mom decide if she believes that or not. They attempt to drag Luffy away but he grabs the ground firm and tells them again that he’s staying. It’s unclear to me here whether Luffy has managed to keep himself planted or if he was finally carted away.
Inside Sanji approaches Big Mom and she agrees to the deal: She’ll allow the Straw Hats to leave the island alive and turn a blind eye to their defiance if Sanji will marry Pudding like a good boy. Again, it’s heart wrenching to see Sanji so happy at this defeat, so relieved in Big Mom’s willingness to do him this pathetically small favor. This is what this arc was lacking and I’m glad we’ve gone down this route.
Elsewhere Big Mom’s agents meet with General Smoothie to discuss reclaiming all the Ponegliffs and defending the ones they currently possess. Brook listens in via his ghost and returns to Pedro with the bad news about the step up in security. It’s looking hopeless but Pedro and Brook get an idea– to use Pedro as a decoy, seeing as that’s who Baron Tamago wants the most.
Overall these were fairly solid chapters. Sometimes the dialogue is a tad on the nose, or we’ve strewn perhaps too far into melodrama, but compared with certain other Shonen Jump titles it’s little wonder One Piece remains one of the top tier Shonen Jump manga. And the big highlight here is how broken Sanji becomes as a character. To see someone who’s normally so tough, fall apart for fear of the safety of his friends, is mighty powerful stuff.
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 807-816 will be contained in Volume 81 releasing on February 7th, 2017. Chapters discussed today, 844-846, will be collected and released sometime next year.