One Piece 853-855 – Review
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.
We open by coming back to Brook, who has been captured and defeated by Big Mom. Pudding arrives and we’re reminded that Brook (who’s pretending to be unconscious I guess?) doesn’t know that she’s actually a bad guy yet. We also learn that Pudding’s Third Eye has a special use and she carries the rare blood of the three-eyed people. Again Oda introduces/reminds audiences of a few plot elements through ‘casual conversation’ although sometimes it feels like wishy washy exposition that doesn’t really come off as natural. Thankfully nobody expounds on any of this needlessly, generally keeping concepts like Pudding’s Third Eye an intriguing mystery. Although we don’t really know what that means just yet. It probably has something to do with Big Mom’s interest in reaching Raftel and the Ponegliffs.
Meanwhile Pekoms squares off against the Viscount Hiyoko, who we learn has the egg egg fruit, meaning he hatches from his slain body into even more chicken like versions of himself. I guess he resets after awhile? Otherwise I’m confused how they’d how his additional forms. Just as things look bad for Pekoms he produces explosives and seemingly goes up in a fiery blasts. In reality he’s saved by Chopper through the mirrors and the crew heads off to find the others. I’ve been a bit let down by the chopper plot line, but outside of saving Pekoms it’s used sparingly and Chopper’s antics haven’t really saved anyone in too cheapening a manner. Sadly there’s another aspect of this story that’s beginning to really grate on me, but we’ll touch on that in a moment.
Luffy smashes through throngs of guards only to find Sanji’s sister. Once he learns that Sanji is doing better, and no longer being tricked, Luffy jumps out the nearest window and heads back to the very spot he promised to wait for Sanji. I do think it’s a nice touch that once Luffy knows Sanji isn’t being conned he’s happy to go back to waiting at the spot he promised.
Elsewhere Sanji is deep in thought, thinking back on the threats made against him, the reveals he’s learned of and his poor treatment of Luffy. He seems convinced there’s no turning back now. To end the chapter Luffy crashes down into the nearby buildings and makes his way back to the spot he’d promised to wait, his tummy gurgling ever fiercer.
Nami and Jimbei are being pursued through the halls when they’re approached by Chopper and the others, although Nami accidently chars poor Chopper before realizing they’re not enemies. Back in the Mirro-World the group heads off to find the rest of the gang.
Big Mom flaunts Brook as her new toy and this allows Brook to overhear the truth about Pudding as well as Big Moms’ ultimate plans for the wedding, Sanji, and all of Germa. In some ways it’s just regurgitating the same reveal Pudding gave Sanji.
There’s a brief scene of the guards checking in on Sanji in his room, which is all a misunderstanding as one of Sanji’s guards is asleep in his bed. This and the next sequence really bug me. One thing I did enjoy about this arc from the start was the ever mounting seemingly insurmountable odds. And one thing I cannot stand is villains undermining themselves. It’s always been the case to some extent with One Piece and recently rereading the early chapters you can even see cases like where Captain Kuro got a bit too cocky and did this to himself. But it seems to be like an even bigger issue with this arc where undermining themselves is altogether too frequent and really damages my ability to feel like there are real stakes.
Big Mom’s other children and henchmen meet up to discuss the chaos affecting the castle and the escape of the Straw Hats. Although some of the men are lying, afraid to look like fools and get in trouble for their mistakes. So yeah, more undermining. Almost feels like half of Luffy’s success is going to come from the villain’s sheer ineptitude.
Meanwhile Sanji continues to contemplate things and wonders why he’s still carrying around all the food he made for Pudding. He even berates himself for making the crew’s favorites rather than food Pudding would like. I think this is a nice touch and it’s a shame there wasn’t a more subtle way to have conveyed it. I don’t think we’ve ever really gotten a sense of what dishes Sanji cooks that the crew goes bonkers for. But as another of Big Mom’s kids/men approaches Sanji and helps himself to some food, Sanji remembers what Luffy promised and gets angry. He knocks the unsuspecting individual down with a hearty kick and makes a mad dash with the basket of food in hand.
Bobbin, the henchmen Sanji knocked down from before, is approached by loads of Big Mom’s men asking what happened. He puts them all to sleep and decides to handle Sanji himself. I guess we know which strong man is going to be terrorizing Sanji and Luffy in a couple chapters.
Meanwhile Chopper, Nami and the others find Big Mom’s bedroom and discover that retrieving Brook is going to b mighty difficult, as the slightest provocation wakes her up enough for her to snap, slam, or what have you the source of the noise before falling back asleep. After a series of dangerous hi-jinks the team barely manages to get Brook back. It’s decent, I don’t think it was the best example of One Piece’s comedic chops but hardly awful.
Back with Sanji he’s out looking for Luffy, but all he can find are beaten up and unconscious henchmen.
Everyone checks up on Brook and, to their amazement, apparently he’d actually managed to make copies of Big Moms’ Ponegliff, although how they all fit in his head I don’t know.
Finishing out the chapter Sanji manages to finally locate Luffy, waiting as his promised, his ever increasingly loud stomach the big give away.
Overall I feel like the strongest moments are the Sanji/Luffy components. The chopper stuff is meh, and the Brook scenes mostly act to catch him up with the audience and do a couple very minor name drops for future components to the story. I absolutely loath the ‘villains are idiots’ aspects at play and am hoping that it’ll tone down soon. It’s my biggest remaining gripe with this arc.
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 are contained in Volume 81, released on February 7th, 2017. Chapters discussed today, 853-855, will be collected and released sometime next year.