One Piece 899-901 – Manga Review

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.

Review:

While it feels like we’re finally mere chapters away from wrapping up Luffy’s first confrontation with the deadly Big Mom Pirates, these latest three chapters feel like we repeat a few beats from earlier in the manga’s long running story. While we flip between Big Mom finally calming down as she scarfs down Sanji’s cake, and Luffy and Co. are given a chase for their lives, several things happen that make this part of the story feel like it’s spinning its wheels and unnecessarily dragging things out.

First, Sanji’s father Judge has another goodbye scene, questioning Luffy for putting so much effort into saving his ‘worthless’ son Sanji. Yet it feels like we’ve had several ‘goodbyes’ from the Germa family already, and this latest one just feels like another repeated step in a long line of sameish Vinsmoke goodbyes. I swear we’ve seemingly bid adieu to this family several times now, and while each is a little different, I can’t help but wonder if we couldn’t have combined some of these moments.

Luffy: Turning insults into compliments since 1997.

The second instance I’m thinking of is Jimbei again leaving Luffy and crew to deal with other matters. This one harkens back to Jimbei promising to join the crew at a later date during the Fishman Island Arc. And while it makes sense Jimbei might not be comfortable allowing his former subordinates to sacrifice themselves against Big Mom’s forces, this moment loses it’s impact for me since we already did the “Jimbei will have to join another day” twist.

None of this is overtly awful though, and there’s some excellent stuff otherwise, such as Big Mom’s rather creepy song as she appreciates Sanji’s cake to a devilish degree. Seeing Germa’s forces get slaughtered beneath Big Mom’s armada is another great moment, selling her as a continuing, seemingly insurmountable threat. With likely just a few more chapters to go before we’re onto a new story I look back at this arc thinking about how many ups and downs it had. Early on I couldn’t help but feel like we had a story too similar to Nami or Robin’s ‘betrayal’ and again now elements here hearken back to past stories that make this section of One Piece’s run continue to feel like perhaps Oda’s starting to borrow too much from earlier aspects of the series. Overall though the new outweighs the elements that feel are rehashed and I’m now curious to see what happens when the crew meets back up with Zoro. I’ve missed him and the others, who I feel like we haven’t seen in a really long time.

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. Volume 85, released on February 6th, 2018. Chapters discussed today will be collected and released sometime next year.

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