One Piece 902-905 – 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.
So finally, after just over 2 years, the Whole Cake Island Arc is over. It kinda sneaks up on you, with us speeding right on from Jimbei reuniting with his fishmen pirates to secure Luffy’s escape. We’re treated to a couple final character moments, like Katakuri having come to respect Luffy, a little flashback explaining why he is the way he is, a tearful goodbye between Pudding and Sanji, etc. It’s a surprisingly quick and sudden conclusion to a massively long arc.
That said, the reaffirmation and exploration of the new status quo is not. We end up spending a good chapter and a half detailing where the world stands now, updating bounties, reintroducing the upcoming Reverie plot line that was touched on throughout the Whole Cake Island arc from time to time, reintroducing Koby to the story, etc. We get plenty of fan service-esque shots, watching as the big players and former side characters react to Luffy’s latest triumph. The only question glossed over is exactly what became of Jimbei. He’s not with the Straw Hat pirates, and it’s assumed by the news media in One Piece that he escaped Big Mom, but the truth seems left to the reader as a lingering question in the background.
From there we return to the Revolutionary Army plot, spending enough time with them to learn that they’re going to start their big plan against the world leading, Celestial Dragons at the Reverie. We’re introduced to another set of new characters, the Revolutionary Army’s top fighters it seems, before then we move onto Chapter 905, where we’re introduced to yet another swarm of characters, world leaders who’ll be the center of attention at this Reverie.
Oda almost seems aware that this character bloat threatens to overwhelm the reader, and actually lets us have a panel reminding us who the hell Stelly is (I know I totally forgot about him.)
Unfortunately there isn’t much to say here. As with any crazy long and detailed story, sometimes you have to play catch up, or set the stage for bigger events to come. That’s what all these chapters are, resolving lingering elements from the Big Mom battle, reasserting the world’s status quo, and gearing up for the next major event. It’s definitely clear Oda has big plans, and as I periodically delve into early chapters of the One Piece saga, it’s clear we’re gradually coming up to whatever massive event he’s been building to for over a decade now. I do wonder how less enthused readers cope with these chapters, since half the time they’re relying on years of information imparted, often slyly, over the course of the series. For as silly as One Piece can be, it’s not exactly a simple story at this point, with such a wealth of characters the fandom wiki can’t even hope to have a page with pictures for each and every character like other manga and instead settles on a text based list (which makes it really hard to remind myself who someone is when I can’t remember what the hell their name was.)
Ultimately since we’re not focused on our core cast I expect this revolutionary army/reverie focus to only last a handful of chapters. Personally I’m still eager to return to Zoro and Co. and I hope they’ve made an appearance when it’s next time for me to discuss the series.
That’s it for today’s review! Let me know what you thought of these chapters in the comments below!