One Piece (Chapters 825-828) – Review Discussion
Chapters 825 – 828
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.
When last we left off Sanji was unable to contain himself upon seeing Ms. Charlotte Pudding’s picture. Now he’s got Big Mom’s own personal henchmen guarding him and one is raving to Sanji about how much he loved some old cartoon and its representation of the Germa Army (which Sanji’s family runs.) but Sanji has zero interest in the conversation and his rude attitude nearly gets him into trouble. Eventually they let him be, and Sanji begins to wonder why he feels something familiar about someone he’s seen recently. The manga keeps it vague, perhaps even frustratingly so, but he’s most probably referring to Charlotte Pudding’s photo from last time.
Meanwhile everyone with Luffy is dying of hunger and sunstroke. They just barely manage to fish up some extremely large fish that’ll save them from starving. Unfortunately it needs to be prepared correctly otherwise its skin is poison. In classic Luffy fashion it’s too late as he’s already started to dig in. It’s not long before Luffy is outright sick and the crew is in desperate need of a medical supplies. But before they can really chat about searching for one they discover they’re in Big Mom’s territory already. A ship comes upon them and Pekoms takes the initiative to bluff their way past, except it turns out to be a Germa 66 ship bearing down on them and fully aware that they are the famous Straw Hat Pirates.
It feels like a surprisingly short chapter, but I’m enjoying that we’re committing to the Sanji rescue plot line rather than bouncing back and forth across a large set of characters. One Piece has become rather bloated of late, a cast so large it can often feel difficult to keep track of everyone and every event going on. Cutting the crew down into a smaller group, and focusing on one plot at a time is a perfect way to allow the series to expand in complexity while keeping it simply and clear cut for the audience. How effective it is in the long run, however, will be determined by how easily the other plot threads are reincorporated. If we wait too long before switching back it may have the effect of disorienting some readers who’ve had trouble keeping up with events.
A mysterious man is commanding this Germa ship, and spotting his eyebrows Nami and the others immediately suspect he’s Sanji. I don’t think the art sells this at all. I’ve personally always felt Oda has a ‘type.’ particularly with female characters all looking similar or near identical to our two main heroines aboard the Straw Hats. Here instead I find that Sanji’s brother, while sharing some features, generally looks like his own person. Either way the man is, in fact, Yonji, Sanji’s younger brother. Although he pretends he bears no relation to Sanji (That’s even more absurd than mistaking him for Sanji.) and his lies don’t hold long when he has the exact same reaction upon seeing Nami as Sanji first did.
Despite Luffy being in some obvious peril Yonji begins to leave upon learning that Sanji is not with them. But then another mysterious newcomer kicks Yonji and tells him to not be so uptight. As it turns out this is Sanji’s older sister, Reiju (How many previously unknown siblings does this guy have?)
Brook then provides a revelation that the Vinsmoke line is a long lived royal family. I guess it’s a revelation, I could’ve sworn we already knew this about Sanji’s previously unheard of past, but maybe I just assumed his family was of some serious importance following the reveal that they run Germa 66. Anyway Reiju is kind enough to suck out all the poison Luffy ate, saving his life.
There’s then a cool moment that shows Oda has been thinking through some of these developments for ages now. We learn that it’s the Vinsmoke family that had Sanji’s wanted poster changed to Only Alive. Moments like these are great because you rarely see them in most ongoing manga. These moments let us know that Oda has been planning some of these events, or at least had them as kernels of ideas, for years prior to their introduction. I don’t believe Oda always plans out everything, and I do wonder if some of the developments concerning finding the One Piece weren’t in fact new ideas in order to rush us towards the ending faster, but when he does plan events out in advance like this it gives One Piece a strong sense of depth and I can still feel his passion for the world he’s created.
Unfortunately, despite both the Vinsmoke and Straw Hats looking for Sanji, they find themselves at an impase, both seeking to return Sanji to their own ranks. They decide to part ways and we’re treated to some foreshadowing as a fishman watches from the waters below, reporting to Jimbei! People have wanted Jimbei to return for awhile ever since Luffy offered to make him a member of the crew. I’ve always been curious as to if this would ever actually pan out. I kind of suspect Jimbei may never actually become a member of the crew, but it looks like at the very least he’ll be playing a role going forward in this, or perhaps the next arc.
Moving on, Pekoms sneaks the Straw Hats through Mama’s security as a ship full of surprise sweets for the upcoming celebrations. The Straw Hats then arrive on an island where the buildings are made of chocolate and sweets. As it turns out Big Mama dreams of a world where people can live together without discrimination (And we’re sure she’s a bad guy?) We also learn there’s strict and complicated laws surrounding what you can eat of the food based housing. I always suspected we’d one day get a candy land type arc after Dressrosa did the whole ‘living toy’ idea. Being honest, I don’t know how I feel as One Piece dives further and further down the fairy tale esque rabbit hole. Prior to the Fishman Island arc One Piece had its own sense of style that tended to avoid some of the more fairy tale aesthetics. Now it seems we’ve dived full into that and I definitely feel like it’s less compelling and perhaps more gimmicky. I think I preferred One Piece when we were visiting the more ‘normal’ fantasy kingdoms in the sky or in desert lands. I also recall Thriller Bark, another arc I’d consider fairy-tail esque, also falling among the arcs I view with less interest.
Moving on it turns out that Luffy and Chopper left without bothering to disguise themselves and instantly got into trouble for eating an entire building. The two are now in danger of getting arrested. Thankfully the owner, Sanji’s bride to be, shows up and is instead disappointed they couldn’t finish eating the whole thing, forcefully shoving more chocolate into their already full mouths.
As an aside, and what is surely set up, Pedro nearly gets outed by a former crew member who happens to be living in the area. Is Pedro actually working for Big Mama or is this little incident hinting at something else? The Straw Hats then sit down with Pudding and learn she absolutely loves chocolate. It’s not long before Luffy nearly gives away who they are. And at Big Mama’s she celebrates the upcoming wedding, along with the knowledge that the Straw Hat crew is nearby.
We don’t waste any time as when we return to Pudding and the Straw Hats as they learn she’s going to marry Sanji. Pudding becomes afraid of the Straw Hats once she realizes they’re pirates, but is quickly disarmed by Pedro who seems a bit too eager to off her. After everyone calms down Pudding acknowledges and now understands why Sanji didn’t agree to the marriage willingly. His former crew is looking for him and she admires that sense of loyalty.
Pudding also reveals that Big Mama has a lot of kids (Where did she find the time to pump them all out?) and forces all the girls, all 39 of them to marry. In fact Pudding’s big sister (which one?) actually left home to travel the globe and instead find the love of her choosing rather than be forced into a marriage (I guess we’re going to discover some girl we met previously is/was actually Big Mama’s daughter? Or perhaps this is just a nod to the Lola character again acting as foreshadowing for the Big Mama family and character assuming the fan theory is correct.)
Despite Sanji’s disinterest and rejection of Pudding’s proposal she seems genuinely into him. Pudding decides she can still live without Sanji, particularly since he actually rejected her face to face. It’s a pretty shocking moment, Sanji turning down a babe who’s willing to marry him and I suppose makes me a little disappointed. It might’ve been interesting seeing a Sanji vs Luffy confrontation where he needed to convince our lovesick cook to come back to the kitchen.
Wanting to be of help Pudding gives the Straw Hats a path to get to Whole Cake island without Big Mama discovering them. She instructs them to meet her tomorrow and she’ll bring Sanji to them so everyone can escape (Oh yeah, cause it’ll totally go just like that.) The crew returns to the ship only to discover Pekoms is gone and a note has been carved into the ship “stay away.” Of course Luffy just gets more excited now that he’s been threatened.
We break from our characters to quickly turn our attention to Brock Collie Island (Get it? Get it!? GET IT!?) There another of Sanji’s brothers finished a war that had been raging for two years and the people cheer with thanks that Germa 66 could end it for them. This brother is on a call with another sibling and says he can’t wait to see Sanji at the wedding with an ominous smile. The sibling on the other end calls him a liar and the call ends alongside the chapter.
I’m guessing what we’ll discover in the coming weeks is that the Vinsmoke family has various allegiances, some looking to bring Sanji home, others more okay with the unification between Big Mama and the Vinsmoke. Also with Big mama’s family of 80+ I guess we’ve got quite a line of villains to defeat. I have to wonder how long this arc will be. Is this meant to be a shorter story to distract us from Kaido for awhile, or will we find ourselves located in Whole Cake Island for the better part of a year or two? Considering we have so many players popping up I’m getting the impression I best warm to our new candy land setting.
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, 825-828, will be found in Volume 83 releasing sometime early next year.