One Piece, Vol. 66

By Eiichiro Oda. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz.

The cover to this volume of One Piece is very telling, given that this volume ends one arc and begins another. In the foreground, we have Luffy, Jimbei and Shirahoshi, but new events are creeping in in the background, with Big Mom’s pirates one the right and Smoker and Tashigi on the left. Things are in a state of flux, and we aren’t quite sure where the manga is headed next. (That is, if we’re reading the manga only by volumes, Most North American readers can now read Shonen Jump weekly on Viz’s site, where Punk Hazard has just finished. Viz seems content to have the volumes be about a year behind the weekly chapters.)


Hody Jones having been defeated at the end of the last volume (and his comeuppance is highly amusing, and makes for a good capper to the “drugs are bad” plotline he and his mates had), all that’s left is to stop the ark crashing into the island and sinking it. Which is done, with the help of some ancient and powerful sea monsters who are mostly there to be mysterious. Then there’s the standard “we’ve won, let’s have a party” finale, which always gives us a nice two-page spread.

Most of what’s interesting about this volume, though, is the backstory we don’t really see. Robin has discovered the true nature of Shirahoshi, and it’s quite surprising. (And makes me wonder about Alabasta, which told of the location of another one of those ancient weapons – man, if it turns out to be Vivi, I’ll be highly amused.) Jimbei tells us that Akainu and Aokiji fought to see who would be leader of the Marines. It’s not a big surprise that Akainu wins, but Aokiji then resigning might lead to more surprises down the road. Oda sometimes compresses manga stories for time, and I suspect this is a battle he wanted to show but just never got a chance to. And of course this means the Marines are still after them, with Smoker and Tashigi, both now promoted, hot on their trail.

Speaking of Tashigi, the Marines seem to be treating her as they did Hina, which is to say half-awesome Captain and half sexpot. Hina, like Nami and Robin, didn’t really give a rat’s ass what they said. But Tashigi is obviously bothered by the sexism, and calls it out. Of course, I doubt very much this will stop it. Oda’s less sexist than some other Jump authors, but it creeps in here and there (look at how he draws most of the women now vs. 10 years ago), and I think Tashigi drawing attention to it just makes it more obvious. But hey, I’m glad to see her back regardless.

The Straw-Hat crew, meanwhile, leave Fishman Island to travel to, naturally, the most dangerous place Luffy can find (this is after going through a deathtrap waterspout with the help of some whales who aren’t Laboon, but could be his parents). There’s some lovely art here, and I like that, while the spout itself terrifies the designated crew members who get scared (Nami, Usopp, and Chopper), the terrifying visage of the New World just makes everyone happy. Well, happy till they reach Punk Hazard, with its ravaged landscape, fire-breathing dragons, and bottom halves of samurai. Oh, and half the crew already captured. Never let it be said that Oda paces things slowly.

If you love One Piece, you’ll love this. If not, this is absolutely not the perfect place to start – go back and read the early volumes.

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