One Piece, Vol. 84

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

I’ve talked before about the pacing of One Piece vs. many of the other Jump titles we’ve seen over the years. One Piece packs so much into each chapter it’s as if these 84 volumes have really been 168. Bleach, on the other hand, could probably come in under 50 if you sped things up to a normal scale. It’s also one reason why I feel the need to give each new volume a full review rather than a Bookshelf Brief. Even when a volume is mostly a bunch of fights, even when it’s mired in an arc I thought went on too long like Dressrora, even when Oda is doing things I’m not a fan of… it’s still one of the best shonen manga out there, and there’s still a lot to talk about. Let’s start with Sanji, as this is in many ways his arc.

I’ve possibly mentioned before that while I love all the Straw Hats, I love Sanji perhaps the least most. This has always made me feel a bit guilty, and therefore I am pleased as punch that we get this volume, showing off his best qualities, revealing more of his horrific childhood, and keeping his bonkers libido in check, even when he’s around a hot girl who’s ready to be his wife. It’s never easy being the unfavorite son, and of all the family it’s no surprise that I’m most interested in Reiju, who actually has empathy but goes along with her family’s wishes anyway. She seems the sort who will either change her loyalties later on or get killed. It’s also interesting to see the Vinsmokes appear to be genetically engineered superhumans, and that Sanji, who has merely normal abilities (for One Piece), is seen as a failure. (I was less pleased with Sanji’s brief “don’t hit women” flashback, which seemed tacked on – I suspect too many fans wanted to know why.)

Sanji is also determined to make sure the rest of the Straw Hats aren’t wiped out by Big Mom, enough to break things off with Luffy. He should know better than anyone that this won’t work, and all it gets him is Nami belting him across the chops. That said, in more important revelations, we see Luffy so full it’s hard for him to eat, something I didn’t think possible, and it actually takes his rubber body a while to slim back down. I’d assumed that he and Nami might have an in to the wedding due to Lola’s vivre card – sadly, a) Lola is persona non grata with Big Mom right now, and b) everyone thinks Nami killed Lola to get it, which is what they would have done. So they end up captured, though that doesn’t last long – I do wonder what’s going on with Charlotte Pudding, who seems far too good to be true.

And there’s also Chopper and Carrot’s mirror adventures, which are mostly comedy, and the revelations about Pedro. As I said, there’s just a LOT going on in each volume of One Piece, and most of them also make you want to go back and check previous volumes to find the hints Oda put in them eight years prior. Even after all these years, this should still be on everyone’s reading list.

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