One Piece, Vol. 85

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.

It goes without saying that the revelation about Charlotte Pudding in this volume does not come as a complete surprise. It will also not come as a surprise to me if she reverts later on, as Oda’s general treatment of women has gotten a lot more sexist and predictable over the years. The best thing about said revelation is Sanji’s reaction from outside the building, which is a simple grim silence. Oda’s panels can verge on chaos much of the time, and certainly do here, from Luffy trying to rip his hands off in order to escape to Chopper and Carrot’s pell-mell running through the mirrors, everything is traveling at 100MPH. So when Oda pauses to let a scene breathe, it has that much more impact. Charlotte’s ability is also a clever use of Devil Fruit to make what amounts to “memory erasure” look cool and also creepy at the same time. I tend to read One Piece slowly because little details always matter in it.

Reading One Piece slowly also helps you to notice the repeated themes Oda uses in his work, though to be fair this theme could be noticed from quite a ways away. Like Nami in the Arlong Park arc, and like Robin in the Enies Lobby arc, Sanji is desperate to get everyone to abandon him and save themselves. And of course when Luffy confronts him about it, his response is the same as the others: yes, I want to go with you. Please save me. I’m not entirely certain how many of the Vinsmokes are actually going to survive this arc, particularly after learning what Big Mom’s real wedding plans are. As I’ve said before, Reiju has “tragic sacrifice” written all over here. Still, I’m confident Sanji will survive, as he is a crew member. Speaking of which, will we get a new crew member at the end of this arc (which is still going in Japan)? Will it be Carrot? Or Jimbei, who rescues Luffy and Nami and joins the fun here.

Other things I noticed: I am vastly impressed with Brook for how he hid the poneglyph copies. That was clever thinking, and also clever on the part of Oda, who had to figure out where to hide a mass of paper on someone like Brook. Nami’s top takes some fire damage as part of her being rescued, and there’s some brief “will we see a breast? No.” fanservice, but I was amused she simply tied it back immediately – I wonder if she chooses her outfits so they can easily be fixed in case of ludicrous fighting? The alliance with Capone and Caesar Clown (who we simply can’t seem to get away from – Oda must love him as comedy relief) seems like it will be a disaster, but it does give us the opportunity to see Luffy in a nice mob suit. And why does Oda’s version of American football have the women wearing hot pants… wait, I know the answer to that one.

One Piece is not what it once was, but it’s still compelling, and should remain on your reading list for the foreseeable future.

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