One Piece, Vol. 89

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.

So, as I have said before, and will again, I have difficulty doing full reviews of these volumes of One Piece that are just a bunch of giant melee battles. And yet, One Piece is also one of the series where I am dedicated to giving full reviews to each volume – no Bookshelf Briefs as that would be cheating. So let’s see what we have here. First of all, I pretty much enjoyed this volume as much as I have the last few, which if anything else puts this arc above Dressrosa, where I was desperate for an ending by the second to last volume. As this manga moves towards the inevitable Volume 100, it’s nice to see that Oda really is mastering his craft, and still learning from his mistakes. The last few arcs have had him “write out” members of the Straw Hats because he doesn’t want everything to be too cluttered – in this arc that means no Zoro, Robin, Franky, or Usopp. This also allows him to introduce a truly ridiculous number of minor villains and allies.

Big Mom’s pirates are the villains here, but even among them there are varying degrees of Good and Evil. We’ve already seen Big Mom’s empathetic but also horrifying backstory, and have gotten hints that Katakuri, Luffy’s opponent throughout the volume, is a “noble villain” sort. We get that confirmed here with the peanut gallery help from Flampe, one of the many family daughters, and a brat with a brother complex that, like most brother complexes, doesn’t take much to get destroyed. Her attempts at ‘helping’ her brother in his fight by shooting needles at Luffy completely miss the point, especially if you view the fight as a “many battle between men”, which, this being Shonen Jump, it absolutely is. Naturally, when Luffy Haki’s up and gets serious, Flampe is one of the first to foam at the mouth and fall unconscious. There are rules of cool in One Piece, and only certain characters can flout them and get away with it.

Meanwhile, the replacement cake has finally been delivered, and there really is an awful lot of discussion about it being poisoned, and Big Mom possibly being affected by the poison. I’m gonna be honest, I simply cannot see Sanji poisoning a cake, at all, for any reason, so I think they’re waiting in vain here. I think it’s pretty much just pure delicious – which is at least enough to slow Big Mom down, as she has to eat it if nothing else. It even makes her nostalgic for her childhood party that went terribly wrong. That said, this also means it’s time for Sanji and Pudding to break up, at least for now. There’s no real romance in One Piece, and we were never going to get a big damn kiss, but we come as close as Oda is ever going to show us, and it was pretty cool. Again, when he’s not being a comedy lech, I really like Sanji.

There’s a cliffhanger ending to this volume, of the sort that’s “did all our heroes get killed just now?” Probably not. Still, it definitely looks like next volume we’re moving on to a new arc, and gathering up the rest of the Straw Hats. Which pleases me, but this arc has been, on the whole, very sweet.

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