One Piece: Chapter 865- Review

I want to start off by immediately addressing the elephant in the room. I apologize for the unannounced hiatus. I did not intend to cease posting for nearly a month. In the weeks since I arrived back in South Florida for the summer, I have been focusing my time and creative energy on both my fiction writing and professional endeavors. In this unexpectedly busy haze, I simply lost track of my gonzo journalism efforts. I promise I will go back to posting more frequently, at least once a week excluding One Piece chapter reviews.

With that out of the way, let’s jump right into this week’s chapter. Chapter 865 was an overall mixed bag for me. While there were some elements I absolutely loved, I do have some concerns that I plan on discussing in-depth. The main takeaway from the chapter was the cliffhanger, the implications of which I will inevitably address before this review is through.

The cover pages have always been one of my favorite components of the One Piece manga. I love how cleverly Oda uses a standard element of the medium that so many mangaka simply take for granted. He recently transitioned from fan requests back to traditional side-story arcs. This time around we are following the remaining captains of the Straw Hat Grand Fleet, and what each of their respective crews are up to. I find the potential in this cover story to be immense. We are dealing with intriguing characters that didn’t get the time they deserved in the immensely complex Dressrosa arc. Although I never really cared for Cavendish, the current subject, I look forward to the possibilities of cover pages to come. P.S- I don’t expect to see Bartolomeo in this cover story arc, due to his involvement back in Zou.

On to what you are all really here for, the main story. This chapter was heavily action based, which typically is not a problem. However, I was somewhat disappointed in the cluttered and disorienting action that Oda conveyed in this chapter. The smoothness and weighty impact that typically defines One Piece action was traded for a choppy, non-impactful, and hard to follow mess. I found myself constantly scrolling back up to make sure I understood what had just transpired. Panels didn’t flow into each other well, making the transition of focus between characters downright confusing. Although there isn’t any way to prove this hypothesis, I have a theory that Oda was heavily rushed on this chapter; it just doesn’t seem like him.

A problem I had with the previous chapter has become increasingly more evident this week. Judge is acting excruciatingly out of character. For a supposed genius scientist and power-hungry dictator, he is behaving awfully cowardly and unintelligently. I’m having a hard time telling if this is supposed to be comedic, or if I’m just dealing with bad writing. Even if he is being played for laughs, the fact that I am not sure whether this is the case shows poor character writing regardless. Obviously I’m nitpicking here; Oda is one of the greatest writers of all time. It’s just this particular instance that perplexes and disappoints me.

One element of recent plot progression that actually surprises me is how smoothly the Straw Hat/Fire Tank alliance plan is running. Obviously there have been some serious bumps along the way, but for a Yonko assassination plot I thought was for sure dead on arrival, I am pleasantly surprised. Obviously there is still room for the plan to fall apart (throwback to the Battle of Marineford), but, for the sake of the characters, I really hope it doesn’t. If we do end up taking the Marineford route, Jinbe is screwed.

I promised I’d circle back to the cliffhanger, and here we are. The final three panels of this chapter comprised one of the most simultaneously satisfying and frustrating cliffhangers in recent memory. We are finally getting a Big Mom/Mother Caramel flashback sub-arc, and much sooner than I expected! I was also correct about Big Mom’s ties to Elbaf; it seems this is where she and Mother Caramel are from. We are going back to the past people, 63 years ago in Elbaf to be exact. As someone whose favorite element of One Piece is the flashback sub-arcs, I got literal chills absorbing these finishing panels. The reason I bring the word frustration into play is because of how pissed off I am that I have to wait almost a week for the next chapter; I WANT IT NOW!

As I said earlier, this chapter definitely gave me mixed feelings. Despite choppy and confusing action coupled with strange characterization choices, the cliffhanger nearly redeemed my reading experience. I can’t wait to see what Oda has in store for us over the next few weeks, and the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all only amplifies my excitement.

One Piece: Chapter 860 & 861- Review

I apologize for the delay of both chapter reviews. I have been extremely busy with academia, and have had almost no time to write anything that isn’t for a class or professional obligation. I pounced on the small capsule of leisure time I was able to obtain in order to provide you with a double review. Today I will be covering both Chapter 860 and 861.

If there are any two words that could be used to describe these past two chapters, they would be excruciatingly tense. These two chapters go hand in hand as genius build up, slowly amplifying the nerves of both our characters and the readers. All of this edging is building towards an explosion of an arc climax, both literally and metaphorically.

 

Chapter 860:  

Chapter 860 begins with further development of Jinbe and the rest of the Fishman Pirates. It is revealed that Big Mom not only wanted to take a part of Jinbe’s body/life-span in the roulette, but added crew member amounts to the wheel as well. In turn, Jinbe pretended to abandon his desire to leave the Big Mom umbrella in favor of a secretive mutiny.

However, what is perhaps the biggest Jinbe revelation of the chapter is the raising of his death flag. It’s so high up that I can barely see it from all the way down here. I can’t quite remember whether this is the first time he has canonically announced his plans to join the Straw Hats or not, as it has been a speculative theory in the community for quite a while. I am willing to bet that he dies before the arc is through, sacrificing himself to protect the Straw Hats. However, Oda could be pulling a bait-and-switch on us by having him survive, join the Straw Hats, and die as soon as we let our guard down. Either way, I do not see Jinbe surviving to the end of the series.

My personal favorite scene of the chapter was the introduction of some big-name wedding guests. These are characters that we have not yet met in person, but have felt their presence throughout the entire series. I find it genius that Oda takes such small factors into account, leaving no stone unturned in the development of his world. I find myself returning to my stance that Oda is the best world builder since Tolkien.

To perform in-depth analysis of each of these underworld figures would take an eternity. However, a brief glimpse into all is in order. Black Market King “God of Fortune” Du Feld seems to be just that, the king of the black market of the One Piece world. Pleasure Quarter Princess Stussy, while appearing quite cute and innocent, is putting on a major facade in that she is probably the mastermind behind the world’s sex-trafficking industry. Great Mortician Drug Peclo is a figure that I will be tentative on analyzing until we get the official translation of his name. I am, however, leaning towards him being the kingpin of the assassin community or drug trade. Storage Industry Titan “The Concealer” Gibbers and Shipping Magnate “Deep Ocean Current” Umit are extremely clever creations in that they fit perfectly into a world heavily influenced by pirates. These two characters were able to use an epidemic to their advantage, economically prospering by appealing to the needs of “criminals.”

The wedding guest I believe represents the worldbuilding prowess of Oda the most is “Big News” Morgans. He is the president of the World Economic Times, the newspaper that has been the catalyst for numerous plot events in the One Piece story. This character has been an invisible hand for the majority of the series. His introduction appeals to me in particular, as the newspaper has always been one of my favorite elements of the One Piece universe. The idea that he is probably a bird mink, one who controls the rest of the world’s birds to deliver his paper, is also hilariously intriguing. The fact that Oda even thought to create this character skyrockets him up as not only one of the greatest mangakas, but one of the all-time best fiction writers.

Returning to the A plot of the arc, we are introduced to the wedding guest that will definitely be one of the driving factors behind the failure of the Fire Tank/Straw Hat assassination plot. Dogtooth Charlotte, one of the three commanders of the Big Mom pirates, is introduced with the largest bounty we have seen in the series to date. Obviously he won’t end up being the highest, as we have not yet seen any Yonko bounties. Regardless, the fact that he surpasses Jack’s infamy is startling. One of his abilities, however, adds to the ever-growing list of Chekhov’s Guns that will inevitably go off during the climax of this arc. He has trained his Observation Haki to the point where he can see slightly into the future. I do not believe this means he has “future sight” in the traditional sense. I interpret this as a keen sense of picking up on observable cues, including nervous ticks, signals, and body language. He can analyze these behaviors to predict the potential actions of others. With that ability, it is evident that the Big Mom assassination can’t simply go off without a hitch. My question is how did Bege not realise Dogtooth would be at the wedding? He is, after all, one of Big Mom’s commanders.

 

Chapter 861:

The tension building only continues in Chapter 861, which, similarly to its predecessor, breaks up the constant flow of set-up with some small chunks of payoff. While we receive some long-anticipated answers, even more questions begin to arise in their place.

A satisfying reveal that I did not expect to see this soon was the framed photo of Mother Caramel. I initially anticipated that we would only see the picture after the assassination attempt, with the frame already cracked on the floor, but Oda clearly had other plans. My initial reaction to the photo was a strong assumption that could easily be disproved. I am under the impression that the Mother Caramel pictured is a younger version of the woman who was seen controlling Edward Weevil back in Chapter 802. This would imply that she thrives off of taking in up and coming shichibukai and yonko, pretending to be a mother figure to them, using them for her own gain, and then abandoning them. Big Mom may have been one of her early victims, Weevil being the newest.

However, this theory is just that, a theory. It could easily be slowly disproved or instantly shattered with an influx of new information. She could simply be an entirely new character, or even a character we have already met that I am just forgetting. Either way, this revelation definitely adds more mystery and intrigue to Big Mom, further proving that this arc will not be her last.

The Tamatebako, a setup that has been building since the Straw Hats arrived in the New World, continues to grow. I’m curious as to how the chest will come into play, as Big Mom announces it will be opened at the reception. If the assassination plan were to succeed from either Pudding’s end or the Straw Hat/Fire Tank end, the wedding won’t make it past the ceremony stage. The Chekhov’s gun rule still applies; the Tamatebako must be opened this arc. I just have no clue as to what the context will be.

A major concern I have held throughout the entire Whole Cake Island arc was finally addressed in this chapter. I never understood why characters were announcing their secret plans in front of homies. I was under the impression that homies could simply report back to Big Mom with anything they heard. This was proven to be the case; one of Bege’s men slaughtered the homie that possessed the wedding-entrance-door after she overheard part of their plan. I wonder how much information has already been leaked to Big Mom, and even if she is already somewhat aware of the assassination plot at this point.

Sanji is slowly becoming a liability in the plan, as his lust is beginning to overtake his best judgement. I believe this is just another misguiding piece of tension that Oda is building. I feel Sanji, when push comes to shove, has a head on his shoulders. He will break from his trance, and do what he needs to do. Whether it is successful is an entirely different question.

Oda, the ultimate troll, couldn’t simply give us the next chapter with the sheer amount of tension in play. We have to wait two weeks for the massive payoff, as he and his team are taking the week off. I’m sure the remaining week and a half will be filled to the brim with analysis and theorization from the community, some of which might even disprove points I have made today. Regardless, I can’t explain how nervous and excited I am for the next chapter; the calm before the storm has come to a close.