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.

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One Piece: Chapter 863- Review

Chapter 863 was, without a doubt, my hands down favorite chapter of the Whole Cake Island arc thus far. Every single setup is coming together for a massive cluster of a punchline. All of the plot threads established throughout the arc are cleverly oozing together into one big mess. Regardless of the sloppy nature of these events, the tight knit tension that Oda masterfully weaves is still in place, amplifying to even higher levels.

Before reading this post, I would highly recommend checking out Code Provider’s chapter review over on his YouTube channel. As someone who is far more knowledgeable on the medium of manga than I am, he is able to give a fantastic review from a perspective I simply do not have.

Moving right along, I am glad Oda took the time to explain how the Straw Hats were able to get to the top of the cake. It was a detail that could have easily been brushed over, but I appreciate the time being taken to make sure the audience is completely following the situation at hand, especially in such a mess of climax. I feel the same way regarding the clarification that the Luffy clones were made by Brûlée, using animals from the Seducing Woods. I was able to make this prediction in advance, but I do know other readers who were not, so I’m glad Oda made this clear for their sake.

One of the factors that made this chapter so much more exciting to me was Big News Morgans’ presence. I explained in an earlier review why I have become so enamored by this character. As a journalist myself, the fact that he is on the scene actively reporting is just so interesting to me. It provides a stronger sense of scale to the arc climax; these are world-changing events. Even though he didn’t initially plan to, it’s nice to see a news industry tycoon on the scene covering the action himself. This is something you just don’t see in the real world.

One of the strongest traits of Oda’s writing style is heavily reflected in this chapter- his ability to seamlessly integrate comedy into dramatic scenes. Despite being one of the most tense and gut-wrenching chapters to date, I found myself laughing out loud twice- the first being when Nami insulted Caesar to the point of tears, the second when Bege is shocked by Luffy’s straightforward attack. This integration is one of the defining traits that allows One Piece to stand out from the rest of its Shonen Jump neighbors.

Dogtooth has been proving his bounty to be worthwhile over the past few chapters. Not only does he have future sight via immensely strong Observation Haki, but he is a Logia-type Devil Fruit user. Through his attack on Luffy, it is revealed that he is the bearer of the Mochi Mochi no Mi. When observing his ability, I couldn’t help be reminded of both Luffy and Trebol’s fruits; Dogtooth’s is essentially a hybrid of the both. I’m not one to harp on abilities and power levels in manga, but I thought this comparison was interesting to point out.

His use of this ability on Luffy also brought out an interesting point via Big Mom. Her anger towards Dogtooth for what she perceived as protecting her is very indicative of her personality. She is so confident in her own ability as a Yonko that she takes any form of assistance as an insult. I feel this immense narcissism will play an important role in her eventual downfall.

Enough beating around the bush- we all know who the true star of this chapter was. Chapter 863 served as Jinbe’s official induction into the primary Straw Hat crew. In an unforgettable scene that gave me literal chills, Jinbe declares mutiny towards the Big Mom Pirates and joins the Straw Hats.

As the narrative of this arc was built up, there were two possible paths that Jinbe’s character would take. He would either officially join the Straw Hats, or sacrifice himself to save them. Although the latter is still a possibility, the first has come to fruition. We have our tenth Straw Hat everyone.

This brings up the issue as to what will happen to the crew Jinbe currently captains, the Fishman Pirates. I can feasibly see the second in command, Aladine, assuming the captain position, and the crew will continue on as independent allies. Equally plausible is the assimilation of the crew into the greater Straw Hat Grand Fleet. Either would leave Aladine in a newfound position of power, as Jinbe would most likely live aboard the Sunny with the rest of the primary crew.

The reason this chapter was so special to me was not just the induction of a new crew member, but the manner in which it is conducted. Jinbe gives his generic, but always immensely satisfying, Luffy is going to be the Pirate King speech. This declaration has become a rite of passage over the course the series; it seems that every incoming Straw Hat makes some form of the monologue.

Jinbe’s, however, might be the most satisfying yet. The manner in which he directly confronts Big Mom sent shivers down my spine. His lack of fear towards death in the face of Big Mom’s fear reliant ability was an added bonus. His gentlemanly nature is only amplified through his symbolic gesture of a sake offering, one that Big Mom promptly refuses via smashing the cup.

In perfect narrative rhythm, this heel smash gives Brook the opportunity to destroy the photo of Mother Caramel. Big Mom was already at rage point, about to strike Jinbe. I’m sure we’ll find out if this move will put her in the catatonic state of rage Bege expected at the start of the next chapter.

Chapter 863 was one of those chapters that perfectly captures the spirit of One Piece. Oda manages to pack laugh-out-loud humor within the same pages as spine-tingling drama, unintentionally creating a microcosmic reflection of the series as a whole. Obviously any chapter that involves the inauguration of a new crew member is unforgettable. However, this was handled so beautifully that it may be one of the best inductions yet.

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.

One Piece: Chapter 858- Review

Chapter 858 was one of the most satisfying chapters of the Whole Cake Island arc thus far. Continuing with 857’s trend of explaining lasting mysteries, this chapter is one filled to the brim with immense payoff.

To start, a hearty chunk, or potentially all, of the New Fishman Pirates are confirmed to be hiding out on Whole Cake Island. Now that we know this information, there is a much larger change that the crew will come into play when it comes down to the actual wedding sabotage plan. Further, we learn that Pekoms, one of the few characters with potential of ratting out to Big Mom, is being stalled and tricked by the hiding crew. He is oblivious to Jinbe’s defection from the Big Mom Pirates, and potentially clueless of his alliance with the Straw Hats.

Continuing with the A plot of the arc, we finally get a look at Capone Bege’s hideout. Although the art leaves it vague as to whether this is a ship docked, or simply part of the island, the citadel fits Bege’s aesthetic perfectly.

This castle also serves as a house of reveals and plot progression, starting with more information on Lola’s backstory and Big Mom’s relationship with the giant race. It is revealed that the powerful suitor that Lola evaded marriage with was actually the prince of Elbaf, the home country of the giants. We learn that Elbaf is the strongest nation in the world militarily, further edging the buildup towards a seemingly inevitable Elbaf arc.

Through Chiffon’s lament, we gain a deeper insight into Big Mom as a character. She is not only abusive to her children verbally and situationally, but physically as well- Chiffon being the victim of harsh beatings despite Lola being to blame for the situation. Big Mom is slowly making her way towards irredeemability, but hasn’t quite hit it yet. Maybe the actual wedding or the future Elbaf arc will cement this status.

This chapter wasn’t only oozing with serious narrative payoff, but with comedic punch lines as well. Luffy’s lost tooth and Brook’s skull crack were healed thanks to the magical abilities of calcium-rich milk! I typically place a mammoth amount of faith in Oda with regards to continuity. However, I admittedly thought these injuries would simply disappear between chapters at some point. I’m very proud of Oda for directly addressing such a miniscule detail.

Continuing with satisfying comedy, we learn that the member of Bege’s gang that looked similar to Caesar was indeed Caesar himself in hiding. Believe it or not, I was just as shocked as Luffy was. I thought this was simply an issue of similarity in character design on the part of one of Oda’s assistants. I was elated to learn of the truth, as well as of Caesar’s reasoning for being at the hideout. It makes perfect logical sense that Caesar would want a way to escape Big Mom’s inevitable wrath. The added plot element of Bege being given control of Caesar’s still cubed heart wasn’t necessary, but is not a weak loyalty insurance measure.

The main takeaway from this chapter is that Luffy and Bege officially formed a pirate alliance. Whether this alliance will remain intact after the wedding is yet to be seen. If the Heart/Straw Hat alliance is any indication, it may last longer than intended. This may be the next step towards my theorized endgame of a complete alliance between all of the Supernova crews.

Bege reveals to Luffy that he has already constructed a game plan for their now joint wedding crash. Whether this will be explained in the next chapter, or be communicated through the actual enactment is yet to be seen. If their plan ends up failing, I would say the prior.

If the next chapter is not an explainer, then it seems the climax of the arc has begun. I would typically offer a prediction on how the wedding will go down here, but I find it very exciting that I have absolutely no idea. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what Oda has in store for us. If his past track record is any indication, this will be a wedding for the ages.