The Underscore’s One Piece Warming-up


Prelude to the chapter 600 review

Some of you saw this coming, others didn’t: A One Piece review by me, The Underscore. Usually I review Bleach, but with the hiatus Bleach is taking, the fact that I have been wanting to write at least one review for One Piece, and One Piece reaching its 600th chapter this week, I thought this would be a good time to review One Piece. Hopefully you guys will enjoy this read, but I must warn you it will be lengthy read (two chapters after a time skip and all). Make sure you’re comfortable if you are set on reading this entire review, if you aren’t, you might sprain something . This review is ridiculously long, so don’t say I didn’t warn you guys.
Mind you, this is a warming up for the review for chapter 600, so be sure to give me advice if you have it. Also, this is a WordonMars exclusive, though the other review will be posted on Mangahelpers as well.
Thanks go out to Mangastream and Binktopia for their releases of the two chapters as I will be using their scans in this review.

 

CHAPTER 598: 2 YEARS LATER

The four week hiatus did feel like two years to some of us…

Oda decided to emphasize the two year break the Straw-hats would take by taking a four week hiatus. Though it was agonizing for many of us, it was something I could appreciate. If anything, this gave us the opportunity to empathize with the crew. They wanted to get back together rather badly, and we wanted them to. But forces they couldn’t control kept them from doing so for two whole years. We’d best be happy we just had to wait for four weeks, as opposed to the full two years .

The chapter starts off with Luffy, who had been left behind on the isle of Rusukaina to train his Haki. He picks up the straw-hat he left at the safest spot of the island to signal the return of the straw-hat pirates. On Luffy’s chest we see the scar left by the struggle to free his brother Ace, mainly caused by Akainu. A memento to that struggle where many pirates and marines lost their lives, but most importantly, the age of Whitebeard ended along with the life of Portgas D. Ace.

But the scar only seems to be on the surface for now, as Luffy seems to be just as carefree as we could ever hope for him to be. He comments on how fast time flew by for him as he picks up his straw-hat. Luffy then walks towards his meal, surrounded by four malicious beasts as Margaret tells him the boat is ready to leave, much to the lion’s dismay. Luffy tells the lion to be quiet, as Margaret, and the rest of the Kuja pirates, are his friends. The lion scampers at the look on Luffy’s face, impressing the Kuja pirates for Luffy becoming the boss of the island. The island held over 500 creatures Luffy wouldn’t be able to beat two years ago, but now it seems that he managed to subdue and befriend at least a couple of them. The latter one was for the sake of those beasts as Luffy would’ve eaten them if they weren’t his friends .

Hancock then tells Luffy that she prepared everything he could ever want for the journey to the Sabaody archipelago; his favorite foods… and her. Luffy is glad with the food, but couldn’t care less for Hancock’s affection as he points out that he doesn’t want to marry her. Somehow, over the course of two years, she kept deluding herself that she could get Luffy to marry her as he supposedly loves her. Luffy’s rather blunt rejection of her hand doesn’t even snap her back to reality, as this is part of the personality that she became infatuated with. Luffy then bids farewell to his beastly flunkies (who are feeling rather sad about that) as he puts on the straw-hat to get going.

The Straw-hat Pirates

Where to start?!

Oda doesn’t waste time to show the Straw-hats again. I’ll go over the new looks one at a time, as soon as they are shown in the chapter itself, but first let’s look at the main picture. I suppose many of you already saw the similarity of this picture to the color page in the first volume. There are four characters here who are the same as in that cover, which are Luffy (in a similar pose), Nami (also in a similar pose), and… the two seagulls . Take a look at this page and you can compare these two pages. It’s a nice to see how Luffy started out by himself, aspiring to become like the Red-hair pirates, only to have a crew almost as infamous as that crew in this page. I say almost as infamous as Shanks’ crew as he is one of the Yonkou and Luffy hasn’t obtained such a title for himself just yet. Though this chapter shows us that his name shouldn’t be taken lightly either.

Now then, putting the other characters aside for a moment, let’s take a look at Luffy. Basically, he hasn’t changed that much at all. People thought he might’ve ended up looking like he did at the end of the one shot chapter, but the only change we see here are the scar on his chest and a slight change of wardrobe. Trading in the sleeveless shirt for one with longer sleeves and adding a yellow sash around his waist, he looks a bit more like the classic image of a pirate. Other than that, he looks just as goofy as he always did, which made many of his opponents underestimate him. The biggest question on my mind, when I saw Luffy, was whether he still had the tattoo we saw before the time skip. I’d say he doesn’t have it anymore, as it only was meant as a onetime message to his crew, but who knows?

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The scene suddenly changes to Sabaody, where the people are talking about what happened in the past two years. One Piece still hasn’t been found, which inspired many others to take on the pirate flag to search for the greatest treasure to be found. Whitebeard’s final words probably added to this fuel, deluding many that they might be able to find One Piece and become the Pirate King. The people in the bar are saying to each other how there are still plenty of pirates coming to the Sabaody Archipelago, yet there have only been a few in two years time that could be called Supernovae (meaning they have a bounty over 100.000.000 berry).

In fact, it hasn’t been quite as exciting as it was two years ago, when 11 Supernova gathered on the archipelago at the same time. Speaking of those Supernovae, it would seem that some of them are making names for themselves in the New World. Something tells me that Kid and Drake are especially active in the new world as the other crews are referred to as “the rest”. With Kid’s brutal nature and Drake’s desire to face off against Kaidou of the Yonkou, I’m not too surprised that these two especially have been making names for themselves.
Capone and the Firetank pirates were sucked up into the sky last we saw them, so perhaps they are still at the beginning of the New World due to delays in the setting of the Log Post and other technical difficulties. There were some who thought Blackbeard was responsible for their disappearance, but I doubt it. The world of One Piece is filled with too many wonders and mysteries to attribute things solely to Devil Fruits.
Bonney and the Bonney pirates may still be trapped by Akainu. We can only wonder whether they are even still around right now. Depending on where they are right now, they may require some help from a friendly bunch of pirates or something along those lines .
Basil and his Hawkins pirates are most likely just cruising along the same as they always were. Basil makes his prediction and the crew follows. I really haven’t a clue what might’ve happened since he faced off against Brownbeard.
Apoo and his On Air Pirates might still be having some troubles, same as Capone and his crew. The On Air Pirates’ captain doesn’t really strike me as someone who would rush his journey, nor as the type to find sensible solutions to problems they could encounter. But a lot can happen in two years.
Urouge and the Fallen Monk pirates were last seen near the island with eternal thunderstorms. Perhaps they took the old lady’s offer for an umbrella and they moved further, or maybe they’ve been residing on that island for this entire time, trying to find a way past the lightning.
Then there’s the Supernova that really made a name for himself to us readers: Law and his Heart Pirates. He did tell his crew they would wait for the right opportunity to set out into the New World, so odds are they haven’t entered the second part of the Grand Line just yet.

But things are picking up in Sabaody again as rumors are spreading that the Straw-hats are gathering there after two years. It would seem that the Straw-hats have been found out, but what’s stranger is that Luffy seems to be recruiting new members. What’s up with that?!

The Soul King returns (again)

Better pass on the chili donuts, they could kill you… but he’s dead already! Yohoho…

With the Straw-hats(?) gathering on Sabaody and recruiting members, plenty of exciting things are happening in the underground scene of the groves. But even in the public eye something exciting is taking place. The people on the archipelago are doing everything they can to get tickets into the arena as a great superstar is giving his final performance. But this isn’t just any superstar, it’s the Soul King… Brooke!

In the past two years Brooke seems to have made quite the name for himself. While kept in captivity by the Longarm tribe, he made his way out of the cage and onto the stage! His music is so popular that his TD’s (Tone Dials) are bought by millions as he has now become the King of Soul music. Brooke somehow managed to become beloved by all, in spite of being just bones, and now dresses the part of Soul King as well. The gentleman in Brooke can still be seen hidden beneath the flashy accessories, though this new look seems to be part of his training. My guess is -probably like most of you guessed as well- that Brooke has found a way to use music more effectively while fighting. Soul music is about catchy rhymes, extemporaneous movements, and call and response between a soloist and a choir (amongst other things). With the Yomi Yomi no Mi’s ability to move the soul back into the body after it dies, we might see something interesting from Brooke sooner or later…

Brooke’s management is excited about Brooke’s final performance, though they are keen on keeping him as the sales of the TD’s are going through the roof. It’s interesting to learn that TD’s are such a commonality in the world of One Piece, though something tells me they are something that has only recently been introduced to the world outside of the Sky Islands. Perhaps Brooke’s Tone Dial served as a prototype for a mass production, or maybe they’ve always been around. What is new is the fact that Brooke’s songs are so hot right now that there are millions of TD’s on his name, which could make one wonder his lives’ choices. But Brooke hasn’t forgotten about the oath he swore to his captain, nor the promise to his friend on the other side of the Grand Line. Brooke is still a pirate in his bones (yohoho), which is probably what he told his managers moments before his final concert starts.

The Explorer of Hell returns

Sanji really has been born under an unlucky star… right, Oda?

The Blackleg returns to Sabaody Archipelago after two gruesome years without women. As he sets foot on the archipelago, his Woman radar goes in full overdrive as it can finally search for “real ladies”. Locking on to some of these ladies, he immediately starts pursuing them, though his lust only scares them away. The sight of Sanji rushing at them was enough to drive the women away, but the Newkama seem to be having the same effect on the men in the background .
The Newkama that escorted Sanji tell him goodbye, though Sanji tells them to screw themselves as he doesn’t want to see them again (much like he parted from the Barratie). He does tell them to give his best regards to Iwa, moments before he rushes off to his beloved Nami-swan and Robin-chwan. The Newkama are left behind, comforting themselves with the thought that boys are always mean to the girls they like…

So what has the perverted chef done to himself in the past two years? Besides his goatee growing out a bit more, the most notable change has to be the fact that his left eye has now become visible! For years have we been wondering what was behind Sanji’s hair and why he would want to hide his left eye and now we can see exactly why. The poor boy must’ve been ashamed at the shape of his eyebrows. As if the whirl on the right side of his right eyebrow wasn’t peculiar enough, the heavens (read: Oda) have messed with him by giving him another whirl on his left eyebrow… on the right side as well. No wonder he keeps hiding one side of his face the entire time, him being so keen on looking sharp and all. Besides his hairstyle turning a 180, the goatee having grown a bit, and a small mustache, Sanji hasn’t changed too much on the outside. The way he chases after women suggests that he certainly hasn’t changed much on the inside either, which is a good thing.

But what of the training he endured? He had to beat 100 Okama in order to get secret recipes and a boat ride, so judging from his arrival he managed to do just that. While prowling several forums from time to time, I read that a lot of people are hoping that Sanji has learned to use Haki during these two years of training. More specifically, most of the people are hoping that he mastered the Color of Observation. Personally, I’m hoping for something different. Since Haki has been explained a couple of chapters back, people have been going on how everyone in the straw-hat crew should learn the different types of Haki up to the point where they can consciously use it. But who says that anyone besides Luffy needs to achieve that level of Haki control? Yes, without Haki it is more difficult to fight against Logia and certain Paramecia Fruit Users, but has that been an issue for the past 597 chapters?
Even those with great control over their Haki still had trouble with Logia users (e.g. Whitebeard vs. Aokiji), so it isn’t key to survival. I suppose it can happen, but I’m just hoping for a different type of power up for the other straw-hats.

The Straw-hat pirates reunited?
How much food did Luffy eat on the way to Sabaody?!

The scene then changes to a “certain bar” where a young lady asks the bartender for some information. We find out that the new fleet admiral has decided to move the marine headquarters to the other side of the Red Line, turning the Marineford base into the G1 base. This was to ensure that the Marines would be able to respond better to the threat of the Yonkou. This has affected the first half of the Grand Line in response. This piece of information gives us some interesting information.

For one, the new Fleet Admiral seems to be more assertive than Sengoku was. Rather than protecting the weaker seas by playing it on the defense, the new fleet admiral has opted to go on the offense. While Sengoku suggested Aokiji would become the new Fleet Admiral, this has Akainu written all over it. Then again, it could be that Aokiji has been inspired by Smoker’s enthusiasm to move forward a bit. Whoever decided to take this course of action is now responsible for the increase in lawless zones in Sabaody. This has caused some lowlifes to do things that they wouldn’t have done otherwise, such as gathering up a crew on the final resting place before the New World.

Speaking of such crews, “Straw-hat Luffy”, the son of Dragon the revolutionary starts making a ruckus in the bar. We then find Luffy(?), Nami (?), Franky (?), and Sogeking(?) talking to a rookie who wants to join the Straw-hats. But Luffy(?) shoots the man down as he doesn’t meet the 70 million bounty that he set for new recruits. It seems that some people have decided that the Straw-hat name was free to use by anyone now that they haven’t been heard of in the past two years. Apparently, they’ve been doing this for quite some time as the people in the bar aren’t surprised by “Luffy” shooting the 55 million bounty pirate. In fact, things are going great for them, managing to have 10 bounty heads join them amongst three pirate groups. Apparently people believe the straw hats have changed so much in the past two years that this “Luffy” can pass for the real straw-hat Luffy. He has a straw hat and a scar on his left cheek along with the rest of the crew, so why would anyone doubt him? Luffy(?) then orders another drink and tells the young lady to sit next to him.

The cat burglar returns

You’d think she’d enjoy the company of younger men after two long years with geezers

The young lady at the bar is none other than Nami. Though her appearance may have changed, her attitude certainly didn’t. She bluntly refuses the fake Luffy’s invitation as she tells him that she’s waiting for someone. Sogeking(?) laughs this off as no one would be dumb enough to complain to Luffy for ruining their appointment. But Nami isn’t impressed at all, in spite of Luffy(?) shooting someone only moments ago. The old Nami would’ve acted the same way, though she’d need the comfort of an ally in the form of one of Luffy, Zoro, or Sanji before doing that. Yet this time, she isn’t concerned at all, in spite of being alone. Instead of cowering, she mocks the fake captain by offering him a drink while asking him who he’s supposed to be. Much to the dismay of Luffy(?) and Nami(?), who start asking her who she thinks she’s dealing with.

At the start of this review (a looooong way back) I already gave a link to the first color page with Nami in it. Looking at this new design for Nami it is obvious she has grown… a lot. Where she used to show off her legs, she now shows off the rest of her body while covering the legs completely. Nothing too spectacular, I admit, but somehow it reminds me of the square sisters from Water 7 . The longer hair is something that was almost too predictable, but I guess Nami just felt like changing her hair. Honestly, Nami’s new look is one of the more disappointing changes to me. Perhaps because it was, I don’t know, predictable? Everyone wanted her to have longer hair (and bigger boobs, obviously) and Oda delivered. Guess Nami is Oda’s answer to fan service. Luckily Nami has more to offer than just her looks, but there’s someone else who has to show off before that.

The King of Snipers returns

There’s two Nami’s as well, what’s going on?!

Just as Nami(?) threatens to attack, well, Nami, someone decides to put his recognizable nose into business where it belongs. Usopp fires off his new Green star, unveiling a man-eating plant from the Boin archipelago, which proceeds to chew on Nami(?) who screams for help from Luffy(?) -like the real deal usually does . Usopp then sits down next to Nami as he asks her if she’d want to drink with him. Nami is so glad to see Usopp that she embraces Usopp in a way that would make any man jealous. Talk about sticking your nose somewhere it doesn’t belong . Nami comments on how Usopp has grown a bit more manly, while he tells her she’s leveled up as well.

Usopp explains that he hasn’t been loitering around for the past two years, but has been training to become a true warrior. The Pop Greens are a part of the training results, along with the couple of hundred pounds Usopp lost during the past two years . Everyone was expecting Usopp to beef up during the two year training, trading in the fat for muscles, which did happen. Usopp traded his old goggles and headband for a new pair of goggles, a new hat, and headphones. The grown out hair looks pretty cool and the goatee works fine. Much like Nami’s new look, this one isn’t all too surprising or spectacular. Then again, the same can be said about most straw-hats . Personally I’m most curious about the headphones right now. Does Usopp have a TD-player on him with some of Brooke’s latest songs? More importantly, where did he get the new gear? The clothes could’ve been made with the material found on the Boin Archipelago, but the goggles and headphones should’ve been a bit more troublesome. Of course, the bigger question, if not the biggest question, has to be how Usopp got to Sabaody. The training he endured was to get off the Boin archipelago, but where did he go from there? Did he tame some kind of beast in order to ride it to Sabaody, or did he get some help from Heracles’nn?

No matter how he did it, he got to Sabaody, self proclaimed former member of the weakling trio and all. He has not only matured physically, but mentally as well, making his mind more stable and unsusceptible to trickery. While this made me feel a little sad at first, the very next panel made me feel at ease again as Usopp is confronted by Sogeking(?), much to his own surprise. He’s even fooled by Luffy(?)’s disguise as he’s taken out of the bar by Nami. As the Straw-hats(?) are trapped by Usopp’s Pop Green Devil, Nami walks away without paying her tab, but leaving a tip nonetheless. Small bubbles fill the bar, making black clouds which release a discharge of lightning. In spite of the thunder strike behind them, Nami and Usopp casually walk away and discuss Nami’s newfound technology. Perhaps Nami wants Usopp to install it into the Climatact, assuming she hasn’t done so herself already (knowing Nami, she didn’t).
Luffy(?) somehow survived the small thunderstorm (does that make him rubber and thus the real Luffy?! :p) after which he threatens to take out the two people who insulted and humiliated him and his crew.

The retired coach

Rayleigh’s giving us the finger! Folding the paper my behind!

Sanji made his way to Shakky’s rip-off bar, the point where the Vivre-card pointed to. Here he finds out that he is the seventh of the Straw-hats to come to Sabaody. Miraculously, Zoro was the first one to arrive. It would seem grim times are coming, Zoro actually finding his way and all… The second one to arrive was Franky, who immediately set out to the Thousand Sunny ten days ago. With Shakky being in one piece and the Sunny alright, it would seem that Kuma somehow decided to let them go two years ago. But more amazing is the fact that no one touched the Thousand Sunny, which the Straw-hats owe to none other than Duvall.

It turns out that Duvall took it upon himself to guard the Sunny for the full two years, which gave him and his crew plenty of injuries. As the chronicles of Duvall’s struggles for Sunny’s protection are told (for what I guess is at least the seventh time by now), Shakky proceeds with her story on the order in which the Straw-hats arrived. Nami being third is enough to completely throw Sanji’s attention off of Duvall’s story as he wants to see her as soon as possible. Hearing that Nami is out shopping is enough for Sanji to think of the outfits she must be trying on right now, meaning the rest of Shakky’s story is wasted on his ears. But Shakky explains that Usopp, Chopper, Brooke, and Sanji were the next four to arrive on the Archipelago, where the word concert is the only thing to draw his attention away from his thoughts about Nami. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees it as an inspiration for a possible date with Nami or something .

Rayleigh then concludes this only leaves Robin and Luffy, reminding us just how impressive this feat is. Traveling the Grand Line is quite the challenge for a full crew, so the members making it to Sabaody on their own is all the more impressive. Especially after the trials that Kuma put them through. Sanji then says what must’ve been on everyone’s mind, that Luffy must’ve become a lot stronger after being trained by Rayleigh. But Rayleigh admits that he has no idea how much stronger Luffy’s become after he left him about a year ago. With what should’ve taken a full two years being accomplished in half that time, I’m curious as well. Personally I’m glad that Luffy managed to learn the basics of Haki in such a short time. No matter how you look at it, he’s seen it plenty of times and experienced it even more than that (he didn’t always see it when his grandfather hit him on the head ), and Luffy is somewhat of a sponge when it comes to taking in battle skills. But Sanji doesn’t care about Luffy’s growth anymore now that he’s started thinking about Nami’s growth. Too bad for him he’ll probably never experience what Usopp experienced just a couple of chapters ago. Oda just loves to mess with Sanji too much to allow him such pleasures .

The Devil Child returns

No matter how you look at it, you can’t really call this under cover

A Den Den Mushi transmission is heard announcing that two Cipher Poll agents have tracked down Nico Robin. Still armed with the knowledge to obtain the Ancient weapons, it is no wonder than people are still looking for her. The reason I believe these men are Cipher Poll, and not a different kidnapping group or something along those lines is basically a hunch, but I think it isn’t too farfetched .

Apparently Robin had been searching for some intelligence. In the two years she spent with the revolutionaries she probably has refined her information gathering skills. Too bad for her that she just stands out too much, but what would you expect with a look like that? Robin’s new appearance isn’t all too earth shattering either. A slight change of hairstyle, now showing off her forehead, while wearing clothes that come closer to the ones that Hancock wears. But I wasn’t really expecting much of a change in her appearance any way, though her waist is rather thin. But Robin does share some of the responsibility of giving fan service in name of the Straw-hat crew .

In either case, Robin found out information going around both on the streets as well as in the back alleys, from Brooke’s concert to the Straw-hat recruitment. Like many of us should’ve been at the start of this chapter, she seems to be rather astounded by these strange events. But it’s good to see that she’s more concerned with Brooke’s title as Soul King than the Straw-hat flyer. It only makes sense for Robin to understand that the flyer must be nonsense, but her concern for one of her Nakama is good to see. This change had been rather obvious since she was freed from CP9’s clutches, but seeming as how Brooke wasn’t a part of that rescue we couldn’t be too sure of how much she looks out for the newest crewmember. Though she should be more concerned about a different crewmember…

The emergency ration returns

No wonder he’s the crew’s emergency rations, he’s so cute anyone could eat him up

Chopper is walking in grove 47after finding Sanji, Zoro, and Robin. Or so he thinks. Walking with a stick -which is a must for explorers, Luffy’s exploration lesson number 1- the young doctor can’t help but wonder how Sanji and Zoro have become such good pals over the past two years. But what’s more curious is that not one of the crew is talking to him. Not Zoro, Sanji, Robin, or Chopper… It seems that the fake Luffy’s crew had the full cast of Straw-hat wannabes, from a guy with green hair carrying three swords to a pet wearing a pink hat.

As everyone has noticed, Chopper hasn’t changed at all at first glance. He’s still overly cute -which, to be honest, I was hoping for- in spite of becoming two years older. Chopper now has a blue hat covering his old pink hat, giving some room for his ears to come out. The rest really didn’t change at all, yet I’m happier with this new look than most of the others. The reason I’m glad his Brain Point hasn’t changed is simply because Chopper has to look like this. Chopper represents a childish innocence in the crew, which is best shown in this form. If this form were to change it could only ruin things. Mind you, I am hoping to see a couple of new looks for the other seven known forms, perhaps a new form or two even. I’m rooting for Chopper!

Going back to the fake Straw-hats, Zoro(?) and Sanji(?) discuss how Chopper must’ve been lost for the past two years after losing his masters. But with the real Chopper around, this is the best opportunity for the fake Straw-hats to reinforce their image by taking in the real Cotton Candy Loving pet. The fact that Chopper has been talking to them the entire time doesn’t even strike them as strange or anything, though the fact that his nakama have completely changed in two years time doesn’t surprise Chopper either. Zoro(?) then tells Robin(?) to dump Chopper(?) and to lure the real Chopper into following them. Robin(?) mercilessly kicks away the fox Chopper and offers Chopper a cucumber as she doesn’t have any cotton candy on her (a cucumber, really Oda?). Chopper is rather intimidated by Robin as she just kicked a fox and is now ignoring the fox chewing on her head. In spite of this it almost looks as if Chopper is about to accept the cucumber. But before we can find out whether Chopper would take the cucumber, Cipher Poll strikes and captures Robin(?) and the fox stuck to her head.

Chopper starts to panic at the fact that Robin is taken away, assuming the two men are kidnappers like the ones that took Keimi two years ago. The news of Robin’s capture is then quickly spread to the contact the Cipher Poll agents were talking to before, while Robin is making her way to Shakky’s bar, completely safe.

Clash of the Titans(?)

Luffy tends to miss oversized fat people who pretend to be him

The scene changes to the newly dubbed G1 base for a moment, where vice-admiral Momonga receives word of the Straw-hats gathering in Sabaody. He immediately decides to take action as the return of Luffy could prove to be disastrous. If they can confirm it to be the real Straw-hats a force from HQ should be dispatched! In spite of this being Marineford, it seems that HQ truly has abandoned it almost entirely, though Momonga should be enough of a force to be reckoned with.

Back in Sabaody, Luffy(?) is making a ruckus again, this time shooting an innocent woman as she and her partner look a bit like Nami and Usopp. The man tries to speak up to the infamous straw-hat, but fear of the bounty head prevents him from doing so. In spite of being quiet, Luffy(?) mercilessly shoots the man down and orders his men to search for Nami and Usopp. But as he enjoys his search for the two real straw-hats, a mysterious figure carrying a huge backpack bumps into him. The figure apologizes in a rather blunt manner, before resuming his travels. As the surrounding audience wonders how the figure doesn’t recognize the “Straw-hat Luffy”, Luffy(?) stops the figure in his tracks. We then see the figure’s face, revealing it to be (as we could expect from such a rude apology) none other than the real Monkey D. Luffy!

Well, after a 16 page rant, I’d say I’ve said about everything there can be said about this single chapter. Sadly, this isn’t the case. But for both your sakes and my own, I’ll only take a short look at some points I didn’t cover.

First off, this chapter was a pretty good start for the second half of One Piece. In spite of this taking place after a two year absence by the Straw-hats, things kept on moving nicely in the world of One Piece. The appearance of a fake Straw-hat crew was quite the surprise, yet one that makes sense. Why would anyone waste the opportunity to take up an infamous name if no one is using it? The fake Straw-hats are awesome caricatures of the real straw-hats. From the captain that stuffs his face the entire time, causing him to fill him round most of those times, to the old lady who knows how to hold a cucumber, if you know what Oda means .

Secondly, Oda didn’t waste time to show off the Straw-hats’ new looks. Though the changes are minor for most of them (Luffy, Nami, Robin, Chopper, and Usopp in particular), they are rather interesting for others (Brooke, Sanji, and Zoro), or even downright extreme for some (Franky). For some peculiar reason I’m only disappointed with Nami’s new look, though that’s probably because her new look was just a bit too cliché. Not to say I don’t like it, but it was just too predictable, you know?

Well then, I suggest you take a break before getting to the next chapter’s review. In the meantime, I’m going to think of a way to make the next review a lot shorter… Bleach usually has too little to work with, whereas One Piece just has too much to work with .

 

CHAPTER 599: 9 Pirates

Luffy calls the content of that bag lunch…

The 599th chapter of One Piece starts off with a little flashback where we find out why Luffy is walking around in disguise. Hancock was forced to part ways with Luffy before making it to Sabaody as she can’t risk being seen with him. In her concern for Luffy she even tries to give Luffy a fake mustache so he can hide his face better. Hancock explains to Luffy that he has to be careful of revealing his true identity on Sabaody, as everyone should be able to recognize his face and him being discovered would only bring trouble. Luffy tells Hancock that he understands, though we’ve heard that before… But Luffy probably just wants to get back to his crew, so he just agrees so he can get back faster. After completing Luffy’s disguise, Hancock moves on to Luffy’s provisions.

After offering enough provisions to last an entire crew, Nyon tells Hancock to make Luffy’s bag lighter. Luffy then bids his farewell to the Kuja Pirates, which has at least three new members in the form of Margaret, Sweet Pea, and Aphelandra. Luffy thanks the Kuja pirates for everything they’ve done, but Hancock has a request for Luffy. Luffy immediately rejects the idea of marrying Hancock -do you think Hancock has been rejected as often as Lola by now?-, though she only wants to make sure she’ll see Luffy again in the future and asks him not to say goodbye. Luffy laughs at the thought of saying goodbye to anyone, as he’s always told everyone he’d see them again someday. The flashback then ends with Luffy telling the Kuja that he’ll be seeing them later, while Nyon tells Hancock that this isn’t a proposal.

I can only imagine what might happen to Hancock now that she’s had to part with Luffy. Maybe she’ll be keeping her position as Shichibukai for the purpose of protecting Luffy in case he is ever caught by the Marines. Hopefully for her subordinates, she’s learned a thing or two from Luffy, and she’ll stop kicking baby seals and puppy dogs. Then again, odds are she might just up and die from heartbreak…

Luffy vs. the Straw-hats

I’m really surprised Luffy doesn’t notice Sogeking

Back to the present, Luffy is confronted by Luffy(?), who is rather pissed at the fact that Luffy bumped into him. Acting like a real big shot, in spite of having little to back it up, he tells Luffy to bow down to the 400.000.000 berry pirate. While the crowd is shivering at the sight, Luffy isn’t all too impressed by the fat guy pointing a gun (of all weapons) at him, in spite of the so called 400 million bounty. This is a rather unexpected time to find out Luffy’s new bounty. Though many thought his bounty might have doubled, due to the events at Marineford, a 100 million berry increase is rather serious as well. Just think of what a Supernova has to do in order to get to the 100 million bounty, and Luffy is worth four times that right now.

But Luffy is still anxious to get to his nakama, and he’s never been all that interested in other people’s bounties, so he doesn’t really care. The fake crew explains to Luffy that they’re looking for a man with a long nose and a woman with long hair, and that their captain is looking for them because they messed with him. Because he’s in a hurry as well, he’ll settle with Luffy going on his knees and apologizing. While Luffy remains quiet, the crowd is almost begs Luffy to just apologize. But Luffy didn’t do anything he should have to bow down for, so he just apologizes again as he walks away.

The imposter then decides that Luffy has a death wish as he points his gun right to Luffy’s temple. But rather than taking the bullet and bouncing it back, he shows us one of his new tricks. Using the Color of Observation, Luffy sensed when the fake pulled the trigger so that he could dodge the bullet entirely. Luffy just tilts his head back enough to dodge the bullet before he uses the rarest of Haki, the Haki of Kings, to knock out the fake Straw-hats and starts walking. The fact that only the fake crew is taken out is a great display of control by Luffy. Rayleigh did mention that it was a dangerous skill to use without control, but I don’t think it can get more controlled than this. With this level of control over the Color of the Conqueror, we can only wonder what he can do with the Color of Observation and Color of Armament.

The Cyborg Pervert returns

He’s still SUUUUUUUPERRRR!!!! Or is he?

Robin made her way to the Sunny as she greets the ship. The ship almost seems to be smiling at the sight of one of its crew, being in as good a state as Rayleigh told us in the previous chapter. Suddenly a huge gorilla makes it way on deck as it recognizes the “nice woman” as the ship’s SUPER archaeologist. Robin is quiet for a moment before she tells Franky he hasn’t really changed after two years.
But Franky points out the obvious as he tells Robin that he’s added plenty of new features that are part of a man’s romance.

Now, I’ll have to be honest here, I’m not too fond of Franky’s new look just yet. Franky is one of my favorite characters in One Piece as he’s practically Oda. He’s a thirty something year old pervert that runs on cola and creates things that blow people away. Besides being the representation of the series’ creator, he’s just plain awesome in his perverseness. He’s a real man, who knows exactly what a man should be like. The stories surrounding him while he was on Baldimore before the time skip were awesome. He blew up an entire island and created a legend about a flaming beast, I mean, how awesome is that? But back to why I don’t like Franky’s new look just yet. For one, he’s gone bald. His hair changing based on his fuel(level) was one of the coolest things about him, but now it’s gone. Perhaps this means that Franky has found a new form of fuel, but I certainly hope his hair will grow back.
Franky somehow managed to regrow all the skin on the front of his body, using Vegapunk’s research, but that isn’t the only thing Franky took from the scientist. His legs seem to have changed as well, with some support to his shins and knees. But the biggest change of all, the one that’s impossible to miss, are his arms. As if Franky wasn’t massive enough before, he’s now decided to become three times as massive by adding huge shoulders and lower arms to his body. By huge, I mean humongous. Sure, the fact that Franky can now make the star on his lower arms a bit easier is a great improvement, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re just ridiculously huge. Part of me is hoping that these arms are a part of a Franky docking system. Wouldn’t it be cool if Franky were to have made extra limbs which he can dock onto? Whatever Franky will be pulling out from his arms, this 37th Battle Franky (as opposed to BF 36 he was before) seems to have become something beyond human understanding.

Robin agrees to this as she tells Franky she can no longer treat him as a human. Franky is flattered by the fact that she now sees him as a true pervert, obviously taking it completely the wrong way.

Squishy

Remember kids, smearing jelly over a boat makes it a submarine!…

After hearing about Franky’s upgraded perverseness, Robin takes a look at Sunny. The coating of the ship has been finished by Rayleigh, giving it a layer of goop to allow it to reach Fishman island. I’m not sure how the coating is going to work exactly. We’ve seen it in action during the war at Marineford, but I’m still curious how it can work. Do the sails now use seacurrents instead of wind to move around? Does the jelly expand itself under waters to surround the shop in a bubble so that people can still walk on the deck? I’m just curious about the way the coating will help on those fronts. All we know is that Franky is impressed by the technology and that he claims it will help the Sunny to move at full speed. If Franky’s impressed by the technology, it must be quite a thing.

Robin tells Franky that she met up with Rayleigh and the others in the bar. She also tells Franky that she’s the eighth crewmember, leaving only Luffy. Franky then sits back with a huge bottle of cola while enjoying the thought that the Sunny can finally set out again. Franky looked over the ship and did the basic maintenance that was required, but upgraded the ship’s weapons as well. With this, all the Straw-hat members have improved during after two years. Maybe Luffy will finally get a laser-beam on his ship. Then again, he’d be more interested in a bronze statue for the ship .

Franky also has news on the members that came after him, revealing that Sanji and Usopp passed by the ship. Zoro, Nami, Chopper, and Brooke haven’t come by the ship as far as Franky knows, though it certainly makes sense for Brooke as he only arrived at Sabaody a day ago and had a concert to prepare for. Usopp took care of the cola for the ship, while Sanji has set out on filling the ship with enough foodstuffs to last them until Fishman Island. Knowing the Straw-hats, they’ll probably have quite the feast once they reunite, so Sanji has plenty to stock up on, even if it is a short journey to Fishman Island.

Robin then asks about the concert Brooke is throwing. Franky explains that Brooke’s TD’s have been selling like hotcakes, which is how he found out about his career. With the way things are looking for Brooke, Franky can’t help but wonder whether he’d ever want to return to the pirate’s life. While Franky and Robin talk about Brooke’s newfound fame, Brooke’s concert is going at full speed, revealing that Brooke’s new songs make use of some Skull-jokes as he sings about beards and him not having no beard -but he doesn’t have a beard!

Change for the worse

Chopper’s right Luffy! How could you be so cruel, DAMMIT!!! Wait a sec…

The Straw-hats(?) reunite as Sanji(?), Zoro(?), and Chopper find Luffy(?), Nami(?), Franky(?), and Sogeking(?) lying on the road. Chopper is so excited about finding the rest of the crew that he ignores the conversation (and the situation) entirely, while the other two ask their captain what is going on. Luffy(?) and the others hit by Luffy’s Haki are still feeling the effects as they wonder what happened to them. Chopper notices that his friends changed a lot during two years, as if they almost entirely different people (hint, Chopper!), but only wonders whether they’ve become stronger in the past two years. Completely ignoring the raccoon talking to them, Zoro(?) tells Luffy(?) that Cocoa, or rather Robin(?), has been kidnapped.

While the situation is explained to the captain, some on viewers are starting to talk about what happened to the infamous Straw-hat. Luffy(?) is then shocked by the news of Cocoa being taken by unknown forces. While Chopper suggests a kidnapping group, Luffy ignores him completely and discusses with Sanji(?) how the fact that she looked so similar to Robin was her downfall. But that’s Cocoa’s problem, so he can just ignore her, much to Chopper’s dismay. Luffy(?) then orders his crew to gather everyone who has recently joined them so they can take out the longhaired guy, the longhaired girl with orange hair, and the kid with the cape and the bag. While Luffy(?) is giving out orders to his crew, Chopper is trying to get some sense into Luffy’s head as they should go out to safe Robin. But Luffy(?) doesn’t recognize the Straw-hat’s 50 beri cotton candy loving pet as he can’t help but wonder what the talking raccoon wants from him. Chopper then decides that his friends have changed too much in the past two years and that it is up to him to safe Robin. As Chopper leaves, two marines notice this falling out between Chopper and the captain, completely ignoring the pet as the rest of the crew is still in front of them.

Prelude to the rematch

Something tells me you’ll want to take more than two PX units with you…

News of the Straw-hats’ reunion reaches the Marines, as the two soldiers confirmed that it has to be the real straw hats due to Chopper being there. They find it a bit strange that they’ve changed so much in two years time, but you can’t deny the fact that it was the real Chopper who was talking familiarly with that crew. They do look a bit like they did before and a lot can change in two years time… The Sabaody base on grove 66 then prepares for the gathering of the newly recruited and reunited straw-hats. They prepare to evacuate the people from the grove and to barricade the surrounding groves and call upon reinforcements from the G1 base. But besides those troops, we find that a familiar face is still on the archipelago. Sentoumaru tells the marine giving out instructions that he’s going ahead of the rest with two PX units.

The marines are surprised that Pacifistas are deployed for this matter, but Sentoumaru knows that the Straw-hats already managed to take out one Pacifista two years ago. After two years, the crew must’ve become even stronger, so they should be far stronger than any of the other rookie’s they usually run into.
Judging by the coat hanging on Sentoumaru’s shoulders, he has officially been recognized as a commanding officer, probably of the Pacifista division. The Pacifistas may have become a more common force than they used to be, especially after the successes during the war at Marineford.
In either case, Sentoumaru is sure that the Straw-hats have become stronger after two years and that they are gathering on Sabaody. This may be the reason that he’s still stationed there as PX-0, Kuma, was acting suspicious two years ago. In spite of losing his personality, he still did some things that couldn’t be explained. I guess letting the Sunny and its guardians go free two years ago was one of those actions.

It’s interesting to learn that Kuma still has some form of control, even though he’s lost his personality. Maybe he somehow managed to create a backup program to run at certain times to ensure PX-0 won’t do anything he wouldn’t. But I wonder whether this is still in effect two years after that. Guess we’ll have to wait until the next Shichibukai meeting to see how things worked out for Kuma.

Lost Child

The advantage of wanted posters is that they always have a picture of Zoro when he’s lost…

Sanji is walking around grove 42 looking for foodstuffs. Close to the coast, he approaches a fisherman to ask him if he has some fresh fish for him at a cheap price. But the fisherman is more concerned about a green haired man who disappeared. Hearing about a guy with green hair, Sanji asks the fisherman what happened. We find out that a green haired swordsman, with three katanas strapped to his waist, and a stomach band was bored and wanted to go fish. The fisherman also adds another interesting detail, saying the green haired swordsman only has one eye. In spite of the swordsman having only one eye, Sanji is fairly certain it is Zoro. After showing the wanted poster, the man asks Sanji if Zoro is his friend, which Sanji doesn’t really confirm to be true . But the fisherman explains what happened.

Zoro, who was bored, wanted to go fish. The fisherman was kind enough to allow him on his ship as he was about to set sail. But rather than getting on the fisherman’s ship, which was right in front of him, Zoro got on the coated pirate ship right next to it. It seems that Zoro is still lost without the constant guidance of a Vivre card or two people keeping him in sight. But to make matters worse, Zoro immediately fell asleep after he got on the ship. The ship then started to depart with Zoro on board. No matter how the fisherman yelled and screamed, Zoro just wouldn’t wake up -sound familiar?- and he is now on board of a ship towards Fishman Island.

Sanji can imagine exactly what happened even if he can’t believe how the first man to arrive at the right place could get lost just walking towards a ship right in front of him. As the fisherman is concerned about Zoro’s safety, being on a pirate ship and all, Sanji tells him it’s fine. At least he knows where Zoro will be, the pirates won’t be any trouble either, so he can just get back to buying some fish. But before he can learn more about the fish, something big is surfacing near the coast.

The Pirate Hunter returns

But he got lost, before returning again…

All of a sudden, a galleon rises to the surface, in two pieces! As the people are trying to understand what happened, taking into account the possible causes for something like this, they conclude that the ship was cut in two by a sword. The pirate captain of that ship starts to curse the culprit for ruining their dreams for the New World. The culprit, however, tells the captain that it is just a quirk of fate and that he should just blame his own destiny for what happened… even though this is undeniably, 100% Zoro’s fault. Everyone’s eyes are then turned towards Zoro, who sheaths his katana. Sanji is a bit surprised that Zoro actually managed to find his way back, though he doesn’t really care. Zoro, however, acknowledges the fact that he got on the wrong ship, though he doesn’t care about that at all.

The most notable change in Zoro’s appearance has to be the scar on his left eye. Where it was once on his right eye, in the previous chapter’s color spread, Oda acknowledged that he screwed up and that the scar had to be on the left eye. When the previous chapter came out, a lot of people thought Zoro lost his left arm, completely ignoring the fact that the headband was still wrapped around his left arm and that a katana could be seen on that same page which could only be held in Zoro’s left hand. But this week’s chapter confirms that he still has all his limbs and fingers. Zoro still looks as badass as we could expect from him. He now wears a green coat and has a red sash to hold his kantanas, but besides that the overall look has remained the same.

Whether or not Zoro has lost his left eye has yet to be revealed. It is possible that it’s still fine, but that after being injured for a long time he got used to keeping it closed. Then again, he did train with Mihawk, so who knows what could’ve happened. Maybe this is something Chopper can take a look at. On a final note, Zoro cutting the galleon in two using only his Shuusui certainly was impressive. My guess is that he uses Shuusui for jobs like this as the Shuusui has been suggested to be more of a hard hitter than the other katanas. The other two katanas will probably be used in a similar fashion as before, but Shuusui still had to be mastered, which is probably which Zoro has done during these past two years. Of all the characters, Zoro’s new skills are the ones I’m most curious about. Then again, I want to see more from all of the Straw-hats badly, but I’m just a tad bit more curious about Zoro’s development, training with the greatest swordsman and all…

 

All in all, I’m enjoying these post time-skip chapters quite a lot. Some of the changes in the character models aren’t what I wanted to see, but Oda somehow manages to pull it off. Chapter 599 wrapped up what 598 started, which was showing the renewed Straw-hats on Sabaody Archipelago. Chopper running into the fake Straw-hats was a nice touch to add a bit into the excitement as anything can happen now. Either Sentoumaru runs into the real Straw-hats and an epic battle ensues; Sentoumaru runs into the fake Straw-hats and their fleet, revealing them to be imposters; the real Straw-hats meet up with the fake Straw-hats and chaos ensues; or the real and the fakes meet up, only to be found by Sentoumaru; or… Well, you never know with One Piece, do you? The chapter’s pacing was as good as you’d expect from a One Piece chapter and there’s been plenty to see on each page. The only characters I haven’t been able to find, who I want to see after the two year time skip are…. Pandaman and the Tomato-gang!!!

 

 

Well then, that’s about 9200 words worth of review for these two One Piece chapters. Guess I’ll have to try and make a shorter review for the big 600 instead of 14 pages for a single chapter… But something tells me Oda is going to show off a lot in the next chapter, so who knows . That’s it for this warm up for the chapter 600 review, hope you enjoyed the read. See you this weekend with a brand new One Piece review (unless the length and quality of this review made you decide to skip it entirely…). Anyways, I’m beat, I’ll see you guys in the comments or the next (Bleach) review!

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~ by The Underscore on October 12, 2010.

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