One Piece Vol. #09 (

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Saturday, January 21, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Eiichiro Oda
Translated by:Naoko Amemiya
Adapted by:

What They Say
Luffy and crew must contend with "Saw-Tooth" Arlong and his nasty Fish Man pirates. Arlong's pirates specialize in using mafia tactics to squeeze the lifeblood from innocent villagers. Needless to say, it comes as a big surprise to everyone that pirate-hating Nami is actually a member of Arlong's crew!

Always incredulous, Luffy won't believe anything until he's had a nap and a good meal. In the interim, however, Luffy's crew meets up with Nojiko, Nami's tangerine-growing sister, and the residents of Coco Village. They reveal Nami's tragic pact with Arlong and her dreams for the future. Will Luffy and crew step in to help out Coco Village and their resident pirate Nami?

The Review
The best volume in the One Piece series so far, telling the story of my favorite character in the series so far as well--Nami.

The cover artwork is the same as the original Japanese tankoubon release, featuring a lot of bright, great looking colors. The English logo has a sort of gold embossing effect that really makes the cover shine and stand out. The gold is also found on the back cover, along with an illustration of Luffy. The print reproduction is quite solid, with only a few minor instances of fading. Extras include a couple storyboard chapter inserts as well as a few inserts of Question Corner with Eiichiro. Chapter headers are also present, which feature great character art and I always enjoy the continuing saga of Buggy the Clown.

Eiichiro Oda’s imagination just oozes all of the panels in this title. Some may balk at the art style as “cartoony”, but it’s the whacky characterizations and designs that makes One Piece its own and is completely appropriate for the story. Facial expressions are also well illustrated, with rubbery deformed designs sometimes used for exaggeration. Oda’s panel work also features a lot of interesting perspectives and direction, especially during the explosive action sequences which are always a blast. My only complaint is that the panels can get a little chaotic at times, but at least it still remains fairly clean. There is also a good amount of background work, which is key in this type of adventure story set in the weird and wild locales of the Grand Line!

To be quite honest, I really don’t have much of an issue with the translation or adaptation of this script. I even used to enjoy the pirate slang that used to frequent the dialog, which has now seemed to be toned down quite a bit. The script has a lot of energy to it and it fun to read, very appropriate for this type of title. At this point, the whole Zolo/Zoro issue really does not detract from the enjoyment of the story. All SFX are translated and retouched. Not my favorite way of doing things, but it’s done nicely enough that I have no complaints.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
With the previous volume of adventures, a new story arc was born as Sanji joined up with Luffy and crew as everyone headed to Arlong Park in order to get back Nami--who had gone back to her home island and revealed her secret allegiance to Arlong and his fish-men pirates. This volume is the story of Nami, from an abandoned baby to Queen of Thieves, who has given up quite a bit of herself in order to protect the people of Coco Village from the rule of Arlong’s empire. A good chunk of the book is a flashback to a critical moment in Nami’s childhood that set her on the path of stealing berries, while also explaining her supposed unity to the Arlong pirates. It’s safe to say that all is not what it appears to be.

The volume does a great job at building up to a confrontation that will happen in the next volume, with a touching story surrounding Nami which unfolds with a lot of emotion. In true shounen form, her story is about tragedy and sacrifice, as her world comes crashing down on her where now this loner must ask for help from Luffy and her new friends. When Luffy, who never once doubted Nami, comes to her rescue with Sanji, Zolo, and Usopp, their arrival is perfectly timed. I found myself jumping out of my chair and cheering for the gang, as I knew Arlong was about to get what’s coming to him and it was a relief to see one of my favorite characters receive some much needed help, as she could no longer fight this battle on her own.

But enough of this serious talk about One Piece. This title is too much fun to blather aimlessly, with its high seas adventures and whacky characters, that I was inspired to write a ballad about Nami’s past and her mother, Belle-Mere.

(Note: The following is best read in rhythm with “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues)

A fighting sailor
Left for the dead
Rescued two little ones
Nami and Nojiko
Now years later
Their loving mother
Raises her children to be free
And to always fight for your dreams

Dark clouds came rollin’ in
Arlong and his fish-men
The village they terrorized
Extorted for their berries
And when they came to Belle
She protected her young ones
The ultimate sacrifice
Lives on in memories

They’ve got strength big as gods
They’ve got guns and more
The village was doomed with no choice at all
Nami’s mum six feet under
Her people under plunder
She ate all her hate for a greater good

She’s so young
So pretty
Rough, tough, and witty
At eighteen she thieves to protect those she loves
For a score mint of berry
In the tangerines a buried
She’ll buy back the happiness for everyone

The boys of the Coco Village had
Swords thrown up in the air
And their voices were ringing out
For Belle-Mere

A harsh double cross
The berries are lost
Her anger against Arlong comes to head
All alone and cryin’
With her hopes a dyin’
Luffy comes along to help out his mate

The boys of the Coco Village had
Swords thrown up in the air
And their voices were ringing out
For Belle-Mere

Throw your drinks up and have a toast for Belle-Mere! This volume is hands down my favorite in the One Piece series so far. It probably helps that we finally get to know about the emotions and history behind my favorite character in Nami, but from beginning to end the story in this volume is just well told in great shounen fashion. I definitely had tears and found myself cheering in joy at the payoff at the end of this one. I’m very much anticipating how the story will continue into the next volume.

There is nothing really new done here, tragic character becomes a loner and sacrifices self to protect others and learns about friendship, but what is here is done really well. I also find Oda’s artwork to be so imaginative and creative, those bizarre character designs creating such wonderful characterizations and personalities. One Piece is a fun adventure story, with an ensemble cast that is continuing to develop, with great action and character drama. Long live Belle-Mere!!

Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.99
Pages: 208
ISBN: 1-4215-0191-0
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left