Yet another volume in the EPIC Alabasta Arc has the lines being drawn as the Straw Hats enter into the midst of a battle that threatens to destroy a country.
Writer/Artist: Eiichiro Oda
Translation: JN Productions
Adaptation: Lance Caselman
What They Say
As a child, Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally gained the power to stretch like rubber at the cost of never being able to swim again! Now Luffy, with the help of a motley collection of pirate wannabes, is setting off in search of the "One Piece," said to be the greatest treasure in the world...
Showdown at AlubarnaWhen leaving Rainbase to head off the rebels in the capital city of Alubarna, Luffy gets pulled aside by Crocodile for some cozy one-on-one time! With only three minutes to fight, can Luffy take on the sand pirate on his domain?! The rest of the crew must help Vivi stop the rebels, but the formidable Officer Agents have been waiting for them at the city gates! Will Vivi be in time to stop the inevitable clash between the rebels and the Army?!
The cover features all the opposing forces (Luffy, Kohza, Smoker, Crocodile, and Cobra) facing each other from a bird’s eye view while Karoo is dead center facing the readers. The cover captures the tension and drama that occurs in the book and while it isn’t one of the best covers the perspective used does make it eyecatching. Like all the American release covers the One Piece logo is embossed in gold giving the cover a special feel to it. On the inside there is a nice flow chart of all the different groups and parties involved in the arc as well as a summary of the previous volume. All the individual chapter covers are retained and even the “Cover Story” arc (this one featuring Hachi from Arlong Park) is included.
While I am a huge fan of Oda Eiichiro’s artwork I think this volume is one I would not say is him at his best. The good is that the layouts are done very well and there are two instances where that helped with the timing of certain things. The sand effect in Luffy’s battle with Crocodile was also another high point of the volume. The not too great is that Oda does quite a bit of linework giving a lot of the artwork a sketchy quality it. It is not to say the artwork looks rough or unfinished but I do think cleaner lines would help a lot of the action flow a little better. I should note that unlike the Shonen Jump magazine run Nami’s dancer outfit is left uncut.
I’m just going to call out the whole Zolo vs. Zoro thing. While it doesn’t ruin the flow of the book I do find it less flattering that Viz continues to use the 4kids name when they do not have claim of the anime version anymore and given the current situation of both Viz and Funimation trying to be as close to the Japanese version in their respective medias it seems more insulting to the fan base to continue using the 4kids terminology. Another issue is like most of the Shonen Jump line the translation is very kid-friendly making sure to avoid even minor cusses and while the dialogue is natural I feel given the level of violence in this volume it wouldn’t hurt to at least have a character utter a “damn”
now and then. Outside of those issues I do appreciate how Viz has made an effort to use more natural dialects for the characters and less “pirate speak” that often plagued the earlier volumes. All the sound effects are replaced with English equivalents but seems to blend with the artwork rather well.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As the Strawhats, and Princess Vivi, rush to Alubarna to prevent a war breaking out between the palace army and the rebels Luffy stays behind to take the on the leader of the Baroque Works, Mr. Zero/Crocodile. The fight itself is both comedic and dramatic as Luffy tries many wacky techniques (including trying to “eat” his enemy) to beat Crocodile only to lose out in the end. While Crocodile leaves Luffy to die bleeding to death in a pit of quicksand all the opposing forces are headed for one big clash in Alubarna. The Strawhat pirates run into their own complications getting to the location, and Captain Smoker dispatches his second-in-command Tashigi to deal with the situation telling her “History is about to be made.”
Meanwhile, the Baroque Work agents are holding the King (Vivi’s father) hostage so as to create confusion among the Royal Army. Mysteriously enough Crocodile’s own partner Miss All Sunday/Nico Robin rescues Luffy and questions something involving the “D” in his name before making her own departure to the final standoff.
Once at Alubarna the Baroque Works plan on capturing and killing Princess Vivi, since she knows the truth behind the war. The Strawhats act as decoys by dressing up in hooded capes and all riding supersonic ducks. They each go off into different locations in Alubarna, more or less, setting up their own personal battles work the Baroque Works agents. Despite this other Baroque Works agents are on to her plan and still prevent Vivi from meeting up with the leader of the Rebel Forces, Koza (also her childhood friend).Thus the battle in Alubarna gets underway.
The ballerina cross-dresser Mr. 2 Bon Clay easily dispatches Usopp and Eyelashes the Camel and returns to the outskirts of the kill Vivi. Karoo, who got trampled by the Rebel Forces by shielding Vivi, manages to muster enough strength to rush her into the city . Bon Clay catches up with her only to be intercepted by Sanji and the two begin their match. The remaining chapters in the book focus on the fight between Usopp and Chopper taking on the Baroques Work pair of Ms. Merry Christmas and Mr. 4. All four characters bring out the comedic nature of the series with Ms. Merry Christmas having an erratic speaking nature while Mr. 4 talks in slow drawl. Both Usopp and Chopper’s reaction to her Devil’s Fruit enhanced animal form is rather silly. Ms. Merry Christmas then burrows under the ground to grab her opponents and put them directly in the line of fire of Mr. 4’s exploding baseballs. The battle turns serious as Usopp is forced to undergo more physical abuse (being speed through a brick wall, getting cracked directly in skull with a baseball bat) that would kill a normal man. But Ms. Merry Christmas commits the mistake of telling Usopp that Luffy was killed in the fight with Crocodile and then proceeds to mock his “King of the Pirates” dream. Usopp and Chopper muster enough courage and thanks to a last minute strategy manage to beat the pair and the volume ends there.
Overall this volume’s pacing was really quick. We get two major fights as bookends while the middle was mostly focused on setting up the conflict in Alburna. While most SJ series are known for their long battles One Piece’s pacing is a breath of fresh air. It helps that all the characters involved are diverse and interesting and keep the reader glued to the pages. While not as emotional and comedic as other volumes just the intensity and build-up in this volume alone makes it a worthy read.