Saturday, July 22, 2017

One Piece Revisited vol. 4 - The Black Cat Pirates

I really like that sky. Though Butchie looks really awkwardly cut off by the frame, shouldn't he be like reaching out of it?

This volume is almost entirely about the battle between the Straw Hats and the Black Cat Pirates, as they try to stop them from getting to the village. I think this when the level of wounds started to approach "unbelievable". Which is fine, but like DAMN Usopp gets his skull cracked open with a stone hammer, Kuro leaves Merry in a pool of his own blood, Luffy gets a Chakram embedded several inches into the back of his head, and they all walk it off. Of course it's a far cry from the injuries people will fight through later in the series, but it stood out to me.

The middle panel is really good, you can tell he's in too much shock/pain to even cry out or make an expression. He's just dead on his feet.

It's a shame that Zoro never gets to fight Kuro, since they both use multiple blades and all I've always imagined it would've been a good match. Instead, Zoro has to deal with these two asswipes. I hate their designs. Siam is just faking the hunch, but still. There's also some bullshit about hypnotism making them super-strong, which I never like. It's fine when it makes people forget or ignore their wounds, but even if you believe you're super-strong, that shouldn't actually make your muscles stronger.

One Piece has great character designs on the whole, but not every one can be a winner.

But it's okay, because Captain Kuro is a great villain and totally makes up for it. He's got a unique design, and a serial killer's personality. I like the contrast between the way he calmly composes masterplans, then shows a murderous impatience with anyone who screws things up for him. Watching the villain loose his cool and become more disheveled is always fun.

In High School, I tried making it my habit to adjust my glasses like this. I guess I was hoping for someone to either catch the reference, or draw a similar badass conclusion on their own? But nobody noticed, and it's really not a natural motion, so I stopped.

Also debuting in this volume is the SBS Question Corner. Nobody knows what SBS stands for, since Oda himself forgot shortly after naming it and never told anyone. But it's a feature where he answers readers' letters, clarifying points of confusion in the story, providing additional LORE and information, or just making jokes. Almost right off the bat, someone asks him a question I think every One Piece fan has been asked by a non-fan. "Why don't people die in OP?"

Might be worth noting that the lack of death (outside of flashbacks, where people drop like flies) makes it that much more impactful when characters actually DO die.

Oda's answer speaks for itself, but I think another reason is just that as an author he knows characters are often worth more alive, than dead. He can continue to bring back villains for encore performances, or perhaps as allies. Though it's also important to note that Luffy isn't NOT trying to kill them, or anything - he's no Batman. He just operates in a world where things can get solved if someone is punched in the face enough times, so there's no need to "finish off" anybody to ensure they never cause trouble again. If it makes you feel any better, pretend that scores of fodder get killed every time Zoro cuts down a wave of enemies or whatever. But Zoro doesn't care if he kills them or not, and neither should the reader. Too many people think that the measure of a manga is its "maturity", and that maturity is defined by "how many people die and how gruesome their deaths are".

I always wondered what the heck was up with this spread. I get that's a Zoro-potato, and Luffy-onion, but is that eggplant really supposed to be Nami? And who's the carrot? Is that Shanks driving the cart? Can't be Sanji, he's not introduced yet. Shouldn't Usopp be involved, if you're gonna use four currently-relevant characters? This whole scene a mess.

Favorite Page:

Those guys are gonna feel kinda guilty when they get back from vacation, I bet.

I mainly just like how Kaya is drawn in profile, here. Oda takes the time to draw lips, and doesn't mess around with the infamous "anime side-mouth".

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