|I always wondered what that face was on the background, but this time I realized it's the figurehead from Krieg's ship. Luffy looking nice and bloody, too - red = money, it's been said.|
It bugs me when people say that "One Piece doesn't focus on the fights, it's more about the adventure!" because while that's sorta true, it undersells just how good the fights are in One Piece. Case in point - having got all the small fry out of the way, as well as the obligatory tragic backstory, Luffy is free to finally throw down with Krieg. And it's such a good fight!
|Have I mentioned how much I like the way Oda draws gold? Somehow, you can tell that armor is not just shiny metal, but golden.|
|I still wince at this panel. I guess the spikes just slip between his fingers for the most part, but still, yowch.|
They scrap some more, but the narrative is that Krieg keeps producing more weapons, while Luffy uses his agility to climb around the wreckage and avoid serious injury. However, despite a few good hits, Luffy can't put Krieg down because that armor is just too strong, and he doesn't have any room to set up his strongest attacks.
|The Gum Gum Bullet reads just as well from behind as from the front or side. Powerful impact, and I like the detail of Luffy's muscles spurting blood from his wound.|
|One question - how is that spear just causing explosions, again? Like, shouldn't it be literally exploding itself, to have that sort of effect? Or is he just detonating charges from it as he swings?|
This is how you write a good fight, people. For starters, there's clear stakes for both parties, and we've got enough emotional investment in the characters to want Luffy to kick Krieg's ass. But the fight itself is solidly plotted, with dynamic choreography and powerful impacy. It moves from long-range to close quarters to aerial combat, escalating in tension as the fight progresses. It's not Luffy just getting beat up until he somehow summons a hidden reserve of courage and wins in the final attack, they both take hits and visible damage. It's cool to see Krieg unveil new weapons, and it's cool to see Luffy find ways to counter them. The way that Krieg is literally stripped of all his weapons and armor as the fight progresses is a nice visual echo of how Luffy is wearing him down. The result is a conclusion that feels earned, not simply inevitable.
|Look at that armor, breaking like a gum ball's shell.|
Next up is Arlong Park, which many consider the point where One Piece truly hit its stride. There's a reason the biggest English-language OP forum is named after it. Personally I was already on board from Vol. 2, but Arlong Park is some good stuff indeed. The characters also throw out a quick reference to the Shichibukai, specifically Jimbei the Fishman. Crazy to think that it would be 500 chapters before we finally get that payoff, talk about planning ahead.
|Love Arlong's design. The serrated nose is a perfect example of that fine line between goofy and badass that One Piece straddles so well.|
|What's really great is that Whitebeard's flag was originally gonna be the manji, and Ace has a huge-ass tattoo of it on his back, but Oda changed it for the final release. I can only imagine the heart attack that would've given the CEOs at 4kids and Viz.|
|Straw Hat Samurai.|