|There's the obligatory shot of all the arc's villains (even poor Moomoo). and check out how hard Luffy is pulling his hat down over his head, dang.|
For some reason, this is a super memorable title to me, even though it's not actually a line uttered in the volume. It reminds me of that iconic Wolverine panel in spirit. I often say it to myself after losing the first round in any fighting game - "OK, let's stand up".
|Don't tell me One Piece's character designs are too silly to take seriously when Wolverine dresses like this.|
I think that's an important quality of a hero, and what makes for a great fight - the good guy needs to get knocked down, smacked around a little, before turning the tables. They don't always have to make miraculous comebacks from the brink of defeat, and in fact that can get annoying if done repeatedly, but a good fight involved back and forth. If you never show your heroes struggle, then their victories don't appear earned. The volume does include two great pages showing Zoro and Sanji standing up after initial knock-downs.
|dig the harsh shading|
|I don't support smoking, but damn if Sanji doesn't make it look cool, lighting up while he's laid out on his back like it's nbd. Also the second best usage of the "martial arts degree comparison" cliche I've ever seen.|
This arc sets up a template for nearly every arc following it: first, the Straw Hats arrive in a village. They discover some bad guy is making everyone miserable, and they all get split up and have various run-ins with villains and new allies. Eventually, everyone pairs off against their counterpart - Zoro fights the enemy swordsman (and usually the 2nd strongest villain), Sanji fights the 3rd strongest, and often the rest of the crew gets a fight, too. Meanwhile, there's something preventing Luffy from actually arriving to fight the big bad, or maybe he suffers an early setback and is removed from play for a while, but finally after the other fights have been settled he finishes things off by defeating the enemy leader. Then there's a big party.
|There's some crazy lung capacity on display in this volume, plus underwater visibility. I can't hardly open my eyes underwater, let alone see anything! Not the mention the water-pressure issues...|
It's a formula that works well, because it gives each character time to shine. This is a battle manga, after all, and fights are a core part of that. There's some people who consider themselves so intellectual that anything besides revealing plot twists or dramatic character developments are a waste of time, but miss me with that noise. There's art and entertainment in action, and in my mind there's no better action than a one-on-one fight. Chaotic set-pieces with lots of things exploding and crashing down are cool, and chase scenes are exhilarating, and shoot-outs are dramatic, but give me some good ol' hand-to-hand combat any day of the week.
|Zoro and Sanji have had specific fights before, but this is Usopp's first time. And he's scared, because he knows he's weak.|
|He plans to lie his way out of it, like he does with everything, but isn't able to lie to himself.|
Maybe it comes from my love of martial arts films, and pro wrestling, but I admire a well-constructed fight. I talked at length about Luffy v. Kreig a few weeks ago, so I'll spare you the play-by-play this time, but trust me: these are good fights, Brent. Zoro fulfills his promise to never lose again, defeating Hachi while seriously injured and with two borrowed swords. Sanji gets his first actual victory, using some clever thinking to force Kuroobi to fight on land and then demolishing him. Oh, and Usopp is even able to defeat Chuu, thanks to some expert sniping and repeated application of a hammer to the head.
|Zoro keeps that scar, by the way. One of the few examples of such in One Piece. Luffy takes quite a few wounds, but somehow always heals without a scar. Well, mostly.|
And now that the lieutenants are defeated, Luffy is able to get back in action and fight Arlong. Of course he can't just step in and help Hachi or Kuroobi out, that wouldn't be sporting! It's the unwritten rule of being a villain - you only get to attack the hero one at a time, unless you're a fodder mook, in which case you're gonna get wiped out by the dozen. Though you could argue it's part of Arlong's personality, he trusts his crew to be able to handle puny humans, because he can't believe any human could be strong enough to stand up to a fishman. This racism angle will get interesting later when they visit fishman island, but for now it's just misplaced arrogance.
|Withdrew Zoro! Send out Luffy!|
|Oda doesn't often do pages like this, it looks like something out of Bleach in terms of composition. It's a shame this was never referenced in any of the openings, it would work well for that sort of thing. Note how the crew are identified with the numbers in the order that they joined, Oda loves to do this in color spreads.|