|See? I told you, pink.|
So, we need to talk about Wapol's powers. They're even more broadly defined, and more physics-defying than most Devil Fruit powers. First, he's able to stretch his mouth to eat and digest anything - simple enough. Then it's revealed he can use what he's eaten as a part of his body, such as cannons. Also fine. Then he eats two of his subordinates and "fuses" them into a single entity, as they walk out of a door in his stomach. But it's not clear whether they actually fused into a single unholy being like a goddamn Potara earring, or if Sanji is right when he says they're "just sitting on the other's shoulders." At the very least, their clothes are fused. Then, Wapol eats himself.
|This is some kinda body horror shit, jeez.|
And this is where I draw the line. How the hell you gonna eat yourself, at least Vanilla Ice was hiding in another dimension or something, and his stand isn't technically his own body. But in an extraordinary example of cartoon logic, Wapol is able to slim down by eating himself. Where's the excess mass going? Is he just condensing himself? If he has this power, why ever be a fat man? I realize I'm overthinking it, but it's just weird as hell, man.
|Love it when villains have a stupid reaction face when their plans fall flat. Eneru will take the cake later, but for now this is pretty good.|
Speaking of transformations, Chopper shows off his variable forms in this volume. It's a concept that I think goes a little under-developed, since he hardly ever uses Jump or Horn point, and post-timeskip seems to almost exclusively fight in Kung-Fu point. Mainly, he just abuses the ability to turn into his tiny Brain point to get out of traps, and tries to make the most of his 3-minute time limit to win with an Arm point finisher. And that part, the time limit and consequences of going over it, are explored quite well at least.
|okay this move I just never got. I don't really understand which way he's winding up|
|or how this launches Wapol. Is he hitting him with his head, or throwing him? Why isn't he spanking him repeatedly as he spins? No wonder this move was never used again.|
After a largely gag-based fight, with the only real drama coming from whether Wapol would shoot down Hiriluk's flag or not, the people of Drum Kingdom are free at last. Dalton oddly shows up with an explosive belt ready to kamikaze, after the fight was essentially decided, which seems pointless. But then we once again get the familiar scene of Kureha acting cruel towards Chopper, in order to get his ass out the door quick. Oh, but don't worry, Chopper later learns that she packed his bags in the sled, so he knows her true intentions anyway! It keeps happening.
|Remember, Chopper is a blue-nosed reindeer, who was made fun of by all the other reindeer. And I know the cables to the top of the mountain were established precisely so this shot could happen.|
But finally, we get to the real payoff of the arc - Hiriluk's "cure", which turns out to be a powder you shoot into the sky to turn the snow pink. It sounds kinda lame, compared to literally making cherry blossoms appear, but when you think about it, do we have anything like this? That you can just use to turn the snow a different color while it's still in the clouds? Not really! And in the end, what Hiriluk wanted to heal was his country's heart. The cherry blossoms would go on to become a symbol of the nation, so I'd say he succeeded.
Oh, during the post-Arlong Park party, I noticed Yosaku doing that silly chopsticks-in-nose, basket-waving dance that has become a staple of One Piece parties. I though it was just something culturally universal to the OP world, but it's fun to see confirmation that he was the one who taught them the dance, and Luffy brings it with him wherever he goes. Apparently it's based on the dojo-sukui, an actual Japanese comedic folk dance. Well, not the chopsticks part. Because that would be impossibly painful in real life.
|I wonder if Oda just forgot about Karoo this arc, and had to make up a reason why he was absent. I don't care about Karoo anyway.|
Finally, the crew moves on towards Alabasta itself, for the final act of this saga. Mr. 2 makes his first appearance, as does Sir Crocodile. I'm really excited, personally. If Arlong Park set the template for future arcs, Alabasta codified it. It's such a solid piece of shonen manga, complete with adventure, emotion, humor, and action. The same could be said of One Piece in general, but Alabasta really is one of the best arcs.
|Crocodile is a strong contender for favorite villain in all of manga.|
And you know what? Drum Island was pretty good, too! The action is kinda lame, but I'd forgotten how many iconic pages there are, and how damn good Chopper's backstory was. Hopefully this re-read will improve my opinion of other not-so-favorite arcs!
|The very picture of resilience. Luffy's will, Hiriluk's dream, both are unbreakable. The flag is just a symbol, but an important one. The value Luffy places in flags will make his future order to shoot down the WG flag even more significant.|