Monday, September 11, 2017

One Piece Revisited vol. 18 - Ace Arrives

It always looked to me like that bottom panel is cutting off Ace's shorts. 

We're introduced to Luffy's brother Ace in this volume, who will go on to be a pivotal character in the series. I have mixed opinions on him later, but he's very cool this first meeting.

well, aside from falling asleep while eating.

Oh, we may as well talk about the elephant in the room - Ace's tattoo. As the editor's note says, it's a manji, not a swastika. However, in future appearances, Oda changed the design to a simple cross, to avoid pointless controversy. While I don't believe in artistic censorship, I do think that it's an artist's duty to know how their work will appear, and it's a damn shame but the Nazis ruined that symbol for everybody. You can't expect to use it and not have an international audience go "hey is that a swastika". Since it has no deeper meaning here, Oda just thought it would be cool, there's no harm in using an alternate design.

I'm just gonna say it, Nami and Vivi really make those belly dancer outfits work.

There's also a little sadness in realizing that this is the last time Luffy will talk to his brother in peaceful circumstances. One Piece dodges the cliche of having a Fateful Duel later (a la Naruto), but instead they'll be reunited just in time for Ace to die in Luffy's arms. In a way, it's even crueler - we never get to see Luffy "surpass" Ace, because that chance is ripped away from them. That sort of swerve from a seemingly obvious and anticipated plot point is a sort of meta heel move.

I like how hot it looks

Vivi also has a flashback, where we learn how cool a guy her dad is, and the origins of her friend Koza (now the revolutionary leader). I don't think it's a coincidence that we have an arc about toppling a corrupt king, and an arc about preserving a righteous king's rule, back to back. As I noted before, Oda isn't really a big proponent of democracy. He sees no hypocrisy in the concept of monarchy, as long as the ruler is and enlightened one.

And King Cobra is certainly enlightened.

But what's kinda funny is that aside from the King and his daughter, everyone else is still in that subservient feudal mindset. Koza's dad is tripping over himself to apologize for his rude little boy, and Igaram drops his spaghetti similarly when the King doesn't do things by protocol. Makes me wonder how King Kobra ever got to be like this, if apparently his entire environment is operating as if he's an unquestionable, infallible tyrant. I would assume they're still a remnant of his father, who must have been a traditional king? Not necessarily a bad one, but one that expected absolute respect from his people and stuff. It's not a plot hole or anything, just odd to think about.

Mr. 2 has the best expressions. Also, I like the idea that he's on board with Baroque works schemes not because he's a bad guy, he's just amoral and thinks its fun. This is why he's able to express such noble sentiments otherwise, because he's not rotten to the core.

So there's part in this volume that never really sat right with me. It feels out-of-character for Luffy, pointlessly mean towards Vivi, and a weird sort of moral.

Luffy, I know you're stubborn and childish, but why on earth would you open what is essentially a "we should change courses" discussion with "I quit"

I can believe Luffy thinking that just talking things out is boring, but his actual argument here isn't that it's boring. So why even say it?

This is all true, but isn't the goal to avoid the bloodshed? Just get the rebels to wait literally a week, and defeat Crocodile during that window.

Extremely out-of-character. Luffy is the sort who believes he can save everyone. And if they'd gone to Katorea from the start, then most likely Vivi could have indeed delayed the rebellion and they'd saved those lives

Yes, she's risking her own life. That's what she's willing to do, because she values the lives of her countrymen more? This is your M.O., Luffy. Why are you having an issue here


you could've resolved this in a much less controversial way

See, aside from it coming as a very weird "insightful and logical, telling the hard truths without letting emotion get in the way" speech from Luffy (which is more Zoro's bag), I just don't like the message. Yes, in the contrived specific situation they're in, thanks to circumstances Luffy isn't aware of, they're making the best decision and it will work out. But it's such a weird thing to say "ignore the underlying causes of resentment and trying to use discourse to prevent violence, let's just take out the ONE bad guy, surely all his schemes will just cease to have effects after that!". Like, wasn't that the whole point of Wonder Woman? (until the super-secret final badguy ruined that)

And then it's weird to spin this as some sort of thing where Vivi is risking her own life, and that's bad? Or that she's trying to shoulder the burden alone? Pretty sure she's been relying on you all from the start, and will continue to need you in order to get to Katorea or wherever in time. I don't know, it's just strange to watch the other Straw Hats basically go "yes, this is wisdom" when Luffy is being a rude asshole for no reason and coming up with an alternative plan that still barely works.

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This is a very good desert punk aesthetic. I especially like Zoro wearing a cap, and the idea of football gear as post-apocalyptic armor.

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