By Eiichiro Oda. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz.
Given that this is one of those One Piece volumes where the whole thing is one giant melee fight, I think it's time to return to the bulleted list of observations.
- Just as Garp revealed Luffy's parentage and then reminded himself it's a secret, so Luffy here shows he already knew the identity of Ace's dad, and just hadn't said anything. Naturally, he's the only one to treat it so casually.
- Ace's flashback is awesome, only serving to show us the bond that the Whitebeard pirates have with each other. I was reminded of the anime Straw Hat Pirates song 'Family!', which applies just as well here. Also, Ace fought Jinbei for 5 days? Badass.
- The second chapter of the volume manages to introduce so many new characters that it can be confusing (likely deliberately so on Oda's part, who's just throwing in various badasses to remind you that it's not just the Straw Hats who get all the cool shit). Marco is the only one you need to remember.
- So sad to see Oars, Jr. here, but if you're going to go out, what a way to go. The flashback scenes with Ace just made it all the more poignant. Also, Oars, Jr. reminds you how much Oda loves to connect every tiny detail in One Piece to every other tiny little detail.
- While we've had Aokiji (somewhat goofy yet apparently conflicted about duty deep down) and Kizaru (mostly goofy, and less conflicted), Akainu is not goofy at all, and merely terrifying. His first few scenes here, and the use of his magma powers, showcase his badassery. The scene where he slaughters a Marine Captain trying to run away, who notes he has a family, showcases his evil. This man is one of the biggest villains in One Piece, Marine or no, and we'll be coming back to him soon.
- Donflamingo may be an insane lunatic, but he does get the best and most accurate monologue in the volume. History is indeed written by the winners.
- The entrance of Luffy & company to the battle, on the other hand, was pure fun.
- I love the cast reactions to seeing Luffy, scattered over three pages, and taking in even the minor characters like Jango and Tashigi. Naturally, it ends with Akainu, merely seeing Luffy as a new thing to kill.
- And Luffy and Whitebeard meeting is everything I hoped for - it's wonderful to see then standing side by side to save Ace.
- So Luffy's parentage is no longer secret. Well, given Garp's big mouth, it may not have been as secret as folks thought. But now the whole world knows.
- Buggy being manipulated by Whitebeard = priceless, but not as priceless as Buggy vs. Mihawk. I'll say it again, when he's not actually THINKING, but merely reacting, Buggy can be as badass as anyone. The running gag of his crew's reaction gets better with each new confrontation. Also I love his manipulation of the media there at the end. He'd make a great politician.
- Likewise, I was highly amused by Hancock vs. Smoker, where we see her show some real rage. As well as, of course, her undying love for Luffy. Poor Hancock, that's going nowhere fast...
- Luffy is not merely running on pure instinct here, which is good. I loved the bit where we think we see him launch an attack against Mihawk, then realize as he gets his hand chopped off that it was just Luffy thinking in his head.
- The fate of Kuma is both sad and somewhat horrific, even if we don't quite know all the details yet.
- And then there's that cliffhanger, as Whitebeard is betrayed. I can't believe we have to wait for October to resolve this. (Yes, having 'caught up', Viz is now falling behind again, with 3 volumes a year to Japan's four.)
To sum up, it's a great volume of One Piece, showing the battle to save Ace is one that will change the fate of the entire series. You should be reading this.