Alright, we’ve made our way to volume 4. It’s going to be February by the time I’m posting this, can you believe how fast time flies. I still remember deciding on this idea for 2023 and beginning to read the volumes like it was yesterday. It’s a good way to get my fill of One Piece because the pacing in the anime seems to be getting worse and worse to the point where I’m just bored when watching it. But the same can’t be said for the manga. Even though I think Usopp’s introduction arc is one of the least interesting arcs in the story, it’s not bad. It had all the building blocks of a good arc and I love Usopp’s backstory. It’s just that Kuro doesn’t feel like he belongs in the One Piece universe. Spoiler alert, when this arc is over we never see him again. I don’t even believe he’s mentioned again. He’s probably the only villain of the Romance Dawn arc that we’ll never hear about again. Well then, time to dive into this volume then.
Like we talked about before, Usopp is a mix of Pinochio and the boy who cried wolf. The village no longer believes his calls about pirates arriving when it actually happens and they’re really in danger. So Usopp teams up with the Straw Hat crew to deal with the problem himself. Merry almost gets killed by Kuro, but manages to squeak by. This is going to be a running theme throughout One Piece, characters that should, by all accounts, be dead but aren’t. It’s one of the biggest criticisms people have of the story and I can’t really argue against it. Having said that, here it’s not a big deal at all. Let’s move on to the meat of the story
The Black Cat pirates consist of Captain Kuro, Django, the Meowban brothers and the unnamed underlings. Kuro fights with claws and high speed, Django is a hypnotist and the Meowban brothers are tricksters. Outside of Kuro and Django, no one on the crew is really noteworthy and even Django, outside of his unique talents, is pretty lackluster. Unfortunately, Usopp and friends are waiting on the wrong side of the island. Luckily, everyone on the straw hat crew is highly intelligent and definitely not directionally challenged. Nami and Usopp manage to stall the Black Cat pirates enough for Luffy and Zoro to show up, so there’s that.
I’ve talked here about unfortunate or bad translations before, but pussyfood maneuvers? Come on, I can’t think of a less cool name for a mobility attack. Name it a catlike agility or something like that. I really feel like early translations weren’t given to very experienced translation agencies. Having said that, you have to start somewhere and seeing how far we’ve come it’s forgivable.
The story is now reaching the climax of this arc. Luffy is squaring up against Captain Kuro, Zoro is dealing with the remaining half of the Meowban brothers and the kids are going to help save Kaya from Django. Even though it didn’t end up working out, I have to respect the kids for just hammering their pots and pans into Kuro’s face in an attempt to stop him from getting back up. Imagine if that just worked and they did knock him out, that’d be really funny. But alas, we have to wait another few chapters for that to happen.
The good aspects of this arc are still good. Usopp’s story, his bravery knowing he’s a coward at heart, and the early signs of the crew’s famed teamwork. Or should I say infamous. Django is a fun villain and the plot is interesting to an extent although I’m not too interested in it. If only Kuro wasn’t such an unlikable villain this arc would be pretty good. He’s just an asshole for no good reason most of the time. He threatens his own crew for no reason and is just generally mean. His motivations are just pure greed and disdain for others. That’s fine for motivation but it is the most basic boring villain motivation there is. At least Buggy wanted to just have a good time with his crew and party. But I’ve been rambling for long enough now. I’m going back to catching up on this season’s anime, since I’m perpetually behind. Let me know if you enjoyed this fourth Volume of One Piece and I hope to see you here again next week for the next volume. Thanks for reading.