Five volumes read, another 100 or so to go. I recognize now that this journey might take a while. Which is fine but I do worry I’ll reach a point where I don’t want to stop reading. I might have to read ahead and get back to the volumes up for discussion each week. I can live with that. But for now, let’s dive into volume five, which covers the rest of Usopp’s arc and has us delving into Baratie headfirst. Let’s get to it.
But first, I’ll have to mention something I forgot to talk about in the last volume. Chapter 35, the final chapter of volume 4, sees the first instance of a cover page that’s relevant to the story. Including the page from volume 4, we see a total of seven pages of Buggy’s adventure after he was defeated by Luffy. It tells us that Buggy is still alive and kicking and his crew members are actively looking for him. Good for Buggy!
Zoro and Usopp chase after the kids and Django but not before Zoro does away with Butchie. Once his patience runs out he’s a very scary man. After this, we get a nice flashback of when Kuro set his plan into motion. He hypnotized a marine and one of his crew to make them both think that they’ve captured Captain Kuro. That’s when the crew disbands and Kuro leaves to become a butler for Kaya’s family. Point of note, the marine that they hypnotize is Axe Hand Morgan, the villain from the arc where we met Zoro. I don’t think I properly caught this in previous times reading, so that’s interesting to note. I went back to check how the anime covered this. In the anime, Morgan’s jaw is still completely normal, so it’s easier to miss. In the manga it’s very clear that Kuro destroyed the jaw of Morgan.
Once all the trickery is gone, the remaining fights go rather easily. There’s two big things I love to take away from this arc and I’ll share them with you all.
1. This is obviously the arc where the crew gets their ship, the Going Merry (Merry Go). This is a gift from Kaya and will serve them well in their travels.
2. Usopp, for as much of a coward and a liar he can be at times, always had the makings of a brave warrior of the sea. It’s easy to miss, especially when in the anime he gets turned into a joke more often than not, how good of a person Usopp really is. His goal is to be a pirate. His friends’ goals are very different but he doesn’t hesitate for a second to tell them to chase their own goals with all their heart. He cares more about the villagers’ peace of mind than vindication for his actions. He’s selfless and brave from day one, and that’s what makes him such a good character. He’s brave and a coward all at the same time. People are complicated like that and Usopp is a fantastic display of this duality. And with a new member aboard, the crew sets off towards their next adventure.
After the crew leaves for their next destination they’re quickly joined by Johnny and Yosaku, two bounty hunters that Zoro knows. With Yosaku being unwell from scurvy, the crew helps him back on his feet while lamenting the fact that they should really go and find a cook. This is where we’re introduced to the floating restaurant; Baratie. Here we get an introduction to Captain Zedd, the Baratie cooks and most importantly, Sanji. I’ve been learning Japanese on Duolingo lately, just so I can have a good grasp of the basics if I even pursue learning the language seriously. I didn’t realize that San Ji is three o’clock. I thought it was just three with a suffix. The more you know.
Baratie is the first arc where I feel like the stakes get upped. We meet some interesting pirates during this upcoming arc and it leads into my favorite arc, Arlong Park, right after. Speaking of which, did anyone spot the cameo where we already saw a very quick glimpse of Arlong? I’ll leave you to find it if you haven’t. But that’s been volume 5, I’m excited to dive into the next volume. I will say that a lot of the early arcs are better than I remember. Maybe it’s because the pacing is much faster in the manga, so it doesn’t feel slow, but I enjoyed Usopp’s arc quite a bit and even found myself getting a bit emotional when he disbanded his crew. As always, thanks for reading!