We’ve made it to Volume 12, the first volume that says “Baroque Works” on the spine. Some quick math on my end reveals that this means we are a quarter into the year already. Can you believe that? As I’m writing this I’m not feeling great. I’m on the fence about going to work tomorrow, but I also don’t like calling in sick too often because my health is often poor. But for the next thirty minutes I’m not going to worry about that and instead focus on reading this volume. Read till the end for my thoughts on the East Blue saga as a whole, but first, let’s go through Volume 12 of One Piece.
First little note that I have is how the English manga calls the net that Smoker uses to capture Buggy and Alvida a “Prison bullet.” I’m assuming this might be a mistranslation from the material called Sea prism stone, that’s prevalent later in the story. I believe this is the first mention of it though, so Oda might not have worked it out fully at this point. It’s also cool to see Chapter 100 in a spread at the start of this volume. Calling it a beginning at the time feels like arrogance, but calling it a beginning more than two decades after it came out feels earned.
And now: The Grand Line. I’ve always thought the explanation for the different seas and the way they work was a very interesting and clever way to make your story reasonably charted out. You can put any island in your way and just chart a route in a more or less straight line if you have a clear destination. If you’re just sailing the open seas, why wouldn’t you go directly to the end? This way you need to be one of the top dogs that are either crazy powerful or have superior technology to do something like that. Anyone just aiming to become king of the pirates would have to earn a spot at that table. And to do that, you need to cross the Grand Line.
Here’s a small spoiler coming up, nothing major though, so feel free to skip this paragraph if you’re really invested. We know now what happened to the crew that left Laboon with Crocus here. It’s not quite what the old doctor claims here, so I wonder how far Oda had developed this story. Perhaps he had an inkling it might happen. Crocus could just be misinformed, for example. We also got our first meeting of Miss Wednesday and the Baroque Works organization. Both will be vital for the coming saga, but for now they’re just a mysterious story we’ll have to learn more about later. We also get our first mention of “Raftel”. It’ll become clear why that’s in quotation marks in a few years when we get to that point, but for now let’s leave it at that. With a new promise made to Laboon and a log pose to guide their way, our crew makes its way to their next destination: Whiskey Peak.
We get a nice introduction of Whiskey Peak, which is a Baroque Works stronghold where the bounty hunters trick pirates into getting drunk and then take their heads. The cacti on the island are actually filled with gravestones of those who they have killed over the years. Not going to lie, that’s pretty metal. After everyone falls asleep, Zoro confronts the bounty hunters and kind of shows them why he declined to join them in the first place. He’s a step above anyone in their lower ranks. We don’t yet know about the named ones though. Besides Miss Monday, we’ve not seen any of them in real action. And in the middle of that fight, we leave this volume behind us.
I remember thinking this volume was slower back in the day but that could be due to me consuming it in anime form. I made it through all of this in about thirty, forty minutes, and I’m pretty sure it’d be a few hours when animated. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this volume. We got more Koby and Helmeppo for the cover pages by the way. Not much happens in their story, but Garp wakes up and Axe Hand Morgan seems to get away while Koby and Helmeppo apologize to Garp.
Thoughts on the East Blue Saga
Before I leave you all, I want to quickly give some of my thoughts on the East Blue Saga. For what is basically a prologue to a much bigger tale I think it does its job wonderfully. We get an introduction to the abilities in this world, the power structure and we even learn about some antagonists that will be returning throughout the story. Smoker is now at the front of the story, and spoiler alert, we’ll be seeing more of him. Modern day One Piece feels much less black and white when it comes to the morality of the different factions. Lately I’ve been struggling to predict where the story is going to head even though for the longest time I felt like I had a pretty good idea of the general story. East Blue is a pleasant opening to all of this. The stakes are low and the villains are pretty one note, with perhaps Arlong being the exception. From here on out the brakes aren’t just off though, they’re permanently disabled. We’ll be seeing the story move at a rapid pace and never look back. Please join me next week as we finish up Whiskey Peak and if memory serves me right, move on to one of my least favorite islands in the story. Thanks for reading.