My staff and I often go to a very noisy Japanese restaurant where a lot of people take their children. There are TVs at each table. If you go there on Sunday nights at 7:30, you’ll see the children staring at the TV screens with their mouths wide open, looking silly.
They’re watching One Piece.
When I see that, I never want to let them down.
~ Eiichiro Oda, 2001
Every volume of One Piece starts off with a message from Oda, most of them are silly and sometimes even weird. But you also get these quotes that come straight from the heart. I can’t read stuff like this without tearing up, it’s so powerful. The reason we all create art is for people to be entertained. There’s no better feeling than someone else enjoying the art you create. Watching a country full of children enthralled by the story you’ve crafted has to be amazing for Oda.
So let’s dive into volume 17 then. We continue with the punch that ended volume 16. Wapol gets his world rocked here and is almost knocked off the platform. We get a bunch of fights with Wapol showing off his crazy powers. He can eat things and turn into them. He even turns into a house and upon consuming his two allies – Chess and Kuromarimo – he combines them into one person, Chessmarimo. Chessmarimo gets beat up pretty badly by Chopper who shows off the power of his Rumble balls. These are medicinal little orbs he’s developed to bring out much more power from his Zoan type devil fruit. Luffy then goes and beats up Wapol, freeing Drum and making it the kingdom without a name.
I love the scene where Luffy tries to convince Chopper to join the crew. It’s built up as some special moment where Luffy needs to find the right words to heal Chopper’s heart. He’s a broken soul after all that can’t just trust people. Instead of coming up with something deep, Luffy does what he always does:
Shut up and join us.
It’s simple yet perfect for the moment. Our lovely crew now has six members. It’s slowly turning into a real crew. But we’ll get a few more throughout the years, don’t you worry. Before we fully leave Drum Island behind us, we get a few more really important bits of lore. We learn that someone by the name of Ace is chasing the Blackbeard pirates but is also familiar with Luffy. He asks the people on Drum to let the pirate with a Straw Hat know that he’s looking for him, but they all forget and don’t get to tell Luffy. Fortunately, Luffy is headed for where Ace is currently at anyway so it should be fine. Or not fine? Is Ace an ally?
The second thing we hear is about the D. Not the tenacious D, but the will of D. We get a scene where Kureha talks about the pirate king Gol D. Roger. She’s corrected that it’s Gold Roger and she goes “is that what they call him nowadays” She actively lived through Roger’s hayday after all. She remarks that The will of D lives on after looking at Monkey D. Luffy’s poster. If this doesn’t start ringing all the alarm bells, I don’t know what will. The letter D is apparently very important, and I’m sure we’ll meet more individuals with this letter in their name, right?
Dr. Kureha finds the cannons she needs to complete Dr. Hiruluk’s life work. She shoots his red powder into the sky, creating the effect of a giant Sakura tree on the island of Drum. With that, the crew leaves the island and heads for Arabasta. On their way there, they discussed the structure of Baroque Works, showing us a nice little visual which included all the currently known agents. We also get a quick scene of Bon Kurei who tells us he lives his life the “oh come my way” style. Now, I’ll talk about this a little bit more indepth next time, but this is either a poor translation or it’s intended to be kept a bit vague earlier on in the story. Since I don’t read Japanese, I don’t know. What I can tell you is that it’s supposed to be the Okama Way. We’ll talk about that more in a future volume, since it’s not quite relevant yet. Mr. 2 Bon Kurei is the only agent that doesn’t have a partner though. And that’s how we lead into Alabasta.
To keep you up to date on Django, he’s been using the cover pages of each chapter to become friends with Fullbody (the guy that Sanji beat up in Baratie) without either of them knowing the other person’s occupation. We leave Django as he’s about to run away from the marines again, but his story will likely continue in volume 17. And there we have it. Volume 17 of One Piece. We’re about to enter the first really big arc. The series has obviously started going at full speed, but Arabasta is a behemoth of an arc that will reveal to us so much more about the world of One Piece than we currently know. I’m excited, are you excited? Either way, please join me next week for the next volume and until then, thanks for reading.