One Piece Volume 18

“I’ve never met Mr. 1 or Mr. 2. I only know Mr. 2 talks like a girl, wears make-up and has a coat that says Okama Way on the back.” Vivi being surprised that the person they just saw who talked like a girl, wore make-up and had a coat that said Okama Way on the back was actually Mr. 2 Bon Kurei. Bon Kurei’s power is going to be important, as we’ve already seen them flash an important face he copied at some point. But after a quick introduction Mr. 2 leaves with their crew again. 

Chapter 157: Ace arrives.
Oh man, he’s finally here, isn’t he. Everyone’s favorite hot guy. (Get it?). Early Arabasta is such a joy because of how whacky it feels. It’s like a filler almost, except none of it is boring and all of it is important to the story. Speaking of whacky, this is also a great moment to appreciate Oda’s attention to detail. When the crew is talking about the patches they’re putting on to counter Mr. 2’s power, you can see the part of the ship that Wapol ate has been shoddily repaired. Far too often do these kinds of details just slip by, but Oda is very consistent from what I’ve seen so far.
Here we have the early design of Ace’s tattoo, which still features the buddhist icon that looks unfortunately similar to the swastika. The editor’s note even points it out. I believe this gets changed later due to its similarity, which is unfortunate, but I don’t think anyone here in Europe will see that symbol and not instinctively think of WWII, even if you’re familiar with the difference.
Either way, we find Ace in the middle of town, asleep in his food, with Smoker and Tashigi right around the corner. This is about to be good.

Was I wrong? Ace is cool as hell. He evades both the navy and Baroque Works without issue. We learn that he’s chasing Blackbeard, who we know to be the guy that messed with Wapol in Drum Island. He’s one of Ace’s underlings, and he betrayed the Whitebeard pirates for some reason. Ace will continue his chase while Luffy and them will continue towards the oasis where Vivi will try and convince the rebels to stop fighting the King and turn on Crocodile instead. Smoker is also distrusting the shichibukai. As the crew continues, our eyes are brought elsewhere. There’s a cafe where the remaining high-ranking members of Baroque works are gathering. 

Hello Miss Doublefinger. Is it hot in here, or is that just me? It’s kind of crazy that even these highly numbered agents don’t know the identity of their leader with the plan this close to being completed. If you run an organization like this, I worry your people will end up disagreeing with you when they find out your motives. Speaking of the plan, it turns out that Crocodile has been tricking the country into thinking that Cobra (the king) has been using strange powder to steal all the rain for his own city. So that’s why there’s a rebellion and the country is living through a terrible drought. What was that? Resource deprivation used as a political tool? Ignore those bad thoughts, watch these kung fu creatures instead, there’s nothing political going on here. 

“A ruler must sometimes make unpleasant decisions. I wonder if Princess Vivi’s heart is too soft.”
“Igaram, that is good. It’s good for Arabasta.”
Cobra’s idea of leading a country is one where the ruling class works for the people, not the other way around. In this flashback he also talks about cutting their pay so they can make sure the people get what they need. With Arabasta, Oda gives us an insight into how he thinks a country should be run, as opposed to how we’ll often see them be run in actuality throughout this series.

We end the volume with Crocodile’s plan (mostly) uncovered. They’re going to make the rebels fight the royal troops and steal something in the meantime. Each agent has their personal mission and it’s time to get ready. Meanwhile Luffy and gang are closing in on the oasis where they’ll hopefully meet with the rebels. This volume does a great job of setting the stage. Every entity is known and we’re going towards a confrontation. I still remember this arc really well from the first time I ever watched it. The stakes got so high compared to earlier arcs that it blew my mind. Reading it again it feels very simple compared to some of the later arcs, it’s almost straightforward.  Also, poor Mr. 3. He gets fed to crocodiles here just because he messed up once. It should send a pretty clear message to the other agents that they’re not exactly valued. Especially someone like Mr. 2 should be suspicious after this. Mr. 2 has already been shown to get angry about their men being attacked by Mr. 1, so he’s clearly not a heartless person like many of the others here seem to be. With this all out of the way, I’m excited for the next volume where the pace will likely ramp up again. As always, I hope you enjoyed this post and thanks for reading.

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