One Piece – Volume 20

This series is called One Piece Wednesday and today is Thursday. What this means is that someone – not going to name any names – forgot to upload this post yesterday. So instead you’re getting it a day late. But it’s still just as good, so enjoy!

I’ve not talked too much about the volume covers whenever I talk about this manga. Sometimes they just have cool artwork representative of the characters in that specific volume, but I quite like the cover for volume 20. It shows the five main groups – rebels, marines, army, Crocodile & Luffy – converging in one point with some mysterious looking pattern (and Carue) in the center. Below each character is an arrow and we’ve seen a lot of arrows on maps in the previous volume while people were planning out where to go. There’s also a map in the background but none of it seems legible to me, so I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a map of the kingdom of Arabasta or just something to fill up the page. Moving on.

We immediately kicked off where we left the last volume. The start of Luffy’s first confrontation with one of the seven warlords of the sea. Crocodile quickly proves to be a formidable opponent as his sand powers allow him to turn into sand and thus avoiding any attacks Luffy throws his way with ease. At this point in the manga it seems that these Logia fruits are the most dangerous. They’re also supposedly the rarest and anyone who is fighting against small-time pirates with a fruit like this will dominate the fight. That’s exactly what happens here and Luffy is dealt a defeat at the hands of Sir Crocodile. The latter then leaves the battlefield, leaving Luffy to die in the desert as a sandstorm is headed towards the old man’s village.

Here we get the moments before battle and this part of the story was super interesting to me the first time around. Even after all these years it’s still great to see everyone’s motives and machinations clash like this. The most interesting person still, to me at least, has to be Nico Robin. We learn more about her as this manga goes on, but she brings up the letter D in Luffy’s name here. We get a few reveals about her. For starters, she didn’t actually kill Igaram or Pell. There’s no doubt in my mind that these men would both be dead if Robin decided to actually kill them. She also saves Luffy from certain death and even sets him up for a second shot at all of this by leading Pell to him. Nico Robin probably isn’t a good person, but just because you’re a bad guy, doesn’t mean you’re a bad guy. (or girl, in this case.) 

The crew plans ahead and although none of them are particularly smart – save for maybe Nami on a good day – their plan works really well. THey split up into four groups, three of which try to attract the different members of Baroque Works. Vivi is the fourth group that separates earlier and heads straight to stop the rebel forces. But at the last second one of the Baroque Works members shoots a cannonball at her, making it impossible for the rebels to see her and she misses Koza by mere seconds. The armies clash. Smoker has left under the pretense that something important came up, leaving the decision on what to do to Tashigi who picks wrong. Things are looking really dire as our crew squares up against Baroque Works and to make things even worse, Mr 2. Pretends to be Usopp and confronts Vivi. She sees through his ruse as he shows her the bandage and something about it sets her off. I wonder what that is. (He writes as he damn well knows what it is).

Man, I forget how cool Sanji used to be. His womanizer persona used to be backed up by a sense of style that felt real. Nowadays he feels more like a joke character. Without going too deep into spoiler territory, a lot of his recent fights in the anime felt very forced to me. Perhaps I’m just getting old and jaded, but I feel like a lot of characters lost their edge after the timeskip. The story is headed towards a conclusion in the manga, and I’m curious what that will look like, but for the first time in the almost fifteen years of consuming this story I’m no longer completely confident that I’ll like the ending.

The fight against Mr. 4 and Miss Merry Christmas has always been a memorable one. It’s where Usopp finally got his moment to shine. He gets more of those as the manga continues, which is great because he’s such a great character, but this was the first time where readers of One Piece realized that just because someone is a coward doesn’t mean they’re not strong. You can be terrified of your situation and want to run away at all costs, but still stand and fight because your friends are being insulted. It’s also one of those great moments that highlights the crew’s unshakable faith in Luffy’s ambitions. They all believe that Luffy will be the Pirate King one day.

Before I leave you all again and wait another week to read more One Piece, I want to quickly highlight the cover story that we start in this volume. We only get a small amount of it, but we see Hachi – the octopus fishman from Arlong Park – escape from a marine vessel and start making his way across the ocean floor. I wonder where he’s headed and if we’ll see him again. I feel like  the people who just watch the anime sometimes miss out on these side stories. I didn’t even know they existed when I first watched the anime. Have I talked about this before? I probably have, I’m tired. Ignore my rambling and let’s move on.
As always, I had a blast reading this and I love talking about these volumes each week. It makes me more critical of what I’m reading and allows me to really take in all the little details I find. So if you enjoy reading these posts, please make sure to leave a like or a comment and thanks for reading!

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