|One Piece volume 50 review||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
If you were to tell me two years ago that at this time I would have in my hands a copy of the Viz release of the fiftieth One Piece volume, I would laugh then crawl into a corner and cry for a few hours. For quite some time Viz, the manga publisher behind Shonen Jump properties like One Piece, has been rather cruel to the One Piece fans by only releasing about three volumes a year even when it was dozens up dozens of volumes behind. But thanks to fan demand and possibly the success of FUNimation's rescue of the anime localization from 4Kids, Viz decided to released 5 volumes per month leaving the gap between the U.S. and Japan releases now wholly acceptable for fans. It only seems appropriate that the landmark 50th volume would be released in the final month of the five-volume releases so all us American fans can celebrate with such a fantastic volume of One Piece.
Volume 50 is also noteworthy for being the moment when the Straw Hats finally reach the half-way point of their Grand Line adventure. After surviving one very eventful night at Thriller Bark, Luffy's crew leaves with a new crewmate and some startling news about a friend before heading to their destination of Fish-Man island.
There are truly more noteworthy events that happen in this volume than the entire Thriller Bark arc in volumes 46-49 combined. As Brook now turns from acquaintance to full-on member of the Straw Hats, we are treating to a backstory that is par for the course for all the Straw Hat crew of being both very compelling and tragic in its own way. I wasn't sure when reading the Thriller Bark arc if I'd be okay with Brook being a staple character with his one-note jokes and odd-even-for-a-Straw-Hat personality, but his backstory showed a side of him that he was just as dedicated to his friends as his love for music. By the time he asked Luffy to be a crewmate with such calm cadence, all worries have already vanished. Welcome aboard Brook.
This volume also contains one of the single-greatest chapters in One Piece in chapter 485. Hands down, you'd be hard-pressed to find a moment in pretty much all storytelling that has such emotional power behind friendship than what Zoro does here as a crewmate and a friend to Luffy. It's a chapter with such fine pacing and just raw emotion even in Oda's artwork, how you consider yourself a One Piece fan if you don't own the volume with such definite proof of how great One Piece can be?
It helps that Viz has also at this point been actually very good with the localization of One Piece. All the female cleavage is no longer buttoned up, all the perverted talk isn't with kid-friendly rewrites, and all the blood that makes both Brook's backstory and Zoro's moment to shine powerful, is kept in tact. Granted, Viz still wants its manga to be actually accessible to an American audience, so all the translated SPX like the many "DOOM!"s is very noticeable, but if you've been a frequent buyer of Viz manga you know what to expect. Sadly there are still wounds from the 4Kids era where the Marines are still called the Navy and Zoro is still called Zolo, but otherwise all the manga volumes Viz released this year are like a love letter to the patient One Piece fans. They still don't want to have the kanji on top of the title, but having the name of story arc to replace the goofy plain English text of One Piece in previous years of release is a nice way to compromise. In other words, if you didn't buy the One Piece manga before for all the unacceptable edits, then this years releases are like a finely tuned second chance Viz is providing.
But you should buy pretty much as of the many volumes released over these last six months as you can. Not just because of Viz's more acceptable localization, but also because reading One Piece is such an uncomparable fun time to be had. Just make you sure you buy the 50th volume that is not only a noteworthy event for the Staw Hats adventure, but has many great moments to make it worth being in such a monumental manga release.