Luffy has hit a roadblock to the Flower Field just as Viola has discovered where Princess Mansherry, Sugar is awake and out for deadly vengeance, and Rebecca is left to face her mother's murderer alone.
Can you believe that ONE PIECE is celebrating seventeen years in serialization? That's to be applauded. This series has been running longer than NARUTO or BLEACH, but those two are winding down to their respective finales. ONE PIECE keeps going on strong as the highest grossing manga series in history. It was also a couple years ago that I read the results of a poll that shows Oda's series has a female readership that is well over 50%.
I wonder if that has more to do with how he treats the female cast in the story. Sure, this is hardly perfect, but the women hold a variety of positions that far expand past the cliche damsel in distress we see in so many other manga. Let's take this chapter as an example. While we do have a princess held prisoner in the castle, there's Robin fighting an Doflamingo Family officer, Viola gathering valuable information, Sugar wants revenge for her humiliation and sudden phobia of all things phallic, then Rebecca is standing alone against her mother's killer.
I'm having a really hard to deciding which grudge match I want to see more of first. Usopp versus Sugar has some astounding potential for hilarity, but there's also the gravity of Rebecca against Diamante. Rebecca has gone her entire gladiatorial career winning while never really hurting anyone. How will she handle fighting someone she has just cause for giving a lot of hurt? I just hope this one doesn't turn into someone coming to her rescue.
It's pretty much become the strength of the writing and strategic use of comedy that keeps the story a fun read even when it's pretty much running in circles. Oda's building some legitimately interesting tension with the match-ups that are developing. I'm just getting tired of the samplers. It's time to dig into the meat of one or more battle.
The pace of the story has come to a crawl in this arc, but I also can't deny that I'm enjoying myself on some level. Perhaps that has more to do with the scale of the story Oda has created this time. It's been quite a while since he's had such a massive cast filling one arc, and half the Straw Hats are off the island at the moment. I almost start to wonder if they'll arrive before the battles end. It's a good chapter that sets up a lot of great potential in the coming weeks.
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