One Piece 48Posted: May 5, 2010
Eiichiro Oda – Viz – 2010 – 57+ volumes
This is the last volume until the next set of five. It kills me a little bit to have to wait until the end of Thriller Bark, but on the other hand, if I had all of that story at once, would I even need any more volumes after that?
It really is that good. After the battles of pure strength that were fought against CP9, Thriller Bark turns to more character-oriented battles, and they are really, really entertaining. Aside from Brook, my favorite part of the entire Thriller Bark story is Usopp’s battle with Perona in this volume. Usopp will never, ever have a better battle than this. It is, for sure, his finest moment. That this trumps even his scene on Enies Lobby where he was the only one that could help save Robin says something about this fight. It really is spectacular.
So, Perona’s power is that she can generate ghosts that can suck all the positive feelings from a person and make them lose their will to fight. And live, for that matter. It’s a crippling handicap, because all she needs to do is hit each member of the Straw Hat crew with one of these ghosts, and a weak zombie can carry off even the strongest member of the crew.
But Usopp is more than a match for her. Usopp… Usopp has no positive feelings. The ghosts don’t affect his will to fight, because he’s already such a negative person. Thus, Usopp is the only one that can keep Perona and her ghosts at bay so that the others can fight the more terrifying inhabitants of Thriller Bark. I love the two-page spread when this is unveiled, because not only is he 100% confident in his negativity, Perona gets to make a really weird face, and the zombies feel so bad that they try and cheer him up. And this is just the beginning of the fight! Usopp gets to use all the tricks in his arsenal to go up against Perona. This fight uses absolutely everything good about Usopp. It really is awesome. Better, even, than the swordfight Zoro has with Samurai Ryuma later, which is so unremarkable that it only lasts for about a chapter.
Another good fight is with Sanji and Absalom. Sanji is angry because Absalom is trying to marry Nami, but he also has a personal grudge. Absalom and Sanji are made from the same mold. Not only are both comically obsessed with Nami, but both covet the power of Absalom’s clear-clear fruit, and both would (or do) use it for the same purpose. The two do fight in the sense that they exchange blows, but it’s really all about those zombies that are watching and boggling over what hardcore perverts both of the men are. The fight is periodically interrupted by the same gaping zombie face commenting on this. It’s great.
What else… hm, I think Oars is running around the island? Oars is Luffy’s zombie, and he’s enormous and very powerful. He has little interest in becoming anything but the King of Pirates, though. With Oars not an immediate threat, Luffy confronts Gecko Moria, who has no interest in fighting. Their conversation is more interesting than their fight, and I like the fact that Luffy can walk up and talk to anyone he pleases and have an actual conversation, including one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea.
There’s also a fight with Hogback and Chopper. Chopper talks a lot about what makes a good doctor and why Hogback has failed, and I think this would be a pretty fantastic fight in any other context since Chopper rarely gets to act so cool, but it doesn’t quite compare to the Sanji and Usopp battles.
I am a little disappointed that only long-established members of the crew get special battles to highlight their characters. Franky gets to hold Brook’s head as the two of them watch Zoro fight, and Robin only gets to help Chopper. To be fair, Nami doesn’t get one either, but she is the subject of one of the fights, too. Both Franky and Robin are doing pretty spectacular things to help the crew whenever possible, but even so, it would have been a good opportunity. Some other time.