Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Noah is plummeting towards Fishman Island and Luffy seems to be losing his desperate bid to stop it when help comes from an unexpected source. Now with their names cleared, the Straw Hats are ready to continue their journey to the New Wo – did you say feast? Well, maybe they can stay on Fishman Island a little bit longer...
As cliffhanger resolutions go, One Piece's 66th volume doesn't do a terrific job. When we last saw Luffy, he was desperately trying to stop the giant ship Noah's plunge to the surface of Fishman Island, bleeding profusely, and his crew was struggling with the New Fishman Pirates and grossly outnumbered. All of that gets taken care of in the first chapter of volume sixty-six, however, and before twenty pages have passed, the crisis is over. On the one hand, yay! Everything has worked out just as we knew it would. On the other hand, however, it is hard not to feel a little let down that the grand finale we waited months for ends with more of a fizzle than a bang.
This volume's biggest claim to fame is really the truth about Fishman Island's past over 800 years ago and how both Noah and Princess Shirahoshi fit into it. While nothing truly definitive is concluded, Nico Robin's store of knowledge is steadily growing and she is starting to really put things together. That Neptune is willing to listen to her and add his two cents contributes to the cast of characters the crew will be able to call upon when the endgame begins and lends more importance to the Sunny's jaunt beneath the waves than it might otherwise have had.
Unfortunately it takes our heroic pirates a bit too long to leave for their next island and most of the volume still takes place under the sea, a venue that was interesting at first but quickly wears out its welcome as the crew takes a break to party with the merpeople. While there are important characters and information given, most notably the next big enemy, the chapters simply don't feel important, which is too bad. In between scenes of Luffy making a pig of himself and Sanji reveling in the sight of so many lovely ladies we do learn important things about navigating in the New World, more about the Emperors, and see the triumph of kindness over prejudice, though, so skimming really isn't an option. And would you really want to skim, anyway? Oda's art is in top form with his trademark crowd scenes (can you spot Panda Man?) and his use of three scales for humanoids makes things even more interesting. It's a lot to take in, yes, and his fondness for small panels can be a strain on visual comprehension, but in his defense, when things are very important, larger, less crowded panels tend to be used.
In terms of characters, we are back to business as usual with the crew, which is nice to see after throwing them into battle almost as soon as they reunited. Nami's position as the brains of the crew is reinforced as they set sail again, with things quickly going to hell when she takes a bath and an amusing power struggle between she and Luffy as to whether the captain or the navigator determines the course. Zoro and Sanji are back to their constant bickering, Usopp bounces between abject terror and posturing, and Robin watches everything with quiet, amused detachment. One interesting detail to notice is that Chopper gets much more time with the women than anyone else – an adorable scene has him resting in Robin's lap after battle and he chats with Nami as she bathes. This highlights the bizarre mix of human and animal that he is, something that seems to be increasingly obvious as the story progresses. Fanservice (unless you count Nami's new outfit) is primarily Nami's bath scene, although no more skin is shown than her regular attire allows, and for the ladies there are plenty of shots of shirtless Zoro. Brook and Franky still feel underused as crewmembers (the former more than the latter), although Brook's inclusion in their latest ship to shore mission might change that.
The new adventure that begins at the end of the book on the flaming island of Punk Hazard looks to have some potential, so it is safe to say that One Piece continues to maintain definite momentum. While portions of this volume do drag as the Fishman Island wrap up takes a little too long, the promise of new enemies, fantasy elements, and real danger keeps readers eager for the next installment. It looks like it's finally full steam ahead for the New World as Luffy and his merry misfits get closer to fulfilling their dreams.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B+
+ Intricately crowed panels make sure there's always something to look at, Robin uncovers more secrets of the past. High energy fun.
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