The Everlasting One Piece Readalong: Vols. 49-51

Welcome back to the Everlasting One Piece Readalong! We’re deep into the Thriller Bark arc and approaching the big finale. We’re reading from the big omnibus editions; previous columns can be found in the project tag.

Volumes 49-51 Overview

The Straw Hats triumph at Thriller Bark and gain a brand new crew member and learn more about the past of an old friend. Then it’s off to Fishman Island, but before they can get there they have to figure out how. And they’ve seen the horrible conditions under oppressive regimes elsewhere, but that can’t prepare them for the human, fish, and mermaid rights violations on Sabaody Archipelago!

The Adventure Continues

The Straw Hats fall back to regroup and Oars starts tearing everything apart looking for them. The Straw Hats finally come out of hiding with tough resolve. Oars may be massive, but he’s not immune to the laws of physics and plus, he’s top heavy. Working together, the Straw Hats are able to tip him over completely, wrecking havoc on the surrounding area. Perona, waking up after Usopp’s attack, is overwhelmed by all the destruction from the fight, so she orders her remaining minions to pack so they can steal the Thousand Sunny and escape.

Absalom isn’t worried about Oars at all, though: he’s about to finish his marriage to Nami when she wakes up. She’s rescued by another zombie that’s in love with Absalom, and it gives Nami the time to use her climate baton. It didn’t work the last time Nami tried it on Absalom, but this time he collapses—Nami’s lightning attack was too much after all Sanji trounced him!

Nami decides to not walk away from her experience empty-handed. She tracks down the treasure room, but to her disappointment finds it completely empty. Perona’s not just running away, she’s taking everything with her, too! On the Thousand Sunny, Perona and her minions are preparing to steal the Straw Hats’ ship! Before they can set sail, though, a stoic, serious looking man arrives, asking after Gecko Moria.

Nami arrives shortly after, but Perona isn’t concerned—she’s only weak to Usopp. That’s when Nami notices the man that’s arrived, too. It’s Bartholowmew Kuma, another one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea! Tossing away her connection to Moria doesn’t save Perona, though, because Kuma asks where she wants to visit and then she vanishes completely, leaving nothing behind—he must have some kind of power! Kuma knows Nami already; he asks her if Luffy has a brother. After she confirms that he does, he refuses to answer her questions and then vanishes just as quickly as Perona did, leaving Nami the only one with the knowledge that now they’re dealing with two Warlords.

Oars and the Straw Hats are still fighting—the goal is to simply distract Oars so Luffy can beat Moria, but Luffy’s not having much luck, He ends up fighting Moria’s shadow instead, with Moria nowhere in sight. Moria is speaking with Kuma, who has come to Thriller Bark to pass on the news that the World Government has replaced Crocodile in the ranks of the Seven Warlords with someone new—Marshall D. Teech, or Blackbeard. This must mean his fight with Ace didn’t go in Ace’s favor and now he’s in a huge position of power. Kuma also passes on the warning that the World Government is nervous about the Straw Hats beating Moria, which Moria takes as a personal insult.

While they talk, dawn approaches, which means death for anyone without their shadow. Because Oars messed with Thriller Bark’s steering, they’re no longer in the protective covering of fog. As soon as the sun arrives anyone missing a shadow is doomed! The Straw Hats are still holding Oars off when Moria appears inside his stomach—Hogback built a control room inside him! With Moria and Oars together, the fight gets even harder, until Brook arrives, saving Usopp from a violent blow from Oars and carrying a huge bag of salt.

The Straw Hats are stronger with Brook’s skills added to their ranks, but Oars is still fast and nimble like Luffy despite his size, and with Moria helping him he’s even tougher. When a new attack from Franky fails, he’s saved when a huge bolt of lightning strikes Oars—Nami has returned! In his excitement, Sanji gives her position away, but that’s not even the worst of their problems. Because before, Oars didn’t have Luffy’s Gum Gum abilities. But suddenly he’s stretching, just like Luffy does, so it’s like the Straw Hats are taking on a giant Luffy! Talk about bad news.

Lola

Luffy, still on his hunt for Moria, is stopped by a group of pirates who have lost their shadows and been turned into zombies. They tell Luffy how he can get some extra power to defeat Moria. Lola, the captain of the pirates, tells Luffy a secret of the shadows. They’ve been purifying zombies looking for their own shadows, and keeping the shadows themselves. The ethics of this aren’t super, but now they’ve found someone who can carry out their idea which means they and all the captured shadows will finally be free. Luffy can take in shadows and gain the skills their owners have, and because he’s so strong he can take in way more than anyone in Lola’s pirate group. Lola warns him that dawn is coming and plus he’ll only have the benefit of the shadows for around ten minutes before they escape and go back to their original owner. They send Luffy on his way stuffed full of thirty shadows so he can fight Oars.

Oars is giving the Straw Hats a tough time. Moria reveals that Oars is only stretching because Moria can manipulate the shadow Oars casts to simulate stretching. Even if his Gum Gum skills aren’t real, it doesn’t make him less trouble to deal with. But Robin is on the job! With her skills, she can trap Moria inside Oars so he can’t manipulate any shadows! Moria retaliates and sends his shadow after her. She tries to stay focused, but Moria’s has another trick up his sleeve: he can exchange places with his shadow any time. He uses Robin’s shock as a chance to steal her shadow! Robin falls to the ground, unconscious, and is barely saved by Sanji. Now there’s no one to stop Moria from helping Oars stretch like Luffy!

Chopper’s been hard at work, though, examining Oars. He shares his findings with the group below; Oars was killed due to extreme cold, and although Hogback sewed him back together there are a lot of weak points where the frostbite got Oars decades before. The Straw Hats attack his weak points and get a few good hits in. Oars doesn’t feel pain, but that’s a benefit to the Straw Hats, who can focus their attacks and take him down piece by piece. But Chopper and Sanji get caught his a counterattack, leaving only Zoro, Nami, and Usopp on the field.

They try a last ditch effort to trick Oars and slingshot the huge bag of salt that Brook brought into his mouth. It works, and just when it looks like Luffy’s shadow might be freed, Moria’s own shadow pops out and throws the salt back at Usopp. This particular weakness can’t be exploited because Moria is too close and able to counter it! After that, Oars goes wild, stomping on Usopp and aiming for Nami when he and Moria are interrupted. A new figure has appeared, and he mocks Oars for stomping because he has Usopp and Nami in his hands—it’s Luffy! But it’s a Luffy drastically changed, and hopped up on tons of shadows and their powers. Oars, underestimating the newcomer, tries to punch him, but Luffy is able to stop him with one hand—and then he punches Oars so hard he flies into the distance. Nightmare Luffy has arrived!

Nightmare Luffy

Nami and Usopp, saved by Luffy, meet up with Lola and her crew as they arrive to care for the knocked out members of the Straw Hats. They want to keep Luffy’s friends safe since he’s helping them. Luffy goes to take on Oars as they explain how they made Luffy stronger using captured shadows. The strength of all the combined shadows really shows: Luffy tosses Oars around like he’s nothing, and then punches Moria directly in the face. He fights until the shadows flee his body, flying back to their owners. With the help of the shadows, Luffy has pummeled Oars and Moria into submission.

But it’s not over yet; Oars gets up, because he doesn’t feel pain. Unfortunately for Oars, that’s his main weakness. Lola and her pirates are heartbroken, because they don’t have any more shadows to provide to Luffy for strength and dawn is only a few minutes away. They don’t understand yet that Luffy’s presence has changed the game. The Straw Hats weren’t waiting idly by after being rescued and taken off the field by Lola and her crew; they’re back and their captain is with them and they’re going to use some solid teamwork to take Oars down once and for all. They collaborate to straighten Oars’s spine and then Luffy drops from above with a devastating flying attack. Oars doesn’t stand a chance: it cracks his spine into pieces.

Oars can’t move; he’s no longer a threat. But he can’t die, either, which Chopper is still disgusted over. Oars isn’t a problem now; Moria is. He’s still kicking and he climbs out of the room in Oars’s body and laughs at Luffy and the others for assuming they could use his own shadow powers against him. Moria doesn’t think Luffy has what it takes to make it in the New World—he relies too much on his crew, and Moria knows it’s better to rely on people you can control, not those with their own agency. But Moria’s in for a surprise—one of Luffy’s strength is his crew and his belief in their abilities to fulfill their own dreams.

Moria sucks up every shadow from every zombie in Thriller Bark. Luffy didn’t have near as many to take down Oars, and Moria swells up like a balloon stuffed full. Dawn is slowly breaking on the horizon, so Luffy tells his crew he’s going to take a risk and use Gear Two, since they’re out of time. As the sun rises, Lola’s crew tries to get her to hide. But she’s determined to stand with Luffy’s crew as he takes on Moria, no matter how much they beg her to hide in the shade, because she put her trust in him. If she runs away now, it would be shameful. Zoro is more blunt—he tells them all to shut up.

Zoro realizes what they don’t; Moria has lost, and his trick with the shadows is just his attempt to prevent them from being taken. Once Luffy starts throwing punches with Gear Two, Moria can’t stand up to his strength and the drain it is to consume and use the power of so many shadows. Slowly, shadows start to leak from Moria, until finally Luffy brings the remainder of the mansion down on Moria, and the shadows come pouring out.

The sun breaks over the horizon, though, and many of the pirates still standing, including the Straw Hats that lost their shadows, start to fade away. The mass of shadows shoots off into the distance, returning to people elsewhere in the world who lost their shadows years and years before. Even the Straw Hats partially dissolved are restored when their shadows find their way back to them.

Post-battle, Luffy is unconscious. Using Gear Two is hard on him and his crew worries about him even if they can’t stop him. The other pirates remaining on the island thank the Straw Hats for returning their shadows to them by defeating Moria.

That’s when Nami remembers—she never told the others that Kuma was on Thriller Bark! Indeed, Kuma is nearby, talking on a transponder snail to someone who is hoping Moria can recover, because they only just replaced Crocodile and that was a chore. They don’t want to have to replace anyone else. They also order Kuma to make sure any witnesses to Moria’s defeat are taken care of—permanently. Kuma finishes his call and he sets his sights on Zoro! Lola and his crew step in, but Zoro orders them away—he accepts Kuma’s challenge. But Kuma is incredibly tough and has wild powers!

Kuma

Devil Fruit Alert
Kuma ate the Paw Paw fruit and his hands have little paw prints on them. It looks silly, but there’s no messing around with it: with his paw power he can create violent air currents and also deflect blows, as well. He can manipulate other types of forces, including intangible ones, giving them a physical form. His power also allows him to control the physical location of a person, although it’s not clear how.

Back to the Action
Zoro isn’t powerful enough to challenge him, and none of the others are, either. Sanji tries to prevent Kuma from touching Zoro, but his kick doesn’t have any effect—it’s like he’s made of steel! Kuma is disappointed in how easy it is to defeat the Straw Hats. He creates a huge ball of air and shrinks it down; it looks harmless, but it will release a massive shockwave, like a bomb…unless the Straw Hats hand Luffy over to Kuma and the World Government. The Straw Hats, predictably, refuse that request—and Kuma releases his bomb.

Everyone is knocked out, leaving Kuma free to take Luffy. But as he reaches for him, Zoro proves he’s still tough—he sneaks in a attack, slicing at Kuma. But all he reveals is…metal? Kuma isn’t human at all!

Zoro asks if he’s a cyborg like Franky, and Kuma shares with Zoro that he’s a creation of Dr. Vegapunk, a genius scientist working for the World Government, but still in progress. Zoro realizes that he can’t take him on physically, so he offers a trade: his life instead of Luffy’s! He pleads his case to Kuma, but he’s interrupted by Sanji, who also offers to take Luffy’s place. Zoro’s not having that, though. He knocks Sanji out and throws down his swords and asks Kuma if the deal is fair. Kuma agrees; for him it would be shameful to take Luffy now. But instead of killing Zoro outright, he picks Luffy up and pulls all the stress and pain from his body into a bubble with his Devil Fruit power. To fulfill the agreement, Zoro will have to take in all of it. Given his weak state, Kuma doesn’t believe he’ll survive. A small piece of it leaves Zoro screaming and writhing on the ground.

Nevertheless, an agreement is an agreement. Zoro asks to choose the location and once there, he jams his hands directly into the bubble of all Luffy’s collected suffering in the fight on Thriller Bark!

Later, when the other Straw Hats wake up, Luffy is dancing around, surprised he feels so great. Sanji wakes up very suspicious and goes looking for Zoro. He finds him—covered in blood! When he demands to know what happened, Zoro tells him that nothing did. Zoro is keeping what he did a secret.

Side Story Alert!
Our adventure with the inhabitants of Skypiea and Eneru on the moon have ended. Now we’re looking back to some of the people of Water Seven to see how they’re doing after the upheaval of Aqua Laguna! And just what happened to CP9 after their defeat at the hands of the Straw Hats?

Back to the Action
As the Straw Hats recover, Hogback and Absalom are escaping Thriller Bark with Moria’s unconscious body. Hogback is excited because the government captured Ace—Blackbeard won his fight with his new Devil Fruit powers and turned him in. They’re a little too excited about what that means, and it’s unclear where they’re going, but it can be assumed they might be going to appeal to Blackbeard or the the World Government itself.

On the remains of Thriller Bark the next day, everyone’s really puzzled why Luffy isn’t hurt at all and Zoro is still unconscious. Two of Lola’s pirates saw what went down, but Sanji silences them and takes them outside to get the details of Zoro’s sacrifice. After, he swears them to secrecy, since Zoro didn’t do it for thanks and there’s no reason to make Luffy feel bad. Robin overhears because she grows a pair of ears on one guy’s back to eavesdrop, and later, Brook tells Sanji he knows as well. But both Brook and Robin understand why Zoro wants it to be a secret.

At the celebration party, Luffy asks Brook if he can join the Straw Hats now that his shadow is back. Brook is hesitant because of his promise to Laboon, but Luffy says that Franky told everyone about Brook and Laboon already. Brook reminisces about meeting Laboon as a tiny whale, and charming him with music, since Brook can play lots of different instruments. Brook also shares how he and his crew left Laboon in the care of Crocus and promised to come back. But on the Grand Line, Brook’s crew was plagued with misfortune. They lost their captain to sickness and then poor Brook himself died in an attack, only surviving because of his Devil Fruit power that revived his skeleton after years and years.

After the attack that sentenced Brook’s crew to death, the survivors all sang a song that Laboon loved in a tone dial that Brook purchased on the Grand Line. Brook’s dream is to return to Laboon and play the tone dial for him, to show him that none of them forgot their promise. (It’s okay if you want to cry over Brook and Laboon. I won’t tell if you use more than one box of tissues.) He shows the Straw Hats the dial and then he plays them the song on the piano. Brook knows now that Laboon is still waiting, so he’ll be able to meet him again when he makes it around the world. So with a clear heart, he asks Luffy if he can join the Straw Hats. Luffy, of course, agrees.

A few days later, after Zoro wakes up, Franky has managed to build Brook a memorial for his former crew and fix Brook’s old ship to give to Lola. Lola gives the Straw Hats a piece of her mother’s vivre card to help them if they even gets into a jam. Vivre cards are common in the New World; they’re made with fingernail clippings and developed into paper that’s indestructible. Plus, the paper, when ripped, is always attracted to the other pieces no matter where in the world the other pieces are, so it’s a great way to stay connected with someone.

Nami realizes that the note Ace gave Luffy way back in Alabasta must have been one of the cards. But when Luffy pulls it out, Lola is shocked. She tells them that vivre cards are also called life paper, and show the health of the person they belong to. Ace’s paper is scorched and shrunken!

The Straw Hats leave Thriller Bark and their new friends behind on their way to Fishman Island; Luffy decides not to go after Ace. He doesn’t think it’ll do any good to worry about him, especially since it annoys him to look weak. He’ll keep checking Ace’s vivre card and if it gets too small, then he’ll go, when he’s the most needed. For now, it’s off to Fishman Island!

Camie

The Straw Hats sail through many days of fascinating sea life and weather before arriving at the Red Line, landmass that’s the halfway point of the Grand Line. Beyond the massive Red Line is the New World, full of new adventures. As they try to figure out where Fishman Island is, they come across a sea rabbit! But Luffy dispatches it easily and it spits out a mermaid and a starfish! The mermaid lands directly on their ship, squishing Sanji. When he recovers, she thanks the Straw Hats for saving her from being eaten—again. Her name is Camie. Camie’s friend is Pappagu, a talking starfish; he’s a designer and he’s teaching Camie so she can become one, too, although right now she works in a octopus fritter shop.

If you’ve been following the side stories, you’ll already be familiar with Camie and Pappagu—they were in Hachi’s side storyline starting in Chapter 182. But now we get to meet them formally. Nami is glad Camie came along, because they were having trouble finding Fishman Island. But Luffy is more concerned with octopus fritters. Camie calls her boss—Hachi—to see about getting the Straw Hats some free fritters for saving her, but he doesn’t answer. Someone else from the Makuro Gang does. They beat up Hachi with the help of the Flying Fish Riders. When they put him on the transponder snail Hachi orders her to stay away.

Pappagu

Although Nami is troubled by the fact that she recognizes Hachi’s voice for some reason, she brushes it off and makes a deal with Camie that the Straw Hats will help her rescue Hachi if she shows them how to get to Fishman Island. Camie agrees easily and asks the fish to show them the way toward the Flying Fish Riders headquarters near the Sabaody Archipelago. The fish in the ocean agree, but they won’t go too close because they’re afraid of the Flying Fish Riders.

Pappagu warns the Straw Hats that the Makuro Gang isn’t the only group of kidnappers in the area. The business of kidnapping and enslaving humans is a big part of the economy, so they’ll need to be careful. He’s sure that’s why Hachi got beaten up—he thought Camie had been kidnapped and stormed in to save her and got himself in trouble. Even Zoro and Sanji wonder if Camie’s Hachi and the Hachi they fought in Arlong Park are one in the same, but Sanji doesn’t think the chance is very high, and even if it is, they definitely won’t be saving him.

But the Straw Hats don’t have to wait long to meet their opponents—the fish leading them run away and the Flying Fish Riders appear and attack! They’re thrilled to discover the mermaid they’re after—Camie—is also on a pirate ship they’ve been hunting for. Their leader, Master Duval, has it out for them for ruining his life! Once they communicate and tell Duval who Camie is with, he immediately orders them back to base.

The Flying Fish Riders are confused as to why their boss, Iron Mask Duval, didn’t have them capture Camie and the Straw Hats immediately. Duval really hates a member of the Straw Hats for some reason, to a violent degree, and he wants to take them down himself since that person ruined his life.

Iron Mask Duval

Hachi, who is tied up, overhears Duval yelling about the man who ruined his life being with the Straw Hats and he’s panicked. He knows Nami hates him after what Arlong did to her for so many years. He tries to bribe his way out, but it’s no use. They stick him in a cage and hang him out in the middle of their floating headquarters.

When the Straw Hats arrive, they know immediately it’s a trap. Camie’s more concerned about Hachi and calls out to him, but he’s tried to disguise himself by covering his whole body in octopus ink—remember, he’s an Octopus Fishman. But his voice and silhouette immediately give him away to Nami and Zoro, and Sanji tests their theory by asking him about Arlong. Hachi helpfully lets them know the rest of his former crew were captured. Luffy refuses to rescue him based on his past actions toward the Straw Hats, and Camie and Pappagu, desperately jump into the ocean to rescue him themselves but are immediately caught by the Flying Fish Riders, the bulk of whom are waiting underneath the water.

Nami finally decides that they promised Camie they would saved Hachi, so they can’t renege on their deal. Luffy immediately rescues Camie and Pappagu from the riders. They walked in knowing it was a trap, so the whole crew is ready for a fight. Luffy orders Zoro to help Hachi while the Straw Hats prepare for battle; he cuts Hachi loose and Hachi proves he’s still tough by sending several people who beat him up and tortured him flying. Then he’s reunited with Camie and Pappagu—their friendship is really strong!

Luffy, excited about riding the flying fish, captures one and kicks its rider off so he can see what it’s like riding a flying fish, but then the leader orders them all to dive, plunging Luffy into the water. Brook and Chopper rush to rescue him, but they can’t swim either because of their own Devil Fruit powers, leaving Nami and Franky having to rescue them even with bombs going off and flying fish everywhere. After that, Luffy and Sanji team up to bring down a fish, and Brook shows his own fighting ability—he uses music and swordplay together to take out his enemies.

Luffy, who wasn’t deterred by his first mishap with the flying fish, grabs another one, but the rider is asleep—Luffy, the drowsing rider, and the fish all crash into Duval’s room on the Flying Fish Riders headquarters! Duval doesn’t have his helmet on, so Luffy sees exactly who he is. Duval is pleased that he’ll finally get to take down the man who ruined his life—Sanji! Of course, Sanji probably made plenty of enemies while working on the Baratie, so he has no idea who Duval is. But Luffy tells the rest of his crew they do know who Duval is—and he kicks off Duval’s helmet!

The whole time on the Grand Line, poor Sanji’s wanted poster has had a bad likeness of him. But it turns out, a bad likeness for Sanji is Duval’s actual face, leading him to be harassed and chased by the Navy over all the antics Sanji got up to. He vows revenge on Sanji for ruining his life, but it’s really not Sanji’s fault that the Navy got everything so wrong. Duval is so upset that he can’t see the distinction between the Navy ruining his life (what happened) and Sanji (innocent). Sanji’s heard enough; he shuts Duval up with a swift kick!

Duval is obviously not a match for Sanji, so he launches poison harpoons at him. When Sanji dodges, some of the Flying Fish Riders scoop him up in an iron net and drag him under the water to drown him. They’re extremely fast, but the Straw Hats have a new ally—Camie! As a mermaid’s she’s way faster than the Flying Fish, so Luffy charges her with saving Sanji.

Meanwhile, the Flying Fish Riders shift their focus to the Thousand Sunny, aiming to sink her and the crew with her. But Franky built Sunny. He put in a way for her to reverse quickly to avoid being crushed underneath the water. Then Franky unveils a massive cannon, hidden in the prow. He and Usopp take out a huge chunk of the Flying Fish headquarters as Camie returns Sanji to his crew. Duval is ticked off, and he commands his giant cow to attack Luffy. But Luffy isn’t challenged by the fight; he doesn’t think it’s a good use of his time. The cow tries to run away and then collapses—even though Luffy didn’t do anything to it! But Sanji returns before it can become a topic of discussion and he takes Duval out—he’s not taking responsibility for Duval’s experiences, and Duval can’t challenge Sanji one on one at all.

After knocking Duval out and rescuing Hachi, the Straw Hats sail away, toward Sabaody Archipelago. But it’s not too long until Duval catches up with them—to thank Sanji! Turns out Sanji kicked him so hard he changed Duval’s face and made him handsome (just go with it). Duval, thankful, shares his transponder snail number with the Straw Hats in case they need his help in the future. They grudgingly accept it so he’ll leave.

As they sail toward Sabaody, Pappagu tells them how to get to Fishman Island. The second half of the Grand Line is beyond the land mass known as the Red Line. There’s only one way for pirates to get to the island, and that’s to go under the water, because the other way is through the Sacred City of Marijoa, which sits on the top of the Red Line. Pirates can’t do that without getting in a whole heap of trouble.

As they arrive at Sabaody, they’re assured there’s not at risk of losing those log pose recording of Fishman Island, because Sabaody Archipelago is a mangrove. It doesn’t have a magnetic field. Hachi also explains that the mangrove secretes a resin in massive bubbles that pirates can coat their ships with so they can sail underneath the water; this is how the Straw Hats will make it to Fishman Island. Sabaody is made up of hundreds of groves.

Hachi takes them to Grove 41 and they dock; he plans to introduce them to someone he knows who can coat their ship so they don’t die from the pressure underwater. But before they leave, he makes them promise not to interfere with anything the world nobles from Marijoa do, even if they kill someone. Just what kind of place is Sabaody?

Hachi shows Luffy, Chopper, and Brook around the Sabaody; the others go off to explore, shop, or stay to repair and guard Thousand Sunny. Hachi introduces Luffy to all the cool things Sabaody has to offer, but explains to him that the nobles, called Celestial Dragons, are super powerful and arrogant. Not only do the Straw Hats need to watch out for them, they have to watch out for the Navy as well as human traffickers, since they have free reign on Sabaody.

Of course, there’s an immediate test of Luffy’s promise to to interfere with local Sabaody politics when they come face to face with a pirate on the run, begging for his life. He doesn’t get very far before the collar that he’s wearing explodes—an effective tool to prevent a slave from running away. Even a powerful pirate once captured by the human traffickers loses his influence. Then the Celestial Dragons who owned him stand over his unconscious body and complain about him! Luffy is only barely restrained from lashing out.

After they leave the scene, Pappagu tells the Straw Hats that eight hundred years before, twenty kings formed an alliance and created the World Government, and the Celestial Dragons are the descendents of those kings. But so many years later, their power is out of control and no one can challenge them because they’re protected by the Navy.

Shakky

Hachi continues drawing the Straw Hats deeper into Sabaody, and as they go they get attacked by more and more bounty hunters looking for a payday due to how high some of the bounties on Luffy’s crew are. They finally reached Hachi’s destination—a bar run by Shakky. Shakky is a former pirate who now operates as an information agent, and knows all about the Straw Hats. She tells Luffy that Sabaody is the place where all the pirates who survive the Grand Line come in order to get to the New World. Luffy’s the person with the second-highest bounty on the island—there’s a newer pirate the Navy wants even more than Luffy!

Hachi brought them to Shakky’s bar because it’s where Rayleigh usually is—he’s a former pirate who coats ships with the resin from the mangrove so ships can sail underwater. But he’s been off adventuring in Sabaody’s other groves for months, but Shakky says he might be over in the grove by the amusement park. Of course Luffy wants to go there, so Hachi, Camie, Luffy, Brook, and Chopper head over to ride some rides and have fun—and don’t really keep an eye out for Rayleight or trouble. Unfortunately, the county hunters who were unable to capture Luffy realized Camie was a mermaid, and now she’s a target of the people who kidnap folks and sell them.

Zoro, who wandered off to explore when they arrived didn’t get Hachi’s warnings about the Celestial Dragons. As one of the Dragons heads through one of the groves, carried on a slave who is walking on his hands and knees, he attacks people, shoots them, and then enslaves a woman as a his wife against her will! Then he comes face to face with Zoro. Zoro isn’t aware he’s supposed to kneel, show deference, or not talk back—not that he would, anyway. When the Dragon is rude to him for not showing proper respect, Zoro pulls his swords and is only saved by another pirate! She tackles him out of the way and makes it look like he was hurt. She doesn’t want the Navy called to Sabaody because a Celestial Dragon was hurt.

Zoro doesn’t stick around to get info; he picks up one of the people who was shot and heads off to the hospital, leaving all the other pirates to stare after him in disbelief over saving a stranger.

Zoro almost having a run in with a Celestial Dragon isn’t the worst development—as Sanji, Usopp and Franky hang out on Thousand Sunny, Chopper makes a transponder snail call to tell them that Camie was kidnapped and they need help because they don’t know exactly when or where she’ll be sold! Sanji knows just who to call for the quickest help—Duval and his Flying Fish Riders.

In their very short time apart, Duval has renamed his group the Rosy Life Riders, but he’s still so thankful that Sanji changed his bone structure to make him handsome that he’s happy to help. He and his team go off to collect the Straw Hats so they can gather together. While waiting for pickup, Luffy, Hachi, and Pappagu are searching all the places Camie might be on sale. At the shopping center on Sabaody, Nami and Robin wait and Robin tells Nami that 200 years before, Fishmen were discriminated against by everyone. Then the World Government made a treaty with them, easing their discrimination in the rest of the world. But on Sabaody, the practice of oppressing them and treating them like property hasn’t really ended.

Camie is about to be auctioned off in Grove 1. She’s not going down without a fight, though, which puts her at risk for abuse. When an official tries to hurt her, though, he immediately seizes up and falls over. We saw this happen before with Luffy and Duval’s giant cow, too…another official blames the attack, or the “haki” on a man in a nearby cell. It’s the ship coater the Straw Hats were looking for, Rayleigh—and the former first mate of Gol. D Roger!

The Straw Hats find out where Camie is but can’t get her back by force because Celestial Dragons are in the auction house. So Nami collects all their money—200 million—and prepares to buy Camie back herself by house rules. As they head to auction, there’s a rumble in the crowd, because news has just broken that the World Government is going to publicly execute Ace—Luffy’s brother! And once they do that, Ace’s captain, Whitebeard, will definitely go to war against the government.

Carlos

The Straw Hats are too busy waiting on Camie to go on sale to pay attention to the news yet. When she’s put on display, one of the Celestial Dragons, Carlos, immediately bids 500 million—way more than the Straw Hats have! There’s no way for them to compete with the millions the Celestial Dragons have at their disposal.

Luffy bursts into the auction with Zoro and Hachi, distracting everyone. Luffy is glad to see Camie and plans to rescue her, but Hachi outs himself as a Fishman as he follows Luffy toward the stage. Everyone is disgusted—Robin’s warning that Hachi would be viewed with distrust was right on—but The Celestial Dragon who bought Camie isn’t happy with just her—Carlos wants Hachi, too! He shoots Hachi in full view of everyone! Luffy was furious before, but now he’s extra mad. Hachi begs him not to retaliate, because he’ll bring the force of the Navy and the nobles down on himself, but Luffy’s never cared about that when he’s standing up for his friends—he hauls off and punches Carlos right in the face.

Takeaways

We went right from an emotionally fraught arc to another emotionally fraught arc. It’s always been fairly obvious that the politics of the Grand Line and even the world outside it are tangled up in the World Government’s lackadaisical approach to quality governance and propensity for blowing up, jailing, and murdering their opponents.

They work with violent, cruel pirates while demonizing pirates they don’t approve of, allow a robust slave trade to flourish in at least one part of the world, and don’t seem very bothered by discrimination, abuse, bribery, or any of the other questionable things we’ve watched Navy folks dish out or look the other way about. There are good people in the Navy—Luffy’s befriended a lot of them—but many in places of power are out to empower and enrich themselves, and retain their influence at any cost. One Piece is a fun pirate story, but with this volume it’s also undeniably a story full of lots of political and socioeconomic commentary, too—a full on dystopia.

How will Luffy and his crew survive on the cusp of the New World? Sabaody is the nexus of both government influence, Navy power, and many ruling familes, and this isn’t even the beginning of the fights they’ll face later on. Are the Straw Hats powerful enough to make it to the New World?

Next Time!

Find out what happens after Luffy, once again, loses his temper over the treatment of his friends and socks someone in the face. We’ll be reading Volumes 52, 53, and 54.

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