Review by: Edward Zacharias
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump Manga)
MSRP: $7.95 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Now available
There’s a time when a man’s gotta fight!
With two major opposing forces about to clash within mere hours, Princess Vivi and her Straw Hat escorts have traveled far and had overcome numerous obstacles on their way to save the kingdom of Alabasta. Of course, it hasn’t been easy seeing as the obstacles include the Royal Navy (that has come to arrest the Straw Hat crew) as well as Baroque Works (that is has helped ignite a feud that will destroy the very country). What these two obstacles don’t know, however, is that Luffy and company are a determined bunch of pirates.
In Volume 19, Princess Vivi and the others managed to escape the trap set by none other than Mr. Zero (or Sir Crocodile, if you prefer) and attempt to make their escape (on top of a giant crab) to the grand city of Alubarna where the Rebel forces led by Koza are about to collide with the army of King Cobra that is led by the loyal Chaka. Yet, knowing that Mr. Zero will surely capture them, Volume 20 begins with Luffy jumping off the giant crab to by his friends some time by going up against Zero.
We’ve seen Luffy go up against some dangerous foes in the past and he has fought some fierce one-on-one battles the pushed him to the limit but his battle against Mr. Zero has got to be the toughest fight the young stretchy pirate has fought yet. Of course, with a lot at stake, he gives it his all in one impressively relentless attack that just isn’t enough to bring down a man who can bend sand to do his bidding thanks to his Devil Fruit powers. Luffy pulls off his best moves but Mr. Zero clearly has the upper hand in the fight.
Meanwhile, the group that consists of the rest of the Straw Hats and Princess Vivi head towards Alubarna with Baroque Works on their way to intercept them. Meanwhile, Captain Smoker leaves Tashigi in command of the Navy and allows her the choice between assisting the Royal Army or continue pursuing the Straw Hats. On top of that, the giant crab can’t swim across the Sandora River that divides the land … well, until it is give an incentive to do so.
When they do actually cross the river, the Super-Sonic Duck Squadron, led by Karoo, shows up to offer them a ride on land seeing as the crab couldn’t even make it across water. Even though Baroque Works does make it across first to wait to ambush Princess Vivi and the others, the Straw Hats come up with a plan so they couldn’t tell which one of them was the Princess. They also manage to separate the Works agents … a plan that actually works. Across the pond, however, Luffy manages to survive the battle against Mr. Zero and is actually saved by the most unlikely person.
As Princess Vivi heads off to the frontlines where Koza’s forces are about to face off against the Royal Army, different members of the Straw Hats encounter Works agents. Zolo happily takes on Mr. 2 Bon Clay as Chopper and Usopp faces off against Ms. Merry Christmas and Mr. 4 in one of the most vicious and exciting battles of the volume. In one of the best chapters, Usopp, with a giant hammer, attempts to play Whack-A-Mole with Ms. Merry Christmas in her Mole Woman form. Mr. 4 begins hitting some dingers (since he’s a cleanup hitter with a heavy bat) with baseballs that explode. Yeah it’s absolutely zany but this is One Piece and it just plains rocks. As Usopp says, “There’s a time when a man’s gotta fight.”
The best part of the volume, however, comes in the moment when Princess Vivi stands at the edge of the Kingdom of Alubarna attempting to stop her people from tearing each another apart. With her arms extended and screaming for one of them to stop, her plea to bring the conflict to an end before it begins shows us that she has certainly learned a lot from Luffy and his friends. Oh yeah, you better believe we cannot wait for the next volume.
One Piece, Volume 20, has officially pushed all my favorite volumes of this series to the back of the line. It’s not only an exciting piece of work but it also handles action beautifully. Once again, Eiichiro Oda sets up the scenes so we look forward to what happens next and this one is not any different. At risk of repeating myself, if you haven’t picked up a copy of One Piece then you are really missing out on a great action manga.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
The road to Alubarna becomes even more complicated when Princess Vivi and the Straw Hats encounter the enemies that wish to see the kingdom turn to ashes. As Luffy’s attempt to bring the leader down fails, the others face Baroque Works most dangerous members.
Eiichiro Oda outdoes himself in Volume 20 with massive battles and beautifully detailed characters. I always wanted to say this … Oda Sensei knows how to draw some seriously awesome action scenes.
If Volume 19 of One Piece was like stepping on a landmine then Volume 20 is like the explosion that occurs directly after it. The race to save a kingdom in need of peace explodes in a violent clash but our heroes are pushing forward to stop the war by facing off against powerful enemies. Yes, this volume has just moved One Piece to the top of Shonen Jump’s finest action manga.