Review by: Eduardo Zacarias
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Jump Manga)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
The angels in this Heaven can get you killed.
Catching up with One Piece certainly got a lot harder since the series began to accelerate the releases during the course of the summer and we couldn’t be happier … although our wallets have certainly gotten a lot skinnier. Still, it’s hard to resist the new storyline that has the Straw Hats in yet another adventure that is quickly getting more interesting as Volume 26 has the young pirates fighting for their lives in Skypiea.
As it turns out, the legend of the island in the sky has become a reality and just about the only way to reach it seems to be by the dangerous feat of being suddenly propelled skyward by the fabled Knock Up Stream. While other pirates have failed this attempt, the Straw Hats are successful in not only surviving the stream but also landing on a white sea of clouds. So the legends were true and while the crew of the Merry Go are baffled by this strange phenomenon, they are greeted by a monstrous squid and a most unusual scene … a ship in the distance is sunk and the attacker is a masked freak who lays Zolo, Sanji and Luffy flat on their backs within seconds.
Thankfully, they are aided by an elderly knight riding a strange bird. He introduces himself as the Sky Knight who is really just a knight-for-hire who is so impressed with the crew’s bravery that he gives them a whistle to blow only once so he could locate and help them. When he leaves them, however, nobody bothered asking them where they could go so instead they follow a waterfall that leads them to Heaven’s Gate … a gateway that leads to yet another level of clouds overhead. A woman guarding the gate asks for a fee but quickly dismisses the fee.
Riding up to the next level (on top of a giant lobster), Luffy and the others make it to Skypiea. The landscape is so odd that the clouds have a funny texture that has Luffy and Usopp bouncing off the soft and cushiony surface. The island itself looks inviting enough that all the Straw Hats decide to head towards the beach and that’s where they meet a pretty girl with tiny angel wings. She introduces herself as Conis seems friendly enough to the strangers who clearly aren’t from Skypiea. They also meet Conis’ father who is riding on an unusual water ski-like craft called a waver that is much like the one the Straw Hats discovered a while back.
While they spend a pleasant afternoon with Conis and her father, Nami decides to take the waver out a bit further when she makes a most interesting discovery … there’s an island nearby with exotic wildlife and dangers. She arrives in time to see a man desperately running for his life and the same mysterious attacker from before fighting back as well. As it turns out, this island is a forbidden place that is home to a God named Kami and his protective vassals.
Meanwhile, the friendly and quiet afternoon is interrupted by Skypiea Police who have come to give the Straw Hats a rather unfriendly visit. It seems that failure to pay the toll to Skypiea is a major crime and the charges against them starts to get a little more ridiculous. It seems like the only alternative is to fight the law and make a run for the forbidden island. However, while Luffy, Sanji and Usopp try to negotiate with the law, the Merry Go – with the rest of the crew aboard – is dragged to the island itself.
After a violent confrontation with the Skypeia Police, the remaining three attempt to find their way to the forbidden island on their own. Conis helps them rent a boat and she makes a confession while she’s at it but still does her part in helping them anyway. Meanwhile, aboard the Merry Go, Zolo and the others decide to explore the forbidden island mainly out of Robin Nico and Nami’s insistence on looking for ancient artifacts and gold.
In the final chapter, Luffy, Sanji and Usopp find that their journey to this island isn’t easy and, when they encounter an entrance with the choice of four challenges, they pick the ball challenge because it sounds like it’s going to be fun. As it turns out, the entrance that leads to the Challenge of the Ball is a deadly choice that pits them against one of Kami’s vassals who turns out to be a very formidable opponent.
Volume 26 of One Piece is actually the real start to the new adventure in the island in the sky and with new dangers comes an even more unusual adventure that is classic One Piece. Skypiea isn’t just another weird place but actually the starting point of what is turning out to be yet another great storyline. We are so jumping aboard for the next few volumes for this one.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Shot up into the sky thanks to the Knock Up Stream, the Merry Go survives the journey to the island in the sky only to find it a very confusing and unusual place composed of various levels. Coming across a gate, the Straw Hats make an illegal entry to Skypiea and are soon chased by the Skypiea Police. However, their escape into a forbidden island will have them facing off against a God and his dangerous vassals.
Once again, Oda-sensei has outdone himself with yet another fantastical setting worthy of his artistic skills. Skypiea is certainly quite a visually appealing and unique place.
While this adventure is just getting started, Volume 26 of One Piece takes us to a new and engaging territory that is vintage Eiichiro Oda storytelling. Skypiea is already proving to be a fascinating place and the Straw Hats will find themselves in a situation that will only get more interesting.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media