One Piece 5 by Eiichiro Oda: B-

From the back cover:
Once upon a time, Usopp was just a local boy with a talent for tall tales. Everyone in his little seaside village knew him as the joker who claimed to be a pirate captain and woke people up in the mornings by shouting “Pirates are coming!” But then real pirates landed on the beach…

Now Usopp’s village is under attack by the Black Cat Pirates, one of the most legendary and feared crews on the high seas. And three young would-be pirates have joined him in defending the village: Nami the thief, Zoro the swordsman, and Luffy, the straw-hatted pirate captain with incredible rubber powers. Usopp is about to find out how an imaginary pirate stands up to the real thing… and what it means to be a real pirate. His neighbors will never believe this in a million years…

The beginning and ending of this volume are pretty typical shounen fare. Luffy and friends continue to fight the Black Cat Pirates, culminating in a fairly cool fight between Luffy and the pirates’ captain. Unfortunately, with the cartoonish art and villains, it never approaches the realm of a truly badass battle like one might relish in other series. In the ending of the volume, the crew has come to an oceangoing restaurant in search of a cook, and there’s a lot of random fighting amongst chefs and naval officers and it’s all sort of crazy at this point.

The middle, though, had some really good moments. For one thing, the rich girl who was to’ve been the victim of the pirates’ plot is so grateful to our heroes that she gives them a really swanky boat. It’s just like leveling up in an RPG or something! For another, Usopp shows some surprising maturity. He’s long been known as a liar in the village and habitually declared “the pirates are coming!” even when it wasn’t true. Now, rather than brag about his bravery in helping to repel real pirates, he wants the villagers to go on thinking of him as a liar so that their peace of mind won’t be compromised. After he leaves, his little band of followers carries on his “the pirates are coming!” tradition. I think I actually got a little verklempt!

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