From the back cover:
If Luffy wants to get out of a year’s worth of chore-boy duty on the oceangoing restaurant Baratie, he’s got to rid the seas of the evil Don Krieg. Unfortunately, Krieg’s armed to the teeth and aided by his “Demon Man,” Commander Gin. The battle takes a surprising turn as Krieg reveals his increasingly deadly military might!
Meanwhile, Nami has sailed off on the Merry Go with treasure in tow, and she’s headed to Arlong Park, home of creepy Captain Arlong and his Fish-Man Pirates. What business does Nami have at Arlong Park, anyway? Something fishy is going on and Luffy’s crew just may be in over their heads!
The first half of this volume reminds me of the theme to The Itchy and Scratchy Show. You know, the one that goes:
They fight and bite
They fight and fight and bite
Fight, fight, fight, bite, bite, bite
Okay, maybe there isn’t actually any biting, but there sure is a ton of fighting. It’s pretty cool, though, with Luffy being fearlessly determined to win against Don Krieg, like any good
Gryffindor shounen hero, and earning the admiration of the Baratie pirate-cooks in the process. I was amused that, after he endured bomb blasts and being stabbed by a few stakes, all he seemed to require was a couple of bandaids.
While Oda does well at illustrating the fights so that one can tell what’s going on, I was left with the urge to see this animated. A lot of the fight takes place while Luffy and Krieg are standing on floating chunks of a destroyed deck, which would probably be more impressive if in color, et cetera. Also, I’m not sure if this is new or not, but I really noticed some panels with interesting perspectives in this volume. Instead of always focusing on Luffy, they’d sometimes focus on the weapon about to hit him or the effect of his kick while the rest of him is in the background. It’s pretty neat.
Because of Luffy’s determination to follow his foolish dream to sail the Grand Line, Sanji decides to follow his own dream—to find a mythical patch of ocean called the “All Blue,” where every species of fish in the world can be found, conveniently located somewhere around the Grand Line—and accepts the offer to join Luffy’s crew as cook. Though he tries to be tough about his departure from the Baratie, there’s a pretty awesome goodbye scene and then they’re off in a vessel belonging to Sanji, following Nami’s trail.
As they sail, they (and we) learn more about the dangers awaiting them in the Grand Line, including the existence of three great powers that rule those waters. I assume that each group will have to be defeated in turn, which is a pretty appealing prospect, I must say. Even cooler, though, are some unexpected revelations about Nami’s background. I’m glad I’ve managed to remain spoiler-free for this series!