One Piece 9 by Eiichiro Oda: B+

onepiece9I enjoyed being unspoiled on this, so if you want to be unspoiled too, go no further.

From the back cover:
Luffy and crew must contend with “Saw-Tooth” Arlong and his nasty Fish Man pirates, who specialize in using mafia tactics to squeeze the lifeblood from innocent villagers. Needless to say, it comes as a big surprise to everyone that pirate-hating Nami is actually a member of Arlong’s crew!

This volume’s all about Nami and her background and, though some parts of it work out as one might expect, I still found the final pages to be unexpectedly moving. Essentially, Nami’s working for Arlong because of a deal they struck in which she might be able to buy the freedom of her village for a hefty price. She’s sacrificed a lot for this goal, and the arrival of Luffy and the others to “rescue” her doesn’t actually endear them to her, as it causes her to have to prove her loyalty to Arlong. The scene where she fights (and apparently stabs) Usopp is pretty awesome, though I never had any doubt that she had somehow managed not to really wound him.

What’s even better is how this situation affects the others on the team. Usopp’s pretty convinced Nami’s evil, but Luffy refuses to consider it or even to hear the details of her past that her step-sister, Nojiko, relates to the others. Nami has a pretty tragic backstory, not unlike those of Luffy and Sanji in that an adult made a sacrifice to protect her life and she feels bound to repay that and protect their dream. In Nami’s case, this manifests as a foster mother named Belle-Mère and a close-knit village, respectively. Nami had thought everyone in the village hated her for becoming a member of Arlong’s crew, and was okay with that if it meant being able to protect them, but they secretly always knew what she was about and want to protect her just as much.

When Arlong betrays Nami by stealing the money she’s accumulated thus far, the villagers have had enough and are set on taking up arms against their oppressors, which will surely get them killed. The absolute best scene I’ve seen in this series so far occurs when Nami, desperate to stop them, tearfully turns to Luffy and says, “Help?” I’ve got geekbumps just thinking about it, actually. After this, Nami’s boys, each a badass in their own way, head to Arlong’s lair to take care of the situation. I kind of love them for it.

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  1. Danielle Leigh says

    I think this is the point where the story really coheres and gets off the ground (both in the anime & manga). But I’m happy to see a “B+” out of you for this volume of OP — that’s pretty darn good! 🙂

    • It’s certainly the first time I actually had a *heart* reaction to anything! 🙂 If I weren’t already committed to finishing the series, this’d do it.


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