One Piece

The Shonen Jump One Piece manga series by Eiichiro Oda is translated and publish in English by Viz Media.  The series has a dedicated English-language wiki.  Though created in Japan and possessing distinctly Japanese sensibilities, the characters and settings are for the most part definitely not Japanese.  As with many Japanese manga, characters not in funny costumes – whether Caucasian (as in One Piece) or Asian-looking  can be very difficult to tell apart.  For example, in the Baroque Works story arc (concluding in Volume 23) the only obvious visual distinction between Vivi and Nami – two major characters – was hair length.  With his black ‘fro and Mami lips, Usopp is easy to distinguish; at least he has a contrasting Pinocchio nose instead of a broad, flat nose.  These characters are definitely not ‘melanin-enriched’.  (Though the interior illustrations are black and white, the covers are in color – with a lot of pink flesh showing.)

The English translation of One Piece came long after other language translations (from the original Japanese).  Based on the SBS question and answer pages, the English translation of Volume 1 was published by Viz Media around the same time as the Japanese publication of Volume 26.

East Blue Arc

Volumes 1 – 12

Baroque Works Arc

Volumes 12 – 24

‘girasole’ is Italian for sunflower (and is also a type of fire opal)

‘spada’ is Spanish for sword (hence the use of the word in the Bleach manga series)

In Volume 18 the pages of readers’ artwork (Usopp’s Pirate Gallery, UPG) are headed with Usopp bouncing his open hand off of his wide-open mouth (to make pseudo war whoops) while wearing a form of Native American feather headdress, war paint, and a feathered wristlet.  In bold, all caps text he hollers the following (with double spacing replacing new lines): “Whoop Whoop Whoop!! Get ’em! It’s Usopp’s Pirate Gallery!!” and “Whoop Whoop Whoop!! Dance! It’s Usopp’s Pirate Gallery!!”.

One Piece Vol 23: Completion of the story arc set in Alubarna, a desert kingdom serves up an epic pig-out, a peeping tom incident, and a puzzling pair of costumes – Ms. Father’s Day in an oh-so-attractive (not!) frog outfit accompanied by a guy in yet another vaguely Beethovenish wig.  This silliness is balanced by demonstrations of the value of friendship and love of country.  Overall an entertaining volume – and the lack of an ending cliffhanger is appreciated.

Skypiea Arc

Volume 24 – 32

Django and Fullbody go into raptures over tall, slender, stacked (female) Captain Hina’s binding of a muscular meat-head – homoerotic bondage?  Then there’s Hachi, an octopus man, making octopus fritters (takoyaki).  The non-serious villains are the vain monkey brothers (dig the stomach and chest baring slashed top worn by the elder); the serious are the Bellamy pirates replete with arm candy – the First Mate even offers to buy Nami.  Moral: stick to your dream even in the face of derision.

Volume 25: page 107 is an odd composite of Nami attired in vaguely (American) Western gear hitchhiking in a psuedo-New Mexican landscape.  A Route 666 (a la Route 66) sign is in the right background; an ‘APOLO’ space capsule is in the left background.  An empty can with the letters ‘POT’ visible on the label sits in the foreground – not sure how ‘POT…’ translates to beans since ‘mame’ is the Japanese word for ‘bean’ (as in ‘edamame’ or ‘twig bean’).  Sitting at Nami’s feet is a debonair fox with a pencil thin mustache with twirled ends, wearing a large, paisley cowboy hat… I have no idea what that fox has to do with the Wild West.

Volume 26 introduces wavers, the Kami (the Japanese word for supreme being – not to be confused with the Indian Kama Sutra), and the Kami’s four vassals.

Volume 27: From a Q&A in the Chapter 257 SBS Question Corner, I glean that One Piece’s use of ‘will’ is unusual in Japanese.  I’m not sure which Japanese word is used but the intent is to describe a strong, motivating force.  The English translation of Oda Sensei’s answer talks about ‘willpower’ and ‘strong-willed people’; given the generally negative connotations of those terms in American usage, I’m curious as to how the Japanese might better be translated and why Japanese don’t often use the Japanese word for ‘will’ used in One Piece.  The Chapter 260 SBS Question Corner acknowledges that the English privateers were the inspiration for the Seven Warlords of the Sea – kind of the case of one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.

Volume 29: The Chapter 266 SBS Question Corner talks about pink snow (from the storyline in which Chopper was introduced) in France due to iron particles and yellow snow in Vienna (as a consequence of air pollution).  It also verifies the source of the names of the Kami’s vassals.  Sea Prism.  The Golden Bell.  The Ponegliff.  Reject Dial gets used.  Ends with the Kami stating “Fear… …Is the Kami.”.

Volume 30: The English editor in the SBS Question Corner on page 86 comments that ‘heso’ translates to ‘belly button’… which really leads me to question the meaning of the Skypiea’s White Berets’ salute.  (They salute by making devil horns (or Texas longhorns) behind their heads and yelling out ‘Heso’.)

In the SBS Question Corner on page 106 Oda Sensei lists the three types of devil fruit eaters: Paramythian, Zoanian, and Logian.  Luffy, a Gum-Gum Fruit eater, is Paramythian; Kami Enru is Logian.  (As masters of natural elements such as lightening and fire, Logians are generally more powerful than the other two types.)

The cover piece to Chapter 282 shows Ace’s sailboat: a skateboard with two dune buggy tires mounted on the rear and a mast topped with a Buddhist pirate’s flag (the Buddhist reverse swastika replacing the usual crossbones).

The tattoo on Ace’s left arm reads (vertically) ‘ASCE’ with the ‘S’ crossed out.  I wonder what that’s about.

At the end of the volume Kami Enru shouts “Mamaragan”.  I mistakenly assumed that the comment referred to Armageddon.  Per Wikipedia, in Australian Aboriginal mythology Mamaragan is “a lightning god who speaks with thunder as his voice. He rides a stormcloud and throws lightning bolts to humans and trees. He lives in a puddle.”.  ‘Mama-raging’… isn’t that a female deity?

Volume 31: Q&A in SBS after Chapter 290 references a Japanese live-action children’s show called “Hirake! Ponkiki” with characters Gachapin and Mukku.  The fight against the god-wannabe Kami Enru continues with Enru’s decimation of Angel Island.  Was his wanting to take just the chosen five (what’s the significance of that number?  Five isn’t special in Christian doxology) akin to Moses taking just a pair of each creature (plus his human family – more than two humans) on the Arc?

The sources of the names for Enru’s fight moves (listed in the SBS at the end of Chapter 313 in Volume 33):

El Thor – Thor, the Norse god of thunder

Hino – Iroquois’ Giant Thunderbird

Kiten – Japanese thunder beast

Lightening Dragon – Julungul, thunder god of Arnhem Land, Australia

Mamaragan – thunder god of central Australia

Amaru – Japanese for ‘thunder bolts’ or ‘falls from heaven’

Kari – Karei, ancient thunder god of the Samang of the Malay Peninsula

Water Seven Arc

Volume 32 – 46  (Technically speaking, the end of Volume 32 through the first half of Volume 34 is an interlude.)  The Davy Back Fight game against the Foxy Pirates for high stakes (and not of the vampire-killing or Kobe beef kind) is filler; maybe Sensei Oda and his crew needed a break before starting the next multi-volume story.

Volume 33: While the back cover illustration – Luffy, Robin, and Usopp in expensive-looking kimonos and samurai battle dress – is relatively tasteful (though not thematically connected to the story within), the front cover illustration – Luffy wearing a giant ‘fro, boxing gloves, gladiator sandals, and knee-length shorts next to Foxy the Silver Fox wearing a Don King hairdo and clown-style boots and sagging pants held up with suspenders over brightly patterned lace-up boxers – is unsettling.  At least they aren’t in black-face.  Definitely a Japanese take on boxing – I wouldn’t expect this type of unintentionally racist cover on a Hellboy or Scalped comic.  At least the black characters in Japanese manga series such as Bleach don’t suddenly sport afros and grills when they hang out in the ‘hood.  But what do we expect from a volume with a Barbie-doll busted Nami wearing a tight, black, cropped, tank top with “GOLD” lettered across her chest and an equally unrealistically and impractically dimensioned and clothed [sic] Porche (who captains the “Cutie Wagon” in the first round of Davy Back).

I initially read ‘Porche’ as ‘Porsche’, the German sports car much loved by American Caucasian males seeking to maintain an outward semblance of virility – especially since one of her fellow Foxy Pirates is named ‘Hamburg’, a German city, the sixth largest in the European Union.  But now, that’s thinking like an American.  Hamburg is the name of a popular Japanese dish that’s akin to meatloaf (though it’s listed under the Salisbury steak article in Wikipedia).
Unlike the (German) Audi Fox, Porsche auto (and company) logos have no fox connections.  Perhaps ‘Porche’ was an unintentional misspelling – or perhaps the spelling intentionally avoids infringement issues.

Davy Jones is explained as a pirate cursed by a demon to live on the deep seafloor who “keeps” everything that sinks down to him.  Per Wikipedia, Davy Jones’ Locker is explained as a euphemism for death (and Davy Jones is most likely another name for the devil) – not quite the same meaning.  The ‘Davy Back’ is a One Piece creation.  Foxy’s toss of three coins into the water with the dedication of “this three coin game to Davy Jones” is probably a reference to the drinking game Three Coin.

Nami shouts “Shut Up, You!!!” at the aerial commentator; the commentator responds “She talks rough too!”.  Several panels later Nami again commands the commentator to shut up and he (?) repeats his earlier reply.  Gotta be Japanese to equate ‘shut up’ from a woman with rough talk.  Likewise Foxy’s selection of Chopper because he’s squishingly cute is very Japanese.  And the masthead of Foxy’s ship (the Sexy Foxy) is a cute (not sexy) fox head and the two chains anchoring the ship to the shore end in big, rounded fox’s paws.  Also in the Japanese-to-understand category is the Chapter 312 cover illustration which depicts Nami and a baboon reading romance novels – what’s that all about?

Before the third and final round we have Porche leading the “Flower Cheerleaders in a routine dedicated to boss” (Foxy) while the “athletes” engage in warm-up matches… obviously cheerleaders don’t count as athletes.

In a flashback Usopp tells Luffy that “This hairdo [the Afro wig] will make your punches stronger”; my initial response echoed Zolo’s: “What’s with that?”.  The Afro wig was chosen from amongst many outfits available in the dressing room provided to Luffy.  (The SBS after Chapter 323 in Volume 34 depicts Luffy in some of the other wigs available: “Beautiful female warrior Luffy Moon” (after Sailor Moon), “Moronic feudal lord Luffy” (though why a feudal lord would be moronic I’m not sure), “Greaser Luffy” (complete with a cigarette hanging out of one corner of his mouth), and “Old man Luffy” (with a combover).)  Maybe Foxy has got boxing confused with WWF theater?  Usopp models the wig before handing it over to Luffy; Usopp looks way cooler in the wig than Luffy.  But to quote Usopp, “This hairstyle summons a man’s wild instincts.  [ouch!]  It has been asked, “Do champions wear Afros or do Afros wear champions?”  Even modern science cannot solve this riddle!!!  This hairdo… …will even make your punches stronger!”… …”It even changes the way you talk!”.  To which Luffy replies “Aww Yeah!”.  Sanji: “Wow!  His inner soul brother is on fire!”.  Note that for some reason Usopp has swapped out his do-rag for a pith helmet.

When Luffy and Foxy disappear below-deck, Usopp calls out “Stand tall!  Stand tall Luffy!!  Remember your training!” causing Sanji to ask Usopp “Who are you pretending to be?”… Rocky reference??

Chapter 316 cover illustration shows Gedatsu seated next to a burly ditch digger eating lunch: a manly bento box of onigiri (rice balls) and a thermos of (presumably) green tea.  Note that the next Gedatsu lunch scene (the Chapter 321 cover illustration in Volume 34) shows the digger eating sandwiches – though he still has the thermos, which is opened up on a checked tablecloth neatly spread over a rock-table.  Hmmm.

Luffy’s still standing; “He’s got the soul of a brother!!  Afro power!”. … And he’s still standing; “That guy is incredible!!” “You think it’s the Afro?!” “Is it the power of the Afro?”.  Would it have been okay for someone other than Usopp to have selected the Afro for Luffy?

Volume 34:Luffy and company finish up with Foxy and his crew (what’s with the masks?).  Luffy opts out of taking “Gina, the sexy ship carpenter” or “the carpenter who can also fight, Donovan” and instead makes a very Luffian choice.  Upon returning to 49er-type Tonjit and his faithful horse Sherry, the crew encounters Navy HQ Admiral Aokiki, awake from his nap.  I question a name like ‘Aokiki’ attached to a very tall guy of African heritage (and I very much doubt that the Japanese Navy has top commanders with a similar build and/or features).  (A translator’s note explains that ‘Aokiki’ means blue pheasant, and that the names of the other top Admirals, Kizaru and Akainu, respectively mean yellow monkey and red dog.)  Aokiki refers to Nami as “another curvy hottie” and several pages later in battle says to her “Please move, girlie.” – ah yes, very appropriate language for a Navy Admiral.  At least he enables Tonjit and Sherry to catch up with their fellow villagers.

In the SBS after Chapter 317 Oda Sensei owns up to “three-pack abs”: “my belly forms three folds” – lol.  Q&A from the SBS after Chapter 318: Q: “Is it [the soul in “Brother Soul”] yummy?”; A: “It tastes like pickled plum.”.  The rest of the answer, which discusses the kind of soul, does not bear repeating.  The SBS after Chapter 320 references Purin Purin Monogatari (the Purin Purin Story), a puppet show which aired on NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) in the early 1980s.  One of the Rurouni Kenshin characters was also modeled after a Purin Purin Monogatari character.

On the way to Water Seven, Sanji makes “pommes paille” (literally ‘potato straw’) which everyone gobbles up.  The dish is depicted as a type of fried pancake – somewhat like latkes – but more accurately the dish is presented in the same loose fashion as other types of french fries such as ‘pommes frites’.

Before reaching Water Seven, the crew stops at Shift Station, a sea train station on a route that includes Water Seven.  Here they meet Kokoro, the creepy alcoholic stationmaster, and her granddaughter and her rabbit-cat.  Why are the chronologically advanced female frontier characters such as Kokoro and Dr. Kureha (first appearing in Chapter 134) depicted as wrinkly alcoholics?  And what’s with a rabbit-cat?  There doesn’t seem to be a historical counterpart for ‘Puffing Tom’, the sea train, though in Australia in the late 1800’s there was a water train which brought water from Burlong Pool to the Eastern Goldfields in Western Australia.

Is the city ‘Water Seven‘ named after ‘Venice’?  Or is it just a coincidence in the English translation?  The city’s name is explained to come from the joining of seven shipbuilding companies – but ‘seven’ in Japanese is ‘nana’, a word that doesn’t have much to do with the English or Italian words for Venice.  Per Wikipedia, ‘City of Water’ and ‘City of Masks’ are both nicknames for Venice; the One Piece characters use both those monikers in reference to Water Seven.  Also, the yagara bulls used to traverse Water Seven’s canals are similar to the gondolas used in Venice.  Aspects of the city are also reminiscent of other European features such as the Danube River (specifically the numerous locks a la the “water gate elevator” used to get to Shipbuilding Island) and Mont Saint-Michel (reflected in the look of Shipbuilding Island).

A 60-something shipwright groupie is wearing a T-shirt that reads “BELLA DOND”; what does that mean??  Another groupie in reference to the shipwright Lulu says “So gallant! A Man’s Man” – yup, Lulu looks San Francisco leather bar worthy to me.

The Franky Family’s introduction to Zolo (guarding the Merry Go) is “We can silence even crying children!  We’re the Franky Family!”.  Mind you, this is said by bunch of sword-wielding hefty guys wearing dark glasses (small welding goggles??) and weird outfits.  (The lead guy is wearing fish net tights, knee-high boots, and a tank-top leotard with a Suessian Star-bellied Sneetch-type star and belly.)  I assume that they silence children by their antics rather than by slicing their heads off – but to be picky, laughing children (at least not in America) are not silent.

I appreciate Chopper’s irresistible attraction to bookstores (page 177).

Kaku, the carpentry foreman of Galley-La, traverses Water Seven in a fashion that looks like a cross between Rocky the Flying Squirrel and parkour experts.

A translator’s note a the bottom of the SBS after Chapter 325 explains that ‘chinpo’ in Japanese slang for male parts.

Kalifa is Iceberg’s loyal and very efficient secretary (not administrative assistant, though that would be her job title in the US).  As someone who has worked with very efficient and loyal administrative assistants of both genders, I find it hard to take Kalifa seriously when she’s wearing knee-high black boots, a short black miniskirt, and a coat-top buttoned to just below her Barbie-doll breasts showing full cleavage.  (One hopes for her sake that there’s underwire support built into that coat.)

Volume 35: Water Seven Part 4 – Franky and Iceberg and company make for an odd, somewhat unappealing (to American tastes) read.

Volume 36:

Volume 37:

Volume 38: For once the author’s intro was a meaningful yet very amusing riff on apply the term “instrumental” in domains outside of music.  Toward the end of Chapter 430 what’s with the guinea pig (rat?) standing on its hind legs squeaking (presumably about the impending high tide)?  Cool photo of a cowfish (Mr. Tom the ship builder) in Wikipedia.  Overall the usual combination of silliness (naming the Franky Family’s bull yagara (sea horses) “Sodomu and Gomora” (Sodom and Gomorrah) and drama (will they survive the waves and make it onto the sea train?).

Volume 39: Amusing Ramen Kung Fu; not so amusing imbibing by Kokoro as she captains the rocket sea train while accompanied by her granddaughter and cat / rabbit.  Franky and the weasel dude have an odd little battle.  But read the volume for the ramen and Sanji finally using knives in battle.

Volume 40: Another fight volume – the Straw Hats and company are off the Sea Train and battling CP9, the Marines, and various forces to get through the entrance to Eines Lobby and rescue Robin.  Really dumb gag of Kalifa accusing CP9 Director Spandam of sexual harassment (for saying her name) – maybe there’s a double entendre lost in translation?  What’s with the Humpty Dumpty character Fukoro, a CP9 member, and his zipper mouth (to keep gossip in) and his saying “Cha Pa Pa”?  Ah yes, Nami goes into battle wearing a very short miniskirt, strappy high-heeled sandals, a cropped halter top, and a cropped jacket.

Volume 41: The fighting recedes into a flashback to the pivotal time in Robin’s childhood.  Franky interjects amusement in battle with his cola-fueled Coup de Vent (cutting wind – super farts).  Kiwi and Mozu continue to do their part swinging long swords to take the towers controlling the drawbridge – but of course dressed in skimpy outfits, pearls, fur ruff, heels, and sunglasses.

Volume 42: This volume is purely a battle story.  Nami has her own CP9 character to battle (the verse spouting Kumadori) – but doesn’t do much besides making comments such as “Oh no…!!  He’s too strong!!” and showing off her cleavage (bared by a totally useless cross-my-heart crop top with a matching miniskirt).  Chopper comes to her rescue, thus freeing her up to go against the only female CP9 character – since Sanji failed because “…Even if it kills me… I won’t kick a woman!!”.  In this volume we learn that Kalifa’s newly acquired devil fruit powers are based on soap bubbles… so what’s next, the Chantilly Lace and a Pretty Face Fruit?  I think that it would have been more interesting if Kaku and Kalifa had swapped devil fruits.  But no, instead we’re treated to Kalifa taking a battle timeout to take a bubble bath in the convenient palatial raised tub in her guest room – just the fixture for your battle scenes.  Kalifa calls Nami “impudent girl”; the dressed but frothy Kalifa causes Nami to comments “Wow, so sexy… I wish that I had a secretary like that!”… immediately followed by “Cripes… I’m talking like a dirty old man!!”.  Ugh.  Admiring another woman shouldn’t be likened to a dirty old man… though that admiration should be expressed for her personage rather than a tawdry, female secretary stereotype – even if she can become a “soap sheep”.

Volume 43: This volume is also purely a battle story.  The good news is that Nami gets to play an equal role; the bad news is that she’s fighting the mini-skirted, fishnetted secretary-assassin Kalifa who says “That’s so NOT cute.  After all I went through to give you smooth skin.”.  Oh puleeze.

Volume 44: A volume of triumph but also of great bittersweet sadness – which was fortunately not undercut by the usual nose-picking attempts at comic relief… though the Straw Hat crew could do with some hankies, but maybe I just need to accept copious snot runs.

Volume 45: This is an ‘in-betweener’: the battles against CP9 concluded, the gang returns to Water Seven to recover and move on to new adventures.  We learn a little about Luffy’s family tree and there’s a series of cameos as the gang’s friends and family peruse the latest wanted posters for the crew.  Only the thread with Ace, Luffy’s brother, conveyed plot points likely to be of significance.  Now for the nitpicks: Luffy’s grandfather casually picking his nose while conversing with the gang (complete with “Wiggle Wiggle.. Pick!” sound effects) and totally overdone crowd responses to Franky’s full frontal nudity and to a subsequent to a testicle-squeezing gag – you’d think that an iron man would have balls of steel.

Thriller Bark Arc

Volume 46  – 50

Volume 46: Several stories in one volume: another segment in the fight between Luffy’s brother Ace and the captain of the Blackbeard Pirates, the first meeting with a living skeleton (Brook), and the plot-convenient temporary split of the Straw Hats into two exploring parties.  Additionally the chapter frontispieces feature Eneru of the Tinkertoy Mardi Gras attire.  Look for the panda man cameos.

Eiichiro Oda’s author’s note quotes a “weird” childhood song: “Don’t cry, don’t cry, I’ll give you a sweet potato, my little tart.  Never mind, that’s gonna make you fart.”… this is a case where translator’s notes would be really helpful.  Did the original song (in Japanese) rhyme?  Was it also about sweet potatoes causing gas?  What was the literal translation of the endearment translated as ‘little tart?  Another translation question is the “Horo Horo” of the zombie ghosts – ‘horo’ is a cloak worn by feudal-era samurai and which balloons out over the wearer’s shoulders… perhaps like a ghost?  Or are the ghosts supposed to be saying “horror horror”???

I was bothered by the bad science inherent in Blackbeard Teech’s assertions “Darkness is gravity!” and “The gravity of darkness”.  The ability of a black hole to attract matter and absorb it is not due to the power of darkness; such a hole is black because its gravity attracts light along with everything else so it appears black – the absence of waves of light reflected back to the viewer.  I would have been much happier with a Grav-grav Fruit instead of a Dark-dark Fruit.  Furthermore, a manufactured black hole should truly compress – i.e. compact at the atomic level – rather than broken (into trash heap scrap).  At least Ace’s “St. Elmo’s Fire” fighting move befits a fire-wielding pirate.

The Straw Hats sail into the “Florian Triangle”, also known as the “Demon’s Triangle”.  Presumably this is a play on the Miami, Florida vertex of the Bermuda Triangle (also known as the Devil’s Triangle).  I don’t know about the original Japanese name, but I’d move the apostrophe: Demons’ Triangle (or just use Devil’s) since in Anglo countries there’s one Devil but many demons.  I was amused by Sanji’s use of a lighted match under his chin as a substitute for the flashlight used by tellers of scary stories around American campfires.  Is the 201x equivalent the light of an iPhone?  Is the blue light of an LED sufficiently eerie?

When we first meet Brooks, a tall, thin skeleton with a big, lush afro who poos, farts, and gets the usual grapefruit-sized swelling after being hit in the side of the head, he’s drinking “Bink’s Brew”.  Is this a nod to Bink, the main character of the first two Xanth novels by Piers Anthony (and who is later “rejuvenated” in Zombie Lover)?  Luffy initially refers to him as “Corbuckle” – but it’s not clear where that reference comes from… closest guesses are ‘carbuncle’ (a cluster of puss-filled boils) or Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle (the physical opposite to Brooks).

Rants: Nami asking for forgiveness because she’s so cute (at least Usopp and Chopper, the targets of her offensive charm offensive ignore her) and the Chapter 446 frontispiece with Luffy chomping on a cigar.  Sanji’s ever-present cigarette is already off-putting (especially for a chef – even if he only smokes well away from the kitchen, smoking greatly deadens the palate; I wouldn’t want a smoker seasoning my food) but to depict Luffy with an oral stink bomb is bad character development.  The Chapter 449 frontispiece is less offensive but why combine Nami, Zolo, and Luffy in dramatic, vaguely Regency upper-class attire with Luffy picking his nose?  Eww.

Is Dr. Hogback’s fashion sense meant to demonstrate that drag queens come in all shapes and sizes?  (Usually the One Piece queens are more physically fit.)  And why is Nami provided with a change of clothes (tightly tailored long-sleeved jacket paired with a black micro-mini) in Hogback’s castle if the intent is for her (and her companions) to wash up before retiring for the night?

The lionesque zombie commander Absalom is presumably a takeoff of C.S. Lewis’s Aslan (Turkish for ‘lion’) which in turn is (presumably) a reference to the Biblical ‘Absalom’ (Hebrew for father of peace).

Volume 47:

Volume 48:

Volume 49: The Chapter 471 frontispiece (color back cover illustration) includes Zolo guzzling straight from (what appears to be) a large bottle of alcohol – what’s the wisdom of that choice for a manga geared to boys?  And it’s not so much the alcohol but rather that it’s Zolo chugging.  This volume introduces the Seven Warlord The Tyrant Bartholomew Kuma… a big bear of a man holding an equally large Bible to his chest.  Could the cover illustration for Chapter 475 be based on the Vietnam-era DJ immortalized in the video “Good Morning Vietnam”?  Nice touch using the battle move “Jenga Cannon” on a newly-sectioned tower thanks to Zolo’s “Great Buddha Chop” slicing.  In another example of the lack of translator’s notes, the meaning of Lola the Proposer’s (another of the scary, lumpy, older women in the One Piece world) 4444th marriage proposal rejection is lost: 4 is unlucky in Japanese – in part because the Japanese word for it is a homophone for the (Japanese) word for death – and four 4’s intensifies the negative power.  The Chapter 479 illustration amusingly depicts Franky leading a gorilla troop – clad in matching Speedos and polka-dotted tank tops – through a line dance move with arms raised high, wrists together, palms up, and fingers mimicking the leaves and petals of the tulip in the foreground.  Midway through the battle with Oars, the giant zombie, Chopper provides a little chiropractic lesson on spinal loading.  The Chapter 481 illustration depicts Zolo’s calligraphy mentor as a kimono-clad cat with an obi that reads “Nya” in a continuous repeat… hmmm.

Sabaody Arc

Volume 50 – 54

Volume 50:More of Seven Warlord The Tyrant Bartholomew Kuma trading on the conferred feline cuteness of the Paw-Paw Fruit… even though he’s more of a bear than a cat.  A lot of pirate singalongs in this volume – though the translated lyrics are somewhat less than entertaining.  Luffy defeats a giant Sea Rabbit… uh, sea rabbit?  More like a merwolf with rabbit ears.  The introduction to Camie (with one ‘m’) the mermaid (and her Rastaman starfish tutor – in a total ripoff of Disney’s Little Mermaid) brings on another attack of unseemly revulsion over any hint of older female sexuality – Sanji retches at the mention of Kokoro in her mermaid form.  The yucks continue with with Luffy’s question to Camie about how she poops.

Volume 51: Oda’s introduction voices a wish for the power to see through women’s clothing… eye-roll.  Iron Mask Duval is a distasteful characterization of an American Southerner with an accent that thickens with anger and an unfortunate (for the real man) resemblance to a young Jimmy Carter.  In the Chapter 495 illustration the fleeing CP9’s appear to be walking out of the ocean… which raises questions given that they are Devil Fruit consumers.  In this chapter we learn of yet-another secret weapon built into the Thousand Sunny – how convenient… but Oda is partially redeemed by calling the weapon’s first move “Chicken Voyage”.  The final move is called “Gaon Cannon” – a reference to the Hebrew (‘honorable sage’) or to the Hindi (‘village’)??  Sanji executes a series of moves called out in French as body parts and culinary terms including a “Parage Shot” which the Editor notes “is a French cooking term for trimming meat”… only standard French-English translators indicate that the word means “wound care” (and that the plural means “parts” as in a location) and the Larousse definition corroborates definition of equal division of an inheritance; not a direct culinary reference to be found.  After consuming a prodigious quantity of octopus fritters, Bones partakes of tea poured from a thermos and tea cup personalized with Afro-surrounded skulls.  Is the Red Line akin to China’s Great Wall?  In the SBS prior to Chapter 497 Oda asks “will racy magazines fall from the sky?” – oh grown up (or down).  The boat coating specialist that the crew seeks resides in Grove 13 – I wonder if that was the number in Japanese given that the Japanese aren’t superstitious about 13.  The introduction to the various pirates temporarily gathered at Sabaody includes a very off-putting depiction of “Glutton” Jewelry Bonney: she’s seated on the table surrounded by dirty dishes with her legs splayed wide open to focus on her crotch – highlighted by what appears to be crotchless panties (above naked thighs, paisley knee ruffles, and over-the-calf boots).  She’s like a Janis Joplin without the talent and winsome charm.  Also, what’s with that name?  Must be another Japanese thing.  Those juvenile bits didn’t provide the intended comic relief to the serious topic of human trafficking.  For example, Camie getting roughly handled at the auction hall as an ‘it’ followed by Silvers Rayleigh’s comment that he’s an old man who likes young ladies (with a knowing grin and arch look).  “The walking super bazaar… …Mr. Disco!!” – ohhh, a bad pun.  I wonder how the line read in Japanese.  The Coffee Monkeys kidnapper team features guys with chimp tails, oversized lower jaws, and hair in a troll or Kewpie doll point – and guzzling from a bottle of alcohol rather than a thermos or mug of coffee.  The Celestial Dragons evidently can reach through their protective head globes – to pick their noses.  [In as SBS in Volume 52 Oda notes that a Sabaody bubble (used for the head globes among other uses) can be reached into without causing the bubble to rupture.]

Volume 52: The Chapter 503 frontispiece shows the crew celebrating in a stand of giant, magic mushrooms (and ones small enough for Sanji to cook and for Nico to hold while she looks for the appropriate image in her field guide) – what exactly will they be eating?  In the foreground accompanying Brooks is a trio of fiddling, pirate grasshoppers – where are the ants?  The numbers on the crew members’ shirts or jackets corresponds to their order of joining the crew – was it intentional that Usopp was fourth (‘4’ being very unlucky in Japan) and that Franky was eighth (‘8’ being very lucky)?  The SBS at the end of that chapter could really use a translator’s note to explain the differences between writing the first person singular pronoun (‘I’ in English, ‘ore’ in Japanese) in hiragana, katakana, and kanji… without the note I don’t see much point in including the translated Q & A.  The Marines refer to the ‘Human Auction Hall’ as the ‘Employment Assistance Office’ – is that like calling a layoff a graduation?  In another case of a sorely needed translator’s note, the SBS after Chapter 505 refers to a sexual connotation to the word ‘formation’… but that’s only true in the original Japanese leaving English readers to wonder as to the sexual meaning of ‘formation’.  The SBS after Chapter 510 is a very funny interview with the actor who voices the Japanese anime version of Luffy: a slight, chubby-cheeked, middle-aged woman.  Kizaru (with the World Government) and former pirate Silvers Rayleigh engage in a sword fight reminiscent of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker with their light sabers in the first Star Wars movie.  Overall the fighting in this volume loses its punch since it just seems to be designed to wear down the crew to get to the next plot point rather than to advance the plot or the growth of the characters in and of itself.

Volume 53: “The Island of Woman” should be appended with “as fantasized by a geeky young (i.e. sexually inexperienced) teenage boy and filtered through a Japanese male manga artist”.  Otherwise why would the island’s residents who supposedly value strength over the outside world’s definition of physical beauty (as noted during the island’s equivalent of female mud wrestling – gratuitous and not likely to happen in real life without a male audience) wear impractical and uncomfortable outfits not geared to support (literally and figuratively) physical activities but rather to attract males fixated on mammary glands?  (The story says that the island’s residents “possess their own unique elegance” – the only ‘unique’ aspect is that their style would be termed ‘elegant’.)  The moments depicting the Warlord Boa as unfeeling through petty and stupid meanness – including kicking a kitten – who’s wearing a cap similar to Bacura the Executioner, a panther – and busting up the tribute statue created by the island’s children because it was naive and made of mud (“rubbish” and “filthy”) – were likewise irritating.  Boa also displays a lack of reverence for her elders (even though Nyon found her and brought her home after Boa had been freed from enslavement by a World Noble) – which though not noticeable to American readers is likely a big deal to Japanese readers.

When Marguerite and Sweetpea (both flower names) bathe Luffy (still not realizing that he is a he), the former – cute and slim – is naked but the latter – hefty, with a broad nose and lips, and wearing her hair in incongruously silly upright ponytails – is still wearing her clothes (such as they are).  (The bath is mostly a setup for a very juvenile joke about “we missed one [mushroom] between her legs”.)  In one frame depicting meeting of the Kuja pirates with the Navy Vice Admiral we have one woman (? – more of a crude doll but presumably she’s reasonably adult if she’s on the Kuja pirate ship) comment on what “disgusting creatures” men are while another (with a lit cigarette dangling out of the corner of her mouth) in response to a (“Za ha ha ha”) by her shipmate (with a Dolly Parton style hairdo) meanly and needlessly says “What a vulgar laugh”.

Interesting to note that Boa is unfeeling for kicking (but not seriously hurting) the cute kitten (with the executioner’s cap) but Luffy is doing nothing untoward when he smashes the panther Bacura into the stands full of the island’s citizens.  Why not just skip Bacura and get straight to Luffy’s fight with Boa’s Gorgon sisters?  And maybe the kitten was getting toughened up to takeover for Bacura (not that I condone preparing animals for fighting through physical abuse by their handlers).

Late in the volume Boa’s antipathy toward men is revealed in a flashback snippet of her enslavement.  Left unstated in the text and illustrations is whether the physical abuse extend into sexual abuse.  Also unexplained is why her masters would feed her and her sisters the love-love and snake-snake fruits – and whether the powers of such fruits can be shared by anyone or only by blood relatives, and whether sharing proportionally divides the power.  If she can turn people to stone then why didn’t she act to save her family?  Or why didn’t the trio use their powers during Fisher Tiger’s incursion against the Celestial Dragons?  Worst, at the end of the volume Boa is shown suffering from love-sickness (over Luffy??) but recovers quickly and is happy to do as Luffy asks – even though it means doing that which she previously avoided due to a crippling fear… and even though she has done nothing to deal with her PTSD.

The SBS after Chapter 514 (finally) explains that the Japanese ‘criminal’ also means star and hence the use of a star-shaped logo on Pappagu’s Criminal clothing brand.  I’m not sure that they double-meaning in any way assuages the propagation of negative stereotypes of Rastafarians.  (The other Q&A in this SBS is devoted to yet another fan obsessed with a fictional character’s birth date and using a Japanese manga fan variation of numerology to determine Camie’s birth date.)  The SBS after chapter 516 comments on the title of the book held by Kuma – evidently in the original Japanese version the book is depicted very differently since in the English version the title clearly says “BIBLE”… odd since in other Japanese to English manga translations such as the Monster series obviously Christian iconography has been toned down.  In the volume’s concluding SBS, the anime voice actor for Zolo responds to “[are] your abs are as cut as Zolo’s” with “I don’t know about my abs, but my butt has a deep cut down the center”… okay, now that’s a juvenile joke that’s witty (unlike the party scene with Luffy leading Dolly Parton and Sweet Pea – each with chopsticks propped between their nostrils and lower lip – in a “vulgar [line] dance” involving bamboo sieves.  (The meaning the bowlegged move with the sieves is totally lost in translation.)

Impel Down Arc

Volume 54 – 56

Volume 54: Luffy, with the help of Snake Princess Hancock, gets into Impel Down, the military’s highest security prison in which Luffy brother Ace is being held prisoner; and we get to see where each of the Straw Hat crew has landed courtesy of Bible toting, bear-pawed Warlord Kuma.  Franky gets to leads a little line dance a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show – very amusing in a camp fashion.  Big eye rolls for Hancock’s continued use of love power and mooning over Luffy – but at the same time kicking aside baby puppies and seals.  Ditto rolls for the female guards Domino and Sadie in their dominatrix outfits and attitudes.  The sequence with Buggy’s crew needed a little Japanese to American cultural translation for the sequence of thought bubbles featuring a steaming bowl of rice, a steaming leg of roast flesh, and a steaming broiled fish.  One advantage of the Impel Down setting is the return of several characters from earlier story arcs including Croc and Buggy.  Speaking of Buggy, he’s a lot better looking than his early incarnation – horizontal prison stripes and long hair in a ponytail are a big improvement in his looks (not to mentioned a much more chiseled face).  The Impel Down Level 2 rendition of a basilisk was very entertaining due to the monster’s resemblance to a Muppet chicken – Brawck.  Warden Magellan provides a cheap opportunity for potty jokes… and Bon Clay for gay ami jokes – “I saw a field of queens flash before my eyes”.

Volume 55: Luffy is still working his way down the levels of Impel Down – this volume is somewhat like a quest video game with power boosters, new and old people, and monsters to fight at each level.  Speaking of monsters, how Japanese to have supposedly ferocious “Jailer Beasts” in the form of over-sized cuddly animals with nicknames Quiet, Feisty, and Shy… and the requisite runny noses even in the extreme heat of Level 4.

The Chapter 534 cover art shows Nami elegantly dressed in a full-length ballgown dancing with a similarly dapperly dressed grasshopper (from the Ant and the Grasshopper fable).  Nami is holding a nice frame.  Nice note to match the vertical stripes in Nami’s skirt with those on her partner’s top hat.

More echoes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with larger-than-life Emporio Ivankov, King of the Queens – and we’re not talking Amazon Lily style.  “I’ve already shattered the borders of gender!  We all have!  We’ve already transcended it!  We are the new humans — the new Kama!”  (Kama is the Hindu god of love.)  Iva’s fingertips look an awful lot like syringes – which in the context of talking about manipulating hormones brings unpleasant steroid scandals to mind.

Volume 56: The SBS at the end of Chapter 545 is quite tacky with its gender stereotypes Japanese-style: a gender swap of the Straw Hat crew render the guys doe-eyed and Robin becomes Terminator-butch – ewh.  Cover of Chapter 551 is scary: Fat Usopp after he’s been overindulging.  With the clock ticking down to Ace’s execution, all the skirmishes are biding time until Whitebeard appears on the scene.

Paramount War

Volumes 57 & 58: In the SBS at the end of Chapter 553, Eiichiro Oda expresses a very Japanese / non-American sentiment for a best-selling author / artist in “It would be great if you could give me your continued support!” – maybe this is a case where nuance of meaning is lost in translation.  Overall this volume and the next are part of an engaging battle story – notwithstanding the annoyingly sexist Boa Hancock snippets which unnecessarily disrupt the flow with what is presumably an attempt at light humor.

Volume 59: War is hell, commanders in the midst of battle can too easily forget their objectives and priorities, and if you’re going to die do it with honor.  Good enough, and the two big deaths were truly tear-worthy, but it makes an odd bookend with Whitebeard and Ace’s finding family in gangs of outlaws.  The L.A.-based Crips and Bloods are not too far removed from this sense of family outside of normal society and fighting for honor.  So is One Piece asking us to look up to these violent and vicious street gangs?  On the lighter – though somewhat racially unpleasant – side is Navy Fleet Admiral Sengoku’s battle form: a giant Buddha with a giant afro, and to-scale uniform cape but no apparent shirt.  The SBS pages offer another very Japanese obsession: assigning birth-dates to the One Piece characters (usually on the basis of number / name homophones in Japanese).  Notwithstanding the help that she provides Luffy, Boa Hancock is an increasingly distasteful character.  She’s a ‘mean girl’ who wields one-sided adoration to enslave rather than love to improve and who, unlike her subjects, doesn’t have any apparent physical fighting prowesses.  She doesn’t appear to be particularly intelligent and in Luffy’s presence she blushes and stammers – oh please, that might work for the moe Japanese schoolgirl ideal, but I’m not buying it for a Warlord.


Volume 60 – 61

Volume 60: Kuma, with his paw pads on his hands, is pictured in a reader illustration for the SBS page before Chapter 586 with three cats doing jazz paws – nice… and much better than the Chapter 586 cover illustration with Smoker and Hina in skimpy skivvies arguing between a camel taxi and a bar.  The SBS before Chapter 587 concludes with Eiichiro Oda’s very troubling response to a reader’s question regarding women as editors of shonen (manga for boys).  He starts by saying that a busty babe would encourage hard work and then takes it back since “…the editorial department of Jump is filled with perverts.  I think it’s in your best interests to stay away from there.”  I enjoyed the Chapter 587 cover – until I realized that Dragon and Iva were giving succor to snails (albeit transponder snails, but still)!

Volume 61: More of the Straw Hats ramping up their training programs in anticipation of regrouping in two years.  I enjoy Iva – Sanji’s mentor – so long as I ignore the lurking homophobia but less enjoyable was the sexist overlay of Attack Cooking, one of New Kama’s secret arts and part of Bride Training.  In one scene Oda implies that cooking is a wifely duty and that important cooking is done by men – feeding into the unfortunately persistent female homemaker / male chef stereotypes.  Very off-putting was Sanji’s knee jerk homophobic farewell to Iva’s crew after they’ve brought him to Sabaody at the conclusion of his training: he flips them off and announces his return from hell – while Iva’s crew makes a ‘boys will be boys’ type of excuse for his bad behavior.  You’d think that Iva would have counseled Sanji against the ratty soul patch and spotty upper lip fuzz.  Then we have Nami and Robin who have both acquired even more of a Barbie-doll figure and who are dressed less practically than usual in low-riding pants that show off their hip bones and bikini waxes and tops that offer lots of cleavage and skin but little in the way of support or protection.  Chopper gets to be as cute as ever with a “She-en!!” sound effect above his shiny, round doe eyes – Japanese and Korean teens appear to like cute stuffed animals as much as the girls.  Bones is a natural as a reincarnated Jimi Hendrix – complete with heroin-induced stick thin figure and big, black fro.

Fishman Island

Volume 62 – 66

Volume 62: Odd mixed messages with racial equality and harmony on the one hand and homophobia and misogyny on the other.  For example, in Chapter 605 Sanji refers to the fabulous queens who helped him regain his strength and rebuild to be more capable as “abominations” and in Chapter 610 Sanji goes spastic upon meeting his lifesaving blood donors – who happen to be pirate sporting both more makeup and more stubble than him, in the SBS at the end of Chapter 606, Mr. Oda explains designing the female member of the Blackbeard pirates as harsh and scary because a beautiful woman couldn’t be “huge, rough, and exciting” or very “pirate-like”, and in the cover image of Chapter 610 we have Princess Vivi on her knees scrubbing floors with a banner in the background that reads “Bride Training”.  But then in the SBS at the end of Chapter 606, Mr. Oda encourages people to learn about the horrors of the “Smokey Mountain” dump site in the Philippines, Oda’s model for the somewhat tamer “Gray Terminal” near which Ace grew up; and in Chapter 611 we get a brief introduction to the dangers of steroids.

Of course there’s also the obligatory juvenile comic relief – Franky’s “nipple lights” flashing in a form of Morse code for example and Luffy naming the giant squid ‘Surume‘ (Japanese for the dried squid snack).  Minor quibble: Sanji’s straggly chin fuzz is bad enough but his upper lip stubble in the beginning of Chapter 609 is just plain lame looking.  And what’s with the weird Noah’s Ark reference for Hody’s home base?

Volume 63: More preaching racial harmony: “We never quite understood why you humans… …separate people according to their looks.”  But the next page we have Frankie accepting a compliment by putting a finger to the bridge of his nose to cause a Mohawk to pop up on his otherwise stubble-bald head.   Then we’re treated to more of Luffy insulting the admittedly overly weepy Mermaid Princess by nicknaming her ‘Wimpy’.  And she’s only marginally better than her mother who cried and slapped her subjects into better behavior.  For example, in response to a kid running joyously up to her with snot hanging down from one nostril she says “You have snot dripping from your nose!!  For your own sake, I will hit you!!”  Then we get the martyr stories for both the Queen and Tiger Fisher… okay but a bit heavy-handed excepting the Suessical (Suessian?) Vander Decken IX and his henchmen – a bit of The Cat in the Hat with Thing One and Thing Two?

Volume 64: More heavy-handed “Why can’t we all just get along?”, depictions of the dangers of steroid abuse, and more on the psychic damage of hatred.  Meanwhile we have Robin pondering the identify of Joyboy after reading the poneglyphs on Fish-Man Island.  Is Joyboy a reference to an incarnation of the character originating in Evelyn Waugh’s novel The Loved One?  In the SBS at the end of Chapter 628, Oda confirms that Princess Shirahoshi’s shark companion Megalo is named after Megalodon (Ancient Greek for ‘big tooth’), an ancient species of shark that went extinct during the Pleistocene period.  Cleavage: the two years weren’t kind to the female characters… they’re even more top-front heavy with no signs of decent support bras in sight and the distractions of deformed baby heads are not helpful.  The Arlong Pirate character Daruma (presumably named after a round, hollow Daruma doll), a “cookie cutter shark fish-man”, is based on the real cookiecutter shark, so named for its propensity to gouge round plugs out of larger animals.  Speaking of names, I particularly liked the “Conchcorde Plaza” – I have to wonder the wording in the original Japanese.  I like the notion (as explained by Oda in the SBS after Chapter 631) of the mermaids using bubbles (made with handy Bubbly Coral) as over-land flotation devices (worn as skirts or sat upon as chairs)… though pushing against air with one’s fins to get forward propulsion is less reasonable.  Jimbei as orator: “…The bud of peace must one day blossom throughout the whole island…”  “…You’ve nurtured that tiny bud all these years by yourself.  Now let us protect it together!”  I thought that his speech was not only overly ‘flowery’ but also poorly timed (between the release of the royal family from chains and the start of the major battle for control of Fish-Man Island) unrealistically reliant on the ‘zoid rage Arlong Pirates patiently waiting for Jimbei to finish his speech before attacking.  Franky’s hair suddenly pops up in all its gelled glory when he goes into ‘General Franky’ fight mode – kind of like the kid’s toy whose hair can be lengthened or shortened.  Final SBS with the voice actor for Brook was pretty much a waste of space – it was focused on women’s underwear (and not in a Wikipedia fashion).

Volume 65: Interesting comment by Oda in the SBS at the end of Chapter 638 to the effect that a manga around a Silly Putty character will never stay serious.  Of course we also have characters like Wadatsumi, “The Giant Monk”, who’s a creepy cross between a giant hairy chested guy with five o’clock shadow and a toddler speaking baby talk.  Then there’s Hyousou, the boozing, steroid-popping, sword fighter squid-man with a face that bears an odd resemblance in Chapter 639 to a Caucasian, American, male rock icon (who’s name I can’t quite recall).  Readers get whiplash from the SBS at the end of Chapter 639 shifting abruptly from a trite discussion of the beautiful dancers at the Mermaid Cafe to a deep explanation of why phonetic kana was used instead of Chinese kanji when the Fish-Men refer to the ‘sun’ since their direct experiences with the sun (above the ocean’s surface) are so rare – the simpler form for less nuanced understanding.  Nico Robin: a woman so bright that she fights in dark shades (and a cleavage-baring crop top as compared to an armor encased “General Franky”).  And of course near the very end of the volume we have Sanji making another obligatory diss of the transvestites who so graciously helped him hone his skills during his two years of training.  Between his homophobia and his geysering nose bleeds at the sight of a well-endowed woman, Sanji has become an irritating character – he doesn’t deserve the new skills displayed in Volume 64.

The New World

Volume 66 – 70

Volume 66: Oda’s introduction talks about “Chef’s Mood Pasta”… the is another example of when it’d be handy to have translator’s notes.  I find it hard to believe that the original Japanese referred to ‘pasta’ – ramen maybe but pasta, no.  I also find it interesting that, presumably, that in Japan instead of ‘Special of the Day’ or ‘Chef’s Menu’ there’s ‘Chef’s Mood’.  Another food-related cultural difference is in the cover illustration of Chapters 647 and 649.  The first refers to pumpkin noodles (served out of a pumpkin bowl) and depicts what is presumably pumpkin tea served in a mini-pumpkin mug; the second refers to a good harvest and shows two men sitting on giant pumpkins sipping what I assume is a pumpkin-based beverage out of wine glasses (with straws).  Again, a translator’s note explaining that the Japanese use pumpkin (actually more usually Kabocha squash which is a different winter squash in the US) in food differently than most Americans would have been very helpful.  And then we have the Big Mom Pirate Tamago who’s not quite as odd looking with the knowledge that ‘tamago’ is Japanese for ‘egg’.  (Tamago sushi – egg whisked with mirin and tamari, fried over moderate heat, and cut into rectangular slabs which are then served over fingers of sushi rice – is more correctly referred to as tamagoyaki (grilled egg).  A tamagoyaki pirate would be a close cousin of SpongeBob SquarePants.)

Speaking of Big Mom, she’s another example of the One Piece female stereotyping: young, nubile, Barbie dolls or old, scary, caricatures.  (Note the hypersexualized 10-year old on the cover of Chapter 655.)  Then again that’s a companion to the discussion of Navy Admirals’ wieners in the SBS at the end of Chapter 647.  All the better to contrast with the overly melodramatic kumbaya moment in Chapter 648 when Jimbei donates blood to Luffy in defiance of the law banning donations by Fish-Men to humans.  (To many Japanese, blood type, similar to astrological or birth sign, is an important signifier of personality and therefore of relationship compatibility.  Luffy and Jimbei have type ‘F’ blood – wonder what the connotations of type F are in Japanese… from the blood type listings of the crew in the SBS after Chapter 654 it appears that type F = type B, type X = type A, and type S = type O.)

In other tacky moments, now that the Straw Hats have gotten a couple of years older, they’ve all (with the exception of Luffy who only cars about food and Nico Robin who’s too classy and too cautious to indulge in non-cerebral excesses) graduated to the level of frat boy partying.  I found the scene with a red-nosed, tipsy / drunk King Neptune particularly distasteful – especially when he mistakenly thinks that Robin has amorous intentions when she asks for a private meeting (to ask for clarifications of her translation of the Fish-Man Island ponegliffs).  I did like Zolo referring to the starfish Pappagu as Stardork.  And I was okay with the cute kitty similes for the lion-pirate Pekoms – though I don’t consider a male lion to have much in common behaviorally with a domestic cat – such as Birman kitties, those ferocious feline fighters (not!).  Another amusing (to adults) moment: Nami scolding Luffy and company with “Honestly, the trouble you manage to get us into when I take my eyes off of you for ten measly minutes!!!”  Her complaint is a familiar refrain from a harried mother trying to take a bath or otherwise have some personal time.

Volume 67: A subset of the Straw Hats comes across a group of lost kids in the villain’s laboratory; so who’s the one calling for their rescue?  The woman in the group (Nami in this case), of course – all those latent maternal feelings waiting to be released.  Snort.  I think that it would have been much appropriate to have Franky lead the rescue.  Speaking of Nami, if it weren’t for her shoulder tattoo, in closeups you’d think she was the Mermaid Princess or any other generic, pretty, long-haired blond in the series.  You know, most women transitioning from their late teens to early twenties don’t (naturally) increase their bust to waist ratio.  Generally around that age Caucasian women lose the last of their ‘puppy fat’ and consequently may gain more facial definition; their frames have reached full growth at least a few years before that time and puberty starts before they reach their teens.  And then the SBS at the end of Chapter 660 furthers the Barbie doll “Math is so hard stereotype” with Oda’s comments about women (“girls”) being into “weird sparkly things and puffy things” instead of awesome robots.  Next I suppose he’ll be telling a French woman that only men eat escargot.  Those complaints aside, the body switches offered comic relief along with the serious challenges of fighting with an unfamiliar body – much better than snot balloons or panty peeping (though there was some of that tiresome schtick here as well – stalking and voyeurism are creepy not funny).

Volume 68: Half a hamburger or an espresso spoon stuck to the side of the face – is this supposed to be funny?  Perhaps a reference to something lost in translation?  To the American eye it just looks stupid – perhaps in part because Americans very, very rarely eat one, bare hamburger patty – and definitely not for breakfast.  A bare sausage patty for breakfast – now that I would believe; a few sausage links or a few slices of fried bacon would be even more believable.

The Chapter 671 cover illustration of ‘Namirella’ fleeing the scene at midnight but leaving behind one ‘Cat Burglar’ brand pump (a not-so-glassy slipper) gives me a pair of footwear ideas under that brand: Pussy Foot sneakers and Kitten Heel mules.

Mostly good story – but the aftermath of “Traffy” undoing the last of the body swaps was a bit off-putting.  In particular, Captain Tashigi – who’s been looking at Vice Admiral Smoker’s ‘wearing’ of her body for at least several hours and has been in the Navy for many years – suddenly gets all missish upon returning to her own body.  She clamps her knees together and hides her face and exposed cleavage.  (Of course one also has to question Smoker’s wisdom in exposing so much of her skin in the first place given the cold weather and in removing her bra given the awkwardness of two-handed weaponry moves around (literally) free-swinging boobs.  And think about the back pain!  I just hope that he put her bra in a pocket – a favorite bra is a well-loved and not easily replaceable companion of the well-endowed woman.)  Then, according to Smoker, she starts “shrieking like a woman”.  Well, better than bellowing like a man.

Volume 69: Monet, the Happy Harpy (tank top says ‘Happy’ across the front – wonder how all of that appears in the original Japanese) shows off her striped legs and taloned claw feet.  Nico Robin is listed at 6’2″ – not too unusual in the US but in Japan??  Or maybe it’s because she comes from the West (Blue) – but even Nami at 5’7″ from the East Blue is quite tall for a Japanese woman.  Speaking of Nami, in the volume her waistband seems to be riding even lower (see late in Chapter 686 when she rescues Chopper from Monet’s snows) – to the point that I don’t see how they stay up on her hips while running… and unless she’s totally bereft of body hair, she’d have to do an impractical amount of shaving or waxing to maintain a nice look.  And then we have the SBS after Chapter 686 which states that Nami’s bust measurement is 38.5″ and Robin’s is 39.5″ – and that both wear a “J-cup”.  Even taking into account that a Japanese J-cup translates into an American H-cup that’s still painfully large – especially in proportion to their shoulder and rib cage (~25″ for Nami) dimensions (and waist – 23″ / 23.5″ – and hip – 34.5″ / 35.5″ – dimensions).

Volume 70: The conclusion of the Straw Hats’s battle against Caesar on Punk Hazard comes replete with Barbies in totally inappropriate outfits (e.g. Baby 5 in a French maid costume – and a cigarette sticking out of the side of her mouth… ewwh.  Speaking of Baby 5, she’s worse than Boa Hancock: she gives her heart to every male (especially scummy looking con men) ‘needs’ her thus allowing herself to be used.  Unlike Hancock she fights for love not with love – though she calls one of her signature fighting moves ‘Burning Passion’.  Usopp provides a sartorial contrast: shapeless hat with a wide, floppy brim; noise canceling headphones; goggles (hanging around his neck unless he’s engaged in battle); and baggy, old-style knickers that stop short a couple of inches above his over-the calf (but not form-fitting) boots.  Okay, so admittedly – unlike most of the rest of the male Straw Hat contingent – he often goes shirtless, showing his developed abs to advantage… but he’s still pretty scrawny and that doesn’t make up for those knickers.  Where’s the crew’s Ken?

Volume 71: Creepiness with the young Momonosuke fondling Nami’s (over-sized) breasts.  The Straw Hats proceed to Dressrosa and Greenbit to deliver Caesar to Doflamingo (‘doh-flamingo’ as opposed to the much more Latin Don Flamingo).  Doflamingo has lured Luffy into a big arena fight by offering what was Ace’s Flame-flame Devil Fruit as the winner-takes-all prize.  This provides Oda’s illustration crew opportunity to create lots of odd characters such as the gladiator Señor Pink, a heavy Marlon Brando type but with a pacifier instead of a stogie and wearing a ruffled baby bonnet.  Of course racist stereotypes and lolling tongues abound – Abdullah and Jeet, “former bounty hunters, wanted for bombing government buildings” were particularly objectionable.  And then there’s “beautiful” White Knight Cavendish whom I thought was a woman for several pages until the bit about women everywhere having his Wanted poster on their bedroom walls.  Upon looking more closely at his first full-length appearance I noted that his shirt opened to the waist showing well-developed pecs.  The SBS at the end of Chapter 704 was very objectionable with the response to the letter about the drunken father implying that the problem was with the mother for objecting to the drunkenness instead of just forgiving the father’s behavior.  And the final objection is to the Lilliputian-like Tontattas who speak with a lisp – kind of a bad form of baby talk.

Volume 75: The plot of this volume was a bit dizzying as it shifted back and forth between battles raging around Dressrosa.  Doflamingo’s unsavory family members – most notably Senor Pink and Dellinger – are still in the battle, unfortunately.  Usopp was rendered a god – but not for any particular bravery on his part; his time building his powers during his sabbatical evidently didn’t do much to strengthen his character – too bad.  The SBS columns had the usual mix of puerile humor – including discussions of sharks having two penises and the appeal of Senor Pink.  I did like the chapter header depicting the “Lost little sea-kitten”.

Volume 76: We get partway into the origin story of Traffy (Trafalgar Law) and Doffy (Doflamingo) – but only after a few chapters of confusing and sometimes mildly disgusting battle scenes.

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