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Title:
  One Piece vol 50 (Ongoing Series)

Distributor:  VIZ Media

Author:  Eiichiro Oda

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  6.99

Number of Pages:  208

ISBN:  978-1421534664

Release Date:  8th July 2010

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

 

With five volumes being released per month at the moment we're being spoiled somewhat when it comes to One Piece.  Volume 50 is the second of the five released in July 2010, and we draw ever closer to what our Japanese cousins are reading.

The prolonged battle with the giant zombie Oars has taken its toll on the Straw Hats but before they can recover their shadows there's one final obstacle to overcome - Warlord of the Sea Gecko Moria!  In a final desperate act Moria has taken all of the shadows on the island into his own body, imbuing himself with enormous power and size... but at a cost.  Weakened by a long battle he is struggling to keep control of the shadows and is really just buying time.  The giant ship Thriller Bark has left the misty waters of the Florian Triangle and there is no longer any protection from the rising sun for the shadowless members of the Straw Hat crew.  If Moria can hold them off until the sun rises they will disintegrate, so they face a race against time to force him to release all of the stolen shadows.  However, Moria isn't their only problem. The government has decided Luffy & co are causing too much trouble so have dispatched another one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea in case Moria is defeated, so even if our heroes can win they have to face the deadly Bartholomew Kuma as well.  Weakened from their battle is there any way to overcome a pirate with power equalling or even exceeding Moria's?  They

always knew that their journey was not going to be easy, but the path to Fish Man island has proven even harder than they could ever have guessed.  They also don't even know how to get to the bottom of the sea when they get to their destination, so the arrival of the mermaid Camie could be the first bit of good luck they've had.  However, the accident prone mermaid brings her own problems...

The Thriller Bark arc, with its zombie hordes and medical ethics subplot, has been a bit darker than some of those that have gone before.  However, the darkness has sometimes been a bit cartoony, with the comic relief zombies sometimes detracting from the underlying subtext.  However, this volume delivers some true darkness and hints at future plot elements that are going to be quite challenging in such a light-hearted series as One Piece.  Brooke's backstory is truly moving, covering his entrance to the Grand Line, the loss of the captain to disease, the death of the remaining crew and the decades Brooke spent alone on the ship accompanied only by the bones of his friends.  The hardships he suffers makes his eventual redemption through meeting the Straw Hats even more effective, and his devotion to a promise he made to an old friend is the icing on the cake.  The conclusion to the Thriller Bark storyline is handled pretty well too, and the scenes with Bartholomew Kuma are excellent.  Through this story we've gotten to see each of the Straw

Hats grow even more, working together to defeat the undefeatable and face individual foes that force them to look within themselves and challenge stand up for what they believe in.  Chopper's exchanges with Doctor Hogback have proven to be the strongest aspect of this arc, and it's good to see that despite all of its comedy and action One Piece still has the power to ask some challenging questions and cover some dark subjects.

This volume was a particularly strong one with the end of the Thriller Bark story arc followed by a flashback to explain Brooke's origin, which was one of the darkest and most moving parts of the story so far.  As always the majority of the story is highly entertaining and action-packed, with great characters and clean, easy to follow artwork.  This volume's main issue is that with Kuma's powers it possibly stretches its internal possibilities to their limits, but it still just about gets away with it.  Personally I've been impressed that Oda has managed to pull off a zombie storyline without it seeming completely out of place, and it has proved itself a worthy follow up to the game-changing Water Seven Arc.  To be honest if you've got to this point in the manga you're unlikely to stop buying it now, but still this was a strong conclusion to a strong story arc and the Brooke flashback was one of the highlights of the series so far.  Superb.

Extras 

 The usual adverts and 'read right to left' notice grace the back of the book, and there's the 'story so far', character pictures and author's comment at the start.  There's also four of the 'SBS' question corner pages where Oda answers reader question, which vary from the interesting to the completely pointless.  There are some good questions this time, and the book also includes a bonus full-colour sticker featuring Franky's wanted poster.  The book is rounded off with the usual adverts and next volume preview.  Not bad.

Ratings

Feature:   Extras:
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