Dropping One Piece as a weekly read was a great decision. Not that I didn’t enjoy following the adventures of Luffy and the Straw Hats on a regular basis, I just always end up enjoying it more when I wait for the volumes. While that inevitably puts me and others like me further behind on things—Japan is gearing up for volume 76 while we have to wait until January for volume 73—it’s worth savoring. Volume 72 is yet another fine example, as it continues one of the most enjoyable arcs in recent memory.
Our expansive crew members find themselves scattered about their latest destination, Dressrosa. The formula is as familiar as ever, with a few different gears turning at once. Nami’s protecting the boat with Brook and Chopper, who all end up in their own weird fight; Usopp and Robin are getting acquainted with the secret little people of the land; Law and co. run into some serious Doflamingo trickery; Franky is learning about the deep, dark secrets of the living toys that inhabit Dressrosa; and Luffy is battling his way through a battle royal in the coliseum.
The great thing about this arc is that pretty much every story is fun to follow. The tale of the toys is the real tragedy this time around, while Luffy’s last-man-standing brawl in the coliseum is thrilling and action-packed, even if you know he’ll come out on top no matter what. A bunch of new characters are introduced or reintroduced, ushering in a rogues gallery the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite a while.
Eiichiro Oda’s art is top notch throughout. Sometimes his panels have the tendency to be a little cluttered, but the action is really clear here, and character expressions and visual asides continue to drive the majority of the humor. I especially love the way Oda drew Chin Jao the Drill’s earth-splitting special move; a headbutt that cracks the ground wide open, even if he’s just delivering a thankful yet overreaching bow.
There are a lot of lovable aspects to One Piece, but one of the best is that the characters are clearly just as invested, and in awe of, everything right alongside the audience. Everyone is totally aware of what’s going on… unless they’re not and that’s the joke. It’s the little details that make Oda’s work special, and there’s plenty of that going on in this volume. The Dressrosa arc is just now kicking into full gear, but it’s already way more fun than Punk Hazard. It’s enough to make me want to pick it up again as a weekly… almost.
Publisher: VIZ Media
This story is bonus content for the latest issue of Otaku USA Magazine. For the full One Piece cover story and more, pick up the February 2015 issue of Otaku USA at your local bookstore, order it from our online store, or subscribe to get every issue!
© 1997 by Eiichiro Oda