MANGA MARATHON REVIEW: One Piece [ part three]

So in February, I fell behind on my One Piece marathon, so I did my damnedest to get all caught up in March. Thankfully, I succeeded with getting back on track and oh boy do I have so many thoughts!

Volumes 21 through 23 brought us to the end of the Baroque Works/Alabasta arc and, believe me when I say I cried at the Straw Hats raising their X-marked wrists up for Vivi when she decided to stay with her people in Alabasta. The fight with Crocodile was so intense and it really set Luffy up to look absolutely incredible. But from there we have Nico Robin joining the crew just because she “has nowhere else to go” but something about her at this point just rubs me the wrong way and I’ve gotta say that I side with Zolo when I say I’ve got a bad feeling about her. Of course, Luffy doesn’t mind and thinks of Robin’s devil fruit powers as entertaining (the panel where she makes hands sprout from the top of Luffy’s head and he turns around like “HEY USOPP, I’M CHOPPER!” had me dying of laughter). 

Back on the seas again, it’s time to head to the next adventure.

The Merry-Go lands on the next island, a place full of ruthless pirates who care only about money and power and the hierarchy of power is determined by whoever has the highest bounty on their head. With Robin on board, the Straw Hats have a total of over $200,000,000 berries on their heads but – of course – with Luffy’s demeanor no one is about to take that seriously. It was a fun mini-arc for sure about not giving up on dreams and holding true to your beliefs. It was awe-inspiring to see Luffy seriously acting like a captain. When he tells Nami to stop carrying on about fighting because she’s being shameful to them and when Luffy and Zolo both stand their ground, refusing to fight without cause, are now two of my favourite moments to have happened.

From there, we get to learn more about the mythical island in the sky and Luffy meets Cricket, the descendant of a great liar who was executed for blathering on about a city made of gold. Cricket is determined to prove that his ancestor was not a liar or a disgrace and helps Luffy make the perilous journey into the sky.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Skypiea arc if I’m being honest. I found the world building of it to be really unique but the miscommunication plot of the rivaling peoples was just really frustrating considering the Alabasta arc was all about misdirection and miscommunication as well. The sky people vs. the accidentally abducted people of Shandians who were blasted into the sky was just so frustrating because if they only listened to each other, they could figure things out. Even with the god figure Kami Eneru getting closure to completing his plan of mass destruction of Skypiea as a whole, if only everyone would listen to each other, maybe things could have been prevented before they started. Now despite my desperate urge to just skip through the rest of this arc, the literally explosive ending of volume 30, I knew things were going to get better as we get close to the conclusion.

Volume 31 was primarily backstory of how things reached this point in Skypiea. Lots of legends of the people in the sky as well as what Cricket’s ancestor, Montblanc Noland, actual went through before he was branded a liar and executed but the very kingdom he served. This entire volume hit really different given how the Shandians are suffering from a plague they refuse to see the truth of. Noland instantly vows to help them but he is brushed off by several warrior leaders of the tribe who believe a blood sacrifice is what will cure them. His words hit especially hard in chapter 289 when he yells, “No matter how great your gods are, people’s lives are more precious!” So many people are dead or dying because of the current pandemic state we’re living through and yet there are far more people refusing to see the facts right in front of them than there really should be. It’s heartbreaking and I wish I could slap them with Noland’s words that are just so true I could scream. 

Once Luffy finds out that the bell of Shandia needs to be rung to let Cricket know that his ancestor was speaking truthfully, that the current Shandians fight to protect it so they can ring it and let Noland know they’re okay, he makes that the end game goal. If anyone knows the weight of a promise to a friend, it’s Luffy. In the next volume, when Luffy is successful, I was once again crying because he did it and Cricket will know he did it. The ending of this arc that I didn’t care for in the beginning was a weird melancholic punch in the gut as Cricket knew what Luffy did for him but wasn’t able to see him again. It was beautiful but sad and yet the adventure continues once again.

Our next mini arc was a volume long fight for crew mates as Luffy and the crew get sucked into a game of Davy Back where two rival pirate crews fight it out in a series of three different games. The wager on each game is a member of the crew who can be stolen by the winner or the very heart of the ship: the Jolly Roger. The games themselves were a lot of fun – I’m a sucker for Sanji and Zolo bickering at all times – but the “announcer” aspect of it made the chapters feel cluttered and made it drag out to the point where I just really wanted to get to the next real arc.

Even though I’m still reeling from what I’ve read from the next real arc.

The Merry-Go has been through hell and is in desperate needs of repairs so the gang make their way to Water Seven where they get into it with the Franky Family, a bunch of hooligans who dismantle pirate ships that make their way to the city famous for shipbuilding. Luffy, Usopp, and Nami are hit with a double whammy of bad news when they’re told that the Merry-Go has no chance of being repaired and then $200,000,000 of their $300,000,000 berries treasure is stolen by the Franky Family. The gut punch of distress the news of the Merry-Go hit me with was like when I saw the guild building destroyed for the first time in Fairy Tail

I love the rollercoaster of this arc so far as we see Luffy start to make some very real decisions for the sake of his crew and we have Usopp not only stick up for himself and man-up a bit, but we also see him truly fight for what he believes in. Usopp not only wants to prove his worth to a crew made up a basically superhumans as well as doesn’t want to give up on Merry. His fight with Luffy broke my heart into more pieces than I can count.

Obviously this arc is nearing the climax by the end of volume 40, but I’ll talk more about it when I’ve completed it.

But what I will say is that this arc really proves the point of why One Piece is not only still going, but why it is Big Three. Oda Eiichiro is the gold standard shonen manga needs to look towards. Volume 40 ends on Chapter 388 and it feels like I’ve buzzed through it. The pacing of not only the plot but the points where character development is introduced is so natural it’s perfection. Not only that, but the layering of the plot is what I find lacks in so many new series who attempt “Big Three energy”. Water Seven is three different arc combined into one large one that will further the main plot of Luffy becoming King of the Pirates. We have Usopp’s character development leading into the sub-plot of the Merry-Go’s death which further leads into Franky vs. Galley-La shiphands which furthermore continues into the grander plot against the CP9 and rescuing Robin. There are just so many layers all meticulously wrapped together and intricately intertwined, it’s like magic.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I take back anything negative I’ve ever said about One Piece. Sure there have been moments in the near 400 chapters I’ve read so far that weren’t my favourite, but that doesn’t take away from the absolute perfection that it is.

If you’re hesitating on trying the manga because of the chapter count, stop it. Just jump in and fall in love with these goofballs. Naruto was 710 chapters. Bleach was 686. The Dragon Ball franchise totals at a little over 550. 1008 current chapters is nothing. Believe me when I say you won’t regret it.

乾杯、尾田ーせんぱい。長生き、モンキー・D・ルフィ。

MANGA BINGE REVIEW: One Piece [ part two ]

I kicked off 2021 the right way by immediately reading through volumes 11 through 20 on One Piece because oh boy do things get emotional.

The majority of this ten volume stretch is finishing up the plot with Nami, seeing her officially joining up with Luffy, Zolo (Zoro? What are we officially calling him? Translations are weird sometimes), Ussop and Sanji. This arc had me on edge the entire time with how insane the fights were and Luffy getting himself into so much trouble, it was stressful! You know it’s good writing when the story has you thinking the main character might die and there are still over 900 chapters to go.

But of course, we move on with everyone in top form (well… mostly…) and head for the Grand Line at last! Map in hand, Luffy and the crew are excited to make their fortunes and fulfill their dreams. We get to spend a volume or two here and there on mini-adventures that feed into the next arc with the Baroque Works as our latest big-bads. The smaller adventures are fun and lighthearted for the most part, while still being equally as full of kindness as the rest of the chapters.

And then we get to the next big character.

Chopper.

All I knew about Chopper was that he was a reindeer of sorts and was sometimes cute and sometimes weirdly buff. I was also under the impression that he was meant to be more comedic relief in the series, so when his backstory comes about, I was honestly in tears. This little reindeer who happened to eat a Devil Fruit has been hunted and bullied his whole life as a freak of nature but when he was shown kindness by a doctor on his island, Chopper learned that all he wants to do is help take care of people. He just wants to do his best to make sure everyone is okay and it was such a touching few chapters, I’m getting teary just thinking about that little goofball, battered and bloody, holding a mushroom he thought would help his friend. So when he joins the Merry Go crew, I was so excited.

The last few volumes I got through are the beginning of the end of this arc with the Baroque Works as they try to conquer a desert island suffering from lack of water. With Princess Vivi devastated, she and the Merry Go crew are doing their damnedest to help the island and restore it to it’s original glory. We finish with Ussop and Chopper kicking major bad-guy ass but next up it’s Sanji’s turn to tear it up and I can’t wait to continue on with this series. It’s gonna be a hell of a good time!

REVIEW CATCH UP: Beastars #1

Thank you to Viz Media and NetGalley for the ARC of this manga.

The first manga review I have to catch up with is the first volume of BEASTARS by Itagaki Paru. I had heard about the anime when I was approved for the digital ARC, but other than the fact that all the characters were animals, I had little knowledge of it.

The story revolves around a school for animals where students are sorted based on their species as well as their status in the world as predator or prey. Someone on campus has been attacked prey animals and everyone has their eyes on Legoshi, an awkward wolf who has a habit of weirding the other students out through his introverted demeanour as much as his huge stature. On top of the mystery, there is something of a challenge among the students over who will be the Beastar – the one who will rise above the predator and prey hierarchy to unite the world as much as run it.

I enjoyed the story of this first volume. It’s intriguing as much as it is cute and the deep part of my soul that loves the creativity that goes into furry art fell in love with all of the characters. That being said, I feel like it’ll take me a minute to warm up to the artwork as it does feel a little rough around the edges.

This is definitely a fun series and I hope to have time in future to read more.

MANGA BINGE REVIEW: One Piece [ part one ]

I don’t need to tell anyone that this year has been a grease fire in a dumpster in your basement. It has a lot of us desperate for even an once of serotonin to get through this waking nightmare of doom scrolling, and for me in these final days of December, I have turned to the last of the Big Three manga series: One Piece from Oda Eiichiro.

For the better part of 20 years, I’ve always laughed at One Piece. I thought it was silly and needlessly long and wasn’t into the art style much. I would poke fun at my friends who loved it and always rolled my eyes whenever someone tried to get me to read it or watch it (as of the 20th, there are 998 chapters of the manga and almost 1000 episodes of the anime not including the movies).

Well in this, the year 2020, I have to apologize to every One Piece fan I’ve poked fun at because I have never had so much fun with a shonen manga before.

For anyone unfamiliar with the manga, One Piece is the lengthy adventure of Monkey D. Luffy as he travels far and wide to become King of the Pirates and locate the ever sought after One Piece treasure. Along the way, he builds his crew from other misfits with lofty dreams they have often been ridiculed for and together they all build each other up and remind each other of what’s important: family, friends, and goals that make you happy. Having been in publication since 1997, One Piece is one of the Big Three Shonen Jump titles (the other two often being Naruto and Bleach although some argue for the many variations of Dragon Ball to be included) and the only one to remain incomplete. It’s the fact that it’s so long that has been the main cause of my avoidance of the series – I mean, I stopped reading Naruto around the 350-400 mark and didn’t finish it until the final chapter dropped (700) – but let’s get into my thoughts now that I’ve taken the plunge, shall we?

Right off the bat, One Piece hits you in the feels with the Luffy’s backstory of being an orphan with dreams of the open sea and being a pirate with his father figure, Shanks, who is constantly telling him that he’s too young to come out to sea. Each time a new character is introduced, their backstory and their dreams for the future are all heart-wrenching and tender. The first ten volumes of the manga is a fair amount of setting the stage for everyone’s goal while some big bad pirate thinks they can bully Luffy due to how chaotically stupid he is.

But Luffy isn’t stupid. He cares passionately about people and one only needs to ask for his help for him to be on their side. He is willing to give everyone a chance and understands what it means to have a bad go at things. Luffy is the king of giving people a second chance and he will die defending that second chance. Zolo (or Zoro, depending on the translation) is given a second chance after his murderous reputation as Luffy learns of his goal to be the greatest swordmaster in the world. Usopp is given a second chance after living his life telling nothing but lies when Luffy learns it’s his goal to find his father and be a real pirate. Sanji is given a second chance to find the All Blue – a section of the world where all the seas connect and contains all the kinds of fish a chef could dream of – when Luffy offers him the opportunity to be a chef and travel along. And Nami… *sigh* I can’t talk about Nami’s story in case people want to read this series as blind as I am, but oof, that is a chapter of flashbacks that will make you cry.

The bad guys are also hilarious. I remember Buggy the Clown from when the anime was dubbed into English by 4!Kids and I’ve always hated him, but wow. The variety in the character designs, the power levels that are off the charts while still not being OP, it’s all absolutely incredible. It’s easy to tell why this series has been running so long and remained as popular as it is.

Luffy is such a wholesome, chaotic moron but watch him defend his friends even if they’ve only just met, is so precious. This is a series I never knew I needed in these trying times and I look forward to reading more of it.

I know this “review” didn’t really do much in terms of discussing what actually happened in the first ten volumes, but I highly recommend reading them yourself and I don’t want to risk spoiling any of the best moments. Going forward from here, I’ll be getting more specific, but that will be in the new year.

Until next time, LET’S GO, LUFFY!!!

MANGA MONDAY: The Ways of the Househusband #1

Thank you to NetGalley and VIZ Media for providing me with a review copy.


Oono Kousuke’s series The Ways of the Househusband is one that I’ve been hearing a lot about, and considering I don’t actually read much straight-up comedy manga, I figured I would give it a go once I saw the first volume on NetGalley.

Oh my gods, this series is hysterical.

It follows Tatsu, an ex-yakuza boss (and a fierce one at that), who has given up his life as a killer to be a househusband with his career-focused wife, Miku. Now, despite Tatsu’s hardest attempts, he is still terrifying to most of the people he interacts with, his disposition unintentionally threatening and intimidating as he is still really only accustomed to talking about everything as if he was still in the yakuza.

There is a story arc of sorts in this volume, but each chapter is essentially a stand-alone short about the mishaps Tatsu gets himself into (my favourite of which is him fighting with the Roomba and the cat). It was a fast read and I can’t stress how hilarious this manga is. Tatsu is gorgeous and Miku is adorable, and I look forward to seeing how Tatsu’s old underling gets more involved in things.

I will definitely be picking up this series because I want more Tatsu in my life.

MANGA MONDAY: Boku no Hero Academia #1

Today is a special Manga Monday. Why? BECAUSE ALL-MIGHT IS HERE!

That’s right, today we’re talking about the first volume of Boku no Hero Academia – aka. My Hero Academia. I’ll say now that I started watching season one when it first came out so it’s force of habit to refer to this series as BNHA rather that MHA, but despite being familiar with the show (ps. I’m not caught up though) I’ve never actually read the manga so I was really excited to finally get to it.

Over the last few years, I’ve become so incredibly bored by superhero content. It used to be fun and different and now it’s just “white male rage” or a three hour trailer for the next three hour trailer in a long line of Disney over saturation. This is why it took my old roommate forcing me to watch BNHA with her to actually get me to watch it. And wow did I sob almost every episode because of Deku.

The first volume of the manga covers the first two or three episodes of the show (give or take) and the adaptation is pretty faithful. Midoriya Izuku is a powerless student in a world full of those with powers, yet he still wants nothing more than to be the kind of hero that saves people with a smile. After meeting his personal hero, All-Might, Izuku has that chance at last and he gets to learn what it means to have the responsibility of power.

I love the art style, I love the story, and I love almost 99% of the characters (true fans will know who is in that 1% category of hatred). The only thing that doesn’t super work in the English manga is “Deku”. The insulting nickname means “useless” or “someone who can’t do or achieve anything”, and is a cruel play on the kanji for Izuku. The explanation is there but yeah… not the easiest play on words to translate because English works so differently from Japanese. Regardless of that, the volume really draws back to Big 3 manga* in terms of an introductory volume and it honestly makes me happy. We don’t get these huge cast, long-running series any more and the part of me from high school that is still alive, is so nostalgic for it. BNHA isn’t trying to be something it’s not, but it’s nostalgic and heartwarming as well as full of intense action sequences.

It’s hard to separate the manga from the anime for this review, but I enjoy both and recommend both. This is a great series for fans new and old and is definitely a title to recommend for younger manga readers as well. It’s rated T, but so was Naruto and I will recommend that until the day I die.

Definitely 5 out of 5 for this one.


* Big 3 titles are the three most well known and popular titles in the genre and are Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece

MANGA MONDAY: The Promised Neverland #1

Thank you to NetGalley and VIZ Media for providing me with a review copy.


The Promised Neverland is one of those series that looks super cute but you can just tell that it is going to get really messed up, really quickly. I’ve got to say, I was not wrong with my prediction of this one.

The story mainly follows Emma and her friends, Norman and Ray, at their picture perfect little foster home where they and about thirty other children are being taken care of by a woman named Isabelle (but they all call her mom). The children do daily tests of intelligence and treat one another like they’re all family, and every two months one of the children is lucky enough to be adopted and gets to leave the house by way of the gate that the children are forbidden from getting close to. The only other rule is that they aren’t to cross the fence line in the forest that surrounds them. When one of the children being adopted, forgets her favourite plush rabbit, Emma and Norman learn the dark secret being kept from them…

While this first volume didn’t go too deeply into the horror that I’m sure is to come the further I read into the series, it definitely did a good job at setting up the tone of what’s to come next. I loved the heart in the story, though, and the way it captured the innocence and love shared between children while also keeping the advanced intelligence of Emma, Norman, and Ray still within believable range. The art work is very stylistic and cute, with all of the children having the most squishable little baby faces.

With the way this volume ended, I’m intrigued enough to keep going and giving a better judgement of the series off of subsequent volumes. But over all I thought this was a really great way to start a series like this, especially with the artwork being so cute only to get all murder-y. A solid four out of five.

MANGA MONDAY: Jujutsu Kaisen #2

To kick off March, I’m celebrating Manga Monday with the second volume of Akutami Gege’s debut series, Jujutsu Kaisen #2!

I mentioned in my review of volume 1, that I felt the series needed more time to build before I judged it entirely and I can already see growth between that volume and this one. The art is cleaner, the story full of more context and stakes. We even just to see who our “big bads” are going to be and I’m excited for that, especially since the one guy reminds me of a combination of Byakuya (from Bleach) and a touch of Giyu (from Kimetsu no Yaiba: Demon Slayer, but in looks only because I’ve yet to start that series so I can’t make an accurate character comparison). We’re meeting other students and even school rivals which is always fun and is fleshing out the world a lot more.

My only notes regarding this volume that kept it from being a 5-star read are minor. The first note is that I want more chemistry between the characters. Megumi and Yuji have a great chemistry, and same with Gojo and most of the students (but especially with Megumi and Yuji), but I want more. The three first years don’t interact well as a unit and it’s really stiff as opposed to the tension that existed between Team 7 in Naruto. I want more out of Kugisaki especially because she hasn’t given me a reason to like or care about her at all and I’m itching for a female character to like in this series. The other note I have is a little more nit-picky I think, and it’s that the series is only two volumes in at this point (in English volumes at least) and we’re already introducing a school festival of sorts? Even Naruto got four full volumes into the story before we got the huge cross-country exams in volume five. It just feels too early given that the characters are struggling with stiffness, but perhaps that’s just my opinion.

Regardless, I’m still really enjoying this series and look forward to when volume 3 comes out in April. Curse this every-other-month releases! I want more now!

MANGA MONDAY: Candy Colour Paradox #1

I know it’s been a solid week since I’ve posted a review, but I’m hoping to get back on track now that my health is more or less back to normal. I have fallen into something of a reading slump, but there will be more on that come Wednesday. For the time being, let’s get to this week’s manga read!

Today’s selection for Manga Monday is Natsume Isaku’s Candy Colour Paradox, a light-hearted yaoi series about a journalist and a photographer who are forced to work together despite being arch rivals at the magazine.

Considering all of the other yaoi series I’ve read this month, this one feels less thirsty – for lack of a better word – and more like a shoujo romance (despite the two leads being men). I don’t know how else to describe it but it almost feels like a slow burn considering how fast a lot of yaoi titles move. It also wasn’t as dirty or explicit as others I’ve been reading (which isn’t a bad thing) but I’m curious to see if that will change in future volumes.

I really liked the art style. It’s crisp and highly detailed which really adds interest to the story. I don’t want to keep comparing it to other titles, but I felt it had far more detail on all of the characters rather than primarily focusing on the two leads (something that got distracting sometimes in Classmates for sure). Not to mention Kabu and Onoe bicker like school children which gets really funny at times. I had a few issues with choices the translator made regarding speech patterns and slang but also understand why they were made. It was just off in some places and didn’t quite match what I believe Natsume was going for in the original Japanese.

Overall, I liked it enough to read the other three volumes I have, just maybe not right away. Because there is more detail and more plot, it took longer to read than the other series did but again, I liked that about this title. At this point I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a good entry read for yaoi manga. A solid 3 out of 5 stars for me.

MANGA MONDAY: Ten Count 1 – 3

Today’s #MangaMonday is coming a bit late due to a minor technical issue with my hydro, but better late than never!

Since I was horribly sick last week, I didn’t have much energy for reading, however I managed to catch up this weekend by reading the first three volumes of Takarai Rihito’s yaoi series, Ten Count. Takarai’s art is so gorgeous, that is what initially drew me to the series but I also can’t help but be intrigued when I find manga that’s shrinkwrapped.

Now, I should mention here that this is not a “boy love” manga. This is 100% NSFW and is rated for Mature Adults with explicit content. I won’t go into much detail about that aspect of the manga, but please understand that minors shouldn’t read this series.

Ten Count follows Shirotani, a corporate secretary, and Kurose, a mental health counsellor, as the two work together to help Shirotani with his OCD and symptomatic germaphobia. However, as the two see each other more and more, their professional relationship begins to turn into something more and neither of them is sure if that’s something they can handle – but for very different reasons.

I like the way the relationship starts in this series, and I do like how in the first volume Kurose isn’t pushy but rather very understanding. Volumes two and three got a little more… intense… I still really enjoyed the next two volumes, however, the explicit scenes felt actually pushy to me. For a yaoi manga, that’s nothing new but I guess I was expecting a slower burn for this series. Regardless of what I was expecting, Takarai is a wonderful artist and author and at the end of each volume she mentions how she is building a more Dom/Sub relationship between Shirotani and Kurose so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.

I give these first three volumes an average of 4 out of five stars. And with that dirty cliffhanger at the end of volume three, I’m definitely looking forward to picking up the rest of the series.