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Past Cloud 9 And Water 7

I had to take a break from my manga reading streak due to unforeseen circumstances.

Well, unforeseen in that I didn't except these circumstances to arise so quickly! I made it through the first 32 books in my newfound One Piece manga collection way too fast, and suddenly I was stuck. Books 34-37 were missing. Of course I knew this from the beginning, but I thought it'd take longer to get there, so...

For weeks, I kept watch. I waited, restlessly. Browsed, attentively. Then finally, books 30-34 and 35-39 popped up at Tradera - the local auction site! 260 SEK for all ten books. I bought them. Compared to my previous deal it wasn't such a good price: 26 SEK per book compared to 12 SEK, but I have no regrets! Retail prices are way higher anyway.

So... where did I leave off? Sky Island. The most exciting arc of the story so far. A battle against the great lightning God Enel, a battle without comparison... the only disappointment being how all the symbolism I saw in this segment of the series was quickly washed away in the author Q & A. Oda didn't have any real message there, no symbolisms and metaphors, it's all just fantasy and random wordy inspiration... though even though he says that, that fantasy must've been derived from somewhere right? Maybe somewhere deep within? His uttermost fears and thoughts ported into the form of this grand adventure? That's what I'd like to believe anyway, because if you want it to, this arc can mean so much.

Well. Tears fall. The Strawhats jump down from the clouds, and moments later they are off to their next adventure! At this moment, the arcs start increasing in length a bit. The Skytopia arc was quite a few books lengthy, and after their short stop at the looooong island and their Davy Jones battle against the Foxy Pirates subsequent run into Aokiji the ice man, they reach their grandest arc of adventure yet!

Water 7. A massive story, one I'm surprised never made it to a movie! Though maybe it'd be too big a story for just one movie, unlike the Alabasta Rebellion or Drum Island Arc.

On Water Seven they meet Franky, a cyborg demolition man, and Iceburg - a builder man, and what starts as a quest to have their ship - the Going Merry - fixed, soon turns to tragedy and desperation. Robin disappears. They are told their boat can't be fixed - that it's broken beyond repair. Usopp leaves the crew, and duels Luffy for the boat. He loses, but Luffy gives him the boat anyway. They have to get a new one.

All of a sudden there's an assassination attempt on Iceburg... and Nico Robin is the culprit! The whole city's after them, as are the Galley workers at Dock 1, a team of crazy strong workers who go from friends to enemies, to friends again when it's discovered that the entire thing is a complot by the government; part of the workers of the Galley were CP9 spies, a team who had been in hiding for five years attempting to find the blueprint for a weapon of mass destruction that Iceburg supposedly had. They figure out Franky has the blueprint - also revealed to be Iceburg's bother, and capture him. Robin goes with them of her own free will, in what's later revealed is a sacrifice in order to save the rest of the crew. The CP9 eventually rise from their cover; attempt to kill Iceburg again, but the Strawhats intervene. Iceburg is saved, unbeknownst to them, and the government officials leave on the sea train towards Enes Lobby - the island of justice - the Strawhats on their tail. At the same time, the Aqua Laguna, a vicious storm, sweeps over the island.

The crew get it together, with newfound purpose and with Usopp joining them masked as the master sniper Sogeking, they take it to the Government - the impenetrable Enes Lobby. Crashing through the toughest Aqua Laguna ever on their way, just to get back one of theirs. Confronted by Robin's fear and desperation, Ruffy asks Sogeking to shoot down the World Government's flag, waging war on the world. Against powerful enemies, they overcome all odds, get Robin, and escape under a siege of cannonfire. Merry appears at the last moment and takes them away, a boat with a soul - she thanks them for this time of adventure; they say farewell on a sea of flame.

Their farewell to Merry was the most memorable, most tear filled moment of the anime, and even though I've seen that episode a few times already, the manga was no different. Just writing this blog is enough to get the tear ducts working again.

Well, they return to Water Seven, Franky builds them a ship, and (after much protest) joins their crew. Usopp does too, though his return is all but easy. Just before they leave, Luffy's grandpa Garp makes an appearance too - he's a marine legend! And it's revealed that Luffy's dad is Drake, the revolutionary, known as the most dangerous criminal in the world! The comedic levels flare high, as do the emotions, and the books just flash by - numbers 26-45, before they fly off to their next great adventure!

Not many books remain of what little One Piece was published here in Sweden now (66 was the last one, and I'm missing a few at the end)... but I guess I'll have to jump onto the English translations when I reach the end. No matter the cost. That's hoe exciting this is getting! I'll keep you posted.

From North Blue to Skytopia

Ever since this heavenly gift fell into my lap - at the very affordable price of 649 SEK, I've been consumed by the One Piece manga.

I'm reminded once again of how it's really no surprise it's as popular as it is. It's not only funny, with a compelling story full of characters you grow to love - even side-characters that appear for only a short moment, but it oftentimes toys with your emotions like a powerful drug, making you desperately try to keep those tears contained since you're going to work the next day and don't want to look all red-eyed and gloamy when you get there. But why not? Be a man about it,cry your eyes out; live without regret!!

Eiichiro Oda is a masterful story-teller, and he seems to be having fun while he's at it too, something the frequent Q&A sections amidst the chapters reveal. If I were him I'd be super nervous about this great responsability: fearing I might run out of inspiration, that I might do something wrong, that the story might deteriorate over time and no longer be on par with the vision I had in mind when I'd made it... and yet it seems that, chapter by chapter, he just keeps getting better and better! He's a true inspiration! So extremely dedicated towards his creation, and even more so: his fans. A humble man, he seems unaltered by the past decades of rising stardom; fan mail pouring into his office at a rate of hundreds each week (for a moment in thousands, so many he didn't have to read them all).

In my venture through the manga I've now followed Ruffy & Co all the way from North Blue to Skytopia. Ruffy who I've always known as Luffy, and the crew, also with names later slightly altered by unofficial fansubs of the anime, yet now the original names feel as natural as those of their animated counterparts. It's like the manga and anime-version characters are slightly different, and I'm following their stories in parallel; enjoying the pros and cons of each medium, noting the differences with some kind of satisfaction at how much I know.

I've shared in their adventures: laughs, tears and bursts of adrenaline as they battled their most vicious of foes! At times the side-story breaks between chapters - along with games and talks with the author, distract a little from the action... at times I've skipped them for later, but for the most part I've thoroughly enjoyed these surprisingly frequent close encounters with the author. Glimpses at old sketches and character ideas pop up every once in a while; back stories behind even the most non-mentionable people standing in the crowd, the One Piece universe constantly expanding until it becomes less and less just compelling fiction, but a world of its own.

The introductory flashback with Shanks was longer than I remembered it, but from the moment Luffy (I still write that with an L!) jumps out of that barrel and beats Alvida, it all happens so fast. It doesn't pause for a moment until he's rescued Zoro the swordsman from Morgan, said farewell to Coby, met up with navigator Nami, blown Bugsy away, stumbled upon honorable liar and sniper Usopp (the one character that truly embodies all the flaws of being human), fought of the Kuro crew and vicious cats & Co, made their way to the Baratie and met up with Sanji the cook; blown away Don Krieg, to shortly thereafter make their way to Nami's hometown and take down Arlong at Arlong Park.

Then all of a sudden they cross the Red Line and meet the giant whale Labun and a strange old man who... could have been a member of Gold Roger's crew? Not to forget the memorable leave of Loguetown right before: a violent reunion with the vengeful Buggy and Alvida (now with a new power) and a meeting with vicious foe Smokey and Tashigi. At the Drum Kingdom they fight Wapol, accompanied by princess Vivi, trying to save Nami from a strange sickness, where they also meet up with Chopper - a human deer and their new doctor.

They join up with Vivi and take down one of the Seven Warlords, Crocodile, in the process halting a revolution, but even before that they meet up with giants Dorry and Broggy, mighty giants who have been dueling on an ancient island for a hundred years, and start beating up the Baroque Works in the process...

While Ruffy fights Don Krieg, Zoro encounters the greatest swordsman in the world - Mihawk, and almost gets killed in the process - realizing how powerless he really is. He promises never to lose again. Luffy meets up with his brother Ace, too. And shortly after their venture through the desert, an unexpected new crew member turns up: Nico Robin. She becomes their living encyclopedia.

And then, they meet Montblanc Cricket, run into Blackbeard, fight Bellamy, we get a glimpse of Don Flamingo... and they're off! To the island in the sky. The land on the clouds. No filler. No wait between episodes. It truly has been an exciting journey, from North Blue to Skytopia! And still, the adventure's only just beginning. This is all in book 1-25, five years worth of a masterful story I'm only now catching up on... but I hope it takes a while before I do! Waiting for the newest episode of the anime each week is enough, I wouldn't want to wait on this version as well. :)

To be continued!

Naruto Is BACK Off TRACK

So, yeah... THAT didn't last very long... once again it's just full of thriller filler. Real inspiration killer fo riller. :/

All In One Piece!

A Whole BOATLOAD!!!

This summer my manga collection expanded with the whole series of DNAngel, I've been looking into finalize my DB collection, and just now I got my hands on 55 pieces of prime, translated, quality One Piece manga. So you know what I've been doing lately. ;)

Only 66 volumes were released in Swedish before Bonnier-Carlson had to cancel their deal over poor sales figures... which is a shame, since sales figures would surely have risen since with this most awesome of series! The market just wasn't ripe yet. But, apparently canceling a deal is not something that can easily be uncanceled later on, so there might not be any Swedish OP in a foreseeable future!

In the collection I attained there's just about a dozen volumes missing, but I hope to get a hold of those too. After that... English translations I suppose? The Swedish translation ends after the Mermaid saga, so it's not that far after the most recent releases.

The Grand LINE!!!

Just look at that line!

I'm on #10 so far, and starting to realize why people prefer the manga... even if some scenes aren't quite as pompous as they are in the series - without color, without soundtrack, without a camera panning slowly over the most somber scenes, letting us savor the savagery; shed a few tears before we turn a page.

On the other hand, there seems to be plenty of details in the manga that were never actually animated. Reading the manga now is like rediscovering the OP world once more, in its purest form. It's awesome, and the frequent Q&A columns with Oda are a much entertaining addition, albeit a bit distracting from the action content. Well, I'm moving onto the post-Arlong Park Saga. I'll keep you posted. (One) Peace.

End Of The (Punch) Line!

End Of The (Punch) Line!

End Of The (Punch) Line!

End Of The (Punch) Line!

It's done! 12 episodes, and only one remained. It's sad, it's crazy... it's kind of happy after all.

I'm not sure what my impressions are of this series. For most of the episodes, not that much happened. Up until the last few episodes, nothing really made sense. That whole thing about being powered up by panties... seemed to end after the first few episodes. The comedy faded away. The mood changed. The story went from random and nonsensical to serious and impactful. And then... it's all over! The ending's not bad, but it's not good either. It feels... incomplete. Overall, not as memorable a show as I hoped for, but it was a fun watch.

You can find my first impressions here.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Gold Roger

On his grave it was written:

His greatest treasure in life was life itself.

And this is... just something I had lying around in a text file that I needed to post. I mean: a valuable memento for an inspiring character. RIP.

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