The Kozuki Oden flashback concludes in this latest issue! 3 things really make One Piece Vol. 96 stand out from the pack. Firstly, as I mentioned previously, this is the longest time we have been around Gol D. Roger. His simply existing for once is reason enough to pick this up. It’s easy to be curious about the man whose existence and legacy are the premise for this whole story. Secondly, Oden’s flashback is some of Oda’s best work in commanding an audience’s emotions. Lastly, The Nostalgia factor for those who have read through the whole series elevates this tankōbon to “Yonko” Status. Once we experienced some of the worlds through Luffy’s eyes, we now see it through Oden’s.
We saw a young Oden expand his horizons by exploring the seas outside of Wano. But what Oden had been missing now really was a purpose for himself. He was a father and, up to this point, had earned a nice position on Whitebeard’s crew and had a beautiful wife. But Kozuki Oden knows no limits; it seems for even fate itself was not finished with the traveled man from Wano. Oda uses this opportunity to deliver some awesome visuals of the sights in the Grand Line. It feels like the world of One Piece got a fresh coat of paint for us to enjoy his fantastical world with.
As vibrant as these panels are, there are stark contrasts that make us remember that as fantastical as an adventure on the Grand Line can be, there are also perilous dangers around every corner. While Oden is on the adventure of the ages, back in Wano, the seeds of darkness have begun to grow quickly. The quick aside we get of Orochi’s rise to power set up Oden’s greatest conflict before he finishes his journey with Roger. The build-up to this started, of course, the last volume with Oden’s early life. Although there are plenty of context clues to keep you up to date with what’s happening in this chapter, its true impact is felt when you’ve been along for the ride. Despite the string of chapters being able to deliver so much information seamlessly, the main criticism is that perhaps this flashback was a bit rushed on the part of Oden’s return to Wano. One example is how the change that one of Oden’s retainers, Denjiro, is handled. In all honestly, it did feel a bit cheap but not the worse that could have happened. As for thinking the whole thing was rushed? I personally can’t entirely agree with that assessment. What it ultimately comes down to for me is how well the author got their point across? Was the climax worth it? How was the reader’s time best used?
Instead of going down that rabbit hole of a debate, I will paraphrase and say this, Oden was no longer cramped by the end of his life. Having traveled the edge and back, learning the secrets of the world, he had finally been set free. His legacy, however, leaves us wanting more. This isn’t because there is not enough Oden. There is simply an abundance of Oden, knowing we cannot have more.
Reading through to the transition into the present timeline was bittersweet for me. Like waking up from a bad dream and into a nightmare, the emotional importance of the impending conflict is made stark. The writing throughout this volume masterfully guides your emotions and helps you form strong connections with the players in this kabuki theatre. Oda’s use of the mini flashbacks is particularly effective here. By the end of the last chapter, I felt equal parts mournful and hopeful. If anything, the Strawhat crew has taught me is you can always place your trust in Monkey D. Luffy.
We are thrust back into the unforgivable world of Pirates in The New World. With the literal balance of the world’s power literally on the line, One Piece has moved closer to the conclusion of the Wano arc in an upcoming all-out war. Will their small forces be enough to overcome 2 of the 4 Emperors of the Sea? Maybe it is not so much of a stretch anymore.
Born To Boil! | One Piece Vol. 96 Review
Born to Boil! | One Piece Vol. 96 Review
The legend of Kozuki Oden comes to a close as players of the next stage come into view. Nostalgia, shocking revelations and tragedy await in Volume 96.
Traveling with the King of the Pirates
Some characters may not have been given enough time