Man, this was a really good chapter. Finally some action and movement, as well as some hardcore emotions tossed around. Plus, Luffy and Ace are now acquaintances! That’s a step at least. It’s nice that when Luffy stood up for Ace, I didn’t have much of a clue why, until of course, when it was revealed. Why? Because there’s just too many times when I’ve been able to predict reasons behind actions. But in such a long shounen like this, you’d expect some pretty good twists to keep holding the reader’s attention. However, in contrast, using the same tactic of winning someone’s “heart” so to speak, is something that’s used far too often even in OP itself.
Something I’ve also noticed recently is that One Piece has gotten pretty gritty as of late. For example in this chapter, the brutality of Luffy getting beaten and then the beater getting killed with such cold words, as well as the general harshness of the personalities in this flashblack, including Dadan. Doesn’t really feel like it did back in East Blue now does it? I’m guessing Oda is intentionally trying to make OP into a more mature setting, either in preparation for the older and more mature setting of the timeskip, or just to set the seriousness of entering the “New World”. One could say that Oda purposely left this flashback till now because it’s the right “mood”, but even I fear that may be giving him too much writer’s credit.
On a lighter note, Luffy consciously using his age as an argument against Ace is surprisingly smart and acting a bit too old for his age. Has anyone noticed how much smarter and surrounding-aware kid Luffy is compared to his older self? What happened in those teenage years?
As the title suggests, Luffy and Ace finally reveal their initial reason for being together, but the “brother” thing still hasn’t been set in stone just yet. However, their relationship so far is pretty strange. Because Luffy has no one to rely on, he must rely on Ace, so he’ll try his hardest to be closer to him. Ironically, because of that, Ace must live in order to be there for him. Now one would ask, “So what reason does Ace have to want to be there for him in the first place?” It’s possible he just doesn’t want to be like his Dad, or to let Luffy suffer like he did himself, but it’s up in the air as far as I know. The small timeskip of those three spending time together in the forest may have deepened their relationship, but it should really show next chapter.
Speaking of which, the chapter ended on the fact that the Tenryuubito are coming. For those that have forgotten, those are the World Nobles that Luffy hates so much because of their douchebaggery and elitist notions. I’d say their ancestors ruled in the Void Century, and the only reason they’re protected by the WG is because their ancestors probably made a contract with the WG. It’s most likely that the WG wanted something from them, maybe literally the “world”, and had to suffer some conditions. That’s all speculations though. Interestingly enough, this next chapter should reveal some more history about those Nobles. And like from last chapter, I still believe Sabo is going to die, and these Nobles seem like the perfect reason. Who knows? He might still be a slave somewhere.