One Piece Volume 44: Let’s Go Back
Story and Art: Eiichiro Oda
Release Date: 4th December 2006
Covers Chapters 420-430
Shonen Jump/Viz Media
Robin has been freed but the Buster Call and Rob Lucci is still upon her and her rescuers. Will Luffy beat Rob Lucci and will they escape the island in one piece? The climax is here!
Volume 44 is two events happening at the same time and one afterwards. We have Luffy struggling against Leopard man Lucci who seems to be one evil guy despite working for the World Government, and then we have the rest of the gang trying to come up with a getaway plan while fending off navy captains who are part of the Buster Call. The two events happening together leads to one messy looking volume with lots of explosions, punching and panic going about, it creates the feeling of despair with little chance of hope very well. We also get to see Luffy’s new power; Gear Three.
While Gear Two makes Luffy super fast and deadly, Gear Three makes him super huge and slow but the power is tremendous. Seeing him blow into his thumb to make giant fists is a real sight to see, especially when you see the destruction he can cause when he inflates different parts of his body. It is a radical new move with some reasonable explanation and it is a visual splendor to see. Unfortunately it isn’t enough to beat Lucci and he has to come up with some other strength from within. The conclusion is really cool if a little tactic free, but that is just the way Luffy does things and it is awesome to see on the page. It isn’t the best fight in the saga but it carries the most drama and tension.
Once the fighting is over we get one of the most emotional scenes in the whole series to finish the volume off. With the Robin rescue part of the saga finished we have the Going Merry to deal with now and this is one tear jerker of a scene as they hold a funeral for the dying boat. I couldn’t keep my tears back, I was crying like Franky does when he hears an emotional story. After all that fighting, explosions and drama we finish on an emotional note. One Piece goes from every type of feeling at the snap of the fingers and always succeeds in what it aims to show. The fighting may be over but the arc is far from over.