Half way round the world and the Straw Hat pirates are about to meet a lot of new faces at the Sabaody Archipelago. The place in which all the pirates on the Grand Line clash before moving through Fish Man Island and making it into the New World, Sabaody is where something is always bound to happen. The rookie pirates are the least of Luffy’s trouble as kidnapping and nobles bring the beginning of the end. Still time for a theme park though!
Volume 52 starts with the crew saving the fish man Hachi, an old enemy of theirs, from the Flying Fish Riders. We get a great deal of suspense and mystery on who hides behind the iron mask of the leader, and the revelation is a great one. We move on to Sabaody shortly after and little time is used for down time before the action kicks into gear again. Slave trading is the norm here and with all the rookie pirates gathered and the nobles with the power of the government behind them, something big is bound to go down. Ignore the nobles and kidnappings is constantly mentioned, can Luffy really hold back as Camie is lost to another pack of kidnappers? The bubbly tree islands are an almost fairy tale style setting, but the events are far from dreamy.
The volume manages to pack in team fights, island background, a huge range of new characters and a brilliant search plot ending in a shocking climax. The new pirates don’t do much in the volume, but the hype behind the likes of murderous Kid and Trafalgar Law mean we have a lot to look forward to regarding them. All have unique designs avoiding the boring handsome looking man type, and their abilities are all quirky enough to show Oda can deal with many fresh new characters at once. A surprisingly swift pace for One Piece, but it makes for one of the strongest arc starts in the series. Just see if you can hold back avoiding volume 52 when you see that cliffhanger! Pokaw!!!