Collection 07 (reviewed here) saw our merry crew of loveable pirates high in the sky, about to face down an electrical powerhouse who fancies himself as a god. When we last left Luffy, he had just realised that his abilities as a rubber man make him the perfect person to fend off electrical attacks, but if you thought that things were coming to a close, you’re in for a surprise. Eneru proves to be a more than worthy adversary and his attacks amount to much more than shooting electricity and Luffy is going to have to fight hard and smart if he’s going to save himself, his crew and maybe even Skypiea.
The remainder of the Skypiea Arc takes up about half of the collection, focusing as much on the four-hundred year history of the island as the Straw Hats and their fight. As usual, when it comes to action, Luffy is the star of the show, but Zoro, Usopp and Nami all play significant roles in the chaos as well.
When all is more or less resolved, the Straw Hats resume their Grand Line adventures but find out that getting down from the islands in the sky is every bit as hazardous as the ascent was. Worse still, when they manage to hit sea level once more, it’s in the middle of a gigantic and highly fortified Marine base.
Making things even more interesting, the crew manages to get themselves separated across the base, with no way of communicating to each other. Luckily, with the marines being just as shocked to find a ship appearing out of thin air as the Straw Hats are to find themselves in enemy territory, the crew has time to adopt some rather inventive disguises and make their way around the base, trying to find each other and their ship once more.
Naturally, things soon become complicated and plenty of battles and amazing escapes ensue.
While this arc, known as the G-8 Arc (named for the military base), was not a part of the original manga series and would therefore be known as filler material by many fans, it is truly high quality filler, using equal parts imagination, quick and inventive humour and an ever present sense of urgency. Every character is allowed to shine in their adopted roles, with Luffy and Sanji hiding in plain sight as chefs, Chopper taking up his familiar role as a doctor, Robin lying with the ease of a professional and Zoro foregoing disguises, preferring to just wander purposefully, if entirely without direction, as he does best.
Collection 08 comes to a close just before the G-8 Arc is entirely resolved, leaving things hanging just enough to build suspense for Collection 09 (though, knowing what the next big story arc will be, nobody should need any extra incentive to pick that up).
One Piece Collection 08 is available on DVD from Manga UK from Monday November 3rd 2014. For more information, check out the Manga UK website. This collection provides a somewhat slow, though ultimately very rewarding and well told resolution of the Skypiea Arc, well-balanced against the quick-paced and energetic fun of the G-8 storyline.
85% – “200+ and still going strong!” – A series of this calibre is a rare and wonderful thing. Over two hundred episodes into the tale, it’s still early days for the Straw Hats and the series shows no signs of losing quality.