The Aunt Paradox (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #3) ★★★★☆

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Title: The Aunt Paradox
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #3
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 91
Words: 28K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

HG Wells has a problem. His Aunt Charlotte has borrowed his time machine and won’t give it back. Now she’s rewriting history!

Reggie Worcester, gentleman’s consulting detective, and his automaton valet, Reeves, are hired to retrieve the time machine and put the timeline back together. But things get complicated. Dead bodies start piling up behind Reggie’s sofa, as he finds himself embroiled in an ever-changing murder mystery. A murder mystery where facts can be rewritten, and the dead don’t always stay dead.

My Thoughts:

This was SO MUCH FUN!!!!! Being familiar with HG Wells’ story The Time Machine, while not an absolute necessity, definitely makes everything that much funnier. And the author plays around a LOT with Babbage and uses him as the kind of “every genius”, as in Babbage’s Cat, ie, is it dead or alive? I’m sure you all know it wasn’t Babbage’s Cat, but since Babbage is the one who helped the automatons to be created, he gets to be the resident world genius.

Dolley gets right into the horror of Aunts that is prevalent in Wodehouse and really amps things up. Wells’ Aunt takes 40+ copies of herself from history for her upcoming birthday and obviously chaos insues. In fact, HG Wells turns into a girl in one of the iterations. It was hilarious.

I also thought Dolley did a good job of wrapping things up so that the timeline established was the only timeline. Nice and neat and orderly. Speaking of neatly, all of this was done in under 100 pages. For feth’s sake Sanderson, Gwynne and some of you other frakking authors, take note. A good story can be told without drowning me in your pomposity and super-overabundance of words. Mr Dolley, I salute you for your brevity and wit. More authors should be like you.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] I Won’t Die (One Piece #8) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: I Won’t Die
Series: One Piece #8
Arc: East Blue Part 8
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 192
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

“I Won’t Die”

“The Mighty Battle Spear”

“Prepared”

“The Chewed-up Spear”

“The Soup

“The Fourth Person”

“Arlong Park”

“The Great Adventure of Usopp the Man”

“Lords of All Creation”

While the cooks (ordered by Sanji) tend to the poisoned Gin, Luffy charges at Krieg. Although the commodore uses his many weapons to severely injure him, Luffy wins; with his debt repaid, he is free to go. However, Sanji still refuses to join Luffy’s crew. Only after an attempt by the cooks to convince him he is unwanted does he finally agree. Nami is welcomed back to Arlong Park, the base of Arlong’s pirates (a crew consisting, aside from Nami, only of fish-men – beings who are half fish and half human. Zoro and Usopp learn separately that Nami is one of Arlong’s officers – Usopp from Nami’s adoptive sister Nojiko, and Zoro from Nami when he is captured and dragged into Arlong Park.

My Thoughts:

Luffy ends up beating Krieg and getting Sanji as part of his crew. Of course, it’s immediately revealed that Nami double crossed them and sailed off to another pirate crew run by a guy named Arlong, who is part fish and his entire pirate crew is part fish part human. Making them very powerful. They run a protection scam on about 20 villages and have visions of becoming even bigger.

With Zoro captured by Arlong, Nami revealed as one of Arlong’s crew and Usopp hiding out in on of the tribute villages, you know Luffy’s going to follow them and there’s going to be a big fight, just like this one. Part of me is already rolling my eyes and the other part of me is hoping the story gets better than that.

I do suspect I’m going to have to be patient and let Oda tell the story at his own pace and in his own way though.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Asterix and the Golden Sickle (Asterix #2) ★★★✬☆

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Title: Asterix and the Golden Sickle
Series: Asterix #2
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 51
Words: 3K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

Disaster strikes the Gaulish village when Getafix the druid breaks his golden sickle, as without one, he cannot attend the annual conference of druids, or cut mistletoe for the magic potion which keeps the Roman army at bay. Asterix and Obelix set out for Lutetia (present-day Paris) to buy a new sickle from Obelix’s distant cousin, the sicklesmith Metallurgix.

On the way there, they encounter bandits, but easily defeat them, and learn from a fellow-traveller that “sickles are in short supply in Lutetia”. In the city, they find Metallurgix missing and make inquiries at a local inn, but the landlord professes to know nothing. He later gives a description of Asterix and Obelix to the devious Clovogarlix, who in turn directs them to his superior Navishtrix, who tries to sell them a sickle at an exorbitant price. They refuse, and defeat Navishtrix and his followers, only to be arrested by a Roman patrol. They are released by the Prefect of Lutetia, Surplus Dairyprodus, and learn from a Centurion that Metallurgix may have been kidnapped by sickle traffickers.

From a drunkard imprisoned by Dairyprodus, they learn Navishtrix has a hideout at a portal dolmen in the Boulogne forest. In Navishtrix’s underground store-room, Asterix and Obelix find a hoard of golden sickles, but are attacked by Clovogarlix, Navishtrix and their minions. Upon defeat, Navishtrix escapes, and Asterix and Obelix follow him to Surplus Dairyprodus, who – in front of the Centurion – freely confesses to having sponsored the illegal sickle monopoly for his own amusement. The Centurion releases Metallurgix and imprisons Dairyprodus and Navishtrix; whereafter Metallurgix gratefully gives Asterix and Obelix the best of his sickles. With this, they return to their village and celebrate their achievement.

My Thoughts:

As fun as this was, I am realizing that it truly is meant for a younger audience. I think that for me to appreciate it to its fullest I’d have to read these just one a year instead of one a month. However, that just isn’t going to happen.

There is a formula to these books that goes something like this: There is a Problem that somehow involves the Gaulish village. Asterix and Obelix get roped into Solving the Problem. Violence and Jokes Ensue, Repeat as Necessary until Solution(s) are reached. Everyone has a Feast at the Village to celebrate. The End.

That formula works and it works well. You simply cannot beat (pun intended) Asterix drinking the magic potion and kerpow’ing scads of roman legionnaires with one punch. And don’t forget the random stranger who gets a swig of the stuff and adds to the chaos. And the banter, don’t forget the banter. It is like combining the Three Stooges with Laurel & Hardy. The problem with a formula is that at some point a reader (ie, me) expects something new and the older you are and the longer you’ve read, the harder it is to find new things. And formula’s aren’t well known for coming up with new things but with successfully re-using items that have worked before.

Of course, it might just be that I’m an old grump (get off my concrete lawn, you stupid kids!) and I want to complain about something and poor little Asterix “won” the lottery. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] The Crap-Geezer (One Piece #7) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Crap-Geezer
Series: One Piece #7
Arc: East Blue Part 7
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

“Pearl”

“Jungle Blood”

“I Refuse”

“If You Have a Dream”

“Crap-Geezer”

“Sanji’s Debt”

“Resolution”

“The Demon”

“MH5”

Luffy and the cooks defend the restaurant until Gin takes the one-legged head chef Zeff hostage, hoping to resolve the situation without Sanji’s death. Fearing for Zeff’s life, Sanji stops fighting but does not surrender the ship to the pirates. In a flashback, a young Sanji and Zeff (a renowned pirate) are shipwrecked. Zeff gives Sanji a small bundle of food and sends him to the other side of the island to keep watch, while Zeff keeps a much larger bundle for himself. Weeks later, a famished Sanji returns to take the pirate’s food only to discover that the bundle contains nothing but gold and that Zeff has devoured his own leg. In the present, Gin realizes that he cannot save Sanji’s life because he is hell-bent on protecting Zeff’s restaurant. Instead, Gin decides to kill Sanji with his own hands. When the time comes, he cannot do it and begs Krieg to leave the restaurant alone. Outraged at Gin’s disobedience, Krieg uses poison gas against his right-hand man.

My Thoughts:

Another thoroughly enjoyable romp with Luffy and Co. This volume mainly focuses on Sanji, the cook on the Floating Restaurant ship who Luffy wants as his own cook. We get his backstory about how he came to know Zeff the Pirate Cook and why he’s so loyal to him despite fighting with him all the time.

And despite Dracule beating the snot out of the pirates previously, Don Kreig and Crew show Luffy just why they were the scourge of East Blue. Luffy talks big and does his best to take Kreig down but each time Kreig prevents his attempts. You know Luffy is going to eventually win but it is impossible to figure out HOW he’s going to win.

The volume ends on a sappy note with one of the pirates giving up his gas mask to save Sanji’s life because Sanji gave him food when he was starving. Thankfully that wasn’t dwelt on very much, or my eyes might have rolled out of my head.

In the previous volume, and then this one, the little pictures between chapters were following Buggy the Clown and his Pirate Crew from the second volume. They are actually telling a mini-story, one picture at a time instead of just being funny pictures of Luffy & Co. Whether this mini-story will ever tie into the main story I don’t know, but I do like what Oda is trying to accomplish here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reggiecide (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #2) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Reggiecide
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #2
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 68
Words: 21.5K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

Guy Fawkes is back and this time it’s a toss up who’s going to be blown up first – Parliament or Reginald Worcester, gentleman consulting detective.

But Guy might not be the only regicide to have been dug up and reanimated. He might be a mere pawn in a plan of diabolical twistiness.

Only a detective with a rare brain – and Reggie’s is amongst the rarest – could possibly solve this ‘five-cocktail problem.’ With the aid of Reeves, his automaton valet, Emmeline, his suffragette fiancée, and Farquharson, a reconstituted dog with an issue with Anglicans, Reggie sets out to save both Queen Victoria and the Empire.

My Thoughts:

I laughed almost the entire way through this book. Dolley has captured the spirit of PG Wodehouse and while I won’t say he’s improved it, he’s distilled it to its essence and captured it in under 100 pages. I hadn’t even realized how short it was until I went looking for the data. It didn’t feel like a long book but it still felt like a complete story. That takes some talent as far as I’m concerned.

I do like that Reggie is affianced and not a single guy bumbling around. So far there have been no marriage proposal shenanigans and I’m guessing Dolley is staying away from that particular aspect of the original Jeeves & Wooster. Emmeline makes for a great catalyst to “make things happen” as she’s a spitfire, dynamite and ball of wax all rolled into one.

A small part of me wants to complain that these novellas about Reeves & Worcester aren’t long enough, but if I am being honest, they are just the right length. Long enough to be funny but not so long that they wear out the humor and send the reader off in a bad mood.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] The Oath (One Piece #6) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Oath
Series: One Piece #6
Arc: East Blue Part 6
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

Chapter List:

“Before the Storm”

“An Uninvited Guest”

“The Don’s Offer”

“Steer Clear”

“Storm”

“A Parting of Ways”

“Zoro Overboard”

“The Oath”

“Mackerel Head”

Luffy is a kitchen assistant and waiter until the torn-up flagship of Pirate Commodore Don Krieg lays anchor next to the floating restaurant and a half-starved Krieg, leaning on Gin, staggers inside. He begs for food, which Sanji provides without hesitation. When Krieg’s strength is restored he reverts to his normal self, demanding ownership of the restaurant and food for his 100 men. Nami leaves with the Merry Go, and Mihawk arrives. The master swordsman followed Krieg from the Grand Line, where he had wiped out his entire fleet. Zoro challenges him to a duel and, despite his best efforts, is defeated. After the fight, Usopp, Johnny, and Yosaku take Zoro aboard the bounty hunters’ boat and set sail to follow Nami. Luffy is left behind to pay his debt to the restaurant by defeating Krieg and his men.

My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, this felt like a more “serious” volume than the previous ones. I think that comes down to the fact that we realize just how “under-powered” everyone that Luffy and Co have met so far are in comparison to the people they are going to meet on the Grand Line. We meet Mihawk Dracule, the world’s greatest swordsman and my goodness, he is a veritable god of ability. He destroys a whole fleet of ships with just a sword for goodness sake.

We also get an explanation for why this arc is called East Blue. The world is divided by the Red Line and the Grand Line and various sections get called their designation. So Luffy and Co are in the East Blue quadrant, which Mihawk assures them is the easiest quadrant to live in. Zoro faces off against Mihawk and is so easily defeated that it is stunning. Mainly because we’ve seen how Zoro just rolls over anyone he’s come up against so far. It’s classic shonen but I hope that Oda can do better and tell a good story along with the shonen components. Once a series goes strictly shonen, it tends to become rather dull and uninteresting. I’ve experienced that with two other series, Hunter X Hunter and Reborn!.

Overall, I am glad to see something a little more serious from Oda, as it shows he has a deeper understanding of writing and has the ooomph to pull it off. Silly and Zany are good but it does need to be leavened and this volume felt just right in that regards.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Asterix the Gaul (Asterix #1) ★★★★☆

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Title: Asterix the Gaul
Series: Asterix #1
Authors: Goscinny & Uderzo
Translators: Bell & Hockridge
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 53
Words: 3K





Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org

All of the Gaul area is under Roman control, except for one small village in Armorica (present-day Brittany), whose inhabitants are made invincible by a magic potion created periodically by the Druid Getafix. To discover the secret of the Gauls’ strength, Centurion Crismus Bonus, commander of a Roman garrison at the fortified camp of Compendium, sends a spy disguised as a Gaul to the village. The Roman’s identity is revealed when he loses his false moustache, shortly after he discovers the existence of the magic potion; whereupon he reports his discovery to the Centurion.

Crismus Bonus, hoping to overthrow Julius Caesar, orders Getafix captured and interrogated for the recipe; but to no avail. Protagonist Asterix learns of Getafix’s capture from a cart-seller; infiltrates the Roman camp in the latter’s cart; and hears Crismus Bonus revealing his intended rebellion to Marcus Ginandtonicus, his second-in-command. Following Asterix’s suggestion, Getafix pretends to agree to the Centurion’s demand of the potion when Asterix pretends to give in to torture, and demands an unseasonal ingredient: strawberries. While Crismus Bonus’ soldiers try to find strawberries, Asterix and Getafix relax in relative luxury; and when the strawberries arrive, consume them all, and console Crismus Bonus that the potion may be made without them.

After all the ingredients are found, a potion is prepared that causes the hair and beard of the drinker to grow at an accelerated pace. The Romans are tricked into drinking this potion and before long, all of them have long hair and beards. When Crismus Bonus pleads Getafix to make an antidote, the druid makes a cauldron of vegetable soup (knowing that the hair-growth potion shall soon cease to take effect), and also prepares a small quantity of the real magic potion for Asterix. As Getafix and Asterix escape, they are stopped by a huge army of Roman reinforcements commanded by Julius Caesar. Upon meeting Asterix and Getafix, Caesar hears of Crismus Bonus’ intentions against himself; deports Crismus Bonus and his garrison to Outer Mongolia; and frees Asterix and Getafix for giving him the information, while reminding them that they are still enemies. The two Gauls then return to their village, where their neighbors celebrate their recovery.

My Thoughts:

I read many of the Asterix & Obelix stories growing up because my father collected these and we would buy them for him as birthday and Christmas presents. Since we were allowed to read them, very carefully, it was almost like we were getting ourselves a present too. Score! It was a hap-hazard reading journey though and I never bothered to read them all. Since I was looking for other comics to read besides Spawn and I really wasn’t interested in most of the Marvel or DC lineups (not even the old stuff), I recalled this series and jumped on it. Most of the books are only 50’ish pages long and each story is a self contained one, so it works out really well.

There are 38 of these stories. This story was published originally in 1961 in French and the translation I am reading was done in 2004. I might have to check with my pops to see who did the translations of his editions and see what the differences are. That type of thing is interesting to me so it’s worth exploring.

This type of comic is written for both adults and children. The kids will love the bright colors, the funny violence of tiny Asterix beating up four Roman soldiers at once, the contrast between Asterix and his giant friend Obelix. The adults will enjoy the very funny word plays and jokes in latin and the names of places and characters.

The beginning of the book introduces us to each character, the situation (that all of Gaul except this one village has been conquerered by Rome) and what the plot is for this particular book. We’re talking a One Stop Shopping kind of deal. Rather refreshing to be honest.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] For Whom the Bell Tolls (One Piece #5) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Series: One Piece #5
Arc: East Blue Part 5
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 200
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

Chapter List:

“After Them!!”

“Captain Kuro, of the Thousand Plans”

“Pirate Crew”

“For Whom the Bell Tolls”

“Usopp’s Pirate Crew

“To the Sea”

“Yosaku and Johnny”

“Sanji”

“Three Tough Cooks”

Django, ordered to kill Kaya after forcing her to write a will favoring Kuro, chases her through the forest; Zoro and Usopp are chasing them. On the shore, Luffy and Kuro fight one-on-one and the Straw Hats prevail. With Usopp the newest addition to the crew and a ship named Going Merry as a parting gift from Kaya, they leave the island. At sea they meet Zoro’s former bounty-hunting partners Johnny and Yosaku, who tell them about a floating restaurant near the Grand Line where the crew might find a cook and (to Zoro’s delight) “Hawk-Eye” Mihawk – the world’s best swordsman – was reportedly sighted. When they arrive, Luffy accidentally damages the restaurant and injures its head chef. In compensation, he agrees to work there for one week. When he sees assistant head chef Sanji give free food to Gin, a starving pirate, he decides to persuade the cook to join his crew.

My Thoughts:

This wrapped up the little adventure of Luffy & Co facing off against the Pirate who wanted to go legit, by faking a will and murdering the girl. Captain Kuro reveals that nobody and nothing is worth his time and everything is simply fodder for him to use to advance himself. This rubs Luffy the wrong way and really winds him up. Luffy defeats Kuro in a typically zany One vs One battle. Of course, Nami has been robbing the pirate ship this whole time, ha!

Usopp officially joins the crew and Luffy is on the lookout for someone to be their chef. Man has got his priorities straight is all I can say. They meet Sanji at a floating restaurant and the book ends with Luffy telling Sanji he wants him to be their cook. During this whole time Sanji and the 2 other cooks have been fighting with a customer and with each other and it made me laugh. It was ridiculous and honestly, it really shouldn’t have worked but some it did. I guess that is part of the mangaka’s magic, he simply makes work something that shouldn’t.

The little standalone pictures between chapters weren’t random images this time. They told the story of what happened to Buggy the Clown after being defeated by Luffy. He chases a little bird to eat it and it runs to its parent, which then chases Buggy and when it tries to eat him, spits him out as being bad food 😀 It was just amazing what Oda could express in Buggy’s facial expression and no words.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

What Ho, Automaton! (Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #1) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: What Ho, Automaton!
Series: Reeves & Worcester Steampunk Mysteries #1
Author: Chris Dolley
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Steampunk Mystery
Pages: 143
Words: 52K



Synopsis:

From the Publisher

What Ho, Automaton! chronicles the adventures of Reggie Worcester, gentleman consulting detective, and his gentleman’s personal gentle-automaton, Reeves.

Reggie, an avid reader of detective fiction, knows two things about solving crime: One, the guilty party is always the person you least suspect. And, two, The Murders in the Rue Morgue would have been solved a lot sooner had the detective the foresight to ask the witnesses if they’d seen any orang-utans recently. Reeves needs all his steam-powered cunning and intellect to curb the young master’s excessive flights of fancy. And prevent him from getting engaged.

The book contains two stories set in an alternative 1903 where an augmented Queen Victoria is still on the throne and automata are a common sight below stairs.

What Ho, Automaton! – an 8,000 word novelette of how the two met.

Something Rummy This Way Comes – a 41,000 word novella chronicling their first case. When Reggie discovers that four debutantes have gone missing in the first month of The London Season and, for fear of scandal, none of the families have called the police, he feels compelled to investigate. With the help of Reeves’s giant brain and extra helpings of fish, he conducts an investigation that only a detective of rare talent could possibly envisage.

Mystery, Zeppelins, Aunts and Humour. A steam-powered Wodehouse pastiche.

My Thoughts:

Oh my! This hit my Wodehouse funny bone perfectly. This is a parody of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves & Wooster series and I’m not sure it would really work if you’re not familiar with the original. However, I AM familiar with the original and this send up had me in stitches. If you’re not familiar with English English (as opposed to Real American English) Worcester is pronounced almost the same as Wooster, so even the names are a great parody.

This is not a timeless classic. But it is a boatload of fun and had me laughing out loud. It reminded me of my reaction to the first couple of Jeeves books. And since there are only four books in this Reeves and Worcester series, I don’t have to worry about going overboard and burning out on the humor (which is pretty much what happened to me with Jeeves, too much in a row).

The steampunk side of things was handled very lightly so it didn’t overwhelm the story but it had some big intrusions (the Queen is a cyborg and the Germans are trying to replace British royalty with robots) so if steampunk is your thing, this should fill that itch.

The only reason I’m not giving this 5stars is because there is one rather “swishy” character that really toed the line but didn’t cross it and a rather crude sentence near the end about body parts.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

[Manga Monday] Black Cat Pirates (One Piece #4) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Black Cat Pirates
Series: One Piece #4
Arc: East Blue Part 4
Author: Eiichiro Oda
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Manga
Pages: 211
Words: 8K



Synopsis:

From Wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_One_Piece_chapters_(1_186)

Chapter List:

“True Lies”

“Crescent Moon”

“Uphill Battle”

“Backfire”

“Truth”

“Cruel Fortune”

“The Creeping Cat”

“A Humble Servant”

“The Steep Slope”

Usopp fails to convince the villagers of the impending pirate invasion, but when he decides to prevent the raiding party from reaching them he is joined by the Straw Hat Pirates. They spend the night in preparation, planning to stop the Black Cat Pirates on the coast. However, they pick the wrong side of the village to protect; when they realize their mistake, they have to hurry to reach the other coast. The fight goes well, although they are unprepared and greatly outnumbered. Kuro, angered by the raiding party’s delay, appears on the battlefield; so does Kaya, in a futile attempt to negotiate a compromise.

My Thoughts:

Oh I enjoyed this. Luffy’s a stoner if there ever was one, without actually being a stoner. He’s dumb but not stupid and can be quite intelligent when he chooses to be. He also typifies the Ideal of One Man against the World, and winning. I really like that ideal and I suspect it is a big part of why this manga appeals to me. Plus, the humor is just absolutely whacko and right up my alley. Much like the comments section on 4 or 5 blogs I’m involved with, you just never know where the manga-ka Oda is going to go but when he does, I laugh out loud.

This was on the track of being a 5star read because it was so light and fluffy and funny. The the sick girl Kaya got involved. There was some serious eye rolling happening on my part when she tries to appeal to Kuro, her butler slash pirate captain, and his “better nature”. There was also multiples “Question & Answer” pages which really disrupted the flow of the story. While they were between chapters, they were inane enough that it made me wonder if the manga-ka made them up, because if they were real questions, then the questioners were outright pathetic.

Finally, I just don’t care for the character Usopp. I don’t like his character and I don’t like his artwork. The “big lipped” look has never appealed to me and kind of makes me cringe. I remember my first introduction to that style of character was from the Tenchi in Tokyo anime and I’ve never yet gotten to like it.

The pictures between chapters continue to amuse me greatly. This one is Luffy, Zorro and Nami “mecha”nized and stomping through Tokyo. Where does Oda come up with these ideas? I have no idea but I am loving every second of it 😀

Rating: 4 out of 5.