[Spoilers] So I started reviewing Fairy Tail a few days ago. A series that I did not think I would be reinvigorated like it has. Similarly, I believe that One Piece has also declined in quality recently. Since the Straw-hats landed in New World I have felt like this new Doflamingo arc has been dragging on for far too long. The series has been suffering from very poor pacing and surprisingly some character UN-development. How is that even possible? Ussop’s character in particular feels nerfed since we first saw him return to Sabaody. Zoro’s fight with Pica was ridiculously long, ridonkulously in fact. Way too many characters were added in Dressrosa, and I can’t even begin to keep track of them. Half of the Strawhats have actually not featured in the manga, for what seems like years, since they left for another island… I miss Chopper… and Nami… Luffy, Zoro and Sanji’s new skills I believe are largely hidden so far, which is understandable because you would not want to reveal your true powers till the really tough opponents. This brings us to Chapter 784 Gear Fourth! with Luffy’s next gear being revealed I feel like the series has been largely reinvigorated. This chapter marks another return to form for Oda and I am getting a feeling that I felt when that ridiculous Foxy pirates arc came to an end. Luffy had to pull out all of the stops to beat Doflamingo, and here are my thoughts on this new progression:
So to recap, most of Doflamingo’s forces have fallen and he is the only boss left to beat. I don’t even want to mention how the other big guys went down, because most of it was meh-tastic. Law is half dead, and the city is about to be destroyed by Doflamingo’s bird cage. These event of course pisses Luffy off and he decides not to waste anymore time with Doflamingo being in the way of his progression. Luffy then activates gear fourth. It seems that this new gear makes use of inflating his muscles and not his bones. This is coupled with armament haki giving him a buffed up appearance he calls poundman. It seems like the elasticity in-between his muscle fibers allows for him to fold his tissues within themselves, creating a pressurized cannon. The haki combined with rubberising and air pressure is enough to knock Doflamingo silly. It also allows him to effectively use geppo and fly. Even though Doflamingo gets in a hit, Luffy manages to retain his rubber consistency in armour, reducing the damage. Luffy goes on to pound Doflamingo into the next chapter. I am quite impressed with fourth gear, Oda has ingeniously found a way to power up Luffy in a way that makes sense and uses all of the tools in his arsenal. He seems like an enraged monster which fits the theme and symbolism of surviving the wild island of beasts where he trained, and conquered, for two years. I mostly like the design of gear fourth but I do not like how the legs are drawn. I wonder why everyone in the One Piece universe seems to skip leg-day at the gym. He would have looked even more menacing with larger legs. Never skip leg-day guys.
In chapter 785 we see that Gear Fourth uses a lot of haki and Luffy seems to lose momentum whilst the other try to hold back bird cage. Doflamingo then manages to create strings from the ground to retaliate. He mentions that this some sort of awakening, where devil fruit powers can alter the environment around them. This is an interesting development and may explain why the admirals and yonkou are still so much more powerful than everyone else. However, I am not sure how an awakening would help Luffy’s power. Perhaps rubberizing the environment would enable him to bounce around much faster and he can attain incredible speeds? only time will tell. Anyway, King Riku tries to rally all the survivors and convinces them to fight with everything they have. So everyone then gets the typical One-Piece-power-up-by-the-tears-of-their-leader status buff (Vivi flashback). Luffy decides to literally use his head then goes on for the finishing blow, Leo Bazooka. Actually, not much happened in this chapter. Oda went for the feels here with King Riku but it did not quite hit the mark for me. This chapter did not manage to hit the tones of the last. However, the revealing of “awakening” leaves us with many questions, and I cant wait to see what Oda does with this!
In chapter 785 – Gatz, we see that Luffy’s finishing blow failed to do its job as bird cage and Doflamingo remain. Luffy goes in for another hit but runs out of haki and ends up half dead. Doflamingo still seems ready to fight but Luffy has run out of steam. This causes Gatz, the Colosseum announcer, of all people to come cheer him on. It is revealed that the end of Poundman completely drains haki for 10 minutes. Luffy now has to rely on Gatz and his minions to buy time. Why Gatz of all people? who cares about this guy? he was so annoying during the tournament… Anyway, that giant luchadore monkey Jesus decides to go in for the kill while Luffy is compromised. I did not like this chapter, there was too much nonsense and filler/padding. Jesus coming into play is interesting, and shows that there are no rules in these kinds of battles. But of course it is alluded to earlier that Sabo will come to save the day, which he does. There was not even any mystery as to what would happen there. All this chapter was mostly set-up and it seems that even the killing blow, like the rest of this bloody arc, is taking forever to finish.
Sabo goes on to beat up Geysoos (the Hispanic Jesus), stating that he is Luffy’s brother and will always have his back. Jesus was actually stupid enough to take on the revolutionary army’s second in command, with all of those unfriendly bystanders close by. He was promptly dealt with, but Doflamingo, not so much. He was still able to easily take out quite a few men. But they were just fodder anyway, they should have stayed at home. Back at Birdcage, Zoro tries to stop its progression using armament haki which I don’t believe we have seen him use yet. Everyone decides to join in but they only have 3 minutes left. Luffy on the other hand needs 4 minutes to take out Doflamingo. So there we have it, the final blow continues to drag on. This chapter was yet more suspense-filled set-up to how these guys will get themselves out of this situation. My feeling is that the marines, and everyone else, will join in to hold bird cage back long enough for Luffy to regenerate. To me, this is clearly a parallel to Goku’s spirit bomb in the Dragonball series. Goku needed time and energy from his allies and the people for his final attack. So does Luffy. I think that there has been enough suspense filled set-up and we need to get to the end of this thing. We can only hope it all goes down within the next couple of chapters, because I’m tired. I am going to sleep. I rate Gear Fourth as a heart-pounding 784 out of 10. The other chapters just get a 4. Let me know what you guys think!
This post was originally on the otakugamertist WordPress site which I closed to start this new site.
Image credits: Shueisha, VIZ media, Weekly Shōnen Jump