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[personal profile] sara_tanaquil
Not sure if this is rushing things, but at one point [livejournal.com profile] mangaroo was hoping to walk 54 and 55 back to the library tomorrow, so I figured I'd better post it. Will see if I can get through 56 this weekend.

Volume 55

[Haha, the title of this volume! Viz went with "A Ray of Hope" - no wonder they had trouble with it. The actual title is ”地獄に仏," "A Buddha in Hell," but the kanji for "Buddha" is glossed "okama." Apparently the phrase is proverbial - to meet Buddha in hell is to be saved when you thought all hope was lost.]

533

[I didn't get a chance to comment on this in the last volume, but it is good to see the other Strawhats, even if it's just doing silly random things with animals.]

As Hancock is being escorted out of the prison, she asks about Ace's execution, and is told it will take place in 29 hours, at 3 pm the following day.

Ace is scheduled to be transferred to Marineford in the morning.

Hancock silently prays for Luffy's safety.

Back on the ship, Momonga learns that there has been a small (!) upheaval - a skirmish has been reported between Red-Hair Shanks and Kaidou in the New World. Apparently Kaidou was planning to try to attack Whitebeard, and Shanks went to stop him.

Momonga shakes his head over the world being in such a state that a war between Emperors (Yonkou) is treated as a "skirmish." The whole world is aware now that war with Whitebeard is all but inevitable, and it's unsettling everything.

"Let's hurry back to Marineford."

Inside, Buggy and Three are once again insisting that they have no intention of going DOWN to Level 4.

Bon: "Leave them, Mugi-chan. Gutless wonders." (丸っきり根性ナッスィンガ共なんて.)
Buggy: "WHO ARE YOU CALLING A BIG-NOSE?" (誰が「丸っ鼻コントみたいダー」だ)
Bon: "How does that even remotely sound like what I said!? Whatever! I'm twirling!"

Luffy notices that the ceiling seems to be getting taller and taller.

Too late, they realize that the platform they were standing on is falling.

They all start arguing about whose special technique made the floor crumble, but finally realize they should be more worried about boiling to death.

Down below, several prisoners are being shoved off a platform into a cauldron of boiling blood.

One prisoner tries to make a break for it, but is knocked off the walkway when he runs into Mr. 1 (Daz Bones).

Magellan, Hannyabal and all the leading guards are gathering on Level 4. They are waiting in front of the door leading to the stairwell.

Sadie complains that they should have just gone directly to Level 3 instead of waiting on Level 4. She doesn't mind, but "these children" are getting restless.

Behind her are the three beast-guards: Mino-Zebra, Mino-Koala, and Mino-Rhinoceros. (And then there's the Mino-Taurus, get it?)

[Oda, what are you smoking, and can I have some?]

An officer comes to report that Luffy has been spotted falling down the central well. (Magellan's chair is shaped like a Porta-Potty. He peeks out of a little window when he wants to talk to someone.)

Magellan thinks that in that case, they'll simply fall into the cauldron of blood and drown, but another officer comes to report that Luffy has now been spotted on Level 4. Apparently he survived the fall.

Furthermore, the Minotaurus has been defeated.

Magellan gives orders for their forces to split into three. Hannyabal is to guard the stairs to the third level. Sadie is to take the Mino-guards and guard the stairs to the fifth level.

[Hannyabal is thinking that if they pass by him, he'll let them escape and blame everything on the Warden.]

The rest are to hunt Luffy down and exterminate him.

Luffy and the others are running through level 4. Suddenly Luffy smells something and dashes off in another direction.

Bon realizes that he's headed for the kitchen, and runs after him. ("I'm starving, too!")

Luffy runs into a bunch of prison guards, but knocks them all out. He's focused on getting to the food, because being well fed will make him a hundred times stronger.

Buggy wants to run after them, but Three stops him. He's figured out from observing what is going on around him that the prison guards plan to block all the access points to Level 4 and trap them there.

[Buggy is now calling Three "aibou", partner. These two are seriously kind of adorable, in a dysfunctional way.]

Three is very worried about the possibility that they might have to face the Warden and the "three all-stars" (the Mino-critters).

Luffy and Bon have just run into Magellan.

534

The other prison guards are fleeing in terror. They don't want to be anywhere near when Magellan uses his poison.

Bon tries to warn Luffy not to fight Magellan, because he has the poison-poison fruit.

Magellan summons his "Hydra" attack and goes after Luffy.

Some of his own guards get caught in the crossfire (to Luffy's disgust).

Luffy is able to temporarily remove himself from the range of the Hydra, but then Magellan starts firing poison gas bubbles from his mouth.

The guards hastily don gas masks.

The prisoners in their cells try to protect themselves from the tear gas. Mr. 1 is among them.

Luffy is being severely affected by the tear gas, sneezing violently, eyes running.

Magellan suddenly jumps up to stand next to him.

As Luffy is fighting Magellan, Bon Clay decides to make a run for it. He hates to abandon Luffy, but he knows they haven't got a chance of winning.

Buggy and Three are also watching and trying to calculate their best chance of escape. Three thinks their best chance is to try to get back up to Level 3, before even more guards arrive. They might have a chance against Hannyabal alone.

Facing Magellan, Luffy has decided he'd rather use his fists against Magellan's poison body than go down without fighting. He invokes Gear Two and punches him.

[Luffy, you need to stop that. He's already at the point where he's gasping for breath with every sentence. T__T]

535

Buggy and Three have been defeated in their battle against Hannyabal.

[Hannyabal is exasperated. "I TOLD them I was going to let them pass, why did they have to attack? Idiots!"]

Meanwhile, Mr. 2 is fleeing, but he's crying so hard he can barely see.

Luffy is still fighting Magellan, but his body is rapidly succumbing to the effects of the poison.

Below, Ace is begging the guards to tell him the truth about what is going on above his head. They won't talk.

Magellan has drenched Luffy's entire body with poison.

"This is your death sentence, invader. Suffer agonies for the next 24 hours… and then fall into hell for real."

Magellan tells his men to take Luffy to Level 5 to die.

One of the officers reports that there has been some indication of trouble at the entrance to Level 3, but they're not sure what is happening.

Meanwhile, in some deep-freeze area of the prison, prisoners are half encased in ice.

They see the guards wheeling in a new victim.

This is Level 5, "Freezing Hell."

Above, Magellan arrives at the staircase to Level 3 to discover that Hannyabal and all his soldiers are unconscious.

They report that Mr. 2 broke through using "okama kenpou" and escaped to the third level. Buggy and Three are still tied up nearby.

The riot on level 2 is nearly back under control.

Magellan gives orders for the main forces to pull back to Level 3, and to work on cleaning up the remains of the mess inside the prison as quickly as possible.

Hannyabal orders Three and Buggy to be taken to his office for questioning.

Once the doors are closed, Hannyabal's face melts away to reveal Bon Clay's.

"We must act at once… to save Mugi-chan!"

The others protest that Luffy is already as good as dead, and has been sealed away on Level 5, but Bon is insistent.

He swore to himself, when he left Luffy behind, that he would return after attempting to save the other two.

The others still don't understand, but Bon shouts "Because he's my FRIEND! What other reason do I need?"

536

Disguised as Hannyabal, Bon tries to get an antidote for the poison from the prison doctors, but they insist that there is no way of saving someone who has been exposed to multiple poisons from Magellan. If it were only one type of poison, maybe, but…

When Three says that no miracle can save Luffy now, Bon has an idea. He'll take him to "the Miracle Worker."

Iva-san, the Okama King. They say he can save patients that doctors have given up on and countries on the verge of death. There's no miracle he can't perform!

[Incidentally, the Japanese is inconsistent in its use of titles - it sometimes calls Iva queen (jo-ou), sometimes king (ou). I've tried to mirror the original as much as possible.]

Still disguised as Hannyabal, Bon escorts Buggy and Three (as "prisoners") down to Level 5.

The strange thing, though, is that Emporio Ivankov's name has been mysteriously crossed off the list of Level 5 prisoners.

[LOL Pandaman is on the list too. What did Pandaman ever do?]

When he asks the other guards about it, they say, "Oh yeah, that was that THING a few years ago. Don't you remember?"

When pressed, they explain that there have been several cases of mysterious "disappearances." They are quite sure the prisoners didn't escape, but they are simply nowhere to be found.

Some people whisper that they were kidnapped by demons, dragged through the gates of the demon world.

All three are already shivering with cold, despite not even having entered the door to Level 5, and despite being wrapped in winter coats. But to their horror, when they arrive at the entrance, the others expect them to leave their coats behind - apparently Hannyabal is in the habit of boasting that he can stand the cold of Level 5 while walking around half naked.

They step into Frozen Hell, and are promptly attacked by wolves.

Three says that these wolves aren't kept on Level 2, because if they were, they would eat the Basilisks and the Sphinx.

Bon Clay is ready to stand and fight the wolves, but Three and Buggy are already running for their lives.

On Level 5, Luffy is writhing in agony.

He remembers the prophetic words of Grandma Nyon, that he would be flicked aside like an ant.

Luffy keeps insisting that he won't die. He's going to save Ace, although he is blind and helpless.

The prisoners who are watching over him mock him. They all know that there is no way to survive inside prison, except for following the rule "every man for himself." No one risks himself to save another.

A half-naked, blood-soaked figure appears through the snow.

"Mugi-chan! I came to save you! In the n-n-name of friendship!"

"Who the hell are you?"

"A FRIEND!" (友達, pronounced だち.)

Bon drags Luffy's body away with him, but everyone he talks to says they have no idea where Iva-san is.

Finally he finds one prisoner who says he's seen a "weird guy" occasionally emerging from a prison guard office that is no longer in use. Maybe he should check it out.

As he walks away, another prisoner says "Isn't that a nest of wolves?"

"Oh, is it? Heh heh heh."

Bon fights his way through herds of attacking wolves. When Bon is almost gone, Luffy actually finds the strength to stand.

"What do you think you're doing to Bon-chan?"

The wolves turn swirly eyed and start backing off.

"GET LOST!"

They all pass out or run yelping.

Luffy faints. Bon is left staring. "What was THAT?"

Bon collapses, too.

A man appears, standing over him. He has a lightning bolt on his forehead, and his hair and clothing is half black and half white. He carries a glass of wine in one hand.

26 hours to Ace's execution.

537

Nami, dressed in prison garb, is mysteriously standing in front of Hannyabal. Hannyabal is smitten. He allows her to pass.

Then he wonders why all the other guards are unconscious. And where did that okama go?

"Nami" invites him to help her remove this nasty, sweaty clothing. He follows her.

Hours later, they still haven't found Hannyabal's bound and naked body, left hanging in a Level 4 storeroom. He is gagged, bound and furious.

The Warden is in the bathroom, dealing with the after-effects of using too much poison.

Saldeath and his guards are cleaning up the mess on Level 2, but they're worried about the fact that they haven't found all the keys yet.

On Level 3, Sadie-chan is still searching for the missing prisoner, Mr. 2.

Meanwhile, Bon awakes to find himself heavily bandaged, in a strange… bar?

The man (woman?) in black and white appears. "Ah, awake, I see. You've been asleep for ten hours."

He/she introduces him/herself as Inazuma (this is the Japanese word for "lightning").

When she (argh, this is confusing) mentions bringing them "both" back, Bon demands to know what happened to Luffy.

Someone steps out on stage.

"My, you slept well, CANDY BOY. Or should I call you Mr. 2? Bon-boy."

He (she?) welcomes Bon to the "paradise" within Impel Down. Here there is food, liquor, entertainment - and FREEDOM.

[It is impossible to convey the excessive use of feminine sentence-endings in this entire section. WA YO!]

This is where all the demon-captured prisoners go. Oh, but it's not the "demon world" (ma-kai). More like o-ka-ma-kai, amirite?

"Welcome… to Impel Down, Level 5.5! The Secret Garden! NEW-KAMA-LAND! Yee-haw!"

Oda-box: Emporio Ivankov, Queen of Kamabakka Kingdom.

Bon is stunned when the crowd starts shouting "Iva-sama!" (For the record: In Japanese, this is "Iwa-sama.")

Ivankov tends to substitute "va" for all his "a" sounds.

"Vanata, vatashi wo shitteru?" ("You know me?")

[On the subject of his strange speech patterns, he also has a really weird tendency to turn all his negative -nai's into "naburu" or "nasshu." I have no idea why, this conveys nothing to me except making him hard to understand. "Vanata" is kind of hilarious though.]

He also has a tendency to say something exaggerated and take it back. (Everyone then responds with "Pull the other one!")

Suddenly a man bursts into the hall.

He says he's been seeking revenge, ever since his father, the king of a certain country, set foot in Kamabakka kingdom 15 years before, and came home as an okama. It destroyed their kingdom, and his son was forced to seek a living as a pirate.

He tries to fire a cannon at Ivankov, but Ivankov uses his "death wink" on it and sends it back to the target.

Ivankov suddenly appears before the man, and uses his "Emporio Hormone" on him.

"Your father wanted to become a woman. So what? Two mothers! One daughter! Go, and learn to get along!"

The man transforms into a woman.

The woman runs away crying.

[I have to say, this is not the poster child for transgender liberation. >.<]

Ivankov proclaims that it is his (her? this is tiring…) mission to erase all the lines of sex and gender discrimination. You can be a man, a woman, an okama, whatever you want.

"We are the new race! The Newkama!" (The kanji read "new human kind.")

Bon Clay kneels before Ivankov, and begs for a favor - that he save Mugi-chan from Magellan's poison.

Ivankov laughs. Does Bon really think that Iva is such a softy that he'd save anyone? Why does he think Ivankov saved him in the first place?

"Because Mugiwara-Boy asked me to, that's why."

He was barely alive, but he begged Ivankov to save Bon-chan's life.

"He was hurt by the wolves saving me. Please! He's my friend!"

Ivankov has already been fighting to save Mugiwara-boy's life for the last ten hours.

For the last ten hours, Luffy has been locked inside a cave, screaming in agony. And the treatment will take another two days to complete.

538

Flashback to Ivankov standing over Luffy, chained to his platform.

Ivankov says that the process will take ten years off his life. But in exchange, he might have a 2, even 3 percent chance of saving him. No guarantees.

Luffy agrees willingly.

It all depends on whether Luffy's will to live is strong enough.

Back in the present, Ivankov and Bon are standing outside the room in which Luffy has been imprisoned. Luffy is screaming inside.

Ivankov says that, within Luffy's body, the forces of life and death are battling it out.

When Bon peeks through a window and sees the agony Luffy is in, he begs Ivankov to put him out of his misery. Ivankov slaps him.

"Do you think it's such an easy thing, to defy death?"

Ivankov says that only people - and countries - who have the will to live can be saved.

"Don't think miracles come cheap!"

Ivankov explains that he ate the "hormone fruit." He can control the operation of hormones within the body.

Bon wonders if, after all, he's only dreaming. How can all this be going on inside the prison?

But Ivankov says that it's not a dream, it's the land of dreams. Haha!

Those who have found their way to this place were all once prisoners, but there were all sorts of hidden access points. They found their way to him in various ways.

The guards outside have no idea they exist, but they themselves can monitor anything that goes on within the prison. They have tapped into the entire den-den mushi network.

All of them have been cheering Luffy and his strange alliance on since he first broke in. They've never seen anything like it in the history of the prison.

When Bon asks, Ivankov explains that the space itself was originally hollowed out with the help of a prisoner who had a devil fruit power. It exists between Levels 5 and 6.

Bon is shocked to hear that Level 6 really exists. Ivankov calls it "Infinite Hell." The worst monsters imaginable are locked up there. Their very existence has been erased by the government.

Among them, he says, is "Shiryuu of the Rain," the former head jailer. He is probably stronger than Magellan himself.

Magellan imprisoned him for killing prisoners indiscriminately.

Among the Level 6 prisoners, too, are the notorious pirates Catharina Devon, and San Juan Wolf, and Vasco Shot.

[Thank goodness for Viz, because these katakana were unintelligible.]

Not to mention Mr. 2's former boss. Hear he's pretty crazy.

"Zero-chan!? Crocodile?"

And, of course, Jinbei and Ace are there, too.

It's already past midnight. Ace's execution is scheduled for less than 15 hours from now. And in the morning, he'll be transferred to Marineford.

Ace will be taken away within seven or eight hours. Meanwhile, it will take two days just to save Mugiwara's life, and probably three days' recovery time after that, in the unlikely event that he lives at all. By the time he wakes up, Ace will be long gone.

Ivankov says Bon should eat well and rest, too, but Bon insists that he will stay with Mugi-chan.

He stands outside the room, and shouts "GANBARE!" over… and over… and over.

[I need an icon for this. *tears of pride*]

The hours pass.

Sadie-chan is beside herself with frustration. Why can't they find ONE okama?

An officer reports to Magellan that Strawhat has disappeared from Level 5.

Someone finally finds Hannyabal tied up in the storage room on Level 4.

Outside Luffy's room, the entire population of Newkamaland is chanting "GANBARE!"

It's past seven am. Down in their cell, Jinbei is trying to convince Ace that Hancock was probably lying.

"You don't understand! Ever since he was a kid, he's been like this. Impossible. Always making me worry! That IDIOT!"

A little past 8 am, Domino reports to Magellan's office to carry out Ace's transfer to Marineford.

Outside Luffy's room, there is silence. Luffy finally stopped screaming.

Ivankov says that that means that the treatment either worked… or…

Blood is trickling out from under the door.

Ivankov is sad. He fought bravely for 20 hours, but…

Someone starts pounding on the door from the inside.

"FOOOOOOOD…!!!"

Ivankov can't believe it. It's been less than a day!

539

The entire population of Newkamaland is shoving food through the door to Luffy's room, as fast as they can carry it.

After devouring food for over half an hour, Luffy finally emerges.

"ALL BETTER!"

Luffy is happy to see that Bon-chan is up and about, too. Bon-chan promptly faints dead away.

Ivankov diagnoses exhaustion. (Everyone is shocked when Luffy addresses him as Iva-chan.)

"Thanks for saving us!"
"Thank Bon-boy here. He's the one who has been keeping watch over you for hours."

Luffy bows his head.

"Bon-chan… thank you! I'll never forget this!"

Inazuma brings Luffy's hat and clothing. He tells him he ought to rest for several days, but Luffy says there's no time for that.

He asks if Ivankov wants to escape. After all, Bon-chan came all this way to save him.

Ivankov is touched, but says it's not his time to leave, yet.

The world has its eyes fixed on the upcoming conflict between Whitebeard and the navy, but… that man isn't ready to move yet.

Revolutionaries throughout the world are waiting for a sign from the Revolutionary Leader, Dragon.

Luffy: "Oh, right, my dad." (俺の父ちゃん, LOL)

"Right, your father. When he leads forth his army, I will rejoin the world, and not before…"

*beat* *beat*

"YOUR FATHER?? You're Dragon's son? Wait, Dragon has a son?"

"Oh right, I wasn't supposed to mention that. Well, that's what granddad told me, anyway. I've never met him or anything."

When Ivankov asks where he comes from, Luffy says he's from the East Blue.

That confirms what Ivankov knew - Dragon once hinted he was from the East Blue.

Ivankov announces that he's decided to lead Mugiwara-boy down to Level 6. The vivre card is still pointing in that direction, so maybe there's still time.

Luffy: "Wait, six? Not five? Whatever! Yay!"

Ivankov assumes that if Luffy and Ace are brothers, Ace must be Dragon's son, too.

But surely, the government wouldn't be mad enough to challenge Whitebeard and Dragon at the same time? What are they thinking?

Ivankov puts out the word to all of Newkamaland. Those who are willing to risk their lives escaping, it's time to move!

Luffy is full of determination, but he keeps collapsing.

Ivankov gives Luffy another shot of hormones to keep him going - adrenalin, this time.

"You're going to feel like hell later, but you don't mind that, right?"

[Luffy is seriously, seriously going to die young. T___T]

Meanwhile, Hannyabal is looking over the wanted posters of the prisoners who were escorted to Level 5 by his duplicate.

[It kind of cracks me up that he had a spare headdress, only this one has a fox/jackal head on it. Bon stole his original clothes.]

Luffy disappeared from the place where they left him. But the guards say that later, all they found was some bloody clothing (including Hannyabal's original headdress), so they think all four might have been eaten by wolves.

Hannyabal is horrified when they reflect that if the prisoners do escape, both the warden and the vice-warden will probably be fired. ("ME TOO?")

On Level 6, the Warden has finally emerged from his morning, er, activities and they are approaching Ace's cell. Domino is peeved because they have to hand Ace over to the navy at 9 am, sharp.

Outside, the vice-admiral in charge of the pickup (is that Onigumo?) is exhorting his men to be ready for ANYTHING once they take Ace into custody. There are five warships and five vice-admirals there to escort the prisoner to Marineford.

On Level 5, Luffy, Ivankov and Inazuma (does he/she go anywhere without the wineglass, LOL?) are charging through Frozen Hell at top speed.

"Forget being stealthy! Just CHARGE!"

The prisoners on Level 5 are shocked to recognize Ivankov, who was thought to have disappeared years ago.

The wolves don't even slow them down. (Hee, Inazuma takes out several wolves without spilling a drop of wine.)

When they enter the corridor to Level 6, the guards spot them on their cameras. They, too, are stunned to see Ivankov. And how is Strawhat still alive, after taking a full dose of the Warden's poison? The third they recognize as a former Level 5 prisoner, the revolutionary Inazuma of the South Blue.

At this rate, the guards say, they're going to run straight into the Warden and Domino, who are escorting Ace to the surface.

Hannyabal is unusually decisive. "Trigger the traps on Level 6! Notify Sadie-chan to bring the beast-guards from Level 4! And contact the Warden AT ONCE!"

[Guard, surprised by his energy: Could it be another fake? LOLOL]

Luffy and the others are racing down the stairs. "I'm coming! ACE!"

[Definitely not stealthy. Luffy on an adrenaline high is nearly as scary as Luffy on mescaline.]

The Warden is standing outside Ace's cell.

"We're here to escort you to Marineford."

540

[I love everyone watching over sleeping Luffy in this cover image. Strawhats forever! <3]

The traps and guards on Level 6 are entirely failing to stop Luffy and co.

When they arrive at Ace's cell, however, Ace is already gone.

Jinbei immediately recognizes Luffy from his straw hat. (He actually came!)

Jinbei tells them that they just missed Ace - he was just led off to the elevator.

[I love that he calls Luffy omae-san (roughly, "buddy" or "pal"). It's such a middle aged guy thing.]

They race toward the elevator, but it is already being cut off, as are the stairs. The plan is clearly to trap them on Level 6.

The level is filling with sleeping gas.

Meanwhile, the Warden has a struggling Ace pinned down at the top of the lift.

Ace had been hoping against hope that Hancock's report was a lie.

Why did you come here, Luffy!

Down below, Inazuma uses his devil fruit power (the snip-snip fruit - he is a "scissors man") to cut strips off the stone floor and seal the passage against the sleeping gas. Anything that he can cut into strips, he can manipulate like paper.

Luffy immediately starts calling him Kani-chan, LOL ("Crab-chan", because his scissor hands look like crab claws).

They are temporarily safe from the gas, but the enemy has still succeeded in sealing them on Level 6. Ivankov knocks out the camera den-den mushi, saying it's the least he can do.

Ivankov says that it's already too late. When Luffy looks at Ace's vivre card, it is no longer pointing straight up, but slightly to the side. Ace is already being handed over to the Marines for transport to Marineford.

(Above, we see that the handoff is taking place on the dock at this moment.)

Ivankov decides that he'll just have to concentrate on getting Luffy and the rest of them safely out of the prison. Nothing can be done for "Ace-boy" now. They'll just have to count on Whitebeard's intervention.

Luffy immediately declares that he's going to head for Marineford.

"SAY WHAT, FOOL?" (ヴァかおっしゃい, LOL, it took me several passes to figure out what Ivankov was even saying.)

"Do you intend to fight a war at the summit (頂点) of this world?"

[Marineford has many informal arc names, but this is one of them: The Summit War. Ironically, this is also the word Ace used when he said, way back when, "Let's meet at the summit of pirates!", although he surely meant the New World when he said that.]

Luffy is obdurate. ("If I give up, I'll have to live with regret (悔いが残る). I'm going.")

Ivankov thinks that he's seen this face many times. It's exactly like dealing with Dragon himself.

Inazuma says they've got to escape Level 6 before they can think about going anywhere.

"You want out of this place, then free me. I can open a hole in the ceiling."

Finally, "Sir Crocodile" is properly revealed.

Luffy reacts at first with fury ("No way! You screwed up Vivi's country!"), but Crocodile says he has no further interest in her kingdom. He wants a shot at taking out Whitebeard.

Ivankov agrees - Crocodile could be helpful to them. Especially if Luffy really intends to go to Marineford.

Crocodile does NOT look happy to see Ivankov.

Ivankov says he knew Crocodile briefly back when he was a rookie. He leers knowingly at him.

"If he tries to betray us, I can handle him. I know his WEAKNESS. But if he plays nice and helps us, I'll keep quiet, yee-haw!"

Oh god, the Crocomom theory. I can't unsee it. >.< PLEASE let it not be true.

Jinbei begs them to take him with them, too. He was locked up in Impel Down because he opposed the war. He wants to save Ace as much as they do.

"Please! Give me a place to die!"

[Love this quiet exchange of looks. Luffy in serious mode can be absolutely eerie.]

"Fine."

Ivankov is alarmed - they don't know the first thing about him! But Luffy's mind is already made up.

LOVE this final chapter frame. Ivankov, Crocodile, Jinbei, Luffy, Inazuma prepare to break out.

Ivankov: "No time to waste! We're busting out of this joint, yee-haw!"
Jinbei to Crocodile: "I'm not letting you lay a hand on the old man (oyaji)!"
Crocodile to Jinbei: "Guess we're going to be killing each other pretty soon, then."
Random prisoners: "Hey, let us out too!"
Inazuma (holding wine glass - where did he put it when he had scissor hands?): "If you count the exes, we have two Warlords on our side now."
Luffy: "Two? Who's the second?" [LOLOL Luffy]

541

[Cover image: Vivi! It's good to see her. Hee, I just noticed not only her Pirate apron, but the camel and her father peeking into the kitchen.]

The guards arrive on Level 6, preparing to take the prisoners into custody, but discover that they have already vanished through a hole in the ceiling.

"Shiryuu of the Rain" (the former head jailer) addresses them from his cell. He tells them that Jinbei and Crocodile have joined with the others (hence the hole in the ceiling).

Obviously they can't manage the prison without him. He offers his "assistance," if they'll let him out.

[Creepy Nazi dude, ugh.]

Hannyabal is shaking in his freakish Egyptian costume boots.

"You're telling me the five of them have all escaped to Level 5? Am I going to get the blame for this?"

The other guards point out that since Magellan is currently escorting Ace, this is pretty much all on Hannyabal.

Hannyabal mobilizes everything they've got to head for Level 4.

"Sadie-chan! Saldeath! If it kills me, I want to be the next Warden. Oops - I mean, if it kills me, let's FIGHT!"

On Level 5, Ivankov is organizing all his followers. He tells them that their only chance of breaking out and commandeering a navy ship is to increase their numbers by freeing everyone they can between here and Level 1.

This is going to be a prison break the likes of which the world has never seen.

"Let's go, Mugiwara-boy!"
Inazuma: "He already left." (LOL)

Bon is with them, in super-hyper-mode (I guess he got the hormone shot too).

Luffy, Crocodile and Jinbei are already charging up the stairs to level 4.

Jinbei says it's not quite 10 am. They have until 3 pm to get to Marineford and stop the execution. And there is no telling when Whitebeard will attack.

Luffy: "They won't kill him until 3? Then there's still time!"

[Haha, this is just the maemuki thing that Buggy hates so much.]

Crocodile easily dissolves the door onto level 4 (quick panel to review his powers for new readers - what, not everyone has memorized Alabasta?).

They come face to face with the forces on Level 4. Crocodile slashes right through them.

[Crocodile was scary enough as an enemy. As a sort-of ally, he's just plain haxx.]

Luffy, Crocodile and Jinbei are plowing their way through. (We get our first glimpse of Jinbei's "fishman karate.")

The guards are terrified ("It's a 300 million beri bounty head and two Warlords!") but determined to hold the line until reinforcements arrive.

Up on Level 2, Buggy and Three are watching as every guard and Blugori is summoned to deal with the crisis on Level 4.

[Manticores, mumbling: "Camisole… thigh gap…"]

They figure this is their chance. They're ready to launch another prison riot (Three has provided all the prisoners with wax keys).

Buggy looks back fondly on their "great adventure" to ascend from Level 5 to Level 2. Now freedom is almost within their grasp.

The monitor room contacts Hannyabal to say that something strange is going on on Level 2.

When Hannyabal asks the guards on level 2 what's going on, they report that they are already on the way to Level 4.

"No! Turn back!"

The great prison riot on Level 2 is back on.

"Our savior! Captain Buggy!"

Down on Level 4, Crocodile tosses a set of keys to Mr. 1. "Care to join me?"

Mr. 1: "Since it's you. I was just starting to get bored."

Reports are flooding in to Hannyabal from all over the prison.

"This is Level 4! Warden, Ivankov and your nemesis Mr. 2 have appeared at the head of an ARMY! It's the missing prisoners who were kidnapped by demons!"

Ivankov's forces join up with Luffy and the others. Bon recognizes Mr. 1.

(Luffy doesn't know who Mr. 1 is, haha. Bon has to explain that "this is the guy that haramaki-chan beat at Alabasta." Apparently the reader needs a picture of Zoro to know who haramaki-chan is?)

Level 2 and Level 4 are both begging for reinforcements. Hannyabal is beside himself.

[I have sneakily huge love for these moments when the authorities of the world are overcome by Luffy's ability to create utter chaos. Reminds of me of Spandam on Enies Lobby, finding out there are five hundred casualties, not five.]

"In more than one sense of the word… these people are OUT OF CONTROL!"

[止まりません, they won't stop. Apparently a reference to the wacky appearance of Ivankov's army as well as their unstoppable momentum. LOL, Viz has "dressed to kill," that's pretty good.]

Frame of the full wrath of Luffy's jailbreak army (I love these insane spreads).

"Let's go! To Marine Headquarters!"

TBC

[Trivia note: the character popularity poll was also in the Japanese volume. Trafalgar Law is in 10th place, not far behind Shanks in 8th and Ace in 5th, holy crap. I didn't realize he got so popular so fast. He ranks above Usopp and Franky!]

Date: 2014-11-02 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lego-joker.livejournal.com
Awww, yeah. Never mind what I said last time, THIS is one of my favorite parts of not just Impel Down, but all of One Piece. Where no one's allegiances are set in stone and Luffy can make allies (if not friends), out of EVERYONE.

There were hints of it on Water Seven, but it really goes over the top here.

I still think that Crocodile's feeding them all a line of bull - maybe he literally does mean he's not interested in Alabasta anymore, but the wider implications of "I've no other goals now besides getting a shot at Whitebeard" are almost definitely BS. I maintain that him getting thrown into Impel Down in the first place might have been some kind of backup plan to Operation Utopia, if not his actual MAIN plan all along, but we'll just have to see, won't we?

(That said, Crocodile getting freed still feels kinda convoluted to me. Was there LITERALLY no one else who had the power-set they needed? I just hope Luffy can explain this to Vivi when/if they finally meet up again.)

Inazuma is win either way. Still not sure what to feel about Mr. 1 (he's like Kuroobi but with even FEWER notable characteristics), but he's tolerable enough. Buggy and Three are still pure win...

I just hope we'll have enough tissues for the next volume's recap...

Date: 2014-11-02 05:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sara-tanaquil.livejournal.com
Where no one's allegiances are set in stone and Luffy can make allies (if not friends), out of EVERYONE.

The most terrifying ability, indeed!

(Full of Marineford spoilers, so [livejournal.com profile] mangaroo should not click on it yet, but this vid - The Values of One Piece - legitimately gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. Just so well done.)

I just hope Luffy can explain this to Vivi when/if they finally meet up again.

That should be an interesting conversation.

For no particular reason, I found myself looking up opinions on the character alignment of One Piece characters this morning (I was curious about whether Smoker would be characterized as Lawful Neutral or Neutral Good - most people seemed to agree Neutral Good, because he's ready to jettison the rules when they don't agree with his conscience). Anyway, there was an interesting argument in the thread about whether Luffy should be viewed as Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral. Freeing the entire population of Impel Down is one of the more Chaotic Neutral things he's ever done - surely there were plenty of people in there that no one would want to see loosed on the world again. I wonder if we'll ever see him called to account for that in some unexpected way.

Mr. 1 is a complete zero as far as I'm concerned. (Oh look, a pun.) But I have so much love for the Buggy/Three combo. Of all the characters in One Piece, Buggy might be one of the only ones who comes close to Luffy's ability to pick up the most random allies ever.

Crabby Kani-chan Inazuma is the best!

Date: 2014-11-02 06:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lego-joker.livejournal.com
I'm leaning a bit more toward Chaotic Neutral myself. It doesn't come up often, but Luffy's actually kind of dark for a Shonen protagonist, especially in the lawless world of One Piece. As early as Baratie, he watched a marine get gunned down in cold blood and basically gave negative fucks. And of course, we shouldn't forget his first exchange with Crocodile in Alabasta's deserts...

Luffy's not (generally) aggressively violent like the series' villains, but he is an extremely selfish kinda guy... who just happens to value things like companionship above physical things like his own health and well-being.

Date: 2014-11-02 06:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sara-tanaquil.livejournal.com
who just happens to value things like companionship above physical things like his own health and well-being

This is true, but there have been times when we saw Luffy get very angry and exact immediate vengeance on someone he observes violating what he considers to be proper rules of human interaction. It's not just when someone hurts a nakama or a friend. He was angry when Helmeppo threatened to break his promise and have Zoro executed (he barely even knew Zoro then), when Kuro killed his own subordinates, when Kuro mocked Usopp (whom he had also just met), when Bellamy beat up Cricket and mocked his dreams, when Caesar experimented on kids, when Caesar betrayed Blackbeard - those are just the first few that occur to me.

I'm inclined to agree with those who see Luffy as basically Chaotic Neutral with a strong leaning toward Chaotic Good. He may talk a lot of crap about not wanting to be a hero because he'd have to share his meat, but when push comes to shove, he tends to take the side of helpless innocents who are being injured. I think he doesn't care much what anyone does to people in power because he figures they ought to be able to take care of themselves (assuming they're not just plain corrupt to start with).

(Oops, I started wandering into some recent spoilers there, but nothing important enough that it needs protecting, I don't think.)

Date: 2014-11-09 04:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] serrende.livejournal.com
I don't know, Impel Down is a horrible, horrible prison full of gruesome torture. I don't approve of torture in any way, and Luffy had of course no way of transferring people from Impel Down to a more humane prison. Faced with the two evils of letting people stay there - when a number of them are probably innocent or have only committed lesser crimes, given what we see of the justice carried out in this world - and setting free some truly evil and dangerous people, I think the latter is the better option to take.

Impel Down is where Robin would have ended up after she was deemed no longer useful, right?

Of all the characters in One Piece, Buggy might be one of the only ones who comes close to Luffy's ability to pick up the most random allies ever.

Haha, this is true!

Date: 2014-11-09 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sara-tanaquil.livejournal.com
Impel Down is where Robin would have ended up after she was deemed no longer useful, right?

Yes, they definitely said she would be taken there - I remember it throwing me off because they were talking about how once someone is taken to Impel Down, there's no hope of getting them back, and of course I immediately thought of Luffy busting in to get Ace.

That's a good point about a lot of the people possibly being innocent or at least not that guilty, and the torture aspect. It just feels weird that we get such satisfaction out of seeing villains defeated in the end, and Oda always makes a point of them being taken off to prison and not killed, and then Luffy goes and releases just about everyone we've ever seen get arrested! (But where ARE Arlong & the other fishmen being held?)

Date: 2014-11-09 06:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] serrende.livejournal.com
[Whoops, part of this was in response to another comment! Edited with c&p in the other comment now.]

I assume there are lesser, but still fairly strong World Government prisons in all the Blues, so Arlong and the others would be in the strongest East Blue prison. He might not be deemed dangerous enough to be worth transporting to Impel Down - his bounty was only 20 million berries, after all. Of course, we know he's worse news than Buggy and Mr 3, but then again those two were arrested from within the Grand Line. (Or maybe Buggy wasn't?) Perhaps it's also simply a matter of logistics at times: how many cells are available in a more local prison vs when the next Marine ship headed for Impel Down might be passing by...
Edited Date: 2014-11-09 06:57 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-11-09 09:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lego-joker.livejournal.com
Arlong used to tool around the Grand Line (maybe even being New World levels), and though he might have gone slightly to seed picking on East Blue civilians for eight years, the 20-million bounty was him bribing marines to keep it low. Him showing off his true power all the time would probably have netted him a 40-to-50 million bounty, easy.

That said, I have the theory that Luffy flat-out broke his back at the end of their fight, so right now, he can't even move without assistance. The marines probably wouldn't send someone that defanged and pathetic over to Impel Down.

Date: 2014-11-09 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] serrende.livejournal.com
I didn't realise before how much Luffy's using "-chan" in nicknames. Did he do that a lot before this arc?

"A FRIEND!" (友達, pronounced だち.)

Would that be "tomodachi" or something else? Any significance to the spelling or pronunciation?

Luffy: "Oh, right, my dad." (俺の父ちゃん, LOL)

??

Ack, the sheer frustration/anxiety one felt reading this the first time, at Luffy et al only JUST missing Ace on Level 6!! And now in a way it's even worse... And because it's worse I don't feel like re-reading these parts so much as I would have otherwise.

It's only because they're in so dire straits I could accept Luffy teaming up with Crocodile in the first place, and even then it's pretty grudgingly. There are other villains in One Piece I dislike even more, but here it's starting to feel like we're supposed to like or admire Crocodile and I just find him as loathsome as always.

But Mr 1 I kinda like, though. And I appreciate that Oda keeps in mind that Luffy wouldn't know him! We've probably said this before here, but he's really astoundingly good at keeping track of this kind of thing. If one of his editors or assistants help him out in that regard, then that person is doing a great job, too.

(Aww. I am always sad when Usopp - and Nami - ranks low in popularity polls. Esp since I've heard those can have an impact in the actual story. :( )
Edited Date: 2014-11-09 04:17 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-11-09 05:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sara-tanaquil.livejournal.com
Sorry, sometimes I forget to explain enough of the Japanese!

Would that be "tomodachi" or something else? Any significance to the spelling or pronunciation?

The kanji read tomodachi, which is the normal word/pronunciation. Dachi (the pronunciation written out in furigana over the kanji) is slangy - Bon is especially fond of using it. "Pal"? "Bud"?

俺の父ちゃん

I was laughing because it's so casual. The proper way to say father is "o-tou-san"; Luffy says "ore no tou-chan". There would be nothing special about this if they were a normal teenage son and dad, but it's funny to me because Luffy is talking about a figure of major historical importance that he has never met and didn't even know was his father until like two weeks ago. Not to mention, of course, that he's blowing the big secret of Dragon being his father without thinking twice about it.

it's starting to feel like we're supposed to like or admire Crocodile and I just find him as loathsome as always

Yeah, it's interesting. I definitely don't like Crocodile any more than I did, but he's evil with flair, and that came across more clearly to me after Impel Down.

Date: 2014-11-09 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] serrende.livejournal.com
Thanks for explaining!

...Oh my god, it really was only two weeks ago at this point. The way time works in this story is insane.

[Now in the right place!] I will reluctantly admit that Crocodile does have flair, and I do rather like the way he did things so thoroughly (feeding the Bananadiles a fake key in his trap; adding a timer to the bomb in the clocktower). If you have to be that kind of cruelly grinning villain who gives the heroes a certain amount of time which they can use for escaping or thwarting, it's nice that he has forethinking and back-ups. And it does fit well with his sadism shows itself in some really petty ways - like toward Toto and Yuba, which might actually in the end be what makes me hate him the most.

Date: 2014-11-15 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mangaroo.livejournal.com
As Hancock is being escorted out of the prison, she asks about Ace's execution, and is told it will take place in 29 hours, at 3 pm the following day.

I would mock the endless countdown, but…*sigh* Make time stop.

They all start arguing about whose special technique made the floor crumble

Y'know, I hadn't realized this was a thing for Luffy until he and Law and…other dude were facing down the marines outside the slave market. I guess he never pulls it when he's part of the "monster trio." (I miss you, Zoro.)

Bon shouts "Because he's my FRIEND! What other reason do I need?"

…and I fall in love forever.

[Incidentally, the Japanese is inconsistent in its use of titles - it sometimes calls Iva queen (jo-ou), sometimes king (ou). I've tried to mirror the original as much as possible.]

That's good to know. I thought Viz was being insensitive when they called Iva a "king of queens."

[LOL Pandaman is on the list too. What did Pandaman ever do?]

I loved that, because the chapter-break art shows Pandaman in the background of some prison scene. I never spot Pandaman on my own, incidentally. (It does raise the question of how powerful Pandaman is, if he's on level 5. Also, I have to assume all prisoners escape Impel Down in the next volume, so he can continue his omnipresence.)

Bon is left staring. "What was THAT?"

Haki! I know you can't subscribe to the magazine, but at least keep up with the tankoubon, Bon.

Inazuma (this is the Japanese word for "lightning").

Thank you! (I should look up names in the dictionary.)

"We are the new race! The Newkama!" (The kanji read "new human kind.")

I assume this is riffing on the term "new half."

And the treatment will take another two days to complete.

That's not going to work with the Ace timeline, Iva.

Luffy and his strange alliance

I really feel like I haven't said enough about how much I loved Luffy acquiring such unreliable comrades.

"You don't understand! Ever since he was a kid, he's been like this. Impossible. Always making me worry! That IDIOT!"

*sniffle* Brothers.

Blood is trickling out from under the door.

Trickling? Jeez, I thought it looked like a blood flood.

Ivankov assumes that if Luffy and Ace are brothers, Ace must be Dragon's son, too.

Isn't he? Are the boys brothers?

[Luffy is seriously, seriously going to die young. T___T]

But he will have lived fully.

[Guard, surprised by his energy: Could it be another fake? LOLOL]

I missed that! Hilarious!

Luffy: "Two? Who's the second?" [LOLOL Luffy]

Never change, Luffy.

This is going to be a prison break the likes of which the world has never seen.

Thus freeing Pandaman.

what, not everyone has memorized Alabasta?

Y'know, I think Alabasta may be the only arc I've memorized. Pell!

Apparently the reader needs a picture of Zoro to know who haramaki-chan is?

Never! There is only one haramaki-chan!
Edited Date: 2014-11-15 07:41 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-11-15 09:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sara-tanaquil.livejournal.com
Yay, One Piece comments! I have been having a sucky day full of stressful work obligations that were keeping me from playing the new WoW expansion, but now that is all done (for the moment), I'm going out with friends tonight, and One Piece makes everything better!

We all miss Zoro and Chopper and Usopp. :-( I really don't know how the fans survived reading this at weekly chapter release speed.

Date: 2014-11-15 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sara-tanaquil.livejournal.com
Y'know, I hadn't realized this was a thing for Luffy until he and Law and…other dude were facing down the marines outside the slave market. I guess he never pulls it when he's part of the "monster trio." (I miss you, Zoro.)

Oh, nice observation. I can't remember any time he has been competitive with his own crew. (Am I missing one?) Of course Zoro and Sanji compete all the time, and Zoro has occasionally complained about Luffy not letting him get first crack.

Especially interesting since Luffy and Ace are so competitive (in Alabasta, Luffy complained that he had never beaten Ace even once, and they both acted like they were itching for a rematch in the New World), so it's not like it wouldn't be compatible with fond feelings.

Bon shouts "Because he's my FRIEND! What other reason do I need?"

…and I fall in love forever.


Now you know why I love Bon so much! (It is often hard to be objective about characters when they show up in earlier arcs if you know how awesome they're going to be later.)

Haki! I know you can't subscribe to the magazine, but at least keep up with the tankoubon, Bon.

LOL!

I really feel like I haven't said enough about how much I loved Luffy acquiring such unreliable comrades.

It is far and away the best thing about Impel Down. And possibly one of the best things about One Piece, period.

Ivankov assumes that if Luffy and Ace are brothers, Ace must be Dragon's son, too.

Isn't he? Are the boys brothers?


Look! A squirrel!



Date: 2014-11-16 05:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mangaroo.livejournal.com
Squirrel?! What? Where? Aw, I must have missed it. What were we talking about, again? When the Strawhats will reunite? Am I going to have to wait for Romance Dawn?

The library only had volume 56, so I've placed a hold on 57. (Hang in there, Ace!)

Date: 2014-11-19 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mangaroo.livejournal.com
Squirrel! Squirrel! OMG, squirrel! (volume 56...also, Ace really loves Whitebeard.)

Date: 2014-11-20 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sara-tanaquil.livejournal.com
You're getting ahead of me! I have to get cracking on 56. (Bad WoW!)

Whitebeard pirates = best family.

I will link to it later when we're further along, but somewhere, there is an awesome fic which consists entirely of a list of "Things Ace is Not Allowed to Do," respectfully submitted by the Whitebeard Crew. In my head canon, Ace did every one of the things on the list. It might be my favorite One Piece fic ever.

Date: 2014-12-03 05:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mangaroo.livejournal.com
Just a warning that if it's not raining, I will be returning volume 56 to the library this Saturday. (I love my One Piece walks.)

Date: 2014-12-02 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] serrende.livejournal.com
I can't remember any time he has been competitive with his own crew. (Am I missing one?) Of course Zoro and Sanji compete all the time, and Zoro has occasionally complained about Luffy not letting him get first crack.

Yeah, he doesn't really do that. I guess that's one of the ways he's being captainly, in his confident Luffy way.

He's only competitive about small things in the crew, like playing silly games with Usopp and the others. And that's more just having fun.

Date: 2014-11-15 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mangaroo.livejournal.com
I know I could edit my existing comment, but i already did that twice for errors...

I'm about to return the books, so I just flipped through to see if there was anything I wanted to say that I forgot while reading your synopsis: I love the picture of Robin and the butterflies. I don't usually like her ability (kinda creepy), but it's so sweet here.

Also, I miss Zoro and Chopper and Usopp.

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