Welcome to This Week in Shonen Jump, our weekly check in on Viz’s various Shonen Jump series. Viz has recently changed their release format, but our format will mostly remain the same. We will still review the newest chapters of one title a week, now with even more options at our disposal. The big change for our readers is that, even without a Shonen Jump subscription, you can read these most recent chapters for free at Viz.com or using their app.
This week, Zach checks in with “One Piece.” If you have thoughts on this or any other current Shonen Jump titles, please let us know in the comments!
One Piece Chapter 1053: New Emperors
Written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda
Translated by Stephen Paul
Lettered by Vanessa Satone
Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson
The much hyped final chapter of “One Piece” before Oda takes a much needed break has arrived. It’s (probably) the end of the longest arc in the series to date. It features the full reveal of a character first introduced nearly 150 chapters ago and pays off on another plot thread from over 800 chapters ago. Even with all of this in mind, and I mean this in the most positive sense, it’s still just another chapter of “One Piece.”
To start, it’s worth discussing the chapter’s cover spread. It’s a stunning piece highlighting new characters and creatures from the upcoming “One Piece Odyssey” video game. It’s just one of the upcoming spinoffs getting hyped up, with this week’s main Shonen Jump cover advertising “One Piece Film Red.” Both pieces are terrific. For a chapter as significant as this, however, it feels like a missed opportunity to not have artwork featuring more of the relevant cast and events of this era.
Getting into the chapter itself, we find Oda administering the three holy sacraments of “One Piece.” These are “new bounties,” “the big party,” and “major world building.” We first see the payoff of last chapter’s cliffhanger, the new bounty posters for Luffy, Law, and Eustass Kid. Bounties have always been arbitrary and mostly meaningless, yet they are a shorthand for character progression and new status quo. Oda’s choices for the character’s artwork in the posters is very good, particularly Luffy’s Nika form.
Next is “the big party” and Oda does not disappoint here. Oda plays with expectations in a delightfully dry scene with Jimbei and authentic Wano cuisine before the real ruckus begins. Much has been said of Oda’s ability to craft intricately detailed action sequences and these skills have always shown, if not moreso, in these large celebrations with dozens of characters. The panel featuring Luffy, Yamato, and Chopper chowing down on cotton candy and other treats is brimming with joy and energy.
Finally, we get to world building and earth shattering revelations. This chapter certainly has big revelations, but Oda is a bit more subdued than one might expect. The sequences with Robin and a certain Navy Admiral are engaging and exciting, but they don’t give much of a glimpse into Oda’s mind or to where the story may head next. Nor does it answer any of the lingering questions that have cropped up over the last five years or so.
The takeaway from this chapter that will keep readers talking over the next month or so is alluded to in the chapter’s title. The “Four Emperors” title has been a sign post for the series’s trajectory. Much of the momentum in “One Piece” since the time-skip has been leading towards the confrontation with Kaido. With both Kaido and Big Mom out of the picture, there is a space that begs to be filled. I won’t talk here about how Oda resolves that note; you should perhaps check out the Multiversity Manga Club podcast for those thoughts. Still, the chapter’s last page is so delightfully perfect that it simply could not have gone any other way.
Final Verdict: A bombastic celebration of all that Oda and his team have accomplished on the series thus far and an exciting launchpad for the series’s final stretch.