In this volume we more fully settle in to the beginning of the Big Mom arc with a look at more of Whole Cake Island. We also get more details on the two families at the center of this part of the story, the Vinsmokes and the Charlottes. Between the two, there seems to be a significant lack of any stable, healthy family relationships. All the while, the clock ticks down until the wedding which may take Sanji away from the Straw Hats for good. So, let’s dive into One Piece Volume 83
Let’s start with the Charlotte family. We get a lot more information both about the structure of the family as well as many more notable members of the family. First and foremost, we learn a lot about Big Mom herself. Her Soul-Soul Fruit powers are revealed with more details, as well as the toll that she takes from those who would live under her protection. While we saw a bit of this with regards to the tribute she demanded from Fishman Island, here it takes a bit more metaphysical of a turn, with her subjects giving up a fairly significant portion of their lives to be allowed to live in her domain. She’s certainly unlike the other two Emperors we’ve spent the most time with. One cannot imagine Shanks doing this to anyone, and Whitebeard may not have been blood-related to his family or those he protected, but he treated them all as family. Big Mom most definitely does not.
It’s an interesting contrast to look between Whitebeard and Big Mom. When one of Whitebeard’s “sons” stabbed him through the chest, Whitebeard hugged him and forgave him, despite this individual not even properly being on his crew. With Big Mom, however, even the mere thought of leaving the crew provokes a violent response and a need to spin a roulette wheel and pay losses before they would even be allowed to leave. Big Mom may be blood related to the majority of her crew, but they’re definitely not the same type of family as Whitebeard had. We also see her tendency to lose control and destroy everything around her when she wants some specific food, which seems like a major problem, even for someone as strong as her. Finally, we also meet some more members of her family. We briefly met Pudding, Sanji’s bride-to-be last volume, but we see more of her here. We also see our first of the three generals of the Big-Mom pirates in a fight with Luffy. It’s also worth noting that Cracker’s level of strength required Luffy to jump right to Gear Fourth, which was needed to beat Doflamingo. This does not bode well for his chances against Big Mom at the moment.
Next, the Vinsmoke family. While less in number, they have a much more personal connection to the crew and the story through Sanji. We catch a few glimpses of how Judge treated his children when they were younger and how he and Reiju refused to step in to stop Ichiji, Niji, and Yonji from abusing Sanji. We also get another great contrast here, this one more direct than the Whitebeard one. Sanji very obviously considers Zeff to be his father, not Judge. We get a lot of quick panels with opposing lessons between the two, particularly in regards to cooking or using one’s hands. It’s effective at painting exactly what sort of a person Judge and the Germa 66 are (aside from rejected super sentai characters).
We also see how Judge views anyone not his family, when he orders a soldier to block Sanji, then pulls a Shishio and stabs right through his minion to land a hit. It’s effective to build Judge’s character in a short fight scene, as well as being a good way for Sanji to lose without foreclosing speculation on how an all-out brawl between the two may end. We haven’t seen much of the brothers yet, but there are definitely hints that they will be similarly abusive to Sanji now that he’s returned (with the caveat that he seems a lot more able to fight back if allowed to).
There are a few dangling threads that are put in as well, to be picked up later. We got a lot of buildup for the Supernovas back in their introduction, so seeing that one of them is around and waiting in the wings certainly increases the anticipation. We also catch a glimpse of Bege’s wife, Chiffon, who looks a lot like Lola from Thriller Bark. Oda is well-known for planting seeds of things like that well in advance, and we see something that was set in motion hundreds of chapters ago come to the forefront now. Nami has a vivre card from Lola, and with it, a portion of Big Mom’s spirit to manipulate her minions. Things like this, which feel like they were plotted out so carefully so far in advance, are part of why I love One Piece so much. The conservation of detail is in full effect here. We know Lola’s involved, but exactly how remains to be seen. We also get to see more of Carrot and Pedro, who are fun foils for the rest of the crew. That being said, however, it’s been a long time since we had the whole crew involved in something. Dressrosa saw the party split, and now Whole Cake Island is also dealing with only half the crew. I am definitely looking forward to the arc where we have everyone back together again and all acting on the same plot.
All in all, a very strong chapter that helps to move us even deeper into Big Mom’s territory and one of the most serious threats the Straw Hats have faced.
Note: VIZ Media provided us with a digital copy of this manga in exchange for our honest review.