My kindle is actually making me read a little bit more, like I had hoped. I finished up David Goggin’s first book “Can’t Hurt Me” after having started it a few months ago. It’s incredibly interesting and full of good motivation and advice. His life as a whole has been filled with hardships and pain and he doesn’t sugar coat it at all. His dad beat him, he was bullied, he went through a lot of physical pain during his 3 hell weeks, etc. It’s a really good mix of biography and self help, because it’s not just “look at what all I’ve done and what’s happened to me” and he’s also not just preaching lessons at you. He’s using those experiences and taking you through his thought process during them, where he failed and what he learned and how he’s applied it moving forward. I highly recommend it. I will be reading his 2nd book “Never Finished” at some point.
Right now, I’m reading “Clean Architecture” by Robert (Uncle Bob) Martin for work. I’ve read most of “Clean Coder” before, and have followed his advice and teachings for a while. I don’t totally practice TDD like I should, but I’m getting better at it. I’m already able to put some of the things I’ve learned into practice which is awesome.
I’m also trying to finish “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoevsky. I got through about 2/3rds of it earlier this year, but fell off reading it. Now I’m about caught back up to where I was originally, where Raskolnikov is talking with Sonya in her apartment.
I beat 2 of my goals for this year and I am very ecstatic and excited to share them. I went to work every day for a week, one of those days was also a whole day. The McGill big 3 has been so incredibly helpful and I am so grateful for the progress I’ve been making. I feel so much better, my leg doesn’t hurt all of the time now (and when it does hurt it’s much more minor), I sleep much better. My quality of life has improved so much. Mentally I’m doing a lot better now too. I still struggle sometimes where I think of all the time I lost because of the stupid mistakes that caused this problem, and I still have that fear where one day I’ll wake up and be in the same shape I was a year ago. There’s nothing I can do about the time lost, but I know I can rehab myself much easier out of it if it happens again and I hope I’m smart enough not to do anything stupid again. So, I’m doing much, much better.
I’m even planning a trip for the spring to go visit my friend in Minnesota. I missed out on our “boys trip” to Dallas this year, and also a trip to Hawaii. This will be my 3rd trip to Minnesota, but I’ll be meeting some new people and will be out of my town for a while so I’m incredibly excited.
One Piece Chapters 1096 - 1099
Now for the weeb stuff. Spoilers are imminent.
These chapters are still going incredibly strong with Kuma’s backstory, like we’ve expected. This chapter, however, did not show as much of the Rocks’ pirates or the incident at God Valley as I would’ve hoped, but it was a strong chapter regardless.
We got to see all of the Rocks’ members, except for Rocks (bummer). We even got knowledge of a character who we met ~600 chapters ago being on the Rocks’ crew, Gloriosa. She is the former empress of Amazon Lily, 3rd empresses before Boa Hancock, 2nd before Shakky. I’m not sure how much this really effects the story, but it’s a nice inclusion and leads to some cool theories. If Gloriosa was with the Rocks’ pirates during this time, who was taking care of Amazon Lily? Was there no empress at this time, or was the unknown empress there? Stuff like that.
Another HUGE event in my eyes is finding out how Kuma got his devil fruit. Ivankov and Kuma rushed the prizes for the human cleansing event that was happening on the island, and they seemingly grabbed their fruits at random. Ivankov grabbed the Fish-Fish fruit model Azure Dragon and Kuma grabbed the Paw-Paw fruit. Ivankov was not able to eat his before Big Mom stole it, and we know that later on Big Mom would feed this fruit to Kaido to save his life, but Kuma was able to eat his. This opens up a lot of really fun ideas to wonder “what if”. Since Ivankov and Kuma grabbed the fruits at random, they could’ve easily been switched. Which means that Kuma could’ve had the Azure Dragon fruit and Kaido could’ve had the Paw-Paw fruit. There’s also the scenario that Kuma was the one attacked by Big Mom instead of Ivankov in which case Ivankov could’ve had the Paw-Paw fruit or the Azure Dragon fruit. Or perhaps they both were able to eat the fruits before Big Mom got to either one of them, then 2 of the top Revolutionary Army members would’ve had the most broken fruits (provided they went on to join the Revolutionary Army) and Kaido possibly would’ve died. This was only a few panels, but it was so much fun thinking about these possibilities.
Like I said before we don’t get to see much of what happened at God Valley. But, we do find out that Kuma, at only 9 years old, was the GOAT and resolved to save as many people as he could so he could be like Nika. He saved over 500 in total, but still prayed and regretted not being able to save more. This really shows off Kuma’s selflessness and sense of duty as a child. Looking back it makes me tear up a bit, for a kid who already had been through so much he still just wanted to help people. Kuma and Ginny then continued living together in a church in Kuma’s home of Sorbet Kingdom.
Overall I’ve been incredibly fortunate about the spoilers I saw while reading One Piece. I generally knew about the arcs to come, the time skip and some of the villains that we already met. This trend has continued pretty well while I’ve been reading weekly. Except for 1097, I got totally spoiled for 1097, like the entire plot and the “big” reveal. I thought I was reading a theory on why Dragon could’ve been in the navy, but it was actually just a 1097 summary and Dragon explicitly said he was in the navy in the chapter. So that was a bummer.
That’s been a theory for a long long time, and it’s always made perfect sense. The one thing we’re still not sure of when it comes to Dragon being in the navy is what he saw that made him want to quit. In 1096 we thought it was going to be the God Valley incident, but we still haven’t gotten confirmation on if he was there or not.
Back to the start of the chapter though, because Dragon’s navy reveal was the 2nd to last page. This chapter shows off a lot of Kuma’s life after God Valley and makes you love him even more.
Kuma and Ginny are shown to have aged and become really influential within their community. Kuma’s been taking the pain from everyone and then secretly taking it on himself, so that way he can see everyone in his village happy. This is another show of Kuma’s selfless nature and how much he sacrifices for others.
Kuma and Ginny’s relationship also gets furthered. Ginny is obviously in love with Kuma, they’ve been living together for almost 15 years at this point and they both understand the struggles the other has been through. Kuma is afraid of imposing the burden of his bloodline on anyone though. He doesn’t want more of his loved ones to be enslaved or killed because of their relationship to him. He’s seen this happen first hand because it happened to him and his family in chapter 1095. Kuma still holds a lot of baggage from his time as a slave, but he still holds his virtues and ideals close to his heart.
The rest of the chapter is showing how Sorbet Kingdom was changed by the current King Bekori and people from the southern part of the island are able to be enslaved. Kuma, Ginny and their friends fight back but are jailed for their crimes. Ivankov and Dragon then arrive to break them out, and that’s how they join the Revolutionary Army. During their time in the Revolutionary Army, perhaps right after they got out of prison, King Bekori was overthrown and removed from power.
The last few pages of the chapter show how Kuma and Ginny are doing as Revolutionary Army members. Then the chapter ends with Ginny being captured by an unknown person. At the time of reading this there were many theories floating in my head about who it could be. I thought perhaps it was a famous pirate or the navy. There wasn’t much to go off of so the time between this chapter and the next were agonizing. In the current time (on Egghead island) we hadn’t heard anything about Ginny so we could assume the worst and that she was already dead during the timeline of the story.
When I tell you that this chapter is tough to read, I mean it. This is absolutely the saddest I’ve ever been while reading anything. This chapter already had high expectations going in because we were going to find out who kidnapped Ginny. There was also disappointment and fear because this is supposedly the first chapter that Oda was unable to finish by the deadline (I haven’t confirmed that, however). People thought Oda was losing his touch, that he was getting old or getting bored with One Piece. After reading the chapter this is totally understandable, because Oda was probably crying his eyes out drawing it. He has answered in SBSs that he does occasionally cry while drawing emotion heavy chapters (Robin’s “I WANT TO LIVE!” I’m pretty sure was one he’s said he cried at).
Ginny was captured by a Celestial Dragon, which was not in my mind at all of who would’ve taken her but it totally makes sense. Many people of Sorbet Kingdom had a crush on her, and she’s known as one of the prettiest women any of them have ever seen. She was taken to be the Celestial Dragon’s wife.
A lot of people were angry with Dragon immediately with this chapter because there’s been a 2 year time skip and Ginny is still captured. People see this as Dragon failing to keep his people safe and being lazy or not a good leader by not going after her. This has had a lot of talk in the community since this chapter’s debut, and one take I really like is that people are incorrectly comparing the Revolutionary Army to that of a pirate crew and being upset that they don’t act the same. I’m not going to spend too much time on this because there’s more to talk about in this chapter, but revolutions are much different than a family/crew in that they’re all working towards a goal and that’s the end all be all of the army. Doing things that directly jeopardize the goal of the army, like attacking a Celestial Dragon or Marijoa too early, is a great way to ruin everything they’ve been working towards. Dragon loves Kuma and Ginny, but he knows the things that are at stake by going after her and chose not to. Kuma is upset at her kidnapping, but it’s been shown to me that he understands and trusts Dragon and doesn’t run gungho after her.
After 2 years Ginny is finally “freed” and comes back to Sorbet Kingdom with her child, Bonney. She was let go as a slave because she was incredibly sick and pregnant, she served no purpose for them anymore. Once she made it back to Sorbet Kingdom she called the revolutionaries to say her final goodbye. Kuma knows exactly where she is, so with his powers he immediately rushes back to see her, but in doing this he misses her final words to him which were “I’ll always love you”. When he gets to the church he finds that she’s covered in these blue sapphire stones and he finds little Bonney and resolves to raise her for Ginny.
This entire sequence is horribly sad, and I cannot wait until it’s animated, it’s gonna be so great. This entire backstory is one of the most tragic stories of any character in One Piece, and in fact all of the fiction I have read or seen myself. Kuma has been through so much in his life, he’s been a slave, he lost his family, now he’s lost his best friend and we still aren’t even to where he gets turned into a cyborg and then becomes a slave again. I can only imagine the feelings of regret he has that he wasn’t able to help Ginny and how he never got to truly say goodbye.
For the first 5 years of Bonney’s life they live a normal life and she does normal kid things. Kuma is reminded of Ginny because of Bonney’s large appetite which is really sweet. They do normal dad/daughter things. Bonney has to sleep in an iron cage while in Kuma’s bed so he doesn’t squish her which is a nice touch and made me giggle a little. Then tragedy strikes again and Bonney is found to have the same disease that killed Ginny. Kuma quits the revolutionaries and begins his search for a doctor to be able to identify and cure the disease. During this time Bonney has to live a life of seclusion from the outside world. She’s allowed to see people, but a lot of her peers bully her for being a “vampire”. Kuma is really protective of her for obvious reasons.
During these panels we get a few callbacks to certain things. Kuma asks Bonney “If we went on a trip where would you want to go”, which is what he asked Perona before he swatted her away in the Thriller Bark arc. Kuma also learns about Sky islands from Bonney, and she says that maybe Nika is on one. Bonney would obviously know about Nika since Kuma is a pastor for a church that is, presumably, for the religion Nika is the figurehead.
This chapter ends off with King Bekori making his return to take the crown back in a non-peaceful manner.
Overall Kuma’s backstory has rocketed Kuma to being one of my top 10 favorite characters. The sorrow that Oda has made me feel for this character on a page is nearly unforgivable. But I’m going to keep reading week to week because I’m addicted. This chapter was a little disappointing at first read, but that’s because it was following 1098. Overall it’s a really strong chapter, and much lighter in tone which is a nice break from the melancholy.
This chapter starts out showing Kuma at his most badass yet (in my opinion) by fighting through the flames that were started in Sorbet Kingdom by Bekori, a technique that was inspired by what happened with the Grey Terminal in Goa Kingdom (where Luffy grew up). Kuma enacted his own solo revolution of Sorbet Kingdom and overthrew Bekori for the 2nd time. I’m getting goosebumps re-reading this chapter. Kuma is “elected” as king of Sorbet, although he doesn’t want the title and the king before Bekori is really the one in power.
Bonney is then shown using the powers of her Age-Age fruit, not knowing that she’s even using them. This has caused a bunch of discussion on where she got her powers. Could it be that she unknowingly ate a fruit? Was she fed one as a baby while she was with the Celestial Dragons? Is this somehow Saturn’s doing? One theory that I’m not sure I 100% agree with yet, but is worth discussing is the idea that fruits have their own wills and they choose their users more than we think. Randy Troy is better at explaining it, so here is the video for that idea. I think my favorite theory is that she was fed her fruit as a baby by Celestial Dragons, but I see issues with that. Surely Ginny would’ve told someone if she had known/seen it happen, but maybe she didn’t. Bonney wouldn’t do well in baths because of the water, but that could have just been missed. I’m not sure if we will learn where she got her fruit, I’m not sure how much it really matters.
Kuma’s epithet from his first introduction is the “Tyrant King”, and now we know that this was just a hit piece from Bekori lying and trying to regain control of Sorbet Kingdom. This dude will NOT accept defeat, so Kuma decides to sink his and the navy’s ships that are coming to attack Kuma. This is where he gets his bounty of 296 million berries.
Apparently Kuma’s fruit powers were foreshadowed via his bounty amount because the numbers 2 and 9 can be read as “ni” and “kyu” in Japanese, and his fruit’s name in Japanese is the “Nikyu-Nikyu”. I haven’t confirmed if it was foreshadowing, or if it’s just a pun. I think maybe his bounty was revealed in one of the data books, because his bounty was not revealed when he first debuted in 233 or on Thriller Bark in 472/473. Oda likes playing with numbers though, so I’m pretty sure that this is not a coincidence.
Another mystery finally solved is how Kuma knew about the islands that he sent the Straw Hats to during the Sabaody arc. In this chapter Kuma goes to all of those islands in an attempt to find a doctor who could cure Bonney. I’m not 100% sure/convinced that based on what Kuma knew about the islands he could accurately pick where the Straw Hats should go. I don’t think he would’ve known enough about each of the crew members to make that decision. Maybe it was fate, maybe he knew more than I think he did, maybe it was a total accident (doubt that though).
While traveling, Kuma happens to come across Dragon and Dragon tells him about Vegapunk and how he could potentially cure Bonney. During this conversation we also learn that Ivankov and Inazuma were imprisoned in Impel Down during this time (that’s where they still were in the Impel Down arc). Belo Betty also reveals that Dragon has not yet reassigned Ginny’s old position and will only do so once Kuma approves it. This, I think, is Dragon trying to show that he did care about Ginny in case there were any doubts in Kuma’s mind. I’m not personally a Dragon-hater, and never thought he just forgot about Ginny like many people probably think, so this is kind of nice to confirm that Dragon does care about those closest to him, even if he’s not the best at showing it. Though, he is also shown drinking and talking about the new recruits, which is also nice to see because he’s opening up a bit.
Once Kuma reaches Egghead, Vegapunk explains that he can cure Bonney by a process using stem cells. However, since the process is so expensive, in exchange Kuma will have to allow Vegapunk to clone him. Kuma is somewhat apprehensive to begin with, but ultimately is willing to do anything to ensure Bonney is cured.
There’s a lot of really nice little small things and “easter eggs” you can find throughout the chapter. It’s getting really close to the end of the month though, so I’ll leave this as what it is. Chapter 1100 came out today, and there is not going to be a break next week, so I will write more about the flashback as a whole in my next blog post. Chapter 1101 is supposedly going to be very big.
Happy belated Thanksgiving!