After last week's Luffy-centric chapter, Oda is using this week to catch us up with the rest of the Straw Hats. We also learn a little bit about some of this story arc's supporting cast- Franky is paired up with One Legged Toy Soldier, who may know more about Doflamingo's plans than he appears to. The blind man that Luffy ran into at the cantina in Chapter 701 appears again, and is revealed to be the Marine admiral called Fujitora that was sent to capture Law and Luffy in Chapter 700.
We are also briefly introduced to a Marine Vice Admiral, the titular Maynard the Pursuer, who is Fujitora's inside man at the Colosseum. Another faction from the World Government, Cipher Pol Aigis 0, is also on the scene but for currently unknown reasons.It is nice to see that the One Piece world's version of the CIA is still active since we really haven't heard from them since the defeat of Rob Lucci's Cipher Pol 9. We also see that Sanji is still following Violet the Dancer, and Zoro is able to capture the fairy he was chasing and reclaim his sword, Shuusui.
So far, the set up for Dressrosa arc makes it seem like this will be the biggest story arc since the War of the Summit. For me, this is a good thing. While the Fishman Island and Punk Hazard stories were fun, they really did feel more like set up for future arcs more than the epic I'm thinking this will turn out to be.
With Dressrosa, we're looking at bringing together so many of the big groups in the story- the World Govenment, the Marines, the Yonkou- that it's almost sure to advance the overarching story of One Piece in a significant way. I'm at least hoping for all the Doflamingo plot threads to come to head here. It also has the first fighting tournament in One Piece. Tournaments are a plot device commonly used in many other Shonen Jump comics, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing how Oda handles the set up.
This chapter goes along way to further the set up, but telling who is doing what and bringing in characters who look like they'll be big players. Fujitora and Luffy's previously friendly report may either turn to fierce battle or Luffy making another reluctant ally among the Marines, like Smoker. What significance will the fairy that Zoro is chasing after hold? Will Blackbeard make an appearance since Burgess is involved in the tournament? Who are Cipher Pol Aigis 0 and Violet the Dancer? This chapter really seems like the end of the set up of the arc, and hopefully next week will really get the ball rolling.
I really enjoyed this chapter and the promises it holds for the Straw Hats' Dressrosa adventure. It's definitely going to be an important chapter in the arc, so it is a very enjoyable, must read chapter.
Thanks to Manga Panda's scanlation for the images, but remember to check out VIZ Media's Shonen Jump online subscriptions to support the original author, Eiichiro Oda.