Though vol. 18 is titled "Ace Arrives," Ace makes only a short appearance. What this volume is really about, aside from Oda's characteristic humour and humanity, is the reveal of the Baroque Works' grand scheme. Anyway, read it and enjoy.
Excellent motivator for getting my son to read. My son grew up in Japan and has had trouble transitioning into reading English. These books in English with, farmiliar pictures make it easy for him to stay motivated when reading.
One Piece is my favorite series, due to its creative design, comic insanity, and superb character development. That said, over time, the Viz Media translation of the manga has disappointed me more than once, as Viz sometimes softens dialog with poor choices of insults, threats, and exclamations. However, this particular volume of One Piece is one of the best written released so far. Having read this section online at a fan-scan site, and having watched a subbed episode of anime of these events, I can honestly say that the translator/writer for this piece understands that child-like language is not particularly welcome.(Viz rotates translators, which results in inaccuracies in subsequent volumes)
This volume chronicles the point of the Straw Hats journey from when they encounter Mr. 2 Bon Clay, a flamboyant ballerina man, to Luffy's and Vivi's resolution to go straight to Sir Crocodile's headquarters and take him out. Along the way, Luffy and crew meet the awesome Portgaz D. Ace and travel the harsh desert of Alabasta only to discover ghost towns that have been eradicated by endless sandstorms, plus the backstory of Princess Vivi and Koza, and the members of Crocodile's Baroque Works join together to meet their boss and initiate their final plan, Operation Utopia.
This is a pretty thick volume, one of the thickest released. There is lots of content in this volume, and it will disappoint you to see that the next volume won't be released until October. As I said, this volume is pretty well translated, and of course, this part of the story sets up so much for the rest of the arc. I recommend this one.
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Luffy and the gang finally make it to Alabasta, but their problems are only beginning. Lot of different storylines coming into play here, with some old friends and a few new ones finding their way into the crew's life. One Piece is always satisfying, and this volume is no exception. ****
Number 18 has the wonderful pleasure of introducing Ace, Luffy's older brother. this is seriously one of the funniest and most entertaining of all the One Piece manga. Ace is one awesome character even if his appearance is a short one. We get to see all sorts of D brother wackiness, Luffy gets smacked by Vivi and we learn who Mr.0 is. One Awesome Manga. Go get it.