It isn't often that I'm caught without a book to read, but that's what happened when I bailed on The Luxe. So, for the bus ride home from work, I read a manga. I've been curious about One Piece for quite a while, since it is so popular. I learned that it is not a good idea to start on volume 19.
The format appears to be about 10 chapters in each volume, so I was starting with chapter 167. As you can imagine, I missed a whole heap of backstory. The larger story is that of Luffy and his dream to locate the One Piece treasure and become the Pirate King. I studied the characters introduced at the start of volume 19, but it still took me a couple of chapters before I began sorting out who was who.
It's shonen, which is action/adventure manga. I had so much trouble figuring out what was happening in the action scenes that I gave up trying to decipher those images and relied on the word balloons and non-action panels to get the gist of what was going on. Some of the sound effects in the background seemed out of place to my western mind. I associate WOOOO with spooky scenes and AHHH with happiness or satisfaction, not fight scenes. I realize that this is a culture difference, like dogs barking ruff ruff in English and ouah ouah in French.
In between chapters, the author has little chats with the reader. At first, I dismissed these as annoying interruptions. Then I found them really funny. The explanation of the three kinds of transponder snails on page 146, for example.
So anyway, in volume 19, Luffy and his band of pirates get into a scrape and get out of it but their getaway is obviously temporary, with Sir Crocodile hot on their trail and the kingdom of Alabasta embroiled in civil war. I discovered that the next volume is not due out until February 2009. I would pick up One Piece again... but probably only if I'm stuck with nothing else to read.