Chapter 459 is titled "Being Dead Isn't an Apology".
Enel's Great Space Operations, Vol. 25: "No Way Out, Space Pirates".
Luffy, Zoro and Sanji wake up to find their shadows gone, and learn that Nami and most of the food on the ship have been taken as well. While Brook is fighting Ryuma, Franky tells the rest of the Straw Hats of his and Robin's encounter with the skeleton, in which Brook explained that his sole reason for living alone for fifty years was to fulfill a promise his crew made to their friend Laboon; that they would return after sailing around the world. Hearing that Brook and Laboon have not given up on their promise even after fifty years makes Luffy even more excited to make Brook join his crew, and this time the rest of the Straw Hats happily agree. Filled with purpose, the Straw Hats get ready to begin their counterattack.
Luffy awakens in a hostile mood, seeking retribution for Gecko Moria taking his shadow. He is calmed by Franky however, as Zoro and Sanji also come to their senses. The trio wonders how they ended up back on the Thousand Sunny, and Zoro notices that he no longer has a shadow. Luffy is more concerned that there is no longer anything to eat, despite stuffing his face with a huge block of cheese. Sanji points out however that they specifically left them with the non-perishable food items. The trio finds themselves all very disappointed; Zoro for letting down his guard, Luffy for not having anything to eat but cheese, and Sanji notices that Nami is missing. Sanji becomes livid with Usopp upon learning that Nami was taken from them, demanding to know why they didn't chase the aggressor, who the person is, and where he is located. Usopp is quite frightened by Sanji's vigor, but nevertheless rebuts that Sanji needs to listen to the whole story. Usopp establishes that there are two things that they can't afford to not get back; Nami and their shadows, though Luffy interjects with "food" as a third item.
Sanji becomes incredibly infuriated that Nami is involved with a wedding, to the point that he literally appears to be on fire. Luffy mentions that Absalom must be brave to want to marry Nami, and is also surprised that his shadow is in a giant. Zoro on the other hand, deduces that they must already know the zombies that have Luffy and Sanji's shadows. While Chopper and Usopp become frightened after learning that Moria is a Warlord, Luffy remembers that he met Zoro's zombie. Zoro is curious about his zombie, but nonetheless affirms that they can get their shadows back by finding the three zombies with them and feeding them salt. He commends the crew for being able to find out the zombies' weakness. Franky however clarifies that they learned of the weakness to salt, and that they should look for their nakama without shadows thanks to Brook, much to Luffy's delight. Franky explains that he was initially very rude to Brook, and refused to acknowledge him from the moment Luffy asked him to join the crew. However the more Franky talked to him, he realized that despite just being a skeleton, Brook is truly a real man. In a flashback to when Brook saved Franky and Robin from Tararan, Franky is shown to be very abrasive to the skeleton about his appearance. He asks Brook if he is aware of the kinds of reactions that he will get to people meeting him, even if he does manage to make it out of the Florian Triangle. Franky goes on to say that you can't be friends with something so creepy, and that Brook is sure to die of shame. He says that his fate would be the same as all the years he has spent in this sea, and since Brook stated himself that he is incredibly sad, he personally would have given up living a long time ago. Franky ends by asking Brook what promise he made to his crew that was so important. Brook explains that a long time ago, his crew left one of their nakama behind at a certain place, with a promise to absolutely return. Their crew was annihilated at sea, and so as to not break that promise, Brook remained on that ship for over fifty years after the crew died. Franky interjects that he wasn't even born fifty years ago, and that the person couldn't have possibly waited that long. Brook explains that he is well aware, and their nakama had every right to leave, but if by some small chance they did indeed honor the promise, they must be incredibly lonely now. They may think that the crew betrayed them, but if they did indeed wait, then they must have some very strong pent-up feelings. Brook reveals that the crewmember they left behind was named Laboon. He explains that they certainly couldn't take a young whale through the dangers of their journey, and that he must be so big by now. Brook can't help but feel as if Laboon has truly believed in them all this time, and is waiting for the day that they return and play their music for him. Brook doesn't believe that Laboon would forgive them for dying irresponsibly, and that if he could he would yell to them all that "Death isn't an apology", because a man once said that they would absolutely come back. Robin and Franky are deeply moved by Brook's sentiments.
Back in the present, Franky concludes his story by affirming this is Brook's reasoning for being on his ship for so long, but Luffy, Zoro, Sanji, and Usopp all remember Laboon from their initial entry into the grand line. Franky asks them to explain. Sanji complies, telling him the story of how they met Laboon at the Twin Capes: he was trying to break through the wall that divides the world's seas, eagerly awaiting the return of a certain pirate crew for 50 years. Laboon had heard that something happened to the pirates, and thus was attempting to break free to reach them. Sanji explains that Luffy eventually convinced it to not behave in such a suicidal manner, but Laboon is definitely still waiting at that location. Usopp is astounded that the crew and Laboon have kept their promise to each other for so many years, while Zoro is similarly shocked that Brook is one of the people that Laboon has waited for all this time.
Brook and Ryuma's battle is on in full force, with the two warriors shown to be in an intense fencing exchange. Ryuma acknowledges that Brook has indeed become stronger in the last five years, but because they think similarly, he has as well. Brook is able to dodge a thrust from Ryuma, but is impaled by a follow-up attack that sends him flying back. As Brook lays on his back, Ryuma once again admonishes him for attempting to protect his afro. Brook rises and charges Ryuma with a flurry of strikes, as he muses to himself if Laboon still remembers the crew. He jokes that it must be heart-wrenching to think of how Laboon feels right now, although he doesn't have a heart anymore. As Ryuma again overpowers Brook in a fencing exchange, Brook laments that their nakama have all passed away, and that even he has lost the body and face that Laboon remembers. Ryuma makes more attempts to cut Brook's afro, causing the latter to parry the sword strikes from his position on the ground as he begs him not to damage his hair. Brook laments that Laboon definitely wouldn't recognize him now in his skeletal form, but remembers that his afro always made Laboon laugh. Brook is thus determined to preserve his current look until the very end, as he is coming to see Laboon at their promised location. Brook rises to his feet again for another clash with Ryuma, but is again impaled through the midsection.
Back on the Thousand Sunny, Franky is in tears over Brook & Laboon's story, much to the annoyance of the crew. Luffy is overjoyed; taking into account that Brook is a musician, a talking skeleton, has an afro, has an amusing laugh, and was Laboon's nakama, Luffy is more determined than ever to have Brook join the crew. Luffy asks if the crew has a problem with it, to which a highly amused Robin asks if it would change anything if they did. Usopp wholeheartedly agrees with Brook joining, while Chopper and Franky tearfully agree as well. Sanji angrily interjects that they must stop Nami's wedding first, and Zoro departs the ship, saying that the number of shadows they need to get back has now increased. Luffy happily announces for the Straw Hats to get ready for their counterattack, as they are going to blow down Thriller Bark.
- The Straw Hats bring each other up to speed on things they have learned while separated.
- The friend that Brook and his pirate crew promise to return to turns out to be the whale Laboon.
- Sanji learns of Nami's arranged wedding to Absalom, greatly infuriating him.
- Luffy, Sanji, and Zoro learn of the zombies that have their shadows.
- They also become aware of the zombies' weakness to salt.
- Usopp and Chopper learn that Gecko Moria is a Warlord.
- It is revealed that Brook and his crew never actually gave up on their promise nor abandoned Laboon. Brook reveals that his crew actually were killed during their journey in the Grand Line, confirming Sanji's suspicion several chapters back.
- Brook cherishes his afro so much because it is the only thing he has left that Laboon would recognize him by.
- Ryuma gains the upper hand in his fight with Brook, having gotten stronger in the past five years as well.
- The Straw Hats officially agree to welcoming Brook into the crew.
- The Straw Hats begin their counterattack against Gecko Moria.
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