Chapter 543 is titled "Straw Hat and Blackbeard".
Shiryu confronts the Blackbeard Pirates while Hannyabal stands before Luffy and his group. However, Hannyabal is beaten down by Luffy and finished off by Blackbeard, who somehow bypassed Shiryu. Luffy then realizes that Blackbeard was the one who captured Ace.
A drawbridge is seen being raised, as an attempt to stop the Blackbeard Pirates from entering the Underwater Prison, Impel Down. Blackbeard is seen calmly walking while Van Augur and Jesus Burgess are seen fighting jailers. Jailers are instructed to fire, stating that the Blackbeard Pirates are clearly traitors at this point in time. Suddenly, a man appears, saying that they are not traitors, that they were pirates and not to be trusted from the start. This supports Smoker, Kizaru and Sengoku's view on the Shichibukai.
Shiryu appears as the man, studying the five intruders. Blackbeard simply stares at Shiryu, commenting that he looks like trouble. However, Blackbeard mistakes Shiryu for Magellan. Shiryu identifies Blackbeard as Marshall D. Teach, who simply laughs and asks who Shiryu himself is.
The number of Newkamas and freed prisoners head towards to the door of Level 3, where jailers are being heavily bombarded on by prisoners. Three Jailer Beasts are seen, all bloodied up and knocked out; unconscious. Portraits of Luffy, Ivankov, Crocodile, Jinbe and Inazuma, fighting.
A number of prisoners are seen being stopped by Sadi, who sends them flying, destroying a big portion of the bridge in the process. Luffy prepares to attack her but is sent literally flying by Iva, who uses a move called Eccentric Girl, which shocks Sadi-chan. Inazuma shows Luffy the stairs to Level 3. However, a mighty voice booms that Impel Down is the mighty fortress of Hell.
This voice belongs Hannyabal, who is seen spinning a staff with a sword on each end, defeating prisoners. At this point, the guards cheer on, saying that Hannyabal was someone they could truly rely on. Luffy faces up to Hannyabal who refuses to move out of Luffy's way. Hannyabal summons up a move called Hannya Circus, where the blades are set on fire and moves them in a very fast notion around his body.
Luffy states that he is here to free Ace where Hannyabal replies with that he is the Vice-Chief and that he could not be defeated. Luffy attacks Hannyabal with Gomu Gomu no Jet Gatling which looks like a clear defeat. Jailers are seen rushing Magellan out of the lift, saying that the perpetrators were on near the Level 3 staircase. Magellan prepares to move to the location, while Hannyabal stands up, refusing to be beaten by Luffy, taking hit after hit. Hannyabal slumps to the ground and Luffy runs over him but is stopped by Hannyabal. Hannyabal says many words, saying that Luffy has no right to save his brother, and that pirates are the scum of the world. He goes on to say that many people are scared just by pirates being alive. Hannyabal describes Impel Down as the fortress of Hell, that if this place was to be destroyed, it would plummet the world in darkness, and that the ordinary people of the world would no longer be safe from pirates. Luffy refuses to give up, when the bazooka unit of Impel Down is sucked down into a familiar darkness hole. A foot appears in front of Hannyabal's face, the owner saying that there is no answer for anything, that no matter where you search, it will always be there. Blackbeard is then seen smashing Hannyabal into the ground, stamping on him.
The Blackbeard Pirates are seen in full, where Jinbe is furious. Blackbeard tells him not point fists at people, that it was not his fault that Ace was being executed. A shocked Luffy looks at Blackbeard, remembering three occasions where Blackbeard was mentioned:
- Ace explaining to Luffy about hunting the man named Blackbeard, who had apparently committed a treacherous crime.
- Blackbeard himself, at Jaya, when he was talking about the dreams of men.
- Elder Nyon talks about a man named Blackbeard filling the spot of Shichibukai
Luffy is angry, while Blackbeard talks about Ace's execution. It appears to be that Luffy will try to engage in a battle with Blackbeard.
- A portrait of Emporio Ivankov is seen on the wall of the cover art.
- Teach and Shiryu take interest in each other.
- Luffy encounters Blackbeard again and learns his true identity.
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