On a monthly basis, I review One Piece on a regular basis. I usually talk about 3 to 5 chapters at a time. Particularly in the beginning of the Wano story arc, this was my favorite way to enjoy the manga. I read Dressrosa’s and Whole Cake Island’s arcs week-by-week and found them much more enjoyable when I read them all and discussed them in multiple chapters. It also helps avoid getting too excited about the obvious “nah, it’s just trolling cliffhanger” like the Kanjuro Ode thing.
Sometimes, however, you just have to get the bombshells.
And I thought the last chapter was the Zoro chapter. Big Mom being dropped from Onigashima with the rock is a very anticlimactic scene. It’s also a bit silly for one Yonkou. So I was not surprised that Prometheus managed escape Zoro and grab Big Mom. This sequence is not surprising, but the events that lead to it are quite interesting. It turns out that blocking the Ocean Sovereignty Attack is too difficult on Zoro, so he’s stumbling. Law decides to save Zoro against an onrushing Kaido rather than allowing him to continue to dicing Prometheus.
Interestingly, the manga seems to have been proving that the Big Mom Pirates… aren’t up to the task throughout the Wano story. The amnesia subplot was still pretty terrible, but considering how badly organized the whole organization was back in Whole Cake Island, Big Mom Pirates were kicked off a waterfall twice, Big Mom’s children seemed content to just sit around doing nothing. Big Mom herself was not present at different points of the arc by characters such as Queen, Franky, Jinbe, or Robin. Kaido notes that Linlin was “pathetic” in this chapter. Is this a Gekko Moriah-style story about a badass who has let himself become rusty? This is a great way to take Big Mom. And honestly, she is more destructive to her family than the Straw Hats back at Whole Cake Island, which I find quite interesting.
Law cannot personality-swap or Shamble these Yonkou characters but he can stab Kaido using an Injection Shot. Kaido can also take a complete swipe with him using an ability called “Curtain”, whose kanji is “antibacterial armament ‘…”. It’s a defensive ability, but it’s hard to see what’s happening. It’s also interesting to note that Law told Zoro that the plan wasn’t worth any of us dying. It seems that Law is becoming soft and has begun to treat the Straw Hats like his true companions. This is a reminder of Law’s insistence that die if he tortures you before you reveal any information. He cares about some of his newfound acquaintances earlier in the arc.
Kid and Killer leave stage to deal with Big Mom. And… okay, sure. Big Mom also rants about Zeus being a burden and how they treat Big Mom as useless. This is not Zeus’s fault. Prometheus seems to be encouraging Mama. He asks Big Mom to give him’something’ which… frankly, seems to lead to Big Mom becoming a new Zeus. Is Nami going to be permanently a Zeus?
Then we see Zoro rising from his injuries and pulling out his knife. Zoro then busts out Kiki KYUtoryu: Asura for the first time in forever (505 chapters). What is his standing position after the last chapter? It’s a shame, because we all know Zoro has a huge pain tolerance and other things. This is still one of the most bizarre things that the Straw Hats have done and Zoro has only done it twice in the entire story. It’s something everyone has been waiting for because I don’t believe Zoro post-timeskip has ever been in any fight where he’s been seriously challenged. The very cool “Blades Drawn Dead Man’s Game” attack draws blood from Kaido. It is confirmed that it will leave a scar, much like Oden’s blow.
Asura is a very special moment in my life. It’s one of the reasons I was so spoiled by Zoro when I first started to learn One Piece. It’s amazing how much the form is being promoted and hyped by movies and video games. But, unlike other Enies’ Lobby powerups (Gear Second and Gear Third, Diable Jambe and Monster Point), Zoro uses Asura only twice. One time to defeat Kaku and another in an ineffective, missable attack against the Sabaody Pacifista. It’s easy to forget that Zoro is able to do this with so many other things.
This is not all. This chapter is not all hype. No, Zoro is not going to slash Kaido with a huge gash across his chest.
Kaido’s initial reaction? Kaido’s first reaction?
I have never subscribed to Rayleigh’s Conquerors Haki and he is the first mate, ergo Zoro musthave it too. However, Brook made a joke about it a few chapters back, and I didn’t think it was far-fetched that Zoro (and Sanji but mostly Zoro), would be able unlock Conquerors Haki.
It’s amazing that Zoro doesn’t know he has this power. He’s even surprised. All he wanted to do was knock Kaido to the ground. This is what makes Zoro/Brook’s exchange in 998 or any other chapter so clever. It’s a joke here, Brook thinking Zoro’s shaking it with Conquerors Haki… but we can’t help but laugh at it now. The author can insert the idea of “hey, wouldn’t it be cool for Zoro to have Conqueror’s Haki?” It’s a neat way for the author to insert the idea that “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if Zoro had Conqueror’s Haki?” into our heads. It turns out he did! It’s quite cool.
Kaido uses the Thunder Bagua to take Zoro and Law down. They’re still alive, but I doubt they’ll get up anytime soon. But who is the one that rises? One Monkey D. Luffy spends the first part of this chapter with whitened eyes from the Ragnaraku attack in chapter last. Luffy discovers that Conqueror’s Haki can not only be used to kill random weaklings but can also be used to infuse weapons and objects with it.
Although the layout of the panels seems confusing, it almost suggests that Ryuo might be Conqueror’s Haki. But I think Ryuo may not be Conqueror’s Haki. It’s more that Ryuo channels Haki and that this is what Luffy will do with Conqueror’s Haki. Luffy kicks towards Kaido’s Kanabo, and we get the same cool effect as in the Oden flashback with Roger and Whitebeard. This is one of the most striking effects to show the clash, and it was animated in anime form. Really, I need to watch the Wano anime arc.
The remainder of the chapter is a “Luffy finally draws Blood” chapter. This was the equivalent of what we had for many of Luffy’s long-drawn fights. He just glides around and strikes Kaido with his fists, unleashing black Conqueror’s Haki lightning that causes impacts without ever coming in contact. These panels are very impressive, and Luffy makes a bold boast about his plans to defeat Kaido. End of chapter.
It’s also very, very fascinating. It has been quite some time since Luffy was able to defeat the main antagonist in an arc. Doflamingo was the last one. This was after three story arcs in which the two previous major antagonists (Caesar Clown & Hody Jones) pose more threat because of their actions towards civilians than ‘oh, man, they’re insurmountable dangers’. The Straw Hats can barely escape Big Mom with Whole Cake Island. Luffy’s win over Katakuri is based on the fact that Katakuri kind of allowed Luffy to escape after a worthy opponent’ deal. Zou won’t let Luffy meet Jack.
So the story continues with the assumption that Luffy may have bitten off more than his teeth. Took on the Yonkou almost immediately into the new universe, and then dragged in another one after his selfish desire to save Sanji. This… I honestly can see it going either way. This could lead to Luffy fighting Kaido, if not beating him then at least matching him in the same manner as Katakuri. The other Supernovas also note that Big Mom is now separated from Kaido. Despite the fact that there are still many issues to resolve around Onigashima and the entire five-act Kabuki play, I am not convinced this will end well. Act three is still ongoing, and it ostensibly will end with tragedy. I feel that whatever direction we go, it’s going to be fascinating!