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One Piece 1031 Review: Payoff

4 Mins read

This is a great chapter. Although it doesn’t completely wash away the stench of the entire Kin’emon being rescued in the most anticlimactic manner from the previous chapter of the series, we do finally see some payoff for some of the character buildup we’ve seen throughout the series.

It’s all about Sanji. Sanji has been an interesting character. Sanji is often compared to Zoro, the simple name-taking enemy-killing badass Zoro. This is because both the fandoms and the manga have this idea of Zoro-vs.-Sanji. Although I don’t care about the rivalry that much, I do appreciate both kinds of characters. The one-note action hero who broods and makes badass jokes is just as good as the hero who angsts over morality and choices and occasionally gets funny. While I have criticized Whole Cake Island in general, Sanji’s portrayal of him and the character development that we got from him are still highlights of that story.

It’s great to see the payoff for the fact that Sanji has doubted himself and his self-worth throughout his post-timeskip life. He is also viewed as less impressive than his fellow wing of the pirate King. They are not compared in any way, except for the constant gag about bounties. However, Zoro’s greatest moments were joining Luffy in fighting two Yonko while Sanji’s was baking a cake. We’ve seen so many fake-outs about who Sanji will fight and the Black Maria moment which was so controversial with the fandom (which I would argue is actually quite a good moment, if you take the time to look at it… but again, this is a comparison with The Roof).

This review/recap will start with the last five to six pages of the chapter. A group of geisha are shouting at Sanji, who is surrounded by bleeding women. One geisha shouts at Sanji, noting that they were the only ones there and that the incident that occurred left a geisha with severe injuries that is now bleeding. Sanji is more disturbed about the body transformation, recalling how disgusted he was about the thought of someone beating a woman and comparing it with one of his most vile robotic brothers. Sanji claims that he has no memories of the exact moment but the fact the woman looked at him with fear suffices.

One great visual clue that I didn’t notice during my first reading was that Sanji has had his eyebrows curled in the opposite direction by the Raid Suit. Take a look at the contrast between Sanji’s face, and the close-up of the Germa66 flashback.

We get to witness a cool badass moment when Sanji takes on Queen. He did not hit the geisha. He could become a monster just like Niji, Yonji and Ichiji. Sanji is terrified of the possibility that he will turn into a monster like his brothers. The monologue that follows is wonderful. He asks Luffy in his head whether he would rather be a mindless killer at an order or a weak flesh-and-blood man who becomes a helpless wreck when he meets a woman.

It is a wonderful moment to see that Sanji does acknowledge his weaknesses. He recognizes that his emotions are a liability and that he has to accept it. While I agree that he is able to call upon his allies during the Black Maria sequence for assistance, it is a positive character development. But Sanji may also see his emotions as a liability. He suffered from nosebleeds in New Fishman Island, and although I don’t want the comparisons to be made, Zoro was cutting up Hody Jones, and almost ended the arc too early. His family business, sentimentality, and lack of communication are what caused our heroes to be detoured into the Whole Cake Island affair. He even fought Luffy.

But still. Yet, despite all of this, Sanji decided to be a valuable tool for the King of Pirates. He pulls out his Raid Suit and crushes it in front of Queen. It doesn’t matter what happens. He will never lose his emotions or his true self. He will not be the same person no matter what. It’s an amazing moment and a great payoff for Sanji’s flip-flopping during the post-timeskip era.

(Officially, we get “farewell, ladies’ bath” tossed into Sanji’s monologue, which is quite funny.

But that’s not all. Sanji calls Zoro using a transponder snail he found in Zoro’s clothing. He gives Zoro some pretty cool lines. Zoro is not able to argue with Sanji’s claim that they will win, but Zoro asks Zoro if he doesn’t think so. Zoro has a wonderful bro-bonding moment. Zoro admits how ridiculous the request is but also realizes how serious Sanji is to make such an request and promises to end Sanji’s life if he does. It was a wonderful moment for both of them.

We see that Sanji can use Stealth Black’s invisible technique without the raid suit… By using Hell’s Memories. This is the one move from New Fishman Island he learned under Ivankov’s tutelage, which we never get to see. Does that explain how he activates Raid Suit abilities? This is a fascinating story. I’m curious to know how it ends.

There are other things going on here as well. Many people believe that Law and Kid performing a combination attack will get rid of Big Mom. But, awakening or not, that’s more of a demonstration of the Supernovas ability to awaken. It’s nice that we get the name for Kid’s devil fruits here, even though it’s been revealed previously in a databook. I also love Law’s attempt to casually search for information about Kid’s power.

Big Mom is taking the souls of random Beast Pirate goons and even notes that he has ripped a year from his own life, changing and becoming more terrifying. This is a great power boost and Big Mom says she hasn’t felt this level of pain in many decades. This is a really cool moment for another character, who hasn’t had the best show in the last few chapters. Big Mom actually feels threateningagain, which I love.

It is even more fascinating to see Brook and Robin fighting off CP0. Robin identifies the mask-wearing CP0 members as the elite, despite the Mink musketeers being royally beaten by Jack and Kaido. Is there going to be a Brook fight? Interesting!

Apoo vs Drake is also shown. This sequence is slightly less important. Drake provides a JoJo’s Bizarre Adventurestyle summary of Apoo’s devil fruit peculiarities (it’s also based upon Apoo’s sight) and points-blank rejects Apoo’s alliance. Although I like Apoo’s attempt to convince Yamato to join him, and his general backstabbing of trying to gain allies in the process, Yamato is a complete jerk. There are some arguments as Yamato leaves the loop regarding Drake’s defection. But it all ends with Apoo and the Numbers following Yamato and Drake following Apoo. My response is “Eh”. Apoo is fun, but not very interesting, and I could care less about Drake’s defection.

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