by Sam Leach,
The day has finally come when we can say that the string of warm-up fights leading back up to Luffy versus Doflamingo is coming to an end. All the smaller officers (save Bellamy, whichever role he fills) have fallen and all that's left are the head honchos, Diamante and Pica. Last time we left off in the middle of Kyros' fight with Diamante, with Kyros mustering all he has to keep his daughter Rebecca out of the fight. I've given my two cents on Rebecca, and now it seems like that conversation is more-or-less over as we witness Kyros getting his wish. Kyros unleashes his special attack, the “Trueno Bastardo” (basically, a stronger sword swing), and defeats Diamante. That's not the end of it, though: No, the finale of course must end with some poetic justice, as Diamante's sword snaps and he goes falling back, hitting his head on the block of wood serving as Scarlett's grave.
In retrospect, Diamante was a character with a cool design (modeled primarily after Aerosmith's Steven Tyler) but he got really repetitive with all the big, goofy faces and constant bragging about killing Rebecca's mother. Obviously, they were setting up this final beat down. As Rebecca and Kyros finally get to have a quite moment together, we see Robin smiling, happy to have helped. However, her assistance did not come without a cost as we cut to her back and see that it is bloody and torn up, a result of the falling stardust making it through her sunflower umbrella. I had always hoped that Robin would get to keep some cool scars from this encounter.
The father-daughter moment doesn't get to last long, however, as Zoro's opponent, Pica, uses his stone-assimilation powers to warp himself to the scene to challenge Kyros further. There's a moment where Kyros is standing up for King Riku as the rightful king of Dressrosa over Doflamingo, and we get some (I think) anime-only flashbacks to what the country was like before Doflamingo took it over. I believe I've mentioned before that I like Dressrosa the most when it really milks the children's fantasy vibe that it draws inspiration from, and these quick scenes really nailed the feeling of some beautiful medieval fantasy story. I feel like that was the greatest strength of the Diamante storyline in general, with most of it coming from the setting of the big sunflower field.
Between episodes 717 and 718 we transition from the Diamante fight to the Zoro versus Pica fight. Pica's always been an interesting opponent, since his powers allow him to travel through the stone that makes up the island and pop up anywhere. It's clear from the outset that Zoro is the stronger swordsman of the two, but Pica's abilities not only allow him to stay out of reach, but reshape the playing field underneath all the other fighters as well. In the earlier match-ups we saw plenty of the combatants jumping back and forth between the giant stone spikes that Pica had uprooted throughout the arc. It's a really neat concept to have an enemy who is basically the island itself, as well as a fight that organically effects the other scenes around it on a large scale.
Though, there aren't really many other scenes for it to effect anymore, given that all the fights have more-or-less been resolved. For everybody other than Luffy and Law, the battle is over and all that remains is for Zoro to finish his nuisance of an opponent once and for all. We see Pica bring the giant statue version of his body back to life (think something on the scale of Attack on Titan's Colossal Titan) to escape Zoro's reach and attempt to smash King Riku and friends into jelly. The episode leaves us off on a pretty good question: How on earth is Zoro going to reach him? There's a pretty funny montage of scenes where Zoro imagines his options (like jumping really high or calling for help on a snail phone he doesn't have), only for the plan's comically obvious shortcoming to be demonstrated in surprisingly practical terms.
Of course, it wouldn't be Zoro if he didn't eventually land on something so outrageous and unbelievable that you're tempted to just take his word on it. “Plan 5 - Fly in the sky and chop him up!!!” is what Zoro excitedly exclaims in confidence. What exactly he means by this is kept in the dark as we smash into the “To Be Continued” card.
Overall, these are a pair of healthy episodes. I think the Kyros and Rebecca storyline is iffy, since it never seemed like it had a focus and I think the two of them are some of the more vanilla characters of the arc, but it's good to see some resolution finally take shape in a story this overwhelmingly massive. It also feels like a treat to see Zoro get to reign in this little battle arc, since his fights have historically been among the best in the series and this feels like his most dramatic opponent since the time skip, so it'll be fun to see what he does.
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