by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 867 of
One Piece ?
With the wedding cake firmly in Capone's possession, Big Mom is giving up on the Thousand Sunny entirely and leaving the Straw Hats up to her kids. The Straw Hats are off to rendezvous with Luffy on Cacao Island, but they have one last challenge ahead of them due to the Big Mom pirates overhearing their strategy hours ago. Smoothie (one of the "Sweet Three" on Katakuri's level) is leading a fleet to their back, and Oven has amassed an army on Cacao Island, instructing the citizens to break every mirror in the area aside from one, so they can ambush Luffy on the slim chance that Katakuri fails to kill him. Everything is set to come to a head at 1:00 AM, depending on what happens in the meantime.
For the past few episodes, we've been leaning heavily on the Katakuri fight, which is still progressing at an incredibly slow rate. And while I still think the fight gets too samey for too long, this recent stretch has been really good at emphasizing how the fight is supposed to feel on an emotional level. Luffy's never-give-up attitude is starting to take its toll, because his injuries and fatigue are stacking at an increased rate. The added conflict comes courtesy of Flampe, who is both watching her brother in admiration and also sneakily trying to assist in the fight by shooting silent needle darts at Luffy, numbing his legs and leaving him open for Katakuri to stab him. This is Luffy's bloodiest injury yet, but he tries to keep going as if nothing's wrong, even if Katakuri now has a much greater edge.
The action looks amazing this week, coming across as cool and playful as ever. Overall this fight has been really consistent in quality, albeit way too repetitive and long, and I'm just amazed at how well it's translated into animation. I remember being worried that the size difference between fighters would be an awkward challenge for the show, but its been smooth sailing in that regard. This is an episode of body language, and Katakuri's frustration really comes through in different ways. At first it was because this little shrimp just won't die, and now it's because his opponent has seemingly reached his limitations. Katakuri doesn't know what he wants anymore; all he knows is that what's in front of him is unsatisfying.
The Katakuri fight has always had a bizarre pacing issue, where we're asked to endure a lot of the same material over and over, and then there will be a sudden upset like when we briefly saw what Katakuri was hiding underneath his scarf. Flampe is forcing the dynamic to shift once again, but the show is still keeping the true consequences of her meddling for next week, so this episode's strength is mostly just polish. We don't have any distinct "A plots" or "B plots" right now—the Katakuri fight and the Big Mom chase have been trading between those roles until now—so all that's left for us to do is sit back and watch the finale unfold.
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