by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 887 of
One Piece ?
We've spent years building up the man/myth/legend that is Kaido, the "strongest creature in the world", but we've still seen so little of him after all this time. As of this week, the big man is still sitting in his cave, drinking his sorrows away, but he gets a phone call from an unexpected person: Big Mom! This scene is brief, but it suggests a ton about what to expect from the upcoming story arc. Big Mom is mad at Luffy and wants to save face with the world, so she's going to take her crew to Wano and kill him herself, even though Kaido is also after Luffy and not about to let somebody else take his head. Big Mom glibly suggests a team-up, but it doesn't look like these two Emperors are going to get along any time soon.
Given how much was left open-ended in Whole Cake Island, it's surprising that Big Mom's storyline is going to pick back up so quickly as a subplot in Wano, an arc that's already promising to be stuffed to the brim. Not that I'm complaining since Big Mom is easily one of my favorite villains in the series, but there are so many potential paths to go down with this development that it leaves my head spinning. To complement this exchange, we get some added lore by way of the marines having a chat in the cafeteria, talking about an old pirate crew named "Rox". Now, the manga was much more vague about how Rox was connected to Kaido and Big Mom, but the anime clarifies that there is indeed a connection. Rox were the group that ruled in the era before Gold Roger, and then one day their leader died and the rest of the crew went into hiding, rebuilding their power in the shadows.
Were Kaido and Big Mom apprentices on this crew, like how Shanks and Buggy were for Roger? This talk about Rox gives me pause because I hope we're not just setting up yet another powerful bad guy for when Luffy runs out of Emperors to fight, but as it stands, it feels more like an opportunity to give our current villains some history and common ground, offering some emotional weight to their fated meeting. From there, this week's recaps don't cover a single arc, but rather cover the entire post-time skip story to elaborate on why Kaido and Big Mom hate the Straw Hats so much:
New World saga: Pre-time skip vs. post-time skip is a common talking point among fans. I think the pre-time skip era offered a lot more emotional clarity and story polish, while the New World stuff has indulged in a lot more boisterous excess. One of my most common gripes with the modern era of One Piece is how much everything that happens is positioned as setup for later events. Every arc, no matter how massive in scope, seems to end with the narrator talking about how each adventure is just the beginning of a much bigger story, and that's been the case for an excruciatingly long time. The final blows against villains like Caesar Clown and Doflamingo don't offer the same catharsis as the finishers against Crocodile or Rob Lucci. They feel more routine, like we're just getting them out of the way.
However, the further along we get into exploring the upcoming Wano arc—One Piece's equivalent to an Avengers: Endgame-style pay-off—the more I start to believe in the story's grand design. One under-appreciated gimmick of the New World is how we've been breaking up the Straw Hats between different islands for the past few years, which gives us a chance to incorporate more side characters into the cast while also performing a dance where the crew slowly come back together, like puzzle pieces falling back in place. We're eager to see the Straw Hats in one location again, we want to see Jimbei officially christened in, and once those things happen, I think we'll finally be able to reflect on how we've gradually been picking up all these other characters, like Trafalgar Law, the Minks, and the samurai. There's going to be a moment where we understand in our bones that the Straw Hats aren't a crew of ten, but a family of hundreds. That's what Wano appears to be building up.
From there, the final surprise of the episode comes with the cliffhanger, where the Five Elders of the World Government meet with a mysterious hooded figure, who turns out to be none other than Red-Haired Shanks. Why the government is open to having a meeting with an Emperor is unknown, as is the "certain pirate" that Shanks wants to discuss. Is he warning the elders about Blackbeard? Kaido? Luffy? It's so open-ended that it's not even worth it to speculate, which is true for most of the Reverie's intrigue.
The developments that happen in this episode are surprising, but they leave the audience with a nasty case of blue balls, and we ultimately aren't left with much to chew on. I really like the thought of Big Mom coming to Wano, though. It helps the past few arcs feel even more intertwined than before, leaning into this notion that the New World is one big plot line as opposed to several isolated story arcs. I don't know how a meeting between Big Mom and Kaido would even shake down, but we're nearing the end of this Reverie and getting ready to shift gears in the near future, which is exciting in its own right.
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