by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 936 of
One Piece ?
We return to Hiyori discussing her background with Zoro in the snowy cabin. She is overjoyed to hear that Zoro is an ally of Momonosuke, and asks about the other Akazaya Nine. There is a brief back and forth where both wonder whether the other can be trusted, but they realize that they are both invested in the cause. Hiyori reveals that Toko has been helping her stay happy through all her tribulations. She recounts the disastrous fall of her family and the fallout these past twenty years. Hiyori tells about how Kawamtsu protected her in spirit and in health, and Zoro relents. Clearly there is nothing else he can do but rest up and heal, which brings great joy to Toko and Hiyori who join in with him as the exhaustion and cold set in over the course of the episode.
Meanwhile, Law lets Shinobu know in no uncertain terms that he won't stand to have her doubt the loyalty of his crew and leaves in a huff. Nami and Usopp are outside discussing how badly all that went, when they notice a group of individuals capable of expressing an emotion other than wild laughter. An old woman of Ebisu village tells the duo of how these three men were all criminals of various sorts who fled the capital after the Oiran tricked them out of their ill-gotten fortunes. Most surprising of all is that Yasui still found it in his heart to take care of them along with everyone else.
At the prison camp fight, Luffy has continued to bemoan his inability to reach the next level of haki that he has seen Rayleigh and others use. Luffy knows he needs to be able to project force without making contact in order to beat Kaido's tough scales. Hyogoro realizes his issue and displays that power on the alpaca-man. To the awe of Luffy and the crowd, the alpaca-man is taken out of the fight in a single blow, and it is revealead that Hyogoro is none other than Hyogoro the Flower. He tells Luffy that he can help him train this power and we are greeted by the familiar to be continued sign.
A truly enjoyable and heartwarming episode on multiple levels. I think the most visually spectacular moment is probably the build up to Hygoro landing the telling blow on the alpaca man. It's gorgeously animated, with bombastic purple hues and the glorious flower pattern of the final impact. Luffy is impressed, the crowd is impressed, we're impressed – it's all great stuff.
Truthfully though I think it was the other elements that really won me over in today's episode. Hiyori's flashback is not quite a tear-jerker but it works well and establishes an emotional investment in herself and Kawamatsu. We get tender moments with her, Toko, and Zoro that plays with our heart-strings and the found family tropes. The slow relent into trusting one another and snuggling together as cold sets in is very sweet. Beyond that, it's quite hilarious with Zoro's complaints about their noise level and after a quick snowy cutaway we get back to him snoring up a storm. It's one thing to keep people safe, and another level entirely to make people feel safe – Zoro does that for Toko and Hiyori.
We also get Nami and Usopp content which I dearly love. Their sibling-like bond is one of my favorite dynamics among the Straw Hat crew; seeing their special relationship on screen always works for me. I particularly liked how after the flashbacks for the three criminals Usopp literally provides the screen-wipe transition by using his hands to push the images out of the way. Nami instantly recognizing Oiran's ability to hustle these cruel men out of their illicit fortunes was also a nice touch.
Lastly, special comedic mention goes to Hiyori's amazing reaction face during her talk with Zoro. Yet another legendary One Piece face, this time from a supporting cast member. In the realm of amazing reaction faces, this is further evidence of the Wano arc's facial greatness.
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