by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 947 of
One Piece ?
Big Mom's memory has returned and she reflects on the journey that brought her to Wano. We get a short flashback of everything that happened to her from King's kick knocking her overboard all the way up to the present. Queen is understandably upset that she's still standing, but Big Mom, and her hunger, is back with a vengeance. She turns ominously towards Queen, who realizes his goose is cooked with eye-popping clarity. Her power rises but she still wants the red bean soup. She approaches him menacingly and… falls down from exhaustion. Queen requests sea prism stone cuffs and chains which the goons bring over immediately to bring Big Mom Gulliver's Travels style. Queen then leaves Udon with a minimal guard to take Big Mom straight to Kaido.
Udon closes down but Tama and Momonosuke rush in before the gates shut. Luffy feels liberated to do whatever he wants with Queen and Big Mom gone. He boldly declares that he's always been free and that he will take over Udon, shocking the guards. The guards descend on him and he powers up his Haki, continuing to practice on low-level goons to burst them from within. He says that he will master Ryou at any cost.
Chopper and Kiku join the fray to help Luffy. The goons – already not having a great day – are pressed even further. The other prisoners start considering their odds at a successful prison break. Babanuki begins detailing exactly the punishments they will face if Luffy breaks out, including a great deal of highly-specific dismemberment. The prisoners run to grab Luffy because they are terrified of the consequences, and Luffy is reluctant to attack them.
Daifugo decides to add further incentive for the prisoners to do what they're told. He fires Queen's plague rounds that spread through the prisoners to keep them from even thinking of helping Luffy. Luffy cries out for them to run so they don't get infected but no one moves.
In the Never-Opening Cell, Kawamatsu laughs. Babanuki reveals that he is one of the Akazaya Nine, terrifying the guards. Kiku hears Kawamatsu's voice and rushes in to save him. Kawamatsu starts spitting fish bones to paralyze the goons guarding him and declares that he is alive and kicking before the To Be Continued title card flashes.
A solid enough episode that mostly serves as connective tissue for what comes next. Between Big Mom collapsing from hunger and Queen hustling her out in such a rush, everything feels a little anticlimactic given all that lead up to this moment. Narratively, it makes sense that Queen needs to get Big Mom to Kaido pronto given how serious a threat she is, but truth be told, it is slightly disappointing to have Big Mom plunk down and get carted off after weeks and weeks of waiting for her to arrive. It seems more like a way to shuffle the board and help Luffy escape than anything.
That being said, the brief moments of Kiku and Chopper action are welcome. It's also exciting to know that Kawamatsu is about to join the fray as that build-up has been happening for a while now. Tama's determined little “let's go!” is also incredibly precious – she's a sweet bean.
Luffy stating “I've always been free!” is perhaps the biggest moment thematically in this episode. We get the sense that Luffy is stating this beyond merely the prison he's in at the moment, as part of the work writ large. Luffy has always been free – that is why this boy will be king of the pirates.
The real treat that the anime adaptation gives us is in the form of Hiroki Takahashi's performance as Queen. He's been a delight throughout but the ridiculous line reads when Big Mom finally wakes up to her past self are hilarious. The rapid-fire delivery of “No way! No way! No way!” and the mix of tongue-waggling/gargling vocals he gives had me in stitches. Queen was already a big presence in the manga but Hiroki Takahashi brings him to vivid life in the anime. It's great.
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