by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 950 of
One Piece ?
The dust finally settles on the prison battle with our heroes victorious. Eustass comes over to a collapsed Luffy and asks if he is going to fight Kaido again, and when Luffy offers to let him join in Kid refuses – he doesn't believe in alliances. On his way out he re-assembles his arm while reflecting on the pain of what he has endured thus far. Then in one thunderous blow, Kid knocks the gate off the prison and he and Killer set out on their own.
Meanwhile, reflects on the time he spent in Wano waiting for the others to return. Ten years prior, he is the one trying to keep the faith while his men starve. They cry out “Let us at least die holding our swords!” and beg him to let them fight Kaido. He reminds them that if they throw their lives away they cannot avenge Oden and their lives will be spent in vain. They counter with the oath they used to take as kids, crying “Sunacchi!” at the heavens and realizing they should not think themselves too important. Chanting it, they sail off into the stormy seas and vanish, leaving Shutenmaru on the shore.
Back in the present, Shutenmaru draws his sword in anguish. He wonders why it had to take twenty years. Fighting back tears, he says he has no reason to doubt Oden-sama, then tells his men they will ride on the night of the Fire Festival to attack Kaido. His warriors rejoice.
At the prison, the prisoners are in another form of revolt. They realize that Raizo and Hyogoro have them working with a pirate, and they simply don't trust him. Inside, Tama visits Luffy who is barely alive after the poison incident. Chopper frantically works to find an antibody. Momonosuke goes to strike Luffy but Tama steps in the way, and Luffy tells him to step out and lead.
Momonosuke steps out into the yard and the gathered prisoners drop to their knees. Through tears they rejoice that he is alive then bow low. Their pirate-disgust momentarily forgotten, Hyogoro remarks that what they needed was a dream – a dream to return to the Wano under Oden. Momonosuke tells them of his journey to get back and his hope to avenge everyone and take back the land of Wano. Then he thanks everyone for waiting for him, bringing all to tears.
Another strong episode for the Wano arc.
I personally think this is one of the better episodes of Wano that will probably be talked about the least. The team at Toei has done such a phenomenal job of adapting the arc thus far, particularly in terms of the gorgeous fight scenes. Every battle that we have witnessed has been terrific and a few of the highlights will likely end up in top ten fights lists for years to come. However, this episode has no real fighting to speak of.
Instead, this is one of those episodes that shows what anime adaptations can bring to the table even with an already great source material. One Piece is the sort of work – like Berserk or Fist of the North Star – that is often hard for animated adaptations to justify their existence because the source material is already of such high caliber. Often times such adaptations can only hope to match the quality at best, and can fall short many times due to time or budget constraints. Here, however, we see the advantage of an anime adaptation: being able to flesh out moments that the manga cannot afford to due to page/pacing limitations.
Shutemaru and Momonosuke both greatly benefit from the time spent in this episode. From the artful flashback in Shutenmaru's case to the heart-wrenching speech given by Momonosuke, both greatly benefit from the anime slowing down and letting these moments resonate with the viewer. I think in Asura's case particularly the extra attention bears fruit due to the deft use of cinematic language: harsh bloom in the scorching wasteland, the red/black and film grain during the Sunacchi sequence, and the woodblock art style of the ships leaving shore. Really fantastic work all around: a different sort of bombast than a roaring battle scene but very effective nonetheless.
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