by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 958 of
One Piece ?
We open on a Marine base where Akainu is discussing the end of the Seven Warlords system with Fujitora via transponder snail. Akainu is upset by the situation, but Fujitora makes it clear that the Warlords cause hardship for common folk. Akinu mentions Big Mom and Kaido's alliance, just as Fujitora is making his attack on an island. Back inside the base a briefing is underway regarding the Warlords and the new alliance. Sengoku regales the gathered group with tales of the famed Rocks Pirates.
The Rocks Pirates were violent and ruthless, including Captain Rocks, and Whitebeard, Big Mom, and Kaido in their younger days(!). Captain Rocks wanted to become king himself, and he and his crew attacked the World Government multiple times. One incident at God Valley 38 years prior was particularly momentous. A young Garp was able to fight back against the pirates and start his own legend, becoming a her of the Navy. An element of that battle that was kept under wraps was that back then he allied with Gol D Roger to protect the Celestial Dragons and their slaves, something he did not (and does not) consider his duty. This God Valley Incident is unknown to the modern era, because the island itself disappeared without a trace. The World Government wanted it hidden and it went away. Roger and Rocks were bitter rivals, and Rocks full name was Rocks D Xebec(!).
The next phase of the meeting handles the updating of bounties. The Seven Warlords have not had their bounties updated in a while, nor have the Emperors, and those gathered rehash their various crimes. Things start of big with Blackbeard having a bounty of over 2 Billion(!) and only getting larger from there as Shanks, Kaido, and Big Mom clock in at over 4 Billion. It is also stated that Whitebeard was up at over 5 Billion, and Roger at close to 6 Billion and that no pirate has ever exceeded these two.
Akainu arrives and tells everyone to forget about Wano. The Navy simply doesn't have the resources to deal with it. Sengoku says he was just telling the soldiers his old stories, He also wonders aloud how this new generation of pirates keeps getting caught up in world affairs before we cut to the To Be Continued card.
Another solid episode of mostly exposition and recap.
It's hard to follow up the unbelievable strength of 957 with any content and now feel like it is somehow lesser, but 958 is still a strong episode in its own right. One of the great joys of One Piece is the way that bounty updates are an actual event. The idea of “power levels” or fighting ratings and such are a well-established trope, and I think in most instances they end up being more a joke than anything meaningful. However, I think the brilliance of the way Oda uses bounties is that they are as much a direct measure of power as they are a measure of political importance in the setting - and I think that latter element is what makes it so excited. The bounty being representative of how much of a threat the World Government views a character in is such an interesting wrinkle, and as the story arcs get longer the time between bounty updates grows larger too. It's genuinely an exciting event unlike similar power scaling announcements/declarations in other works.
I think it's buoyed by a great adaptation from the Toei team this week as well. Again, last week's episode was a full broadside that… well, I don't know if anyone could keep delivering that kind of quality and imagination week after week. But there were moments of brilliance - the way the legendary pirates of Rocks' crew had their silhouettes splashed with different colors to differentiate them a bit more, or how one shot at the Navy base had a bubble literally rise into view and “burst” much like the situation with the Warlords being abolished. And while many of the events in the flashback are momentous, legendary, and ominous in equal measure, Sengoku's goat is constantly lightening the viewer's mood by stepping in the frame and going :3
For this service alone it is a top quality episode.
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