by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 959 of
One Piece ?
We open on a flashback to 25 years ago, a little before the Great Pirate Era began. On Gol D Roger's ship, everyone is celebrating, including Oden who is also aboard. Rayleigh discusses with Oden one last thing that needs to be done. He thanks them for their offers of help, but insists he must do it alone. When we return, Act Three of the Wano arc begins with the usual fanfare.
Orochi is aboard one of his vessels, celebrating at Habu port and enjoying the weather with his attendants. He sets off beneath the lovely falling leaves towards the Fire Festival at Onigashima. Later, the day of the Fire Festival arrives and the capital is bustling with activity. Music and dancing fill the streets, children play games, and delicious food is brought out in abundance.
At sea, however, the weather is much harsher, and the Akazaya Nine stand upon the storm-wracked shore waiting for the soldiers and ships to arrive. Kinemon wonders where the others are, crying out into the transponder snail.
We then flash back to two days prior when Kinemon sent out the call for everyone to move. Ships and weapons are built and fleets begin to move. Luffy, Chopper, and Brook receive new armor while Sanji and Zoro bicker (always nice to have normalcy in strange times). They discuss the weather and the possibility of using sulong forms in the coming battle, while reflecting on Jinbei's eventual (?) arrival.
At Ebisu town a huge arrival of gold shocks everyone. The town gets a shakedown from Kaido's forces but Otsuro promises to help them to save the village. She knows that ultimately it will help Kinemon who she knows is back in Wano – seeing Kiku let her know something was up. Back at the shore, Kinemon knows he has to press on tonight regardless of who shows – even if it is no one. We get an ominous warning that something had happened the night before and the To Be Continued page splashes.
A solid episode once again. The Wano arc continues the One Piece tradition of Yet Another Exposition Episode that has so many moving parts it is hard to do much more than skim the surface. I feel like the material is strong enough that this is never dull, but an episode consisting of mostly discussing plans and troop arrivals isn't the most exciting.
What is present though is lavishly animated, well-directed and shot, and quite revealing. Any time we get to spend with Roger and his crew feels monumental – especially baby Buggy (Buwuggy) and Shanks (Sha...well just Shanks). Any glimpse into that time of legends is such a rare treat that I'm hanging onto every word. Oden is a bear of a man in those flashbacks and the drama is palpable when he's speaking.
I think the direction did a lot of the heavy lifting in making all these scenes stand out. Kinemon's moments on the storm-wracked shore were so engrossing, especially given that he was ultimately just making a phone call on the beach, but the intensity of seeing both his tear-streamed face or him kneeling framed against the crashing waves was excellent. Another great moment was when Hyogoro was speaking and the camera is positioned down near the ground to project power and the wheel of a cannon rolls into the frame to shift the conversation.
Having read the manga already, I know we are in for huge events very soon, and I can't wait to see what the Toei crew does when things really start firing on all cylinders.
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