One Piece
Episode 961

by Grant Jones,

How would you rate episode 961 of
One Piece ?

The mountain god warthog continues its rampage and threatens to eat Tsuru and her companions. The flower capital is burning and Kinemon decides to fight with Oden over giving up the baby pig. As they bicker, the warthog begins consuming whole buildings – with Wano's citizens inside. Soon the man Kinemon stole the baby boar from shows up and demands that he give the baby to the mountain god, while also reporting that his two accomplices and Tsuru were consumed by the boar. Kinemon is stricken with guilt and runs headlong towards the mountain god, drawing his blade and reflecting on his past with Tsuru. He leaps up and stabs the mountain god, causing it a minor wound, but it tosses him aside before turning and leaving.

The mountain god's destruction carries on and Kinemon is stricken with remorse over causing Tsuru harm; he nearly fades into unconsciousness as tears well in his eyes. Oden takes this chance to grab the baby boar and face down the mountain god. Using his mighty two-sword style, he readies himself for the mountain god's charge. He leaps and slashes with his Paradise Waterfall and obliterates the mountain god outright.

Kinemon and Tsuru are reunited as she and the others are released from the boar's stomach. Even though a quarter of the city was destroyed, no one died thanks to Oden's intervention. At that same moment, Oden's father sends a letter expelling him from the capital, which he gladly accepts and leaves. Kinemon and Denjiro rush off after him, hoping to follow him for the rest of their lives. In fact, so many men took one step towards following Oden that the entire capital titled to one side!

Oden and his new crew go to visit Yasuie. While there they meet a young servant – Orochi (dun dun dunnnn). After staying for the night (and wrecking the room) they head off to travel Wano on foot. Yasuie discovers that he has been robbed, and Orochi pins the blame on Oden – an accusation which Yasuie is suspicious of. Meanwhile, Oden and crew continue their travels and Oden begins recording a journal of their deeds while gathering others along the way. Izo, Kiku, Kanjuro, Raizo – the Akazaya Nine begins to form. Finally, he heads off to face Ashura and his gang and the To Be Continued card flashes.

I feel like I say this every week, but this is another stellar episode for the Wano arc.

There are times when there isn't much to say in an episodic review of an anime because not much is happening week to week. Then there are times when there isn't much to say because of an anime's consistent quality. Toei's team is putting out such stellar work right now that One Piece is very much in the second category. The visuals are emotional and exciting, the direction is spot on, the colors are vibrant, the voice acting is terrific… what else can I say? The content being adapted is solid material from one of the greatest shonen manga ever made, and the anime is only adding to its strength and appeal. In other words, the takeaway is:

You should be watching One Piece.

In terms of specifics, I think my favorite moments in this episode were by far the Oden versus mountain god fight and Kinemon's flashbacks. The scene of Oden using his two-sword style against the mountain god bursts with energy, but that doesn't feel like a sufficient descriptor; in some ways it reminds me of the end of the first season of My Hero Academia when All Might really cuts loose in the fight against Nomu. I remember thinking at the time how shocked I was that I was watching a weekly episode of a long-running shonen series, because those have had somewhat dodgy production values in the past. I am struck with that same sense of awe as I watched Oden's hefty strike hit and destroy the warthog, replete with the color inversions and spinning teeth.

And the Kinemon flashbacks are a treat too. First off, Kinemon is a Wife Guy through and through and, as a fellow Wife Guy, I love to see it. There's a sort of brushed quality to the images and the use of still frames that is somewhat reminiscent of Osamu Dezaki's penchant for those “postcard memories”. That gives a shojo romance quality to their relationship that I really appreciated.

All in all, you really should be watching One Piece


Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.

One Piece is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Save on Anime Streaming Subscriptions with Funimation.

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