by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 963 of
One Piece ?
Whitebeard and crew stagger ashore from their shipwreck and are quickly spotted by Oden's retainers. Oden rushes there, overjoyed at the thought of pirates and seeing the wider world. Kinemon and the others swiftly run after him.
As soon as Oden arrives at the shore Whitebeard senses his power. They both draw blades and clash, their thunderous blows sending up massive shockwaves. Oden is cheerful because Whitebeard stopped his sword. The legendary pirate assumes the samurai is underestimating him and their duel continues. Whitebeard knocks him down and tries to send him away, just as Oden's retainers arrive to battle Whitebeard's crew. But before the fighting can start, Oden declares that exploring the world is his dream. Whitebeard points out that their ship is wrecked and they can't go anywhere.
The people of Wano begin to help work on the ship with the hopes that the pirates will leave immediately afterwards. Oden, Whitebeard, and their followers begin bonding during this time. During a heated drunken discussion, Oden admits he cannot navigate and Whitebeard tells him to give up on his dream and do his job as a daimyo. Kinemon salts the wound by adding that the land of Wano has laws strictly forbidding anyone from leaving. Oden begs and pleads to go with Whitebeard but Kinemon and crew drag him away kicking and screaming.
Whitebeard attempts to sail away under cover of night. Oden anticipated this and – through a combination of leaping and using a long chain – grabs hold of the ship. He hangs on tight and is carried away with Whitebeard's vessel. Whitebeard offers Oden the chance to join – if he can withstand being dragged behind the ship for three days. Though beaten by storm and sea and ocean creatures, he nearly holds on the entire time. But almost near the end of the trial, he hears a woman screaming for help – Amatsuki Toki, who is being accosted by bandits. He shows up on the shore bloated and beaten, spits fish at them to scare them off, then collapses in front of her.
The strong showing for Wano arc rumbles along.
There is not too much to say about this episode, on the whole. Still, there is no shortage of momentous events. For one, seeing young Whitebeard and crew is a real treat. Pops is, as always, a balm for weary souls such as mine. Young Marco is also just a tiny baby; I don't know why, but something about losing the glasses makes him look like he's 11.
The clash between Oden and Whitebeard looks as important as it feels. Whitebeard's earthquake effect shattering the screen is so strikingly powerful every time, especially with those shots of green running through everything. The color was overall really bright in those sequences, and the extra thick linework made it feel even more cartoonish, but these visual choices make sense for a clash between larger-than-life legends.
Oden's herculean task of hanging onto the ship is rendered in all its glory. The image of him being carried behind the ship for three days all to give it up to save Toki by spitting a fish at bandits is just an all-time great moment. Oden's flashback isn't my favorite in the series, but it is so fascinating in its own right for how different and impactful it is.
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