One Piece
Episode 974

by Grant Jones,

How would you rate episode 974 of
One Piece ?

Oden holds on for as long as he can. Shinobu tells more of the truth, shocking the people of Wano. They begin to cheer for him, counting down the seconds as Oden hangs on. Oden then tells his retainers that it is vital that they open up the land of Wano. As he holds on he reflects on the adventures he had and the life he led.

Eventually Oden makes it, much to everyone's joy. But Orochi changes the rules and decides to execute him by gunfire. As the shots start flying from Orochi's retainers, Oden throws his friends to safety. Kinemon and the others scramble to get away, knowing that they had to survive and that they cannot look back. Kaido and Oden exchange few last words before he finally shoots Oden and ends his life. Cherry blossoms fall, the shamisen plays, and the credits roll.

Oden was made to boil.

Talk about an ending. This flashback sequence is still ongoing of course - we've not yet seen the end of it - but the emotional crux of the Wano arc has been laid bare. Oden has done what his name would imply, shifting from mythic folk hero to true legend, and what an ending it is. The sight of Oden holding Kinemon and the others aloft over the boiling water, the dramatic Kabuki theater posing and final gunshots that sent him reeling into the water - it's pure drama. It's what we come to these works for.

Oden is such an interesting case study for me as a One Piece fan. I'm not sure I'd say Oden himself is an all-time favorite character - like Sabo, I find him much more interesting for what he means to other cast members more than I find him interesting in and of himself. His flashback is monumental for precisely that same reason, as I find it so fascinating that he got to go with Roger and Whitebeard and we saw more of those adventures through his eyes. But I cannot deny that even in a series full of iconic characters and iconic scenes, Oden's death stands among the greats for vivid and lasting imagery.

And of course, the Toei team is relentless once again in delivering on the grandiose events at play. Take your pick of brilliant sequences this week: the crowd shifting to all black silhouettes as Orochi's arrows flew into them, or Orochi himself outlined in stark blood red over the dark background, the film reel effect over everyone's memories of Oden, or maybe the simple drama of the cherry blossoms over the ticking clock. Every frame a painting, to borrow a phrase.

Oden was born to boil, and these frames were made to sizzle.


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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