by Grant Jones,
How would you rate episode 977 of
One Piece ?
The Akazaya Nine realize that no one has gathered on the shore to support their Onigashima offensive. Kinemon cries out into the transponder snail but receives no response, and desperation sets in. Even though the four thousand troops had not arrived, they set out anyway on a single boat heading towards Onigashima. Momonosuke's tears could not convince them to stay. But part of the way across, Kiku realizes that their plan must have been revealed by a spy in their midst!
A discussion breaks out amongst the Akazaya Nine as to who the traitor might be, but it goes nowhere until Kinemon admits that, even if they have been betrayed, he feels responsible for not noticing their pain all this time. Eventually, Kanjuro admits that it was him all along, biding his time and earning their trust in service of Orochi. He then recounts how he has undermined them at every turn from the very beginning.
Enemy ships break out from the storm and surround the vessel as Kanjuro laughs. Kinemon moves to strike him down with a single decapitating strike – but it turns out that the Kanjuro with them on the boat was little more than a drawing. In fact, Kanjuro is on the shore and attacks Shinobu and Momonosuke. At this moment the Beast pirates' ships surrounding them open fire.
But then the ambushers are ambushed as the Thousand Sunny arrives and fires on them. Luffy is recharged and ready for battle. Law's submarine emerges from below to save the Akazaya Nine. Additionally, Eustass Kid and his crew show up in their vessel. The Worst Generation has arrived and the real fight starts here.
A solid episode to be sure.
This is one of the few times where I feel that the anime adaptation has merely transcribed the events from page to screen. Nothing is really lost in translation, but it did not feel like much has been added to the equation either. While that's not necessarily a bad thing – portraying the events of the manga with fidelity is what an anime should do, after all – here I feel like the anime is a victim of its own success. At almost every turn, the Wano anime episodes have expanded and elevated the already strong existing material to create an even more exceptional experience. Episode 977, though, only adapts the manga and feels like it's merely “okay” because we have been spoiled thus far.
This partly has to do with the heavy use of flashbacks in this episode. Wano is a very long arc with a lot of moving parts, and this episode makes for another flashback sequence. We've seen quite a few by this point, and here they just seem to be included without much rhyme or reason. Kanjuro's backstory is no doubt important, but we just got this information and it feels like a bit of a rehash to see it all again. The other sequences don't feel very naturally integrated either, even if they do help remind us of where the Straw Hats have assisted in the past.
That's not to say it is all negative. Some of the best bits in Wano even happen in this episode! Kanjuro revealing himself as the traitor is such a great twist – particularly the revelation that even his “bad art” was all part of the ruse, which yet again shows Oda's skill at planning far in advance and committing to the long game.
But still, my favorite moment gets a bit of a stumbled delivery. Luffy, Kid, and Law teaming up as the Worst Generation trio and arriving to save the Akazaya Nine is such an amazing event. It's a big deal in the manga and I think the anime adapts it well here – except for the translation. The anime translates Luffy's cool one-liner differently than the manga does. I'm not sure which translation is more accurate to the source material, but I can say which I prefer. For comparison, the lines are:
Anime: The sea is for pirates to fight on!
Manga: When you're at sea, you fight against pirates!
Again, I'm not qualified to tell you which is more accurate, but I much prefer the manga's translation of this line. It rolls off the tongue much more naturally, and so I felt a bit deflated when the moment hit. I know this is an incredibly minor nitpick, but it impacted my viewing experience regardless.
In any case, onward to more Wano goodness.
Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.
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