One Piece
Episode 996

by Grant Jones,

How would you rate episode 996 of
One Piece ?

Wano's conclusive conclusion finally gets started concluding.

The scale of this arc – by every possible metric – is immense. We are witnessing so many plot threads, character arcs, and narrative themes coming to a head here at Wano that it can be a bit dizzying. Even Big Mom says at one point there is “too much going on at this party,” and it's hard not to agree with her. But I think it's a testament to the strength of the material that even after literal years of story material, Wano remains engrossing and dramatic more often than not.

In fact, the Wano-specific elements are what really drive the interest in episode 996. Luffy and Big Mom have a straight-up throwdown, and that is amazingly not the most interesting thing happening here. The Nine Red Scabbards plunging their weapons deep into Kaido's flesh, closing the circle on the cycle of Oden's hope and vengeance, is another high watermark for the arc and the series as a whole. We know the Akazaya Nine so intimately as individuals and as a group by this point that the visual of their swords glowing red in unison then blasting out flurries of cherry blossoms – all while Kaido's old wound glows bright crimson – is one that will stick with me for sure.

The other “side” fights feel as important as the main battles with the two Emperors. Yamato and Ulti's clash is not only visually engaging, but also carries the theme of how family is meant to be treated. It's even more important as I feel that, at least within my fandom bubbles, both of these characters have really struck a chord with many folks in fandom – more proof that Oda's character design sensibilities remain as sharp as ever. Meanwhile, the anime's adaptation of the Zeus and Nami drama retains all the grim terror of the manga and then some. The ridiculous close-ups on their faces with Nami laughing maniacally has got to be one of the most chilling moments in the arc, and the little touches like Zeus making Pac-Man noises chomping up the orbs sell the entire scene.

Lastly, Luffy closes us out with a declaration that this is all-out war. Buckle up, folks.


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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