One Piece – Wano Arc (892 – 929) Review

One Piece Wano Arc Part 1

So a bit of a big leap forward in terms of One Piece reviews on this blog, but that’s Crunchyroll UK finally getting streaming rights for you! Yes, I’m covering a batch of recently-aired episodes (stopping at the point where the pandemic stopped the series, though it has resumed before this has gone up!), obviously this isn’t the end of older One Piece reviews as given I do them in batches of roughly 30 or so episodes, these new episode reviews will only be once or twice a year! SO the Wano Arc sees the crew finally arrive in the long-teased country, with the large looming shadow of the even longer teased Kaido in the background. Let’s take a look at how it starts!

Synopsis:

The Straw Hat crew are now either arriving or already undercover in the land of Wano, a country fully under the thumb of Emperor of the Sea Kaido and the local Shogun Orochi. Can they help Kin’emon finally get revenge and free his country?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

One Piece Wano Arc Part 1 1

Okay, so… I’m thinking he’s not very nice.

It’s good to finally see the whole crew be an active part of an arc again, even if they’re split up to start with. Zoro especially, who starts this arc getting framed for a crime and then slicing up the magistrate and a bunch of his men in bloody fashion, which was amusing and “cool”, for lack of a better term. We soon get some “Luffy befriends cute character” scenes which tell us the lay of the land, that it’s mostly poor people living with polluted water and food due to the corrupt Shogun and his immense protector Kaido. Tama, the cute child in question, falls ill and Luffy starts taking her to a doctor and runs into Zoro, then the two of them fight off fellow “Worst Generation” member Hawkins, who is now a “Headliner” in Kaido’s army. The fight involves a giant voodoo puppet… ghost… thing, but it’s soon over. After Tama spends what seems like an eternity being happy while eating she is kidnapped by some of Orochi’s men, leading to Luffy, Zoro and a new ally in tall female ex-Samurai (and ally of Kin’emon) Kiku heading to the Capital in order to free her. Cue Luffy easily beating up an unbeatable foe (in this case the country’s yokozuna Urashima) and satisfyingly one-shotting built up villain Holdem (who has an actual lion as his belly…?) before everyone runs off.

Luffy meets up with a bunch more of his crew and Trafalgar Law’s crew (while Zoro gets lost, obviously) and we hear Kin’emon and his ally’s backstory of being sent forward in time 20 years from when Orochi and Kaido first took control of the country and are now looking to set things right to both free the people and honour the name of their master and former country Shogun Kozuki Oden. This all comes to a screeching halt though when a drunk Kaido turns into his dragon form and starts to torment the local residents searching for Luffy, and he doesn’t have long to wait because he soon finds out that Kaido may have killed Tama on the way there and maybe his crew with a single dragon breath blast, so heads straight to him and punches the dragon into the floor. The two do battle but despite his best efforts and Kaido returning to human form, Luffy is pretty much one-shotted himself, and arrested.

One Piece Wano Arc Part 1 2

I have to admit, after all these years this wasn’t how I imagined the battle with Kaido to look like…

While Luffy hangs out with fellow “Worst Generation” captive Kidd in prison, Sanji gets the better of a Headliner called “Page One” with his Raid Suit for the first time and everyone sees the beautiful Oiran Komurasaki for the first time. At a banquet that Robin is undercover at, Orochi gets angry at the second cute kid of the arc so far and ends up having to hurt his love Komurasaki in his Hydra form, but before he can actually kill her Yakuza Boss and Orochi’s uneasy ally Kyoshiro arrives and cuts her down instead. Robin escapes with the help of Nami, Brook and an annoying new character I’ll mention down below while Orochi’s reaction to this remains unclear. The only other thing of note is the Big Mom Pirates arrive in search of Luffy, but Big Mom ends up going overboard and washes up with amnesia, so Chopper and his allies trick her into helping them break Luffy out the prison, a prison where Luffy is just about to attack the wardens for mistreating an old man…

Also there was an interlude where we see Gecko Moria on the lookout for his old ally Absalom, only to find out that Blackbeard pirate Shiryu had somehow stolen Absalom’s invisibility powers and killed him. Blackbeard himself then shouts out some exposition about the Revolutionary Army and the Marines before offering Moria a place on his crew. That was quite fun actually, and featured a brief appearance for Mihawk, which is always good. So, that’s a lot of goings on for just that start of the story, but then this is where One Piece is starting to gather up momentum heading into whatever will be the final story arc, so it makes sense. That being said, it wasn’t without its issues…

The Bad:

One Piece Wano Arc Part 1 3

A perfect example of opposite character archetypes.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: pacing. I swear there was an entire episode of Luffy and Holdem on separate roofs taunting each other before actually getting into it the following week, and the less said about Tama really enjoying her food the better. I know we should all be used to it by now, but I still have to mention it!

This arc so far might have set a new One Piece record for annoying new characters. Aforementioned Tama is a poor kid so cute that it quickly becomes obnoxious, Nami learns ninja skills under the guidance of Shinobu, a “mature” female ninja who claims everything she does is because “mature ladies are sexy” in a joke that gets old fast (plus she obnoxiously screams and runs away a lot because she’s afraid of sharp objects…) Sanji, Robin, Usopp and Frankie all meet a little girl named Toko who has the character trait of constantly laughing in a really obnoxious way (and is the girl who ruins Orochi’s banquet as well, so it’s not an isolated case…), and Zoro meets a poor traveller named Tonoyasu whose main character trait is being obnoxiously happy. OB-NOX-IOUS. This isn’t even including Big Mom and her “Mama-mama” laugh, which after an entire arc featuring it, I could’ve done without for a while…

There was also a character named Ashura Doji who was once an ally to Kin’emon and co. but now is a bandit, he was… fine, but given I’d forgotten him before looking back to write this review shows a lot. Komurasaki’s backstory of manipulating men into giving away all their money and losing their family before casting them aside harshly was… really unpleasant. I had no idea what to feel when she put herself in harms ways to protect the innocent Toko, on the one hand, very noble, on the other hand she’s clearly a cruel bitch. *shrugs* I guess we’ll wait and see, I find it hard to believe she’d get all that development only to be offed with little fanfare…

Overall Thoughts:

One Piece Wano Arc Part 1 4

Yep, it’s one of those screenshots that can only come from One Piece…

Given the episode count in now in the 900s, it’s not a shock that a lot of the storytelling structure and scenes are starting to feel awfully familiar, but the show is still entertaining on the whole. Sure, some characters were annoying as hell, but some were entertaining, and the arc has already given us some fun fights. It’ll be interesting to see where it all goes from here, one episode at a time… See you next year for the next Wano arc review, probably!

4 Star Watch

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