One Piece – Wano Arc (Episodes 930 – 956) Review

I was planning of having bigger chunks of this One Piece arc, but episode 956 ended on such a definitive note that it seemed too perfect not to use! So the Wano arc continued on, focusing mostly on Luffy’s struggles in a labour camp, though it did at least feature some other characters and locations, so it wasn’t all bad. Let’s take a look at “Wano Arc – Act II”! (or the part of it left from the previous review chunk…)

Synopsis:

One of Kaido’s top men, Queen, arrives at Udon, where Luffy is causing a ruckus despite being a chained up prisoner of their labour camp…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

An action shot that can only come from One Piece…

While it was once again told at a glacial pace, there are some good build-up stories being told in these episodes. The key one is Luffy at Udon, specifically how he’s thrown into a “Sumo Inferno” by the girthy Beast Pirates Headliner Queen, alongside an old man named Hyogoro. The Sumo Inferno is basically a sumo contest, except it’s Luffy and Hyogoro vs. however many people Queen wants to send into the ring at one time, and if they get knocked out of the ring a collar around their necks explodes and kills them. So like I said, not too different from a regular sumo match! *ahem* Anyway, Luffy is actually happy about this as ever since he was so easily defeated by Kaido he’s been thinking about an old lesson he was taught, specifically an extremely powerful punch that damages without the fist making contact with the opponent. Hyogoro recognises what Luffy is trying to do and tells him it’s called Ryuo, a type of Haki power originating from Wano. Luffy struggles to learn it as he beats opponent after opponent, only managing it when he and Hyogoro are knocked from the ring and he has to remove the collars in a rush.

How did he and his short old friend get knocked from the ring? Well, in the last batch of episodes deadly Emperor of the Sea Big Mom had become amnesiac and was being led to the Udon prison under the false pretence that she’ll be given red bean soup, and when she arrived and it was all gone she went on a rampage and attacked Queen, which included destroying the ring. She then fights both Queen and eventually Luffy, and regains her memory in the process, but is soon captured and placed on Queen’s transport, the Headliner taking her to his boss and leaving the labour camp to fend for itself. Luffy, Hygoro and several members of the Nine Red Scabbards (including newly introduced member Kawamatsu) all manage to defeat the guards and take the prison, despite the use of some nasty poison bullets. For the last few episodes Luffy is just constantly training to get the hang of Ryuo, still unable to do it when not in a life or death situation.

Zoro killing time before the big raid…

What’s everyone else doing? Well, lot’s of small things. Zoro tries to get his sword back from travelling monk Gyukimaru but has to stop when he saves a mysterious woman (who looks a lot like a woman from earlier in this arc…) who is running alongside annoying laughing child Toko to get away from a maniacally laughing, scythe-swinging assassin. He defeats the attacker but once again loses his chance to get his sword back, having to be looked after by the two women. The older woman reveals herself to be Hiyori, Momonosuke’s sister, now grown up due to not being sent two decades into the future (man this gets confusing if you just read this review rather than have familiarity with the plot…) ANYWAY, the previously mentioned new Red Scabbard member Kawamatsu was previously in charge of looking after Hiyori and wouldn’t you know it runs into her as she watches Zoro and Gyukimaru having a second duel. The fight is once again broken up, with the monk getting away while injured, and we soon find out that warrior was a wolf who can turn into a human who has been gathering swords for the uprising on behalf of Kawamatsu… Of course, I mean… it was pretty obvious? Hiyori wants to keep Zoro’s Shusui sword in the land of Wano and offers him a new sword: Enma, once used by the famous samurai Oden and seems to have a mind of its own as it crushes Zoro arm temporarily as he tries to use it…

Those are the main plots during this time… well, apart from something else I’ll talk about in the bad, but there are smaller moments of the some of the other Straw Hat crew showing a bit of skill in fighting back against Orochi’s men, revealing their identities and such. There are also some interesting developments between Trafalgar Law and Basil Hawkins, with the latter putting the former in a bind when he uses his power to attach his life to that of Law’s crewmates, but then when we next see them Hawkins is on the floor and at the mercy of the man he outwitted only a few episodes ago… To be revealed! Plus I forgot to mention Kidd is recaptured in Udon and nearly drowned to give Luffy motivation, and during this time the crazy laughing assassin Zoro faced turns out to be an unmasked Killer, Kidd’s old crewmate, who had been force-fed SMILE fruit (more on those side effects down below). It’s always nice to get some more screen time for the bigger members of the “Worst Generation”.

The last episode shows us everyone is gathering together and ready to assault Kaido’s fortress, but unbeknownst to them, Kaido and Big Mom have decided to form an alliance…

The Bad:

Certainly the cheeriest screenshot of someone on a cross about to be gunned down you’ll ever see!

In the last batch of episodes I called Tonoyasu obnoxious, and … yeah, he still is, but then he gets captured and we find out he was once a powerful ruler of Wano who was on Oden’s side in the conflict. Okay, fine… then he gets captured, put up on a cross and shot to death… Wow, I said he was annoying, but that’s going a bit far guys! Sadly the whole drama of the thing, including Tonoyasu giving his life to save the Kaido assault plan and generally the fact everyone is laughing being due to being forced to eat SMILE fruit (which if it doesn’t grant the person devil fruit powers it makes them laugh uncontrollably even if they’re trying to cry) is all ruined by the pacing. It goes on forever, bearing in mind we only met the character a few episodes ago. Plus Toko is revealed to be his daughter, and so she ends up… laugh-crying for several episodes straight. Sometimes One Piece’s slow pace is fine, especially if it’s adding a bit more to a fight, but dragging this scene out for multiple episodes, plus already flashing back to it several times, really did it a disservice…

Oh and Episode 956 includes what feels like a few minutes straight of Kaido drinking and Big Mom eating red bean soup (while still somehow saying “Mama-mama”…) It was funny, then annoying, then obnoxious. Thankfully Queen’s reaction to hearing they’re forming an alliance was legitimately funny, so… there’s that.

Overall Thoughts:

Luffy activates Ryuo for the first time, but will he master it and defeat his next big enemy? … Well… Yeah, undoubtedly, but still!

This part of the Wano arc was technically just setting the scene and building up to the assault against Kaido, but in true One Piece anime fashion, it took several months. Still, there were some good moments and it does set up some good things heading into the actual assault, even if at this rate it won’t happen until Spring if we’re lucky… Overall, not bad, but definitely a sagging part of the story…

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