One Piece – Wano Arc (Episodes 981 – 1011) Review

I’ve been waiting for a natural break in One Piece’s Wano Arc but with the storyline is in full swing now everyone has actually made it to Onigashima, it’s been more tricky. Thankfully the end of Episode 1011 (yes, Episode one thousand and eleven…) had at least a nice little cliffhanger to end on, sort of literally! So as we do two or three times a year, let’s take a look at a chunk of recently-aired One Piece!

Synopsis:

The alliance of pirates and Samurai arrive at Onigashima and infiltrate Kaido and Orochi’s party, ready to finally take out the big man, though doing so may not be as easy as they first thought (and they already didn’t think it would be easy) as Big Mom has also arrived at the castle…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The Akazaya actually get to do something! … For a bit.

It’s actually quite hard to recap all of these episodes as despite the fact that some episodes feel like nothing has went on at all lot’s of little things do happen throughout, now everyone has entered Onigashima and began fighting Kaido and his Beast Pirates (plus others). Our protagonist invaders start off in disguise and make their way to the party dressed as members of the Beast Pirates but after seeing them intentionally spill the same red bean soup that made young Otama so happy earlier in the arc Luffy and Zoro break their disguise and start an all-out riot, with Captain Kidd and his men soon joining in while the rest of the straw hats, Yakuza-like gangs and the Akazaya Nine (or Eight now, I guess?) stay undercover until the time is right. Momonosuke, who was captured at the end of the previous chunk of story, is soon set to be executed by Orochi as a final “victory” over his old nemesis Odin, but before it can go down Kaido kills unpleasant dictator and officially announces that he and Big Mom were now creating an alliance and all those who served Orochi can now serve him, which most agree to do. Kaido’s celebration is cut short however when the Akazaya Samurai appear and all stab him at the same time, knocking him off his podium. It’s a great moment.

This leads to the Akazaya and Kaido facing off… eventually, with Odin’s loyal retainers opening up the old wound their master inflicted on him but otherwise failing to do much more than force him to transform out of his large Dragon form. Kiku, who for the record avenged the Akazaya by killing the turncoat Kanjuro earlier in these episodes which was good to see, has an arm blown clean off in the fight, it falling from the roof where they’re doing battle being a good motivator for Zoro down below. We also see all the Minks transform into their Sulong forms, which are larger more bestial transformations that often have some good designs with them. As I said though, they don’t actually achieve much, which was always going to happen as Kaido is clearly here for Luffy to overcome, not them. During the final episode Kaido puts the finishing touches to the Akazaya and then uses his power to life the entirety of Onigashima Island off the ground with plans to float it over Wano’s capital, for… a show of power, I guess?

Yamato puts in her bid to join the Straw Hat crew!

Speaking of Luffy he finds Kaido’s “son” Yamato, who soon reveals that not only is he a she who was forced to pretend not to be one so as not to “embarrass” Kaido, but that she also idolised Odin and wishes to travel the seas like he did after taking down her father but she has a pair of explosive chains on her wrist to stop her from leaving the island. Luffy manages to get the chains off and she soon not only helps him but later dedicates herself to saving Momonosuke after he’s freed by Sanji and escorted out of the line of fire by Shinobu, claiming to the young heir that she IS Odin, much to his confusion. She’s a fun character to follow at least, and crazy strong too! Beyond a brief skirmish with Kaido’s righthand man King Sanji doesn’t do much here, he gets aimed in a few different directions but has yet to find his final role. The same can be said for Zoro, who faces off with Apoo twice and declares his intention to head up to where Kaido is but has yet to get close. Still, they both get their moments to shine however briefly, which is more than a lot of the Straw hats get, though they all do get to come together for the big “it’s been I don’t know how many years since they’ve all been together, here they all are for episode 1000” group shot that I used as the thumbnail! That was a good moment for all of them at least.

Other things I liked includes Marco the Phoenix arriving to help out as he’s always a fun character and in need of a place now Whitebeard is gone, X Drake being outed as a spy and having to jump sides to Luffy’s but being blocked by distrusting Zoro, and some funny Usopp and Chopper antics in Franky’s tank they were given. So there were lots of fun things it’s just as usual it’s full of recaps and filler to stretch the adaptation out as loooong as possible…

The Bad:

Zoro and Drake as seen from underneath a mysterious pair of legs! TO. BE. CONTINUED!

I really didn’t like the comedic villainous duo of Ulti and Page One, specifically Ulti being extremely high-pitched and lovey with her brother but then quick to anger, something that’s quite amusing the first time but given she squared off with Luffy and Yamato for a few episodes and then a short while later squared off with Nami and Usopp for a few episodes, all the while doing the exact same routine. It got tired quick.

Other than that it’s really just the normal pacing problems (including a recap episode placed in between episodes 1004 and 1005 that I don’t care if it’s not counted in the episode count, it still took up a week’s slot…) Kaido top-gun Queen, who I will admit still makes me laugh when he starts doing a weird dance while talking about his own special brand of vastly overweight funk, starts shooting people with special bullets that turn them into “Ice Oni” on impact and man oh man the sheer amount of scene of people being turned into Ice Oni, trying to run away from Ice Oni, or being bitten by Ice Oni thus turning into Ice Oni drove me insane. Hell, it’s still not over now even after Zoro sliced up Queen’s special gun in Episode 1011, so it’s still driving me insane. Episode 1002 is when he first fired them, so it’s coming up to ten episodes straight with the same kind of scenes played over and over. At least Chopper has the cure now, so it shouldn’t last TOO much longer… right?

There was also scenes with the spilled soup being stretched out for nearly two episodes before Luffy and Zoro finally lost it, mostly due to long recaps of Tama eating and a really unintentionally funny moment where Big Mum has Marco clasped in her hands and held for her underling Perospero to shoot with one of his arrows so he pulls the bow back and quips ready to fire and then he’s just standing there with his bow drawn as Minks Carrot and Wanda look at him, have a good chat, transform into their Wulong forms and then finally jump out and knock him to the ground. Why he stood there and refused to fire for a good five minutes I have no idea, they probably should have had the conversation take place while Perospero was watching Big Mom and Marco fight and then have them jump out just as he pulls the bow back…

Overall Thoughts:

“I appreciate the passion guys, but… Come on now, be serious about this. Just lay down and wait for Luffy to get here…”

The Wano arc flies by at breakneck speed… is what I’d like to put, but as per usual the great highs are mired by the many episodes full of recaps, repeated scenes and general pacing issues. This is nothing new for the series but when you’re just watching one episode a week it can really get to you sometimes and I do have to mention it. The Akazaya attacking Kaido and Episode 1000’s Straw Hat reunion were great and well worth watching, but most of the rest of these 30 episodes (if you include the recap “Special”) I won’t be sitting down to watch again…

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