Monday, October 11, 2021

How would you rank One Piece episode 995 - Review - all I did last week was yell and holler about how great One Piece is?

 Remember how all I did last week was yell about how awesome One Piece is?

I'm afraid to say that the yelling and hooting will continue.

Because, wow, One Piece 995 is a masterpiece. By this point, it has all the hallmarks of a "standard" Wano episode: solid animation that, even at its lowest ebbs, is unmatched by entire seasons of other currently airing shows, strong characterization that draws on both the series' expansive past and the new frontiers of recently introduced cast members, careful direction that balances deep pathos and knee-slapping laughs, and fantastic music.

However, this episode feels so much more than "merely" enjoyable. Momonosuke's emotional arc comes to a close near the end of Onigashima, and it's a high point for his character. To say I'm not his biggest fan would be an understatement, but witnessing his memories of his father moments before he proudly declares his name when cowardice would have been acceptable gave me the chills. In addition to the humour of the reactions post-explosion, Yamato's escape from the bomb shackles generated still another surge of emotion.

Who are we kidding, though? The final few minutes are the main draw here.

It's incredible that this is a weekly animation. The Akazaya Nine's approach to Kaido incorporates nearly all of Wano's thematic components. It's both a totally modern work of animation, complete with skillful flourishes from the Toei Animation Studio, yet a distinctively retro piece of animation in execution.

You get a good sense of the gritty persistence and understated power of the chanbara and jidaegeki flicks that Oda probably grew up watching. As the Akazaya Nine burst forth from past injustices into the full bloom of the violent now, black-and-white is tainted with splashes of scarlet. It's difficult not to jump up and cheer when you see this collision of past and present.

The blades slash. Tyrants fall to the ground. The blood is pumping.

Wano's twenty-year-in-the-making grand finale has begun. We are on the verge of seeing history.

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