One Piece ‒ Episode 995
How would you rate episode 995 of
One Piece ?
Remember how last week all I did was hoot and holler about how good One Piece is?
I’m afraid to tell you that the hooting and hollering will continue.
Because wow gang, One Piece 995 is a tour de force. It already has all the hallmarks of a “standard” Wano episode by this point: solid animation that even at its lowest ebbs is unmatched by entire seasons of other currently airing shows, strong characterization that leverages both the expansive past of the series and the new frontiers of recently introduced cast members, careful direction that juggles deep pathos and knee-slapping laughs, and terrific music.
But then, this episode feels like so much more than “merely” good. The culmination of Momonosuke’s emotional arc at the top of Onigashima is a high watermark for his character. To say that I’ve not really been his biggest fan is to put it mildly, but seeing his memories of his father just before he proudly declares his name when cowardice would have been understandable – it gave me chills. And of course Yamato’s escape from the bomb shackles provided another wave of emotion, in addition to the hilarity of the expressions post-explosion.
But who are we kidding? The real draw here are those final few minutes.
It’s really astounding that this is weekly animation. The approach of the Akazaya Nine heading towards Kaido embodies nearly all of Wano’s thematic elements. It is at once a thoroughly modern piece of animation, replete with skilled flourishes from the Toei Animation team, while at the same time decidedly retro in its execution. You get a real sense of the gritty tenacity and quiet impact that characterized the chanbara and jidaegeki films that likely filled Oda’s youth. Black-and-white is stained with splashes of red as the Akazaya Nine burst forth from the past injustices into the full bloom of the violent now. Witnessing this collision of past and present, it’s hard not to stand up and cheer.
Blades slice. Tyrants tumble. Blood flows.
Wano’s grand finale, twenty years in the making, has begun. We are bearing witness to history.
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