I'm so ready for the sea king two parter.
This episode was good, not as killer as the chapters it was based on or some of the other eps, but still good. I dig the little warm scene they added in the end. Between this and the udon scene, I very much like the anime original scenes. If only such scenes were as good in some of the other adaptations out there. Ones to leave you thinking "I could totally see that happening", instead of "stop wasting my goddamn time".
–- Update From New Post Merge ---
As for whether anime lives up to the manga in terms of visual flair.
It does. Not in context of this episode and the corresponding chapters , but it does in general. Sparring scene didn't need to copy that awesome gif sequence in order to be a total jaw dropper in it's own right..
Also keep in mind that the series follows the volume editions, so they aren't particularly concerned with replicating the gifs.