Okay. Watched the episode in full.
That was incredibly good. From the music choices, to the storyboard, to the use of colours to the animation, everything was pretty much on point with this episode. Simple stuff like cutting between Udon being washed over with blue, and cutting back to Kid being dunked in a similar blue does a fantastic job of highlighting how Kid is very literally drowning in the depths of despair of Udon prison.
The episode had a nice balance of humour and tension. I will say that Udon is increasingly becoming more favourite part of Wano, and I think the anime has done a really good job of making Queen a really intimidating antagonist. From his voice acting to how his framed, his a character who really oozed intimidation in this episode. Even neat directional tricks did a fantastic job of emphasizing the incredibly power he has over the heroes. Stuff like him snapping his fingers to plunge Killer and Kidd into the water and Luffy into despair fantastically highlights just how intimidating a presence he is.
I really loved the atmosphere at the beginning of Law's scene right after the eye catch. The OST placement, the shot composition with a POV shot through Law's basket and the lighting all gave the scene an appropriately samurai esque feel.
The episode wasn't directed by series director Aya Komaki, but it was storyboarded by her, with direction credits going to newcomer Tasuku Shimaya. They did an absolutely fantastic job. There's just so much cool stuff to talk about this episode, and I haven't even gotten to the animation highlight scenes.
There were two main animation highlights this episode. The first being in the first half of the episode and presumably coming from Dennis Cablao was Zoro vs Kyoshiro. I really enjoyed the snappiness and smearyness of the poses in this fight scene, that are perfectly complicated by the incredibly intricate impact from and effects. The fact that a good deal of the action has incredibly intricate camera work, with the characters spinning around each other, and the camera being animated to follow the action, only elevating it further. A think a special bit of praise should be to how Zoro's long foreshortens as he comes down to perform the tower climb return at the end of the scuffle. Really fantastic stuff from Dennis Cablao if it is him(his an animator from Toei Phils). Hope to see more stuff from him like this in the future.
The next scene comes in the second half and is the return of Takashi Kojima from his prior scene on Zoro vs Killer in 933. He handles Sanji's beat down on Drake. The scene is a bit conservative at points, namely during the repeated animation during the Hashi on Drake, but it still has a lot of great things in it. Kojima does a fantastic job animating the fire effects around Sanji's Diable Janbe and I really like how he drew Drake's zoan form throughout the scene. He did a fantastic job of selling how slimy and scaly he was. Despite some of the more limited stuff, there was still some fantastic camera work as Sanji dashed around Drake, and some cool smears with Sanji's final concasse finisher. Another great scene from him.
Those were the main animation highlights. In saying that, there was some nice character acting animation throughout the episode, and the action was generally serviceable enough outside of these scenes. Masahiro Kitazaki was the top key animator on the episode and its presumed he handled Brook's scene scaring the crap out of he Ninja in the first half(and likely all the ninja stuff in the first half anyway).
Overall, an incredibly well put together episode.
I have no idea what to expect from next episode. Kenji Yokoyama is a competent animation director, and Masahiro Hosoda is considered a little bit of a mixed bag in terms of direction and storyboarding, though he has been decent in Wano.