This was definitely the chapter I've been waiting for. After all these weeks, build-up becomes action, and it doesn't fail to impress. I'm sure there are some out there who are disappointed there wasn't more onscreen clashing between Sanji and Drake and Zoro and Kyoshiro, but I've come to really like the more set-piece driven battles of recent years. It lends the action a great sense of speed and chaos, cut between smaller exchanges and skirmishes within a hoard of opponents, something that action purely centred around one on one fights can struggle to do without tanking the pacing. I'm not saying there should be no one on ones, but I'm all in favour of saving them til they really count going forward. Things like this and the fight at the wedding on Whole Cake are more than enough to cover me in the meantime.
Also Franky and the rest jumping in once things began to heat up was great. I love having the crew (mostly) together again.
Kyoshiro's line, "I am the Shogun's dog," feels like another moment of suspiciously performative loyalty to me. I don't know if I fully believe he's Denjiro yet (though Artur has put forward some excellent points for that theory recently) but I'm sure this is one of the moments we'll look back to when his real deal becomes apparent.
Killer as Kamazo is a really interesting move and not at all what I expected from him. I wouldn't have said at the time that Kamazo's demeanor matched the brief glimpses of Killer we'd seen previously, but I guess there's some debate left about how much Smiles affect a character's personality beyond simply warping their face into one expression. Not to mention the stress that would have come from Killer either having his spirit broken like what they're trying to do to Luffy and Kid, or having to go undercover. Regardless, Kid's concern for his friend is really touching considering what a scumbag we already know him to be. I wonder how far it extends to the rest of his crew, whose names I now remember thanks to the Vivre Cards, and hopefully Oda does too. Heat and Wire, where are you?
And on the topic of Killer, I saw it suggested on Reddit that his laugh could be intended as a reference to Talking Heads' Psycho Killer, which is a pretty spot on observation even if it is a coincidence. If I was editing the English version I'd drop the w from Stephen's interpretation of the sound and make sure the reference stays. Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far!
And in line with the uptick of action in the capitol, the final pages finally move the prison plot thread into its final countdown. Kid and Killer's lifespans are now limited to their lung capacities (which are probably massive because this is One Piece, but they'll definitely still drown eventually) and Big Mom is at the gates. Having her create the big sound effect that goes with Luffy's final line the way Oda's beloved _Doom!!_s normally would is a fun touch. (speaking of sound effects though, anyone else noticed the scenes in the prison have reverted back to doom instead of beng? Is it just because it's mostly non-Wanonian characters in those bits?
I'm eagerly looking forward to next week. I believe it's confirmed we're getting a colour spread, and I'm putting my bet in that it'll be the clean version of Oda's Stampede poster which was revealed last night.