The whole Green Bull thing baffles me, thematically. The Wano arc, and the saga as a whole, is all about gathering allies, about beating impossible odds by banding together as opposed to going at it all alone, yet I feel the Green Bull coda goes against this. Like, I “logically” get Momos idea that Wano should be able to defend themselves to some degree, but it feels kinda superfluous and at odds with the massive gathering of allies who just saved the nation. Lack of military might wasn’t the reason Wano fell to Kaidou in the first place either. The final capper of the arc is even Luffy giving Wano his flag, which could tie back into the allies having Wanos back, and bring up the failed attempt to repel Green Bull, but this doesn’t really happen.
The whole Samurai stand against the admiral feel performative rather than necessary- if Luffy and the others had been out cold and recovering after the battle the encounter could’ve had some weight, but Luffy et al does not just seem fully recovered, but also fully aware of the fight. It feels like they’re “allowing” Momo and the others to try and handle it, which robs the sequence of stakes – I simply don’t believe a solitary Green Bull would stand a chance should Luffy and friends decide to get off their asses. But on the other hand, the whole thing makes Wanos security seem more compromised than it should, considering the whole thing is solved by a random, unaffiliated external force. You just get the impression that Green Bull could show up tomorrow when Luffy and Shanks aren’t around, stomp on the Straw Hat flag, raze the country and annex it into the WG.
I think a more elegant way to have squared this whole plotline thematically would’ve been to have Green Bull not repelled by Shanks, but the overwhelming ambition musk coming from Luffy and all the other allies, looking down from the capital plateau. This would underscore that Isolationist Wano is now under the protection of more than the Samurai, be a nice capper to the whole international alliance angle. I’m sure I’ll be told several reasons why this specific idea definitely couldn’t work, but my overall point is that I’d prefer a resolution not reliant on completely external Shanks, and that I think the thematic throughline on “Isolationist, self reliant Wano” vs “Part of international alliance Wano” could’ve been stronger, especially if you HAD to strike Green Bull off the to do list here, rather than in an upcoming arc.
Anyway, aside from all that, I find Green Bull himself underwhelming. The original admiral trio had very defined and contrasting personalities, but Greenie really does feel like simply the bastard child of Lucchi and Akainu. His assholiness doesn’t seem distinct, his various fascist declarations seem pretty stock, more befitting of a throwaway WG zealot character than a full on admiral. His introduction at the prison is also weirdly disjointed from his mission – why is he there? Why is he beating up restrained Beast Pirate prisoners? I mean, it’s to establish his fearsomeness prior to an encounter he ultimately bails on, but still, the lack of justification makes the scene seem pointless. Like, you could’ve had him at least capture King or show ANY sort of interest in him considering what Zoros fight established about the guy, but theres’ no specificity to what Greenie is doing. And yeah yeah yeah we’ll see the guy again and maybe probably surely we can infer and speculate that 141 chapters from now there might be a payoff to the prison scene, but within this arc it still feels like a waste of space. Him growing greenery in a desolated country could’ve been something, could’ve even been a joke when he leaves (“Hey, thanks for reforesting the region” “SHUT UP, FILTHY BARBARIANS!”), or even a bit of characterization – he might be a fascist shouty jerk, but he can’t help himself but grow plants in a wasteland…but the text doesn’t capitalize on the “bad dude, grows flowers” dichotomy in any way.
As for Shanks, he‘s just so blah at this point to me. The comparative goofball from chapter 1 seems long gone. Like Ivotas says he seems to exist mostly to pop into other peoples plotlines, and here he just feels so detached. And he needn’t be! We’ve already have reactions to Lufy being a “big pirate”, as far back as east blue even, but now his poster is literally the manifestation of the true nature of the DF Shanks made great effort to steal, how about a reaction to that? Shanks makes quick mentions of Momo and Hiyori existing, but maybe we could get a bigger reaction out of the fact that the home of former Roger crewmate Oden is now liberated, that former Rocks Member and Shanks peer/opponent Kaidou has fallen? It just feels again so unspecific, and the fact that theres no justification for why Shanks loitering around Wano, or how he literally projects his ambition musk into the country from outside of it, he can’t help but feel extraneous. And in a massive arc so starved for resolution time, extraneous feels gratuitous and wasteful.