Ah man, that new arc feeling. It's been a long time, but Oda keeps the hot streak of the last few chapters going. The chapter starts with one of the most memorable spreads in possibly the whole series' history. That shark coming up from below is a pure artistic flex on Oda's part, absolutely stunning.
After things got dense and heavy and serious in the later stages of Wano, you can fell Oda's having a great time doing a lower-stakes but more off the wall action sequence. From the shark's design to the Sunny's new gadgets to the mecha at the end, the man is back doing the things he loves most, and the passion shows. There's not much to analyse here, it's just fun action. Love seeing Jinbe show off his utility as well.
The new Marine character designs for G-14 are really cool, and it's nice seeing Tashigi and the Punk Hazard kids again after all this time. Hopefully Tashigi gets a bit more to do this arc instead of being sidelined again. The Koby issue raises a lot of questions about where things are going next. Will the crew get caught up in this rescue mission, or is this just a tease and we're in for a decent stay on Egghead? I also think the balloons flying over the base in the establishing shot are curious. Are they just for the children's benefit (they do seem to have build a replica Biscuits Room with clouds and hills painted on the walls and rainbows over the doorways), or is there more to how these Marines operate?
Stephen did a pretty graceful job with the bit about Fullalead's name. I wonder if the choice to adapt it the way he did would have been different if an actual use of a bee metaphor that ties into the Japanese name had been closer to the island's introduction.
Bonney and Luffy are instantly a great pair, I'm looking forward to seeing how they interact going forward. I wouldn't want Oda to try and make her another Law this late in the series, but she's got a lot of potential as an Egghead arc character. The fact that she came alone suggests that she's on a personal mission, and given her apparent ties to Kuma and his ties to Vegapunk, there's a few ways that could go, all of them interesting.
I don't believe for one second that the girl from the end of the chapter is the real Vegapunk. Or at least, the original Vegapunk. We've seen and heard too much that this doesn't line up with, unless it's an outright retcon of Oda's previous depictions of him.
The "PUNK 02" on her bodysuit stands out. I wonder if all Vegapunk creations are collected under one naming scheme, like the Battle Franky line. The shark has a 3 on it, the mech a 12. Punk Hazard's big dragon was designated 13 in its Vivre Card. Although, he was responsible for the Pacifistas, which obviously have their own PX numbering, and the mech has a "Vegaforce" label none of the others have had, so it could be that animal robots, dragons, mechs and whatever the girl is are all individual lines with multiple iterations.
I was on team Elbaf for the next arc. I'll definitely be a little upset if Oda can't find time in the series' final years to visit it outside of flashbacks, so the idea of landing something else and setting up a further distraction via Koby has me worried. But that doesn't seem to matter as much actually reading the chapter and getting caught up in Vegapunk speculation and crazy robot designs and Luffy's back and forth with Bonney. Say what you will about the past year or so of Wano fatigue, but the magic is clearly still here.