Please ignore the first few paragraphs if you don't want to listen to me venting about Yamato again...
The way Oda's choosing to handle the situation with Yams continues to frustrate the hell out of me... For all of my salt, I am glad Oda felt the need to actually show a bit of Yamato's decision making rather than just leaving it at "Nah, I spontaneously decided to stay instead", but it feels like he's trying to set up a post-timeskip Jinbe type scenario, where Yams is clearly set to join the Strawhats, but puts it on hold for a few arcs because he feels he needs to stay behind for a while in order to
whip Momonosuke into shape make sure Wano will be safe before he actually does so. And that would be fine, albeit aggravating, if Oda weren't going out of his way to make it abundantly clear that we're heading into the final saga of the series.
If we had another ten real world years and a couple more full sagas for Yams to do what he needs to do and catch back up, then we could actually spend time with him as part of the crew, but as it stands, with Oda aiming to wrap the series somewhere in the range of 3-5 more years instead, he's basically being set up to probably deal with an off-screen assault on Wano by <insert bad-guy of choice here> to justify his decision to stay behind and then maybe show up to help in whatever we get for a final battle alongside any other Strawhat allies that happen to appear.
Vivi actually got to adventure with the crew before getting her "Honorary Strawhat" designation in Alabasta (and I have theories about her return in the near future).
Momonosuke and Kinemon actually got to adventure with the crew before getting their "Honorary Strawhat" designations at the end of Wano.
Law adventured with the crew and has essentially become an "Honorary Strawhat" as well, though he would never admit it.
Yamato got to beat up a bunch of mooks, show off a bit of what he can do in a single battle that no one else witnessed, and is now being promised that he will get to go on adventures at some nebulous point in the future that may well not even come until the series epilogue - it's giving him the most cursory of "Honorary Strawhat" titles and pretending that is somehow satisfying for the two-years of build up we just went through.
Practically speaking, Yams won't actually get to begin his adventures until the series is essentially over, all because Momonosuke needs a babysitter
and thus undercutting Momo's entire character arc in Wano, given that he sacrificed his childhood specifically so that he could become the man he needs to be to protect his people. Oda essentially just spent two-years introducing us to Yamato and then told us that he will be a very relevant character in One Piece Z/Super/Shippuden/TYBW, so look forward to the sequel once One Piece has concluded and he can find a new artist to take over for him.
Okay, rant over...
I am glad we got to see Luffy meet with Marco, however briefly. Would've like more, but I'll take it.
That brings us to the meat of the chapter, Blackbeard vs. Marines vs. Hancock.
Starting with the genetically-engineered/clone/cyborg child super soldier elephants in the room, the Seraphim are creepy as ****. Since we know that Vegapunk was involved in the research that discovered the Lineage Factor back during his MADS days alongside Judge and Queen, it isn't particularly surprising that he has developed cloning and gene-modding tech. Presumably he acquired genetic samples from the Shichibukai during their time under the World Government, and similarly got a Lunarian gene sample from King/Alber during his time on Punk Hazard, so while I don't know that Lunarian-Pacifista-Shichibukai-clones was a turn that could reasonably have been seen coming, the pieces were nonetheless all present.
Hard to tell at this point whether the Seraphim will become characters in their own right or are simply the newest iteration of super-mook, no more free-willed than their Pacifista forebearers, but that smile that chibi Not!Hancock was sporting makes me feel there's at least a chance that they have some personality to them. Looking forward to seeing how they develop, and which of the other ex-Shichibukai (and perhaps others) got cloned for the Seraphim project as well...
Hancock vs. Teach seems like it went about as well as any confrontation between a single ex-Shichibukai and a Yonkou would go - she lost, but not before managing to petrify a decent portion of both the Marines and Blackbeard's contingent, ensuring that heavy losses would be inflicted in the event of her death.
Rayleigh saved her life, obviously, as well as those of the people she petrified, but the overriding theme of the chapter seems to be that Hancock is going to have to leave Amazon Lily in order to protect it, at least for now, an option that might be more viable should Shakky be willing to hold down the fort while Hancock is away, now that she's been revealed as a former Kuja Empress herself (wasn't expect that twist personally, though I'm not against it - still suspecting that she was a member of Rocks back in the day).
And last but not least, I'm glad to finally be getting some more details on the Rocky Port Incident - now that it's been tied to Teach's rise to power over Hachinosu and another of the former Rocks Pirates, I think the chances we'll eventually get a more in depth look into the whole fiasco are growing. Especially given that Koby has seemingly been taken captive.
Going to be interesting to see how he handles this situation. He's far more capable than he was under Alvida, but given the sheer disparity between even his current abilities and those of Teach and his top officers, I'm actually thinking Koby's best option might be to "go pirate" again and reprise his "cabin boy" days under Teach, while utilizing his SWORD contacts to undermine them from the inside. Which may well make Koby a major player in the fight to take down Blackbeard once and for all.
Well all Yamato really seems to want for Wano at this point is essentially enough back up to help Wano from the inside, seeing as how Luffy's flag protection wasn't enough to convince her. Seeing what happened with Amazon Lily and Luffy caring about these places, maybe this arc will answer up to how Luffy would handle wanting to protect places when he can't be everyone at once.