FINALLY! Katakuri finally got to have a taste of what Gear Fourth is like. An unmatched boldness mixed in with the sweetness of panic and seasoned with the spice of pain. A dish so fulfilling Katakuri couldn’t help but be taken aback by its explosive flavours. What a deliciously satisfying moment to signal the shift in momentum. That counterattack by Luffy has been a long time coming. Even with Katakuri regaining his composure, his weakness has been exposed. Luffy knows Katakuri isn’t invincible and with that Katakuri is now going to find out how badly he has underestimated Luffy. Defeat is going to be the next dish Katakuri taste. The liberating, mellow and ever bitter taste of defeat.
Mentally thrown off-balance by the shock of having his secret found out, Katakuri was in a state unable to utilise his Kenbunshoku Haki to its fullest. Luffy capitalised on that weakness and got in a few blows. A few blows that contained the might of Gear Fourth’s Kong attacks. Unfortunately for Luffy, Katakuri endured and has now re-gathered himself. But unfortunately for Katakuri, he has let his chance at defeating Luffy escape and now defeat is all that awaits him. Katakuri only has himself to blame for underestimating Luffy even though he kept telling Luffy over and over and over that he hasn’t underestimated him. Oh Katakuri, you were so entrenched in your superiority and perceived capabilities that you were unable to imagine a scenario where the shadow of defeat embraces you tenderly. I guess the Big Mom Pirates are to blame for always propping Katakuri up as some godly inhuman fighter which contributed to Katakuri’s skewered perception.
As expected, Luffy is learning from this battle and developing. After having analysed Katakuri, Luffy was able to identify why Busoshoku Haki wasn’t able to work and how Katakuri was able to evade his hits. Rather than Katakuri’s Mochi being special, it was the application of his Kenbunshoku Haki in conjunction with his Devil Fruit that allowed him to avoid an opponent’s attacks. What Luffy may not have thought of as being viable through Haki, he has come to understand the capabilities that Haki allows in respect to the application of one’s Devil Fruit ability. These battles may very lead up to Luffy developing a method to incorporate his Haoshoku Haki into his Gomu Gomu no Mi abilities.
Sanji now knows that Brulee knows where they are headed but understandably, it shouldn’t be much of an issue as they did plan on meeting the Big Mom Pirates again to serve Big Mom the modified Wedding Cake. At the very least Sanji can plan for the encounters to come – Oven is waiting outside the factory. Additionally Sanji’s reaction to Pudding’s concern about Luffy facing off against Katakuri, a billion berry bounty owner who has never lost, how utterly cool. He didn’t even hesitate with his answer and moved on to refocusing on the cake in the same panel. Ah, I am so glad Pudding exist to act out what the readers are feeling in that moment. Her exaggerated reactions only make the moment more memorable and amusing. What an awesome character your have developed into Pudding.
Regarding Smoothie, I believe I may have had it wrong this whole time on who will face her and defeat her. I am starting to believe it won’t be Jinbe who defeats her, instead it will most likely be Reiju. Thinking about this arc in more detail, Reiju represents a very major character in regards to both Sanji and the Vinsmoke family. I believe the Germa 66 will be relevant in the future but with a different sort of leadership than what we have seen so far with Judge. I believe the Germa 66 will become allies to the Straw Hat Pirates. Reiju may get a more prominent role in leading the Germa 66 in the future and if that is the case, a showing of her abilities while she is in focus will go a long way in building up anticipation for the Germa 66’s return when they drop out of focus with the conclusion of this arc. We have yet to see Reiju really fight but I believe that has been intentional by Oda-sensei who may be saving her up for a battle against Smoothie.
I had a feeling the Fishman Pirates were behind the disappearing Sea Slugs but I didn’t expect Praline to be the one charming the Sea Slugs away from work with her voice. What a pleasant surprise to see Praline unleash her talent and have some relevance within this arc. Jinbe has some great friends and I don’t believe he realises how much the Fishman Pirates care for him. Praline has now dismantled the Big Mom Pirates “net” across their whole territory. With the Sea Slugs out of commission what third parties will Oda-sensei introduce during the conclusion of this? And what about Caesar? He is too important and dangerous to be left to his own devices. Looking forward to the next chapter.