What an exhilarating epic climax to this eventful battle that has established what the readers have been hoping for since the Straw Hat Pirates entered the New World, the setting of the standard for New World battles. There have been some great battles since the Straw Hat Pirates regathered to continue their journey but none of the battles has stood out in terms of setting the level the Straw Hat Pirates need to be at to combat the serious enemies within the New World, until now. Luffy has had to push himself to his limits and beyond to combat Katakuri and even still, he has just caught up with Katakuri. The deciding factor now will depend on who anticipates their opponents action more accurately.
Katakuri, a monster user of Kenbunshoku Haki, represents what the readers can expect from future opponents the Straw Hat Pirates will face. With Haki now taking center stage as the most relevant power, those who wield the stronger Haki and are able to utilise it more effectively are the ones who will have the advantage in battle. Each of the Straw Hat Pirates will need to learn how to combat opponents who have mastery or near-mastery over their Haki abilities. Regardless of whether the Straw Hat Pirate wields Haki, they have to find a way around Haki usage. The same way Crocodile set the scene for Logia Devil Fruit users, Katakuri is setting the scene for future New World battles, specifically those with master Haki control.
Luffy’s Gear Fourth Snake Man form is different from what I imagined. While I did expect Luffy’s punches to coil around to increase the speed behind his attacks, I also expected his form to change to be more Snake-like. Interestingly, while the Snake Man form is less bulky than Bound Man, Luffy has focused his Haki on his arms and legs which has increased the speed, flexibility and unpredictability of his attacks. In its current state, the Snake Man form does nothing in increasing Luffy’s defenses or ability to dodge but it certainly does remind me of the old Nokia Snake game where the snake becomes longer the more apples you eat. Potentially when Luffy advances his Busoshoku Haki, he may be able to at that time evolve what is possible with the Snake Man form and allow for his Haki to be extended across the rest of his body to improve his defense capabilities.
At the same time as Luffy has been advancing his abilities, Katakuri has also been adjusting his attacks. Once Katakuri realised the nature of Luffy’s attacks in Snake Man form, he was able to adjust how he attacked and found a way to ensnare Luffy and land a counter attack. Katakuri unleashing his Haoshoku Haki during that attack reveals just how serious Katakuri is to end this battle. With the two of them now trading blow-for-blow, Katakuri has resorted to his Diced Mochi attack which Luffy has picked up on. Having already been hit by Katakuri’s Diced Mochi attack before, what will Luffy do to defeat Katakuri? Luffy has seen Katakuri enter his Diced Mochi attack and has reacted by coiling his arm around himself towards Katakuri. Looking forward to the next chapter and seeing what King Cobra will accomplish.