How unexpected. I didn’t think I would like this battle much. I didn’t think I would find Katakuri all that interesting. I didn’t think the conclusion of this battle would deliver a memorable end. And yet, here I am, absolutely in love with this battle, a fan of Katakuri, emotionally gripped by the conclusion of the battle and moved by the bond formed by the two fighters. There had to be a victor and yet it doesn’t seem like either lost. In the end what is certain is the real victor were the readers.
This battle was nothing short of epic. A battle which pushed two monsters to their limits and revealed what exactly a battle between New World fighters is like. Luffy almost didn’t win. It took all he had to push passed his extremes and even then, he had to go beyond to land the finishing blow on Katakuri. This battle without question set the standard for future New World battles to follow, battles that will challenge the Straw Hat Pirates and push them pass their current limits.
A large part of Luffy’s victory was due to Katakuri and how he injured himself to balance the field. If Luffy were facing off against a less honourable opponent, he would not have had the luxury of growing accustomed to the flow of battle and advancing his skills. But the only reason Katakuri reacted the way he did is because he was facing off against Luffy. I don’t believe Katakuri would have behaved the same way with any opponent. It is because Katakuri came to respect Luffy that he felt compelled to injure himself to make amends for the third-party inference Katakuri was unable to “see”. I usually would be annoyed by characters having a hand in their own defeats but with Katakuri, him injuring himself helped reveal who he really is a character beyond the image the Big Mom Pirates have of him. That act contributed towards readers having their perceptions of Katakuri reevaluated. It was that very moment that made me and most likely many others a fan of Katakuri. Aside from that isolated event since Katakuri began to recognise Luffy, Katakuri did everything he could to win. He was ultimately defeated by a stronger opponent.
Pudding, the more she reveals how unable she is at showing her true self to Sanji, the more I come to care about her. With each lie, the depths of her affection for Sanji shines through. Pudding doesn’t want to lie to Sanji but due to her hiding her emotions and self for so long, her mind has constructed a “prison” as a defense mechanism to deal with uncertain feelings. Pudding in truth loves Sanji and wants to truly tell him how much she cares for him and how sorry she is for what she did in the past but her past trauma has forced her to bottle up her true feelings. It may be impossible now, but hopefully with time, she will reach the point where she can embrace Sanji completely and tell him how she really feels. Sanji saved Pudding and now with Luffy’s life on the line, Pudding wants to save Sanji and his friends. Driven by such feelings, what is your last request to Sanji, Pudding?
I’m glad Pekoms was brought back into the story, especially at such a key point in the arc, right when Luffy requires his assistance to reunite with the rest of his crew. The extent of the friendship between the Pekoms and Pedro is finally being revealed. Even if it means betraying the Big Mom Pirates, Pekoms cannot bring himself to let Pedro’s “sacrifice” be in vain. And in order to inject meaning into Pedro’s “sacrifice”, Pekoms has resolved to assist the Straw Hat Pirates escape Totto Land. By trying to disguise his appearance, Pekoms is conveying how little he wishes to betray the Big Mom Pirates but his relationship with Pedro compels him to action. Pekoms has taken on Pedro’s will – “protect the Straw Hat Pirates” – and intends to continue carrying it out until the end.
If Luffy is going to exit through the mirror Oven stationed in center of Cocoa Island, Sanji alone wouldn’t be able to handle all the enemies after Luffy. Could Pudding’s last request involve her manipulating everybody’s memories on the Island? The Germa 66 will definitely show up at some point but will it be now or when the Straw Hat Pirates are escaping Totto Land? Looking forward to the next chapter.