I have been waiting for this chapter where the focus shifts towards the Beast Pirates and Oda-sensei highlights the scope of the force Kaido leads. There are more divisions within the Beast Pirates than I expected and this isn’t even including Orochi’s forces and the Big Mom Pirates. Fortunately the larger an army Kaido has the more focus the Straw Hat Pirates will receive in regards to each individual member battle potential. It has been a long time since we had such an arc where the individual members within the Straw Hat Pirates get their own battles to be focused on but if there was any arc for that to happen again, it definitely is within this arc. With the Beast Pirates introducing many named characters within the divisions who have been highlighted as being strong, the stage is being set for these named characters to be matched up against the individual Straw Hat Pirate members.
The Enies Lobby Arc, that is how far back it was since individual Straw Hat Pirate members were focused on in separate battles. Now I understand Robin didn’t get her own battle but the Water Seven saga was driven by her story and as a result of Robin’s back story, the story of One Piece evolved into something more than one where a treasure awaits at the end. The history of the void century became more relevant and so did the actions of the World Government. The lack of battle focus for Robin was overwhelming made up by her increased importance as the key to unlocking the secrets within the One Piece story plus Robin did get to return the favour to Spandam for how he treated her.
Since the Enies Lobby Arc, the focus shifted to team battles, the crew separation and training arcs and once the time skip hit, there hasn’t been any group opponents that seriously threatened the Straw Hat Pirates. The New Fishman Pirates were underwhelming, Punk Hazard was a set-up arc and Dressrosa sadly left out on focusing on Robin who did nothing more than babysit the Rebecca. Understandably, the Dressrosa Arc was meant as the introduction of the Straw Hat Pirate Alliance so focus had been shifted to the members who would make up the alliance which is why some of the Donquixote Pirates had to be defeated by the Alliance members rather than the Straw Hat Pirates. Unfortunately this meant that half of the crew had to be removed from the focus which had the consequence of delaying that half of the crews focus to a future arc. Even with that, the Totto Land Arc didn’t assist Sanji, Nami, Chopper or Brook with any fights to be focused on. The arc that was meant to be “Sanji’s story” arc didn’t help make the readers excited for him. Amusingly though, Nami managed to win over one of Big Mom’s powers and that was a nice power up for Nami to receive.
Given all that has happened and the long road the Straw Hat Pirates have gone through to power up and increase their abilities to deal with opponents in the New World, this has to be the arc in which every single Straw Hat Pirate gets to show off what they can do now. Luffy and Zoro may get their battles in almost every arc but the other Straw Hat Pirates desperately NEED this focus, especially Robin where her last serious one vs one battle was during the Skypeia Arc when she faced Yama. I don’t consider the Robin vs Hammond fight as proper battle as Hammond is such an unmemorable character. Also Yama at best was a tertiary villain during that arc, so as things stand the best showing Robin had given in regards to her battle potential and how dangerous she can be is when she was the “enemy” of the Straw Hat Pirates and how she was able to overwhelm Pell and Tashiga. Robin’s Hana Hana no Mi has so much potential and application, its a tragedy seeing how little Oda-sensei is focusing on it and utilising it. We have see Robin evolve how her abilities can be used but she has yet to be given a stage where she can truly express how grand the Hana Hana no Mi really is. And please Oda-sensei, let Robin be able to use Haki. She was with the Revolutionary Army for almost two years, surely Dragon or Sabo would have assisted in training her how to use it to help her with her journey in the New World.
I am very curious to find out how the match-ups will be decided and who fights who. Luffy will take on Kaido but in regards to the All Stars and the Tobiroppo, who will fight those members (save X Drake). Jinbe is now part of the Straw Hat Pirates so he will likely be given a major opponent to be highlighted against i.e. one of the Beast Pirates All Star members. Also I can see Kid wanting to take on Queen given what was done to Killer. For now the Headliners seem like a joke so if any of the Straw Hat Pirates are going to be matched up against any of them, hopefully Oda-sensei is able introduce or build up those Headliners as a serious opponent.