Along with the light at the end of the tunnel arises the shadow of uncertainty following closely behind and such is the end reached with the joyous escape dipped deep within the foreboding nature of its substance. An end with ominous shades and threatening consequences. The Straw Hat Pirates escaped yet their allies: the Sun Pirates, Jinbe, the Germa 66, Capone, Chiffon, Pound, Pudding, Caesar and Pedro, their fates were left uncertain and largely at the mercy of the Big Mom Pirates.
What terror. What destruction. What malignity. What madness. What deliciousness. What a reaction. Arriving along with the 900th chapter is the end of the Straw Hat Pirates or so it was portrayed as being. The Straw Hat Pirates weren’t destroyed, well more accurately, they can’t be, which in turn leaves the developments in the current chapter very curious. Why were such events shown? How do these events add to the story of this arc and move it forward? Did what we see really happen? Such questions beg answers and what we will most likely get is the answer being an imagined scenario manifested within the minds of the disillusioned.
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.
Looks like Luffy is privy to the Saiyan way of training, rather than taking the easy route and exploiting the opponents weakness, facing them at full strength can have the advantageous effect of forcing oneself passed their limits towards a new level of strength. And that level beyond his limits is exactly what Luffy is after. Luffy knows his current capabilities is not good enough and is painfully aware that in order to survive in the New World, he needs to push himself further than he has gone before. In order to force that change, he needs to face Katakuri at full power.
How unexpected, for Brulee to be there when Luffy needed a way to escape Katakuri while his Haki recuperates from using Gear Fourth. The absolute genius of that miracle is how it instantaneously twisted into misfortune. To have escaped Katakuri only to end up on the Island where Big Mom is raging. Of course Luffy wouldn’t be able to escape that easily but to wind up in the middle of THAT chaos, it was a complete surprise development, one which opens up the potential of this arc. How will Luffy escape Big Mom and if he escapes into a mirror with Brulee, will Katakuri allow him to escape through another mirror again?
When the situation calls for it, Pudding can be quite resourceful. To think the benefit Big Mom could have received from Pudding if only she respected Pudding and treated her the same as her other children. Instead Big Mom directly limited what Pudding could achieve through the application of her power by denying Pudding the freedom to be herself i.e. to utilise her analytical mind in conjunction with her Devil Fruit. Thankfully, it is because of the treatment Pudding received from her family that we now have Pudding assisting the Straw Hat Pirates against Big Mom. We also get the adorable reactions by Pudding in response to the actions and statements from Sanji.
I expected Katakuri to be powerful given his bounty and position within the Big Mom Pirates but I didn’t expect his attacks to mirror Luffy’s within this battle. Is Oda-sensei really trying to nail down in Luffy’s mind the point that his current attack style is not sufficient to tackle the threats he will face within the New World. Katakuri painfully showed that in a battle, power is just as relevant as technique and style. In terms of Luffy going forward, this battle is illustrating that he will both need to evolve his fighting style and find ways of applying more power behind his existing techniques. The final(?) trump card Luffy has left to play is Gear Fourth. Will Katakuri be able to counter that form as well? Somehow I find that just like Cracker, Katakuri will struggle but unlike Cracker I don’t believe he will be defeated yet.
Well snap, I think Pudding has coincidentally become my favourite character of the arc now. Her fractured psyche, while a result of a terrible and traumatic past, has painted her such a fascinating character. Pudding was conditioned to hate herself, to believe that she herself was a monster fated to lie and deceive, but now that someone has accepted her for who she is, her mind has been left reeling with the sudden shift in emotions. As a result Pudding has lost control over how she expresses herself subconsciously masking her gratitude behind her dark and condescending dialog. Pudding means well but at the moment she just can’t handle the immense amount of positivity overwhelming her.
Within the shadow of a jaded heart beating in the tune of hostility and sadism, a warm glow reveals itself fragmented by pain, suffering and fragility. A warmth smothered by rejection and caged by the bars of perception. A warmth relegated to the depths of the heart to hide behind lies and conceit used to mask the agonising desire overwhelming it’s beat. More than anything, what Pudding wanted was to be accepted for who she is, something denied to her by own family whom berated her for her uniqueness. This caused Pudding to perceive her own third eye as a monstrous feature to be afraid of forcing her to shield herself behind her lies and deception. All those walls and masks surrounding her heart shattered and fell away when Sanji came and accepted Pudding for who she is – a wondrous lady with a beautiful third eye.
With the overwhelming outburst from Big Mom at the Wedding ceremony desouling the existence of the “Big Mom assassination” plan from the realm of achievability, the situation has continued to collapse around the Straw Hat Pirates with each event gradually worsening the closer they get to escaping. Not only is Big Mom after them with all her fury, rage and burning hunger but her army is at the ready to unleash wherever and whenever needed. Katakuri is lying in wait on the Thousand Sunny in case they escape Big Mom and if they do manage to board their ship and set sail, the Big Mom Pirates have their underwater sea slugs and battleships ready to track and pursue them. It is going to be a colossal task to escape Big Mom’s territory and may just require additional inference from an unscheduled third-party/event.