I love the parallel between Kaido and Luffy freeing King and Zoro from captivity as a recruiting tactic.
I’d hoped for an emotionally charged Zoro vs King fight. Nevertheless, emotional impact isn’t the sole factor in a fight’s stakes. There’s no personal discord between Zoro and King, just two loyal right hand men clashing to make their respective captain “King”. Fitting with Wano’s overarching theme. This is probably my second favorite Zoro fight, and my favorite Zoro finishing attack in the series.
I used to think King was bland. Not anymore! Oda’s done a nice job molding him into an enjoyable antagonist. I love his deadpan retorts, fighting style, race lore, etc... He probably loathes Queen after enduring through scientfic experimentaion. I thought they’d be tsundere bros like Zoro and Sanji, but I’d rule that out after King’s backstory. Also, I think I might be gay after this face reveal! Gahdamn King put your damn mask back on my girlfriend reads this manga!!!
Zoro hates King’s “A creature like you could never defeat me” as it reminds him of Kuina’s “No woman can be the greatest swordsman”. The strawhats, at the end of the day, despise deterministic philosophies the most. Chuji caused Sanji to reminisce about his own childhood pet. Interesting that their childhood ideals still springboard their current actions. I had a giant thread in mind on OP characters’ pre-development vs present development that’ll never see the light of day
Sanji’s character work throughout the fight, and arc, has been fantastic. Facing his most dreaded fear head on, reassessing his moral compass and reaching out to Zoro in his most dire mental state was quality. Further reiterates the silent respect he has for Zoro. Queen, obsessing over Germa technology, disregarded his versatile plagues/techniques. Ultimately leading to his defeat. It’s apropos for Sanji’s character arc to conclude by defeating a Germa wannabe.
Great chapter overall, disappointing beginning notwithstanding. Because combat wise, Sanji vs Queen needed one more action chapter. The finisher lacked the classic One Piece grandiose. The past few arcs, Sanji’s been handicapped from going all out as a fighter. It’s great to see him get a classic OP power up and let loose. Artistically, exoskeleton + armament + super speed + hotter flames deserved a more epic finisher.
As for this power up being “unfair” as it’s through his family’s technology, I disagree. Sanji’s very layered. His kindness, family history, pervertedness, and loyalty always put him in “unfair” situations where he has to hold unfair “L”s. Luffy and Zoro are straightforward characters never having to deal with that. By equivalent exchange, his “unfair” “W”s aren’t unfair.
I’m still annoyed by the delayed explanation on Jinbei’s escape from WCI. Maybe it’ll be revealed during the Germa cover story.