The following contains spoilers for One Piece Chapter 1048, “Twenty Years,” by Eiichiro Oda, Stephen Paul, and Vanessa Satone, available in English from Viz Media.
Chapter 1048 of A piece, “Twenty Years”, seems to be the beginning of the end. Both Luffy and Kaidō launched their ultimate attacks; the Gum-Gum Bajrang pistol and the Rising Dragon Flame Bagua. With this, the climax of the fight and the Wano Arc became a power struggle to see who’s attack can defeat his opponent’s.
It sounds like a pretty standard way to end a big shonen battle, but in the context of A piece, this is a potential problem. A fight in the manga played out the same way as this one in the anime, and few fans were happy with it. If Eiichiro Oda isn’t careful, he can repeat Toei Animation‘s mistakes with the climax of the fight between Luffy and Doflamingo.
To elaborate, here’s how the Doflamingo fight was supposed to play out. In Chapter 790, “Heaven and Earth”, Luffy soared above the Warlord, swelled his arm, and unleashed his ultimate attack, the Gum-Gum King Kong Gun. Doflamingo tried to block him with a combination of Spider Web and God Thread, but Luffy crushed them both. The King Kong Gun’s impact with Doflamingo knocked him to the ground so hard that the earth split open and the surrounding buildings were all leveled. The entire sequence was a showcase of Luffy’s power and impossible attack.
The unstoppable aspect of this scene was not translated well in the anime adaptation. In episode 773, “Attack on a Celestial – Luffy’s King Kong Gun of Anger”, the climax was lengthened considerably; over a minute and a half passed between Luffy’s fist making contact with the ropes and going through them to hit Doflamingo. The result felt less like the instantaneous impact of the manga and more like a beam shock straight out of Dragon Ball Z.
Fans were upset with the anime’s take on Chapter 790 for a number of reasons. On the one hand, it was yet another great example of Toei unnecessarily stretching out scenes from the manga. Not only that, but it was coming off an arc that was already unnecessarily stretched even in the manga. Whether it was to lengthen the runtime, unnecessary strain on the stage, or both, fans felt it was all a big waste of time.
Having Luffy wrestle in the anime also removes the sense of superiority that was in the original scene. In the manga, Luffy immediately breaking Doflamingo’s defense served to illustrate how powerful he was at that time. By expanding the scene so that Luffy seemingly has to try harder to fight his way into Doflamingo, that feeling of overwhelming power is greatly reduced. This point won’t necessarily apply to the clash between Luffy and Kaidō, but it’s important here.
Stretching this scene into the anime also takes away from the sense of impact felt by the original. If Luffy is having trouble breaking through the ropes and reaching Doflamingo, then he shouldn’t have the strength or momentum to fend off the Warlord the same way he did in the manga. Not even Luffy’s cartoon physics can justify or explain this.
What makes this all even worse is that this isn’t the only time the anime has done something like this. Toei gave a similar treatment to Luffy’s final attack on Caesar Clown in episode 617, “Caesar’s Defeat!” The Strongest Grizzly Magnum”; Not only do all the complaints about the Doflamingo fight apply here too, but they’re amplified because Caesar had absolutely no right to have Luffy fight. Even though fans didn’t like the ending of the fight against Doflamingo, it was only part of a bigger problem with Toei’s handling of the anime’s pacing.
The climax of Episode 733 was so poorly received that fans took it upon themselves to fix the scene. There are several edits online that shorten the scene to make Luffy’s punch more instant like in the manga. These edits are praised because not only do they make the punch seem more powerful, but the scene, in general, flows better than the unmodified version.
Unfortunately, it looks like Oda is about to make a similar mistake to Toei. The climax of Luffy’s battle with Kaidō bears a striking resemblance to his battle with Doflamingo, especially how the anime portrays it. Such similarities include Luffy hovering above his enemy, throwing his biggest punch yet, and struggling to break through said enemy’s defenses. Depending on how the fight unfolds, other similarities could continue to pile up.
Of particular note is how long it takes to actually hit Kaidō. The punch started on page 7 of chapter 1048. By the last page 17, it still hadn’t hit the emperor. It will be at least another chapter before Kaidō takes the hit, maybe longer. As long as this punch is supposed to last, it’s apparently going to take a while.
The climax of this fight seems to be equal After longer than the climax of Doflamingo’s fight. Unlike this fight, the struggle for Luffy to land his punch is Actually that happens in the manga. However, all of this ends, the anime will be to have to make the clash endless because that’s the canon of the story.
It could go two ways. For one thing, this climax could end just like the animated version of Doflamingo’s climax. If that happens, then the time it takes for Luffy’s punch to reach Kaidō will feel like pointless fluff that makes the climax drag on.
It’s also possible that the extended climax somehow works in the context of the Kaidō fight. It makes sense that Luffy would struggle in this fight as he takes on the strongest creature in the world. The tension and drama here might be deserved, so maybe the finale will be really satisfying once it happens.
No matter what, the Wano Arc is locked in for a long climax. Whether it goes well or just like Dressrosa will depend on Oda’s writing. Whatever the outcome of this climax, Toei will likely find a way to make it feel even longer.
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