The latest chapters of One Piece were a well-balanced mesh of action, drama, and character development. Sanji was the main act for quite a few chapters due to his conflict of embracing the alterations inflicted upon him by wearing the Germa 66 raid suit. Yet, the latest chapter has fully moved over to Zoro, who’s still in his ongoing conflict with King. Ever since the post-time skip, it seemed he never had a true challenge. So, Eiichiro Oda gave him exactly that in the mysterious Lunarian who seemingly takes each strike without a scratch. Will Zoro finally meet his match?
Let’s not waste any time and just focus on the biggest aspect of this chapter. Yes, there has been quite a bit of foreshadowing by Kaido and even the anime release, but Zoro finally has unleashed his Conquerors Haki. He has definitely been pushed to his limit and we once again are reminded by Raleigh’s lesson that it is formed through combat. Seeing the underlings of the Beast Pirates foaming at the mouth and seeing the lightning around all three swords is a great visual flair to confirm it. His ambitions have finally broken to the point that he can not only wield Enma – likely turning it into a black blade by the end of this fight – but also solves the question of what a sword curse is all about.
I love the flashback to Zoro’s time as a kid. Didn’t expect we get an explanation where he got the two swords for his fight against Kuina from, but it’s a nice detail. The introduction of Shimotsuki Kozaburo and confirmation of his connection add a nice layer. Though the hints that Zoro is also a member of the Shimotsuki family due to his father potentially being Ushimaru does raise a few questions. We’ll likely find out more once Onimaru makes their return to the story. For now, we got a confirmation about his backstory set-up a few episodes ago and the mangaka manages to make a joke drawing for one of the swords as a person into an actual character design.
His opponent, King, is given a lot more weight this time around. A short discussion between Queen and Sanji hints at some kind of underlying weak spot that’ll probably get exploited by Zoro. It makes me wonder if the Lunarian’s “defeat” might be connected to Mihawk that builds up a parallel with his pupil. While great foreshadowing, it does take away from the momentum that we had with Sanji when he kicked Queen full force a few chapters ago. Still, the built-up is strong and Oda will very likely take a detour before getting back to Zoro’s big payoff.