469: Kuma's Change - Iva's Furious Attack
The soldiers stand still, transfixed at the sight of Hancock protecting Luffy. She does make a gesture as if to attack, but hidden from the soldiers' views, she actually produces a key from her person and gives it to Luffy, whispering that it's the key to Ace's shackles. While the marines continue to provide mistaken commentary, Luffy, overjoyed, glomps Hancock, a feat that forces him to jump up thus dragging her down. Luffy says that he owes her one before disengaging and continuing to dash towards the scaffold, leaving the overwhelmed Hancock to mistake his act for a marriage proposal, complete with the appropriate fantasy...which is shattered by Smoker going after Luffy again. She intercepts him and breaks his jutte in half, declaring that she will not allow anyone to pass her. Smoker growls that she better know what will happen if she continues to sabotage the Navy.
Luffy encounters Ivankov again, and upon recognizing Kuma, warns him to look out. Doflamingo says that the Kuma they knew and the one before them are like two different people. He explains that as part of the government's Pacifista project, Kuma's body was modified and outfitted with mechanized parts, and that process was finally completed just a few days ago, leaving behind the mindless Pacifista PX-0.
Eyecatches: Nami and Usopp
Despite being attacked yet again with lasers, Ivankov continues to try to get a response out of Kuma. Luffy puts together the double meaning behind Kuma's last words to him on Sabaody. Kuma meanwhile blasts a group of the New Kamas with Pad Hou (Pad Cannon), infuriating Ivankov to the point where he goes on the offensive, boosting his power with Ganmen Spectrum (Face Spectrum), and blasting Kuma with a barrage of his Galaxy Wink attack and follows up by kicking him into an ice floe. He then starts ranting over how this is the first time anyone has forgotten his face, and that it Kuma has forgotten how scary he can be, then he'll beat it back into him.
Meanwhile Crocodile and Mr. 1 are easily taking out Whitebeard's guards, until Jozu rams into him, sending him flying into the air. Crocodile recovers as Jozu dashes at him again, but this time is brought to a halt by none other than Doflamingo, who teases Crocodile over his imprisonment before suggesting that they should team up.
Luffy continues his dash towards the platform, but now a far more frightening opponent than what he's faced so far in this battle appears before him; the world's strongest swordsman, Dracule Mihawk!
Well, all good things come to an end. After a series of pretty good episodes, we now have a dud on our hands. The art, eh, it was largely okay I thought. The real problems were the directing and the animation.
I said with the last episode that the Hancock scene was only going to get worse, and it sure did. I don't care how anyone tries to justify it, that key was an Ass Pull
, as nowhere was it ever hinted where or how Hancock got her hands on it. This would have been the perfect time for the anime to give it a little filler explanation to close the plothole, but instead they expanded on that silly marriage gag that dragged on for way, way too long, and was frankly rather embarrassing to watch given that the sounds Hancock was making made it sound like she was having an orgasm or something. Really, of all the things that could've been expanded on in this chapter, that was what they decided to go for?
Anyway, moving on to the Kuma stuff. First, I hate how everything always grinds to a halt whenever anyone delivers any sort of exposition. It's a trap that's kind of unavoidable given the two different mediums of paper and animation, but it can be handled with more grace. Kuma losing his self-will came as no real surprise to the audience. It's definitely dumbed him down, though, since the Kuma we saw at Thriller Bark and Sabaody would have had no trouble deflecting attacks of that caliber. I guess Oda simply fell into the common trap of making characters so powerful that they have to be dumbed down when the plot requires so that the good guys can stand a chance against them. I didn't really like how the fight with Ivankov and Kuma turned out either. It was very lazy and uninspired.
Anyway, Luffy has to go through Mihawk next time. Can't really say that's a match-up that I ever expected.