The battle at the prison continues. The goons finally come to grips with the powerful figures they are facing, legends from Wano's past, and the poison bullets start flying. Prisoners begin falling ill, prompting Luffy and the others to join the fray and put an end to this. The members of the Akazaya Nine of course do massive damage with each attack, sending guards flying in all directions.
Eustass finds himself staring at the keys to freedom. When Raizo sees this he tells him to use them and break out. Kid's eyes glow red as Killer's laughter echoes.
More and more prisoners fall to the poison rounds. More horrifying, they soon rise like zombies and surround the others - infecting them in the process. Luffy and the gang are surrounded, facing down innocent but infected prisoners. The prisoners for their part know that they would rather not fight the heroes but against Kaido, the animal pirates, and Queen's bullets - what else can they do?
Then: Luffy reaches out and infects himself with the poison!
Running forward with his arms spread wide, Luffy then pushes the crowd back. He grips them in a giant bear hug and tells them of all the strong samurai he knows, reflecting on them in a flashback. Luffy tells the prisoners that they have had their spirits shattered all over measly dumplings.
“You're given enough to keep from dying and you call that living?!” he roars before throwing them all to the ground. More than that he thinks about Tama and what all she has been through. Luffy tells them to make a decision: stand with us or with Kaido. This makes them waver.
On the sidelines, Babanuki realizes that they are not pressing in any longer. He decides to throw a bomb into the crowd and turn the tide - one full of 200 plague rounds. As he goes to fire from his trunk, Kawamatsu notices it. He tells Luffy who leaps into action by tying o ff the end of the elephant's trunk.
The bomb kersplodes.
Babanuki goes bye bye.
Luffy points at the remaining guards and tells the prisoners to take care of them. The prisoners make their choice and revolt, making it game over for the guards.
A solid episode of One Piece this week.
The big emotional high point is Luffy and the poison rounds. Straw Hat is always willing to save others and free them from tyranny/slavery. In this instance he willingly infects himself to share in their burden so that they no longer feel that they have to oppose him, taking on their burden to enable them to fight back. Even still, ultimately it is their choice to join his cause. Luffy takes away the roadblocks to their agency yet demands nothing from them in return, allowing them to choose their freedom for themselves.
That's why we love that sunshine lad.
Visually this episode had plenty to chew on too. While there were a handful of reused sequences with the guards firing the pistols, the highlights more than outweighed this. Each oft he Akazaya Nine getting a cool flashy attack was a treat - Kiku's particularly. The glowing red eye effects on her mask and the splotchy purple filter over the slideshow-style sequence of her sword strikes was phenomenal.
The explosive ending was fun too. I really thought it was an interesting choice to have Babanuki go into a sketchy, almost formless state of gray/black sketchiness as he exploded. It felt like the art itself was breaking down, making it that much more violent that it might otherwise feel. Also Luffy got to do the “cool guys don't look at explosions” walk away bit, what's not to love?