How would you rate episode 973 of
One Piece ?
Oden leaps into the boiling oil in front of all of Wano. Shogun Orochi denies his request from before, laughing him off as he boils. Odens' retainers shout in anguish and run to leap in with their lord. Oden refuses to let them sacrifice themselves in this manner, and before they can jump in he lifts up the deck high over his head. Bearing them aloft he struggles against the heat to keep them from falling in. Kaido is impressed by Oden's strength and agrees to his terms.
As those in the crowd begin mocking Oden, Shinobu can no longer hold back. She recounts the story of how Oden agreed to make a fool of himself in the hopes of saving Wano. We see that fateful encounter from the day Oden challenged Orochi and Kaido five years prior, how Orochi explained his own tragic back story as a victim, and how Orochi uses hostages to make Oden relent. Back in the present, everyone is shocked by these revelations even as Oden attempts to hold his retainers above the boiling oil.
And thus we reach the great climactic scene of Oden's flashback.
Oden's flashback is an interesting one given the rest of the series. I certainly enjoy it, and I think it has a lot of rich world-building - especially with regards to Roger and other legendary figures. We see the world as it was through Oden's experiences and that alone makes it a landmark moment in One Piece as a whole. That being said, I don't know if it hits me in the same way emotionally as some of the prior flashback sequences have in the series. It is strong but not emotionally impactful to me quite in the same manner as those prior greats.
But the image of Oden holding his retainers is incredibly powerful. I would argue that the image of Oden holding up the platform in the boiling oil is perhaps one of the definitive single images in One Piece thus far. Every visual and thematic cue for Oden comes together - from his name to his platform-like hair - in this single act of self-sacrifice. It may not be a tearjerker but it is an amazing visual that stands out even in a crowded field. The only real downside to this episode is that the flashback sequences rehash a lot of material that we the viewers already know from prior episodes, save the bits with the crying hostages.
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