The Straw Hats struggle to catch up and save Mocha from the rabid band of monstrous children, but the deadly Monet blocks their path at every step with her Snow-Snow fruit powers. Even Zoro seems unable to stop her deadly assaults. All ending with the reunion I've been dreaming of for years.
How could Oda fit in nearly everything I could want into a single chapter? There's the drama of Mocha's flashback, Nami and Robin joining in the fight, amazing displays of power, Zoro clashing blades, Sanji's commanding his own Marine platoon, Monet has an adorable weakness to compliments, and it's Tashigi that steps in to save the day. I was laughing throughout and cheering for the finale.
I know I've gushed repeatedly over Monet as this arc has gone on, but how can you deny that she's probably one of the more complex characters that Oda has ever introduced. She's as elusive as the very snow her body is made upon. She appears to be the one who slipped Chopper the info he needs to cure the children of their addiction to the very drug that she had been giving them, and yet she also seems enraged by the very idea of someone taking them away from her. When she had a clear shot at Robin, all she did was scratch her, but she seemingly went for a fatal blow on Nami. We know that Doflamingo has her life in his hands, but where are her true loyalties?
What can I say? This is an incredibly entertaining chapter that gives you everything you could ask for in a shonen series, and the protagonist doesn't even appear. There's no real bad here.
It really speaks to the strength of your supporting cast when you can make an exciting read with your lead completely absent. I wasn't expecting too much out of this arc originally, then I was resigned that there wouldn't be any meaningful Zoro and Tashigi scenes when Sanji was the one to come to her rescue earlier. It seems all I had to do was wait a bit longer. I can't wait until the next chapter. I just hope that Tashigi really shows her growth in the Ch. 687, and she doesn't need to be constantly rescued.