Thankfully, as some of these threads are finally tying together, the episode-to-episode is getting a little easier to follow. Phew!
Having now watched this show over what at least feels like a full season already, I’ll still contend that Oda’s approach to plotting is basically about him throwing a ton of pieces onto a chess board and then figuring out how to arrange them. He just happens to have a superhuman talent for finding spontaneous connections to older material which are clever enough to seem like they’ve always been part of the plan. That’s not a bad thing, certainly - - it’s just undeniably mesmerizing to behold.
Like this whole business about Devil Fruit Eaters’ weakness to water that serves as such a terrifying point of tension in this episode? It’s an inspired detail that underscores every moment of this story with rich dramatic tension - - but it also smells of something that was retroactively devised in just the way I described.
I got such jollies watching Chopper break out the Kung Fu super-moves (the part where he strikes a pose and shouts “Wachaaaa!” being the stand-out). All the cool characters I listed last time are my equal favorites, but any time Tony does something rad, I can’t help feeling like I’ve underappreciated the lil’ guy.
Actually, to bring up the subject of the Straw Hats’ team dynamics again, I’ll be perfectly willing to eat my words if Nami and Robin have had plenty stand-out moments in the past… but I do still find it amusing that the only two women on this crew are the two straight women, essentially. Again, that’s not really a criticism, but it’s still amusing to note that - - conscientious do-rightness and arm multiplication aside - - they seem rather normal on a ship that’s home to a gung-ho rubber man, a rockstar skeleton, a mutating reindeer and other assorted, totally extreme personalities.