The gas monster cometh.
The giant blob monster Smiley finally evolves into Caesar Clown’s master weapon of death, Shi no Kuni. It overtakes Caesar’s nearby underlings, who become covered in a thick, ash-like shell of poison that paralyzes their bodies so they can’t run away. The Straw Hats led by Zoro flee for their lives, and spot one of Caesar’s dragons as a possible escape vehicle. However, the caged Straw Hats, Marines, and Trafalgar Law aren’t so lucky, as Caesar transports their cage into the open air to be enveloped by the oncoming gas.
Now that the giant gas bomb has been released on the island, things are taking a turn for the gritty. The white ash-covered forms of the victims were somewhat horrific when coupled with Caesar’s psychotic ramblings. I definitely have to give props to Oda for this because the idea of secreting ash to immobilize the victims is clever. It’s a lot more interesting than just having them fall over choking, which we have already seen plenty of in previous chapters, and adds a fearful element.
To me what stood out the most in this chapter was the formation of a Devil’s Fruit. At first I wondered what’s with the random close-ups of fruit, and then when it turned into a Devil’s Fruit my jaw dropped. It’s a bit ambiguous whether they were originally Devil’s Fruit disguised as apples, or if the toxic gas turned the apples into Devil’s Fruit, but either way it’s a fascinating puzzle. One Piece’s famous Devil’s Fruit have always been shrouded in a mystery, but never one that directly interfered with enjoying the story. The possibility that the creation process of a Devil’s Fruit could be revealed during this arc is extremely appealing.
The ending was a bit disappointing. For all the excitement and shocking qualities of the chapter, I expected at least some form of cliffhanger. Just seeing Trafalgar Law giving some basic line about beginning their counterattack wasn’t very thrilling, and kind of brought down the chapter’s overall tempo. Also, the part with Chopper was bordering on forgettable; I would have liked more emphasis on the fact that it looks like one of Caesar’s underlings is a double agent.
GO Rating: 3.5/5