I have just watched episodes 375 and 376 and I have but one thing to say:
What even is Kuma? D:
Seriously, though. You guys were not wrong when you said he was probably the strongest person on Thriller Bark. The power the Paw-Paw fruit bestows upon him is freaking astonishing. Damn, how is anyone supposed to defeat the guy?
He’s creepy too. That stoic, unreadable demeanour and the Scary Shiny Glasses.
I’d love to dive straight in and try to pick apart what I know about his character but I’m conscious I’ve been neglecting the Strawhats lately, so I’ll deal with Kuma later and I’ll talk about something else other than a villain for a bit.
I absolutely loved the scene at the very beginning of 375, with the shot of the dawn light blazing through the split in the tower and the shadows racing across the sky. Everyone was burning up and Usopp was losing his mind but at that very moment, pirates and marines and civilians across the OPverse were waking up to the realisation they no longer had to languish in the dark like toadstools.
I liked that Oda threw in that little bit of wider context. It’s like when the Strawhats get a hold of the newspaper and they find out a little bit about what’s going on in the wider world. That scene was similar. It showed that, even though I ended up being fond of Moria, he was a huge bag of dicks and his shenanigans affected the lives of a hell of a lot of people. Including the sweet maid, Margarita, whose shadow was used to animate Cindry. She went ten years without a shadow. Ten years. That is a long ass time.
There was a random Marine in the mix as well. That must have stung. One of the Shichibukai, who was, in theory, supposed to be on the same team, snipped his shadow and ruined his life. I wonder if the shadowless Marine complained? I wonder what the higher ups said?
Brook went without his shadow for five years. When he turned his face towards the sun, it sent a little shiver down my spine. It was a subtle moment. Oda didn’t make it a big deal. Brook didn’t even say anything, but I don’t think he really needed to. He just wanted to stand there and take in the beautiful sight.
Sanji, as usual, summed up the arc in his customary elegant manner. That’s always something I have liked about Sanji. He always finds the right words at the right moment. “Everything on this island was nothing more than a ruse put on by Moria. Just like waking from a nightmare in the morning, everything has vanished.” Without Moria to hold it together, everything crumbled.
I wonder, then, if that spells the end for Thriller Bark?
The action switched to the only two main minions left on the ship: Absalom and Dr Hogback. They had an interesting little chat. Hogback is less loyal to Moria than I thought he would be (which makes him even more of a human stain). He delivered the bad news to Absalom, who was concerned about Moria. Hogback said: “Thriller Bark is no use to me now. I don’t plan on spending the rest of my days as a loser. What do you want to do?”
Are Hogback and Absalom going to desert Moria too? Will Moria lose a second crew? To lose one crew may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. xD
Someone did have all of his faithful crew about him, though.
Luffy crashed out after punching Moria into the tower, so he mercifully missed all the fuss about Kuma. Actually, I really liked that pre-Kuma scene, when the Strawhats and the Victims’ Association still believed they had won and were basking in post-battle peace. Usopp was concerned for Luffy and wondered if his Gear Third was having too great an effect on his body.
Sanji, again, was sensible about everything and reminded everyone about the coming dangers. Echoing Moria’s warning he said: “If our enemies continue to get stronger and stronger, he’s going to have to push himself harder. We all need to pull our own weight more.” There were nods all round, so I don’t think Sanji was the only one to have taken the warning to heart. Perhaps the Strawhats realise that their fight with Moria and Oars was harder than they expected. Their teamwork was great, but they need to be stronger individually too.
The Victims’ Association, however, weren’t bothered about all that serious stuff. They were just grateful to have been saved from the penury Moria imposed upon them. Praise was heaped on the Strawhats, but Zoro was characteristically blunt and dismissive. He pretty much said to Captain Lola, to her face: “Yeah, we didn’t actually give a fuck about you. We needed our shadows back. We just happened to save you on the side.”
He has turned into such a surly pirate, it is hilarious.
Nami told him off, though. He kind of deserved it that time. Rude, Zoro. Rude. xD
But Nami, obviously, only wanted to stay on their good side because the Victims’ Association were going to help with the treasure……..
And this is when everything fell to absolute shit for the Strawhats.
Talk of treasure reminded Nami of what happened when last she saw some.
She met the Big Scary Bastard Bartholomew Kuma.
Just as she was telling the Strawhats they needed to GTFO, she looked up… and there he was. Sitting on top of the tower. On the Den Den Mushi. Talking to a Mystery Dude.
I have many questions. From what you guys have said in the comments, I doubt they’ll have answers, but I want to list them, just in case Oda lets something slip in future.
Who was Kuma talking to on the DDM? It seemed like an official, someone high up in the World Government. At any rate, the Mystery Dude was giving him advice and orders. Referring to Moria, Mystery Dude said: “Is he still breathing? Even if barely?” Kuma was like, idk. “If he is, I’d like to wait for his recovery and let him retain his position as one of the Shichibukai for a while. We can take further measures later.” Mystery Dude wanted no witnesses of Moria’s defeat. Everyone on Thriller Bark was to be eliminated. If word got out that another Shichibukai was pummeled, it would make everyone associated with the title look bad in general.
This was ominous. Moria has clearly been granted a stay of execution, but for how long? (I am worried but also strangely happy. This could hand Moria the exit from the WG he needs to join Dragon. Yes, I am still going on about this like a broken record. xD)
It was also ominous because the tone of the episode rocketed from peaceful, post-battle to a WTF A NO SURVIVORS SCENARIO, OMG THEY ARE ALL GOING TO DIE.
Kuma stood up. The creepy music kicked in. He looked at Moria for a second.
Then Papa Wolf Strawhat, Roronoa Zoro, stepped forward, full of focused rage, itching to take out the hulking giant. Kuma said hi but gave no fucks. He just quietly removed his gloves, warped past Zoro, and blasted the shit out of the Victims’ Association guys with his Paw-Paw power. The VA guys talked big when they recovered from the blast, but Zoro was like: “Step off. I don’t need back up. Don’t make me look bad.”
He is so harsh, it really is hilarious.
Then Kuma engaged the Strawhats in a little pre-destruction chat. Even though he’s stoic to a fault, it’s nice to know that Kuma can do small-talk. The sort of “Do u liek mudkips?” level of conversation. Kuma said to Zoro: “So I heard Strawhat Luffy has skilled crew members?” (And the rest of them were like, “PSHAW, plz stop i am blushing.”)
The small-talk didn’t last long, though. It was when Zoro got stuck in that the extent of Kuma’s strength really hit home.
No one could land a hit on the guy! Zoro’s attacks were repelled, Usopp’s firebird star was deflected straight back at him, Sanji tried to kick him in the face and probably cracked a bone, or something. (Steely face, eh, @meheartonepiece?) Kuma revealed his Paw-Paw power and explained he possessed the ability to repel anything. Franky underestimated him. How could anyone with such a cute sounding power be dangerous?
Without missing a beat, Kuma slammed him and sent Franky flying.
Kuma may wear a cute, little bear hat, but woe betide you ever underestimate him. He will fuck you up.
Zoro decided enough was enough. He was going to throw everything into attacking Kuma, and he said something really interesting.
I don’t think I’ve seen Zoro slip into this attitude since his duel with Mihawk way back at the Baratie. Sure, he has been in perilous situations, but I’ve never seen him willing to lay down his life.
Kuma really is something else, isn’t he?
After tolerating the Strawhats’ attempts at landing a hit, Kuma grew bored and decided to cut the niceties short. He derived no pleasure in killing the Strawhats in their weakened state, but…
And the ‘but’ turned out to be a pretty big thing. Kuma did something that made my jaw drop.
He made a freaking air bomb.
Then, just before he detonated it, he gave them a choice.
He would spare their lives, but the price for their lives would to hand over Luffy’s head.
Now I can see why Kuma is renowned for his cruelty. That was pretty low.
Naturally, everyone assembled told Kuma to go fuck himself, so he detonated the bomb and the Thriller Bark went boom in an oddly beautiful explosion sequence (kudos to the animators).
Then it disappeared.
I no longer have any idea what is going on. xD
Kuma dials the wrong number and gets through to the Shitty Restaurant.
You know, the One Piece fandom often argues over which story arcs are the best or the worst, but I have yet to see a…
not suRe, but I think the person on the den-den-mushi was one of the 5 eldeRs(jap. goRosei). you know the old dudes,they…