1. Kaido in Dragon Form
Lets talk about why this panel is so good
First is the initial set-up – What Eiichiro Oda had set up before this reveal. There were countless speculation regarding Kaido’s devil fruit, after all what kind of an incredible animal must the king of the Beast Pirates be in possession of? There was simply too much mystery surrounding it. We knew it had to be a Mythical Zoan but it was difficult to ascertain with his unique tattoos and facial features. All we knew about Kaido at this point was that his hobby was to attempt suicide and that he was virtually un-killable.
Lets talk about the reveal. It was a god damn dragon. Oda totally delivered on our expectation that it was going to be something grand. A dragon is what the king of the beasts should be. In the Japanese and Chinese culture, dragons are a symbol power, strength which is everything Kaido embodies. The only value he sees in individuals is courage and strength which is quite clear as his crew is built on the philosophy that only the strongest shall rise to the top. We know Oda likes to take inspiration from multiple different sources and countries so there was still many unknowns about his powers. What kind of a dragon is it? What powers does it have? etc.
Next, lets talk about what is going on with the panel itself. These panels are utterly beautiful. Oda really went all out on these panels to make them look as mythical as possible. In fact, recent works by Oda such as Whole Cake Island and Zou have shown us that he is extremely motivated in getting these panels to look as beautiful as possible. Kaido looks like a monster, towering over multiple different powerful figures such as Shutenmaru, Nekomamushi and Inuarashi. The perspective really makes him look like a powerhouse. Even when challenging the 9 red scabbards he looks unstoppable.
2. Brook vs Big Mom
Going into the first infiltration mission for the Straw Hats, we had absolutely no idea what to expect, and this scene was out of my wildest dreams. Brook, normally one of the weaker members of the crew was standing up against a top-tier of the One Piece world. And yet as if that wasn’t enough, Brook declares that he will steal the Road Poneglyph from Big Mom and calls her a young lady.
The fact that he managed to steal a copy of the map and later destroyed mother Caramel’s picture makes Brook the MVP of the Whole Cake Island Arc. It was also an interesting matchup for the two with Brook’s soul vs Big Mom’s soul ability. Brook made the trip extremely worthwhile for the crew as they not only took Sanji back but also an item they really needed to become the pirate king.
3. Zoro Nothing Happened
Zoro is the unadulterated badass of the crew and his actions right here proves that, willing to give up everything he has worked for his entire life for the captain he admires and respects. No one else in the crew is more fitting for this act than Zoro, the man with the greatest ambition in the crew second only to Luffy, the first member of the Straw Hat crew and the first one to believe without question that Luffy would become the pirate king. His immense loyalty for his captain is awe-inspiring and beautiful.
This was also the moment we witnessed Zoro’s growth. The man who said he would cut down Luffy if he ever got in the way of his ambitions is now willing to give up everything he has for Luffy. Zoro takes this up another notch by keeping his actions a secret as to not burden his captain because he understood that Luffy would feel extremely disappointed in himself. This was the beginning of his selfless act which is later seen when he goes to beg Dracule Mihawk to train him, something even Mihawk was surprised to see.
4. Akainu vs Whitebeard Pirates
Akainu is a monster and this panel is the perfect representation of his strength. It erases any doubt I had in my head whether an Admiral should be as strong as a Yonko. Akainu was completely unstoppable and took little to no damage during the Marineford war. Whitebeard was the only man able to damage Akainu but Akainu was also able to significantly damage Whitebeard. In fact, that skirmish was what damaged Whitebeard the most. Akainu was able to explode the man’s entire internal organs with magma and also took out half of his head.
After Whitebeard’s death, Akainu was willing to keep going and eliminate every single pirate he saw. With his target on Luffy, he managed to severely injure Jinbei and also give Luffy the famous scar we know on his chest. He was only stopped for a little while with the combined strength of the Whitebeard pirates and also, later stopped by Shanks before almost eliminating Coby.
5. Goodbye Going Merry
What a beautiful, heartbreaking and emotional scene this was. It not only solidified the Going Merry as a true member of the crew but it also signified the first death of a crewmate for the Straw Hat Pirates. Going merry was a brave and strong crew mate who endured many hardships to rescue and carry her comrades to safety.
There is a water spirit called Klabautermann which is the incarnation of ships that have been treated with much care and kindness. The first time we see Going Merry’s incarnation is at Skypiea when Usopp witnesses it fixing itself in order to carry the crew for much longer. Going Merry managed to sail all the way to Water 7 which surprised many shipwrights in the city but later she managed to sail much further, all the way to Enies Lobby to rescue her friends from immediate danger. This make her a true Nakama.