Original Airdate: 11/9/2008
Toonami Airdate: 1/21/2017
After everything the Straw Hats did, and after all they went through not only with Moria, but with the sun, and their shadows, a new threat arrived in Warlord Kuma and the orders from the Government to eliminate not only the Straw Hats, but everyone on Thriller Bark. Kuma showed just a taste of his power then. This episode shows more of it, and then some.
The Rolling Pirates are trying to help their own crew who got hit with Kuma’s shockwave attack. They don’t know how he did it, or what powers he has. Plus, all those years dealing with Moria, only to have this to happen, it takes a toll on them. They still want to fight, since they believe he isn’t like Moria or Oars. But Zoro tells them to stay back. Kuma wants him, so no butting in. Kuma tells him the Straw Hats developed a big reputation now, and they are staff with good strong people. Which the crew actually likes getting praised for. Zoro is ready to fight, even as Usopp warns of how his “bones might be nothing but dust”. Zoro argues if they’re to die here, so be it. He attacks with 2-Sword Style Draw: Rashomon. But Kuma is fast and dodges it. He attacks Zoro, who dodges his attack too. Kuma unleashes another paw shockwave. Zoro just dodges it barely, and yet even though the attack didn’t touch him, he feels the effects of the attack. The crew notices the weird marks left from the attacks, and see on Kuma’s hands that there are Paw Pads on them. Zoro unleashes a 36-Calibur Phoenix on the big guy, but his paw pads repel it right towards some of the Rolling Pirates.
Zoro figured out what his ability is, which Kuma explains himself. He can deflect anything. Kuma ate the Paw-Paw Fruit, which made him become a Paw-Paw human. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? So ridiculous, that even Robin imagines what it’s like with cat hands.
Franky also is not buying this stupid shtick, and thinks Kuma is more bark (or meow?) than bite. That is, until Kuma unleashes a big air cannon attack on Franky himself, and tells him to shut it. Franky is knocked out, and this gives them a theory: Kuma is deflecting the air itself. With his Air Cannon he shot at Franky, he can deflect the air pressure around, and shoot out attacks at high speeds. Kuma has no need for mercy, as shown. He attacks Zoro with Thrust Pad Cannons, making multiple paw pad bubbles. Zoro counters with Screaming Wolf Swords, and does hit his paw pads with his swords. But they are repelled away like his other attacks. They see how powerful the big guy is, and if he lays one finger on Zoro, he’s done. Which is what Kuma is about to do, as he teleports behind Zoro and is about to get him with a shockwave attack. Sanji jumps in and lays one of his kicks straight on to Kuma’s jaw. Usopp and Chopper celebrate, thinking Sanji did it. However, Sanji falls down to the ground, clutching his leg like he broke it. Kuma’s face is almost like steel. Plus, the big guy expected more from Sanji himself. Usopp tries a Firebird Star, but Kuma deflects it back at him, turning Usopp into an extra-crispy meal.
The Straw Hats are in danger now. Sanji and Zoro are tired and hurt, nothing is fazing Kuma, and Kuma himself is dissing how “weak” the Straw Hats are. He feels killing them isn’t fun, but orders are orders. With that, he gets his hands up, and a weird sounds comes from them. A big, air paw bubble forms from it, but it gets smaller and smaller each time. It doesn’t take long for Nami and Robin to realize what is happening. All that air pressure being deflected, and turned into a compacted ball. With it, he is making a giant bomb to finish off the crew.
This freaks everyone else out, as the air bubble is now so small, it fits in Kuma’s hands. He turns to them, and tells the group that he will spare all their lives, on one condition: They have to give him the head of Luffy. If he returns to the Government with just him, they should be pleased enough. The others can’t believe this, and won’t betray their captain. And neither are the Rolling Pirates. Kuma gives them one last chance, only to be responded to with a big “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” It was their choice, and Kuma decides to unleash the small ball. It escapes from his hands, and starts to grow. Eventually, the Ursa Shock comes full circle. The compacted air bomb explodes into a giant, shockwave paw, engulfing all of Thriller Bark. It takes out the group, the island, and everything around. The light could be seen from miles, as it finally fades away.
The overall episode shows just how powerful the paw padded Warlord is. His Devil Fruit powers are as interesting as they are ridiculous to behold. Yeah, paw pads for a powerful Warlord seem like it wouldn’t work. And it could be made fun of easily, with Robin’s imagination, Franky questioning it, and snarky tweets as well.
And yet in the One Piece world, it works out, making the guy a powerful enemy to the crew. Even if he doesn’t want to be an enemy to them. Kuma was a force in this episode, and give props to Joel McDonald for delivering a great performance as the big guy on here. There is still more to come from this fight, as the next episode, we get one of the greatest moments that alot of One Piece fans know and rave about. I really hope you tune in to it. Seriously, tune in to it. 5 Big Paw Bombs/5.