Not to be a broken record, but folks: , am I right?
You don’t need me to tell you that episode 1071 is a tour de force; you know that already.
You don’t need me to tell you that it is visually stunning, thematically rewarding and, in a meta sense, a standing ovation for the series as a whole. You also know these things, I’m sure.
So I won’t repeat all that to you. 1071 is a delight from start to finish, and the reveal for Gear 5 is – like the Wano arc in general – a triumph of animation that takes top-shelf material and launches it into the stratosphere. The team at Toei has my undying praise and admiration yet again for their tireless efforts in bringing to vivid motion the monumental events that Eiichiro Oda put to the page. I’ve uttered similar words before, and I’m sure I’ll sing those praises again before the final curtain falls on the theater of Wano – a constant refrain from a crowd that can’t get enough of their favorite song.
I can add that this episode has incredible sound design to boot. The silly Looney Tunes sound effects board, straight out of the 1930s, combined with the incredible fluidity and detail of the animation, makes for sugary sweet overload for the senses. This is an excess of quality in every regard, animations that pop with all the art the human hand can muster alongside sounds like BONK and BOINK. It’s (literal) eye-popping visual and audio splendor on a scale that the screen can barely hold; it makes you wish you could pop your eyes out of your head just to expand the periphery and see even more, to take it all in.
If you’ll indulge me, I’ll also editorialize a bit on why I love Gear 5 so much and how the transformation has been presented in 1071.
In short, Gear 5 is the grand reveal of a truth I think has been humming along in the background of the series the entire time – a steady drumbeat that has only grown louder as the years have gone by. At first, barely noticed, and now impossible to miss. That is the triumph of joy over sorrow, a fundamental realignment in how the world works.
See, when Luffy says, “I’m going to be the king of the pirates!” I’m not sure he ever quite meant it in the simple manner of taking the crown off one head and placing it on his own. This boy has been toppling emperors, burning flags, freeing slaves, and feeding the hungry since the beginning. Luffy’s path has always been one of – to borrow a phrase – establishing a new kingdom, rather than changing who occupies the throne. Of course, Gear 4 wasn’t enough to beat Kaido, because Kaido’s weapons were the weapons of the world as it is now: strength and domination, the might that makes right. In that realm, Kaido has no equal.
That approach had to die because it was never a path of life to begin with.
Instead, Luffy became joy itself. Smiles and jubilation, irreverent mockery of the pitiful state of the world as it is now—not the strength to move mountains, but rather a smile as bright and light as the sun. Luffy tapped into the ultimate anime power-up: he became a gag manga character.
And as we all know, Arale can beat Goku. Bugs Bunny can beat Elmer Fudd. And now, Luffy can beat Kaido.
Because of this, combined with the incredible talent and craft on display, 1071 is exactly what it needs to be: Luffy in all his glory has a big belly laugh at the absurdity of it all while Kaido holds up a small sign that reads YIKES.
Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.
is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.com.