We return to Yasui's execution. After disparaging the state of Wano under Orochi's greedy leadership, everything is beginning to come to a head. Every party in Wano is either watching the execution snailstream, present at the capital, or rushing there. This is the final grand moment where it all comes to a head.
Yasui explains the meaning behind the flyers. Turns out it was all just a prank, a sentimental bit on his part for missing the way things used to be. He says that even those others locked up are innocent people that Orochi wrongfully imprisoned, and that there is no rebellion. Obviously this is a lie, but it sows the seeds of doubt in the people and guards who have already witnessed Orochi's paranoia and violence first-hand.
Orochi arrives on his speeding litter. He raises his rifle and fires the first shot at Yasui to begin the execution. At the same time, the surrounding guards let rip with their rifles as well. Yasui is riddled with bullets and his body is thrown about on the stand. Droplets of blood and tears fly from him, reflecting on past situations with the Akazaya Nine and how they connected with Oden through his graciousness. He also witnesses Toko as his eyes begin to close and he apologizes to her for leaving her alone like this. At last his body falls to the ground and Orochi is left cackling with sadistic glee.
That is when the newly arrived people of Ebisu begin to laugh hysterically, including Toko. Zoro and Brook are dumbfounded by this reaction, but Komurasaki explains their terrible curse. Thanks to Kaido and Orochi's experiments they have had every other emotion taken from them, and now all they can do is laugh.
Lord, what a powerful episode. Even knowing what was coming from having read the manga this was a powerful piece of television. In fact, I would say that the episode hit me a lot harder than the manga chapter did. Having the extra time to really drag out Yasui's final moments in slow motion sequences and flashback was really effective. I got chills more than once, especially when it came to him reflecting on carrying Toko through the wasteland on his back.
The cinematic language was stellar as well. There were so many stellar sequences: the grainy old-film sequence of Momonosuke training on the gator's back while framed in an outline of Yasui's hair, the flashback transitions brought in and out through the reflection of autumnal leaves in Yasui's tears, the way the bullet impacts on his body weren't shown but instead there were cutaways to black screens with shining sprays of white petals, the muted colors and sounds as Zoro is surrounded by the laughing villagers - hit after hit, scene after scene. Marvelous work all around from the team at Toei on making this a poignant, powerful episode.
Orochi is truly shown to be as his most cruel and sadistic in this moment. The people of Ebisu are laughing because they have no choice, and Yasui is laughing out of defiance, but Orochi's gleeful laugh is the most disturbing of all. Both the shots of his glowing red eye full of rage are disturbing, and I really loved the moment of him raising the rifle where half of his face was faded into an inky shading with glowing white outlines, the violence obscuring our view of him and his view of the world. Really great stuff.
Hats off to Kokoro Kikuchi this episode too. Her performance as Toko is gut-wrenching. Managing to laugh in a way that sounds like it is natural enough while still being forced and desperate is hard to do, and she nails this delivery. An absolute punch in the chest hearing her belt out those cries, amazing work.
-By Grant Jones