What a beautiful chapter. This chapter was like its own stand alone, one-chapter complete story. The chapter revolved around a flashback of Kawamatsu speaking about what he was up to when he lost Hiyori. Kawamatsu starts off by giving us a brief history of the province of Ringo. Ringo was ruled by the Shimotsuki family. The last daimyo of Ringo was Ushimaru, a master swordsman who always had a fox by his side named Onimaru. Ringo is home to the Eternal Grave practice where since the region is so cold, the bodies of the dead do not decay and their graves are marked with their own swords, some famous. This attracts grave robbers to Ringo.
In the flashback, Kawamatsu came to Ringo to commit seppuku, feeling massive guilt for not being able to protect Hiyori. He is disrupted by the fox, Onimaru. Onimaru has been protecting the graves of the dead from grave robbers for over 5 years. Those born in Ringo are bestowed a sword at birth and in death, that same sword serves as their grave marker. Truly remarkable culture and a truly good boi Onimaru is protecting this rich culture even after his master passed away. Kawamatsu and Onimaru had a disagreement about the fact that Kawamatsu wanted to take the swords from the graves. The reason he wanted to take them is because he knew that there would come a day 13 years in the future where the samurai will need these swords. Kawamatsu say’s something very profound to Onimaru to try to make him see his point of view, “On a battlefield, the swords of the fallen are picked up by their comrades. the spirits that reside within the sword are what make samurai powerful.” Kawamatsu saw this act of collecting these swords as a final act of redemption for failing his mission in protecting Hyori. The name Gyukimaru was formerly Kawamatsu’s because he was the one taking the robbers swords and stockpiling them.
Chapter ends as Zoro takes them to a place he chased the new Gyukimaru to. It’s the stockpile of weapons. And we find out that this new Gyukimaru was in fact Onimaru the fox. Simply beautiful. His actions make sense now, the erratic nature of his fighting style, not understanding the samurai honor system in fighting, he’s a fox, he doesn’t know, he’s just trying to protect what meant most for not only him, but his master and Kawamatsu. Hiyori tells Zoro to give back his Shusui to Wano and she will give him her fathers sword Enma, the legendary sword that managed to give Kaido his only scar. Just wow. From beginning to end, this chapter flowed to reach that climax. It was told beautifully.
Beautiful chapter. Excellent story telling within just this chapter that built up to the reveal in the end perfectly. Chapters like this where Oda can focus on one aspect of the story is a shows why he’s a genius storyteller.
TO BE CONTINUED X