For the last eighty or so episodes, One Piece has been focused on
finding and rescuing Ace. From Impel Down to Marineford, Luffy has put
it all on the line by dealing with all manner of Navy and pirate in
order to rescue his brother from his execution at the hands of the Navy.
He's come close several times but was always just a bit too far from
being able to follow through. With the previous episode, he had finally
gotten to him and Ace opted to finally live again, especially because of
all the sacrifices that had been made by Whitebeard and the pirates
he's known for so long. But for all of it to seemingly end as Akainu
slugs through him with his molten fist while he defends Luffy was
incredibly tense and heartbreaking as you can't be sure just what the
trick may be or if there even is one. I certainly wouldn't put it past
Oda to really put Luffy through the wringer like this.
Everything is incredibly tense here as Ace does his best to hold out after having this happen to him, keeping still as Luffy gapes in front of him. The Whitebeard pirates find themselves re-energized and even Jimbei goes up firm against Akainu in a dangerous match that isn't a good place for him to be. The key here is the emotions many are feeling after watching what Akainu did as they can't believe that Ace has lost. It even impacts Garp who almost looks like he's about to toss away his entire Navy career to go to his grandson and help him. We get a nice bit of flashback through Ace's eyes over all of this as he works through in his head as he's dying about what the reason he was born was for.