Robin received more focus in the recent fight vs Black Maria than she has in years. It honestly feels like pre-timeskip again. We get more callbacks towards Sanji asking for Robin’s aid, and we see why what Sanji did meant a lot to her.
Sanji asked for her help. The girl who was a demon, who was avoided by everyone, not trusted by anyone, had people who needed her. That’s what allowed to her to become a monster for them.
Robin creates a massive demonic representation of herself and defeats Black Maria.
It’s similar to Chopper, who stressed that he’ll be a Monster for his friends, the ones who will always be by his side, no matter if he’s a monster or not.
Oda took full advantage of the crew dynamics for this battle against Black Maria to be satisfying. It’s the same formula as the Kalifa fight, but, thematically, it works so much more, as the Kalifa fight was more about introducing Sanji’s weaknesses towards fighting women whilst it only played a component in the Black Maria scenario. It was more about reinforcing the reliance and trust the Straw Hats have for each other, especially if they are in a situation they can’t handle on their own.
As great as the Fishman Karate technique and the new gigantic demonic form are, let’s not forget how Robin’s character was depicted in Chapter 1021.
Before this fight vs Black Maria, Robin had the trust in the Straw Hats and Luffy, but it wasn’t clear if she had the confidence, a vital piece to power in One Piece.
Robin was self conscious about not being as strong as some of the other hard hitters, and she recognized it in the flashback. Her friends in the Revolutionary Army worried for her safety, saying she might not be able to take care of herself after she returns to the Straw Hat crew.
Now she jumped headlong into a fight that she didn’t know the outcome of, and tested a new ability in the heat of battle. She fought with confidence and overcame a major hurdle. This is some of the greatest Robin development we’ve gotten in years.