The fight between Killer and Hawkins finally ends. Killer slices off Hawkins’ left arm and removes Kid’s straw doll from it. Hawkins summons his Straw Man, but Killer decapitates it and defeats Hawkins.
When this fight started it was highly critiqued by the community cause it didn’t seem to respect the powerscaling and shit like that. In a way it is true as Killer proved to be a much superior fighter to Hawkins, but that was not the point of the battle in the first place. Oda’s purpose was to adress the key differences between two members of the same generation who found themselves in front of a pivotal decision and took opposite paths.
THE CROSSROAD AND THE PATHS
That pivotal decision that divided their paths in the first place was to either oppose or submit when Kaido fell in front of them.
“Massacre Soldier” Killer decided to oppose and fight, he was brutally defeated and arrived in Wano as a war prisoner. He was beaten and chained when Orochi came to blackmail him to become his personal assassin and to eat a SMILE. The promised reward that gave him the strenght to push ahead, no matter the physical and psychological pressure, was the remote chance of keeping his Captain alive. The resolution of a First Mate.
His professional name “Hitokiri Kamazo” grew up quickly as a legend in the Flower Capital, even when heavily damaged (both physically and psychologically) and with his personal weapons seized.
Just like Zorojuro’s name was raising up, a mysterious ronin running wild in the land. The two of them, one day, met in the midst of a conflict of interest: Zorojuro stood his ground to protect Kamazo’s target. This leaded to a prolonged and shivering battle, in which Kamazo ultimately fell short. He failed his mission.
An interesting detail is that, during his service as an assassin (due to his physical situation and weapon equipement) he seemed to embody the Death (XIII card):
“The thirteenth arcanum is the symbol of transformation, rebirth, liberation and represents the end of a cycle. It rapresents a change dictated by the confrontation with pain”
The design for Kamazo is not a coincidence, the long-hilt scythe, the ruthless introduction (aiming for the head of a little and defenseless girl) and the overall look give him the menacing presence of a Grim Reaper. This is something that was noticed and highlighted by Zoro too, while recovering after their battle. In the Flower Capital he was paragoned to a ghost, an inhuman manifestation.
The failing of the mission made him become useless trash in Orochi’s eyes, this is why he was sent in Udon for an execution. During the way, he met his Captain (Udon’s recent fugitive) who barely recognized him and decided to surrounder and turn back to Udon to die at his partner’s side. If in Ringo we saw a Killer one step away from the breaking point, here in Udon he officially touched the bottom of the barrell. The climax of so much pain.
They were hanged and forced to drown publically. Here there’s another interesting detail, in this situation Killer seems to embody another Tarot: the Hanged Man (XII card):
“The twelfth arcanum rapresents a young man who appears upside down, position associated with a public torture. The Hanged Man is traditionally depicted with a serene face, prey to ecstasy rather than pain or humiliation”
Now, the pose seems to already hint at a connection with this card (something that he shares with Kid, who was senteced with him) but what really strikes is the fact that the face of the Hanged Man is described as serene, in the grip of ecstasy. This is a pretty uncommon trait but when you consider Killer’s SMILE it kinda fits… just take another look at the execution and the similarities will for sure be visible.
In the end, the execution was miracously interrupted by Linlin’s arrival and havoc. Killer, angry, exhausted, humiliated was finally able to see a glimpse of light at the top of the barrell, he got back on his feet and, following his Captain, prepared himself for an incoming new cycle.