One Piece Episode 730
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 730 of
One Piece ?
I feel compelled to talk about pacing. One Piece has definitely been in a not-so-ideal position for a few years now where each episode is adapting a single manga chapter, if even that. That's just the way it is whether we're happy about it or not. One Piece fans are in a unique position for a Shonen Jump audience where we actually want the series to indulge in more filler, if only to give the original comic story more breathing room.
For the most part, I've made my peace with the pacing of One Piece. It's not perfect, but there are times where I feel it works miles better than people give it credit for. There's definitely a precedent where very action centered content translates to the one-chapter-per-episode pace much worse than the plot or exposition stuff. The last few episodes we've been dealing with lately have definitely suffered, since the runtime has to dedicate most of it's economy to repetitive shots of the citizens of Dressrosa escaping while we wait for the story to jump through the necessary hoops to get Luffy back on his feet.
Basically, we're dealing with a fairly boring episode. The main story beat at hand is watching the rest of the crew and the available gladiators do what they can to push Doflamingo's birdcage back in an effort to keep the strings from closing in before Luffy can make is grand re-entrance. It's a bunch of stuff that exists to stall the foregone conclusion in an effort to keep the dramatic ebb and flow of the story in tact. But again… that pacing. When Luffy's ten-minute recharge time premiered in the manga, jokes were flying about how much we didn't anticipate the anime adaptation of these scenes.
Whenever a badly paced portion of the story airs, people are quick to worry that that's it for the show, that it will never become tolerable again. That's demonstrably not true, since the show has always gone back and forth between content that translates fine to the anime's format and content that doesn't, but that doesn't stop it from being frustrating when you're in the thick of it. Pace aside, this is a weirdly lopsided episode, visually. Roughly the first half or so looks like bottom-of-the-barrel stuff for the series, but then you get to scenes like the continued Sabo vs. Burgess fight that actually look pretty cool. Around the halfway point we're suddenly treated to a lot of little pieces of animation, as the gang push against the birdcage and their feet go sliding across the ground and whatnot. Sudden, thicker outlines are sprinkled throughout as well, which is a style I definitely wish I could see more of in One Piece.
Overall, I get how keeping the hero preoccupied to stoke drama is a really common shonen trope, but when push comes to shove it's easy to get impatient with it and that's what's happening to me here. It doesn't help that we as good as know everything's going to turn out okay and that Luffy will win the fight, so delaying it further on Toei's watch doesn't always make for great TV.
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