One Piece
Episode 734

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 734 of
One Piece ?

Knowing that One Piece rarely adapts more than one manga chapter's worth of content per episode, it makes it pretty easy to map out which chapters will get adapted when. I'm current with the manga, so I've always had a few “troubled children” in mind for how Toei would go about translating them into television. This week was one of those, as essentially nothing happens in it. It's a shame, but that's more-or-less the show you signed up for if you're still watching the anime at this point.

As last week's episode finished off with the final blow of the Luffy vs. Doflamingo fight, this week is mostly about getting the reactions of the enormous supporting cast. I don't mind too much, though reaction shots are already plentiful enough in this series, so an entire chapter/episode dedicated to them is a little tiring. If you're hungry for plot development, you'll have to wait until another day. It's a good example of how One Piece is not always structured for the weekly audience.

I get that this is a reflection episode where we finally get a breather from all the action and drama. Dressrosa has been such a long arc (oh geez, I didn't realize we hit the hundred episode mark four episodes ago) that a moment to think back on how far we've come feels necessary. The pre-episode recap actually does a solid job catching us up from the beginning. However, reflection on the final battle as a whole gives me mixed feelings.

Dressrosa is easily the longest we've spent on a single island in the series. Usually the sagas that near a hundred episodes are collections of island-hopping escapades with changing locations and casts, but this time we've dug our heels into this one story, and that's ignoring Punk Hazard as the lead-up. Despite its size, Dressrosa had limited emotional peaks. Sabo's return was by far the most invigorating reveal, and Law's flashback was as heartbreaking and wonderful as any of the others in the series, but in the wake of Doflamingo's defeat, there's still a missing piece of catharsis.

For me, that piece rests with Law. I think of him as on honorary Straw Hat at this point, and he is no doubt the emotional heart of this arc. I think I was hoping he would get one of the classic, big ugly crying scenes that One Piece is known for: a moment that shows him at his most vulnerable. Instead, he stays as straight-faced and stoic as ever as he watches the mortal enemy that caused all the pain in his life fall. This is supposed to be the biggest moment of your life, darn it! Shed a tear! Get snot in your nose! I'm honestly baffled as to why we never got a scene like that of any kind.

Our consolation prize is to see Kyros cry instead. I have my gripes about his family's story throughout the arc, but this scene is exactly the kind of stuff I love. It comes at the very end, after he's seen everybody off with a smile. He wanders away to be alone, and then he finally breaks down and sobs as if he's been waiting for the opportunity, keeping a strong face throughout this entire time. It's a wonderful moment where we see a character crying of happiness, but you can tell that there's a lot of hurt and relief fueling the fire. Our old soundtrack friend ‘Overtaken’ gets to direct this scene, so you know it's good.

It's not a great episode, otherwise. As I said it's mostly reactions without any real plot continuation, but it's also padded out with cutbacks to previous episodes, so you know they're saving on animation again. I have to wonder if there's something going on at Toei, since a fairly long string of poor episodes have been airing in a row. I would've hoped they had saved their resources for all this finale stuff, but we're looking at the bottom of the barrel aside from a few standout scenes keeping the whole thing afloat. It's possible that the production of Film Gold may be to blame.

Rating: C+

One Piece is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.com.

Sam Leach writes about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @luckychainsaw


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