One Piece Episode 744
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 744 of
One Piece ?
They're off the island! They've finally left Dressrosa! By my count this arc is now 115 episodes long, which is pretty impressive even by One Piece standards. We can't say we've officially ended the arc and begun the next, since there's one last story beat to take care of, but Dressrosa as a location is now completely behind us.
The episode opens with Luffy and Fujitora's battle being interrupted. The colosseum allies who have been escorting the Straw Hats off the island have taken it upon themselves to put a halt to this while they can, and the giant Hajrudin grabs Luffy out of midair before making a run for the port. It's hinted that these guys have their own agenda with Luffy and friends and don't want a pesky admiral slowing them down.
If I recall correctly, this episode and last made up a single chapter in the manga, hence the extra slowdown in the pacing. Not wanting to let Straw Hat get away, Fujitora moves his enormous cloud of rubble out to the sea, ready to drop it on all the pirates' ships. This sequence is total molasses, taking up at least a third of the episode as we watch repetitive shots of the rubble slooooowly moving away from the island. Though Fujitora seems like one of the good guys among the navy, he's not letting prey escape him that easily.
He does give in, obviously. It's made pretty clear that Fujitora could kill all the pirates on the island if he wanted to, but we've still got at least a few hundred episodes of Luffy's adventure left to follow. He concedes defeat when thousands of citizens of Dressrosa come running to the port, shouting angry threats and trying to get Luffy to return Rebecca (whom he had recently “kidnapped”). Fujitora quickly deduces that they have no genuine malice in their voices, and the charge was a ruse intended to keep the rubble from falling, lest the navy admiral hurt any innocent civilians. He also overhears some chit chat about the adults knowing of Rebecca and Kyros' relationship all along and that they're happy for them, which is just a little bit too cute for my tastes.
The centerpiece of this episode comes at the end: Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hats set foot on Orlumbus's ship and become bombarded with claims of “joining up” and “our army is yours” and so on from the various pirates and military leaders that make up the colosseum allies. Apparently, the various fighters who have been serving as our makeshift crew for the last few dozen episodes have hit it off and joined forces with the intention of serving the Straw Hat crew. The cliffhanger ends with Bartolomeo asking Luffy to drink "the cup of father and sons" with them.
This is a pretty crazy development. One of my favorite aspects of One Piece is seeing the Straw Hat family grow over time. For the most part, it remained about the nine established crew members, but there have always been exceptions with characters like Vivi and Law. What exactly does it mean to be part of the crew? How large can this family get? As of right now, it looks like our favorite pirate crew is about to become 5,600 men strong. I love the crap out of that.
No definitive answer from Luffy is given right now, so nothing is official yet. Otherwise, I can nitpick the slower-than-usual pace we've been getting, as well as the mediocre production values in general. There's a lot of natively low-detail drawings coupled with running scenes involving a lot of choppy animation. This is an important episode, so I was hoping the presentation would be a lot nicer. It's a classic example of an episode with good story content, but nothing to write home about in the execution.
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