One Piece Episode 802
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 802 of
One Piece ?
I already had a problem with the One Piece manga introducing the character of Cosette just so Niji could show off how evil he is by beating her up. It's definitely shocking, but how on earth could you be comfortable with something like that? It's not like it's imperative to the story that we learn what a bad boy Niji is to begin with. We already know.
But it turns out that I'm not a big fan of the anime toning the violence down, either. In the manga, it's brutal. Cosette's bloody, swollen face is one of the most striking and violent panels of the Whole Cake Island arc. The anime has been known to lessen the bloodshed in certain scenes, but we've also seen it commit to moments that have surprised me, so I never know what to expect when it comes to adapting the darker parts of this series. In this version, the anime keeps Cosette's face off-screen, focusing much more on Sanji as he grits his teeth in seething anger. The fact that the violence feels so impersonal is the most disappointing part. They went so far as to show the moment before, when Niji approaches Cosette later that morning just to make it that much creepier, but this whole episode has a very arm's length feeling to it.
All of that is on top of how ugly it looks. The production values are currently bottoming out, which usually means we're on the verge of a massive up-swing in quality, but this is still one of the worst looking episodes of the arc yet. Everybody is falling off-model, body language is stiff and unnatural, and the molasses pacing is not helping any of it. We keep cutting back and forth between the Cracker fight and the Carrot and Chopper mirror world shenanigans, but that's ultimately the same bunch of repetitive time wasting we've been seeing the past few episodes. It's a bummer.
From there, the story moves to the revelation about how the Germa 66 army works. It turns out that Sanji's father was once a brilliant scientist and a peer of the infamously elusive Vegapunk, (which would also make him a peer of Caesar Clown, perhaps?) and it turns out they've discovered the secret to DNA cloning, thus the hundreds of powerful men growing in test tubes in Germa's basement. You can definitely see the value in Big Mom and the Vinsmokes pooling resources. There's also some emphasis put on Sanji's discomfort and disbelief of the situation, but coming off the Cosette stuff, it feels like such an extraneous element to add to the story. The direction here is very lifeless and matter-of-fact.
I really hope the quality upswing for the anime is coming soon, because this is not a great time for One Piece. I was already lukewarm on this part of the arc in the manga, but the adaptation quality is especially poor right now. You can feel how thin the production is being spread, and it makes me very sad whenever it gets like this, because I love this show and I want to see the best in it, but that's just not happening this week.
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