One Piece Episode 703
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 703 of
One Piece ?
So One Piece did a surprising thing this week: It actually abridged its own mandatory prologue that it usually sandwiches between the opening and recap. The recap itself was also unexpectedly short on the basis that this week they actually had so much content to provide that they needed to make room to fit it all. For a long-running shonen property with its fair share of pacing issues, this is pretty miraculous.
The cat is out of the bag now that Corazon has revealed the lie of his muteness to our young Law. It turns out that he had deliberately been keeping quiet as a part of his ruse against his brother Doflamingo. Corazon is not a pirate inreality, but rather a party interested in seeing Doflamingo's downfall. His anti-children attitude from before was all an act to scare kids away from joining his brother's crew. As he explains himself to Law, he snaps his fingers and reveals that he has something called the Calm-Calm Fruit. A Devil Fruit capable of creating a bubble of silence that he uses to keep Law's audible surprise from reaching beyond their private alleyway.
So here it is, Law and Corazon share a secret. Corazon explains that Doflamingo absolutely can not, under any circumstances, learn of Law's heritage as someone with the middle initial D. It turns out that the Celestial Dragons have some kind of history with the people of D, raising their children to fear them as a type of boogeyman. Doflamingo in particular has something to fear them for, apparently. At first it appears that Law is not only going to ignore Corazon's wishes, but actually rat him out for trying to pry him away from the man he calls boss. He instead he smugly decides that the two of them are even for the time Law stabbed Corazon in the chest and Cora hid the encounter from his brother.
This is the inciting incident for Corazon's grand gesture: he kidnaps Law from Doflamingo's ship in order to seek out a cure for his creeping White Lead Disease, thus beginning one of the most heartwarming and endearing relationships we've ever seen in a One Piece flashback. Corazon is such a good guy. He sees the best in Law (despite Law's continued rejection of him) and really believes they can find help out there somewhere. It's also revealed that he's secretly been a Commander in the Navy this whole time, which really hammers home how much he really want to make the world a better place (brilliantly juxtaposed with a scene where Doflamingo's henchman Vergo becomes recruited into the Navy as well. I've seen parallels to Martin Scorsese's The Departed being made of this subplot.)
They go from town to town, all across the North Blue, looking for a hospital that doesn't cower in fear and misinformation as to what brings Law's “contagious” illness. This is brought to us in the form of a really spectacular montage, where the sense of desperation, hope and sadness is juggled perfectly with the music. You feel bad enough for Law, who's already long accepted defeated, but then there's Corazon, now being barraged with the possibility that the world really is that rotten.
The heart of this episode relies on the scene where Corazon breaks down and cries as Law pretends to sleep in the middle of the night, overhearing everything. Even at this low point, even when he believes he's talking to himself in private, Corazon can only think of Law and all the pain he must be going through. He has a big ugly cry face, the kind of hyper-detailed expression you expect from a distraught One Piece character, snot running down his nose as Law finally begins to accept his love and sacrifice.
Corazon is one of the most excruciatingly empathetic characters in the whole series. Not only does he care a lot, but we care about him in return. These episodes are just a mountain of details that make him more and more endearing. He's cool, but also a total dork. He can be harsh and tough, but he has an enormous heart (fitting, considering his name.) I love his design. I love the dumb faces he makes. I love whenever he and Law are able to get an emotional or comical reaction out of each other. These two deserve each other and the fact that they end this episode as genuine friends is really beautiful.
Corazon is the antithesis of Doflamingo. A continuation of their father's kindness and a further example of how, whatever is wrong with Doflamingo and his soullessness, it has nothing to do with his upbringing or heritage. It makes the world feel like a better place to know that Doflamingo is just a terrible person by choice. However, we also have to remember that going into this flashback, we knew Corazon would die by his brother's hands. This is a One Piece flashback, after all. Things always get better before they get much, much worse.
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