One Piece Episode 707
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 707 of
One Piece ?
When a flashback goes on for as long as One Piece's are prone to (this most recent one was seven episodes long), you'd think we'd reach a sense of fatigue over them, feeling hungry to get back into the present story. That tends to not be true as the back-ends of these backstories are often incredibly strong and compelling, and returning to the present, especially in this case, means returning to the uphill crawl of the final battle.
In an ideal world, this episode would have been mostly cut from the story, or at least truncated significantly. Nothing happens that we hadn't already seen in the episodes leading up to flashback. Law is fighting Doflamingo, Luffy is fighting Bellamy and the various one-on-one match-ups between the rest of Colosseum fighters and Doflamingo's crew are slowly falling into place.
The goal of this episode was not to develop, but to refresh. Viola stands at a distance, using her clairvoyance powers to spectate and narrate the battle to the others down below. We spend a good amount of the episode highlighting each major player still involved in the fight. You get their name, on what portion of the island their fighting at, what kind of Devil Fruit they have, etc. Since there are a lot of fighters, it makes sense to give the audience an update, especially if they are more casual viewers of the series, but boy does it get old pretty fast.
Out of all the fights, Law and Doflamingo's remains the most important one at this time. There are a few tiny developments here and there as both show off their powers (something about Doflamingo's rainbow colored-strings really pops out at me) and Law starts to get the upper hand and even lands a solid blow with his “Injection Shot” attack. Really, that's about the most significant thing that happens throughout the entire 20 minute episode.
I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that Toei decided the inconsequential refresher episode would also be the one to get the short end of the production stick. The last handful of episodes were looking pretty good, but that's just all the more telling that we'd be getting an episode that looks like this sooner or later. Stiff, low frame-rate animation repeated ad-nauseam and really goofy looking worm's eye views throughout the episode that clearly show somebody is having a tough time drawing perspective shots.
Parts of the episode still hold together, like the tiny bit we see of Luffy's fight, but the difference is very noticeable compared to the last few episodes. There are moments this week where they briefly cut back to what we saw in the last episode and the dissonance between how on-model and nicely colored everything was compared to now just hits you like a ton of bricks.
Due to the nature of Eiichiro Oda's pace with the manga and Toei's need to stay on a certain schedule, episodes like this are inevitable. However, they still contribute to making the show a little worse than it would be without them. I almost wonder if a clipshow alternative would have been more productive in the long run, but hey, all this stuff happened in the manga too, so cutting it wouldn't have gone over too well with fans. Not a good episode, not a necessary episode, but we've all come to expect that once in a while.
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