by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 712 of
One Piece ?
Community score: 3.5
One of the things that makes this string of fights a little unique compared to past arcs is just how fluidly all the (plethora) of characters can jump in and out of each other's scuffs. I've been describing them as one-on-one fights (and that's ultimately what they boil down to) but that's not wholly accurate to what kind of conflict we've been seeing here. Long story short we have a large team of good guys and a large team of bad guys having at it with an army of Doflamingo's grunts getting caught in the mix. Episodes like this week's show us a lot of flip-flopping between which hero is fighting which villain, with the star attraction being the interactions between the allies.
Bartolomeo and Cavendish have their hands full with Gladius the Pop-Pop Fruit man and his ability to balloon the physical world around him until it explodes (I think I like the other translation, “Punk-Punk” for “puncture” better) but even more so they have their hands full with each other. Yes, with Sanji having been out of the story for almost a year now, we haven't gotten a lot of his sibling bickering with Zoro for a while. Now, we've got a different green-haired punk and a different wannabe Romeo for our friends-getting-petty-and-competitive fix.
The two of them are holding off Doflamingo's men as Nico Robin swiftly climbs her way up the plateau to assist Rebecca and Kyros' fight. There's a really funny moment where Robin winks at Bartolomeo, a Straw Hat fanboy, and he just about dies of happiness. Barto's overwhelming enthusiasm for the Straw Hats has its moments as usual, but easily my favorite thing about this exchange is just seeing Robin being friendly about anything. She's a pretty stoic woman, but in the rare instances where she breaks that posture and gets cheeky or makes a goofy face, it's a genuinely an exciting moment. Robin, you're such a charmer.
Now, I think the detail of Dellinger, the androgynous teen boy from Doflamingo's crew who kicks in heels, suddenly having some kind of fish fin sprouting from his back had been floating around in the background of the last few episodes, and now it's time for the story to come clean. Dellinger is a great example of how tiny details of a single design can have fans speculating the strangest things, and with good reason. Even before the fin sprouted there was an earlier scene where he head butted a guy and the big horns on his hat actually pierced through as if they were… real. There was also a scene during Law's flashback where we could barely see Dellinger as a baby with a cartoon of a fish on his hat.
The reality is unveiled to not be a Devil Fruit, but his actual heritage. Dellinger is a half-human, half-fishman of the “fighting fish” variety. He may be young, but he's is easily one of the most vicious and scary members of Doflamingo's crew, especially when he sprouts his sharp teeth and gouges out a chunk of our friend Ideo's body, getting his mouth all bloody and gross. He's super super creepy but clearly not as creepy as Cavendish's alter-ego Hakuba. Cavendish's Mr. HYDE swoops in, almost out of nowhere, and chops Dellinger down on the spot, marking this episode's mandatory victory.
It's a good thing I was sold very quickly on Dellinger's viscousness, because his sudden defeat comes as a very satisfying left turn. This leaves the final conflict of the episode on Cavnedish/Hakuba, a character who's supposed to be one of the good guys, but currently seems more interested in using his great speed and power to make everybody's day worse as he goes in for the attack against Bartolomeo and Robin.
The last episode threw the pacing of these fights off a little bit, but its strange reconfiguration of events allowed a little bit more to happen this week than what happened in the manga's corresponding chapter. Instead of simply ending at Dellinger's defeat, we get to sit in Hakuba's presence a bit, really milking the intensity and fear he can bring considering he's powerful, evil and probably the fastest guy on the island right now.
If we're going to be spending so much time on these fights, it's a good thing the show is able to mix up the source of conflict every once in a while. Giving one of the good guys an evil alter-ego is a nice way to keep our heroes' hands full in amusing ways as the villains drop one-by-one around them, and the big save moment Robin gets to have at the cliffhanger of the episode is really satisfying too. This is a pretty solid episode across the board. It's not quite as entertaining as the Sai and Baby 5 episode, but all the Dellinger and Hakuba related violence is still pretty fun.
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