One Piece Episode 721
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 721 of
One Piece ?
Trafalgar Law is dead, according to the incredibly blunt title of this episode: “Law Dies! Luffy's Raging Onslaught!” Of course, this is One Piece and major character deaths are far and few between, so chances are good the show is pulling our leg. Though, it does raise the question as to what Law's big picture role in this series is. Either he's a main character forever now or he continues to live on until he fulfills some other dramatic purpose.
Before Law “dies” we revisit his most recent encounter with Doflamingo, where he restates the faith that he puts in Luffy and friends. We get a little clip show of all the famous acts of defiance the Straw Hats have committed to the world, reminding us of why Luffy and his crew is so notorious. Law believes firmly that, even if he died, Luffy would find away to take Doflamingo down. This clip show kind of sadly reminds me of how long it's been since we've really felt the stakes of what the Straw Hats were going through. The show is so much more about the world as a whole now, rather than the relationships and determination of the main characters. The experience hasn't been crippled in recent years, but I think it's been too long since we've seen some of those emotional highs.
The episode goes on to reminds us of that the ultimate power of Law's Devil Fruit is the ability to make somebody immortal at the cost of his own life. Doflamingo's best case scenario is to force Law to use this ability on himself. After all, an egomaniac like Doffy could do quite a bit of damage living forever and it gets at least one carrier of the Will of D. out of his hair. Obviously Law gives him the “kiss my ass” response you could expect, prompting Doffy to riddle him full of bullets in a bloody fervor. It's really brutal, and the number of visible holes punched through Law's unmoving body as he lays in a puddle of his own blood is pretty convincing as far as that “he's dead” thing goes.
I'm still pretty hung up on this idea of Law's immortality power. There's no way he isn't going to use it by the end of the series at some point, right? That power is a ticking plot time bomb as far as I'm concerned, but it's strange to think that Oda has set up a Chekov's Gun that inevitably involves a major character dying. I do have a low-key theory that Law will make Luffy immortal at some point way down the line, just as a side-sweep to all those far too obvious theories about Luffy's future Roger-like death, but that's neither here nor there.
So Law is quote-unquote “dead” now and it's up to Luffy to break through the floor and re-challenge Doflamingo, now angrier than ever for how the flamingo man manipulated Bellamy. There's some really neat animation as Luffy makes his grand re-reentrance. I don't know what it is but there's something about Luffy's animation model that feels really “right” within a few of these quick shots. It's stylistically what I want to see more of.
Luffy vs. Doflamingo is a fight I find myself having a lot of yearning for. In an arc this big and a villain this larger-than-life, a satisfying final battle is the least I can hope for. Fortunately, this arc has had a pretty good track record when it comes to animation featuring these two guys at fisticuffs. This episode's main accomplishment is getting Luffy and Doffy face to face once again. At the end, we hear Law's voice whispering mysteriously, signaling that he's (of course) not really dead. Whether he's got some sort of plan up his sleeve or not will have to wait until next week.
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