by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 727 of
One Piece ?
So last week was a monumental episode and I wonder if maybe that got my hopes up for this week a bit too much. We're in the heat of the action so I figured we'd see a few more exciting things as far as Luffy and Doflamingo's mano e mano thing goes. In actuality, we're coming in a little light with the physicality here.
That's not to say there aren't some interesting story developments. In fact, there are two very interesting surprises going on this week: The first one being the nature of Jesus Burgess' presence in Dressrosa. I remember being really excited when Burgess, one of Blackbeard's more memorable crewmates, showed up towards the beginning of the arc. He was after Ace's Flame-Flame Fruit just like everybody else, but his arrival still felt a tad too dramatic for any of the stuff we ever saw him actually do. Now, our dear ole Koala eavesdrops on him talking to himself, muttering something about “getting what he wants” from Luffy and Doflamingo. Since Sabo already claimed the Flame-Flame Fruit, it's hard to imagine at this point what he could possibly be talking about.
The second, most important, story development comes with the reveal of “awakened” Devil Fruits. During their fight, Doflamingo mysteriously turns the ground and the buildings around him into string, giving him greater reach and making the environment itself a weapon against “Bounceman” Luffy. It was surprising to see Luffy be shocked by this, showing an interest and awareness of the normal limitations of a Paramecia-type Devil Fruit. Fruits are supposed to be an extension of the user, and seeing the power transfer onto inanimate objects is an entirely new thing.
Doflamingo claims that this is another stage of Devil Fruit usage. A rare occurrence that allows the user to effect things other than their own body. Though this is yet another way in which Doflamingo is a threatening entity, this revelation serves primarily as a tease for what's to come in the series. We'll probably see more awakened fruits in the future as the Straw Hats move further and further into the New World, and maybe even deal with Luffy awakening his own Gum-Gum Fruit.
I think perhaps we've seen a few different translations on how Doflamingo explains this awakened power, as I don't remember the manga explicitly saying that it always effects things other than the user's body. There were monster Zoan-type Devil Fruit users back in Impel Down who were referred to as “awakened” so I'm thinking maybe different categories of fruit awaken differently. I would love if every awakening was different, really opening up the possibilities for how Oda could expand all the different powers in the series.
As for the rest of the episode, it's a bit of a slog. The main focus this week is on the townsfolk of Dressrosa and their panicked attempts at fleeing the closing birdcage. I think it's the ground-level stuff where the anime really does disservice to the story, since it has to drag it out so much while also doing everything it can to sell it as much tamer than it is.
Dozens of episodes back, these people were all slaughtering each other under Doflamingo's control, but in the anime it never feels like death and violence has much of a consequence. Now that they're free and being inspired by King Riku's rousing speech to the whole country, it also becomes clear that we don't care that much about these people to begin with, at least not enough to justify their screen time.
After an awesome fight episode between Fourth Gear Luffy and Doflamingo, I'm more-or-less done with any of the citizens of Dressrosa stuff. As far as countries-in-need-of-saving go, this is one that I have minimal investment in compared to others in the series. I cared about the people of Alabasta and even Fishman Island a lot more than the people of Dressrosa. That was probably because we had characters like Vivi and Jimbei to connect us to them, but Law is the heart (pun intended) of the Dressrosa arc, while the Riku family are just side players.
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