by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 728 of
One Piece ?
Fourth Gear lovers rejoice as the action picks back up with our new Bounceman Luffy continuing to wale on Doflamingo as the two trade blows and flex their Devil Fruit-y muscles. The fighting here manages to stay swift and exciting as it carries us through the first part of the episode. Luffy's Haki-infused face as he headbutt's Doffys stomach got a bit of an uncomfortable laugh from me, as it makes his new transformation even scarier looking than it already was.
The action is packed into roughly the first third of this episode, culminating in Luffy's “Leo Bazooka” attack that sends Doflamingo flying into a crater. The unanimous reaction from all the watchers-on is “I can't believe it! Doflamingo has been defeated!”, but we all know it can't possibly be that easy. I'm a little bummed that we even got that exclamation at all, since traditionally that's been the series' way of informing the audience, without ambiguity, that villain has finally been taken down (since the series opts for beating the villains unconscious over any definitive deaths). However, that's proven not to be the case by the end of the episode, not that it felt like it could be over that quickly anyway.
While we wait for Doflamingo to pull himself back out of the rubble, Luffy bounces around, being admired by the townsfolk of Dressrosa. A little too much time out of this episode is spent watching Luffy bounce in place (his new form doesn't allow him to stand still) while he waits for his adversary to start the fight back up. Gives us just a little too much breathing room to think that maybe, just maybe, Fourth Gear is a tiny bit more stupid than it is cool.
Luffy listens to the townsfolk yammer on, discussing who this mysterious, bouncy muscle man could be. Most of them correctly deduce that this man is the pirate, Monkey D. Luffy, as well as the gladiator who disguised himself earlier in the series as “Lucy”. However, in the middle of all this, Luffy's power-up runs out of juice and he deflates into a tired shriveled up version of himself. Man, if his power had a limit you'd think Luffy wouldn't let Toei kill so much of his precious time!
Anyway, the biggest shocker of this episode comes with Burgess's eagerness to attack Luffy in this weakened state, shouting that he's off to steal the Gum-Gum Fruit. This is super interesting because it raises so many questions about what the Blackbeard pirates are up to and capable of. When Blackbeard stole Whitebeard's Devil Fruit, it seemed possible that it was a result of his own Dark-Dark powers. If Burgess has the power to steal a fruit from somebody without his captain being present, then what exactly is going on? Do they have some kind of special device? Or is it simply about killing Luffy in hopes of nabbing the resurrected fruit that grows in his wake?
We probably won't be finding out any time soon, as Doflamingo finally decides to stop resting about and re-emerges into the city. Relatively speaking, I feel like we got through the first phase of the Fourth gear fight pretty well. Even though I'm fatigued as hell of Dressrosa, I would have been disappointed if the fight was over that quickly. Giving his Fourth Gear a time limit and then forcing a recharge state seems like a pretty obvious move, but it's the right choice in terms of giving the fight a good ebb and flow. Luffy is now totally vulnerable and it's up to the story to keep him safe just long enough for him to deliver the final blow.
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