One Piece
Episode 729

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 729 of
One Piece ?

We've reached another difficult phase in the story when it comes to writing critique. In the grand scheme of things everything's going to run together and build a few good dramatic peaks and valleys, but as far as what we are given here this week there isn't a whole lot to be impressed by. Luffy is officially in recovery mode as he waits for his Haki to return (Fourth Gear drains him of his ability for ten minutes afterwards), meaning that it's up to the good people of Dressrosa to keep him safe from Doflamingo's furious onslaught for the interim.

The “ten minute” timeline causes some unfortunate flashbacks to the days of Dragon Ball Z's Namek arc, when Frieza set the planet to explode after five minutes that got stretched out into several full episodes. This is, whiteout a doubt, exactly that kind of situation here. I'm torn, because I know I wouldn't be satisfied if Luffy beat Doflamingo immediately after the first time he used Fourth Gear, but I'm also groaning a bit because I have a feeling the next few episodes are going to be pretty boring.

The champions of Luffy's recovery are made up primarily of the other scrub colosseum gladiators who weren't interesting enough to be major characters throughout the rest of the arc. These guys' turn to being on Team Luffy is framed as something that's meant to be heartwarming, but again, they're such minor characters that the beat ultimately feels really shallow.

By far the best of these characters is the colosseum announcer, Gyats, who runs away with Luffy on his back. At least with a character for him, a fascination with Luffy/“Lucy” feels genuine, and rooted in scenes from way back towards the beginning of the arc.

Obviously, the gladiators are no match for Doflamingo, since their job was only to provide Luffy and Gyats just enough time to run into Burgess, who finally makes good on his scheming and pounces, only to be stopped by Sabo who swoops in with a pretty tough looking kick. This episode puts most of it's focus on giving the townsfolk a chance to be amazed at the brotherly relationship that the famous pirate and Revolutionary second-in-command have.

This is a fairly mediocre episode across the board, but like most of One Piece, it's elevated by the music. There's a track towards the beginning that I think is relatively new, having been introduced in this arc (correct me if I'm wrong) and there's something that feels so old-timey about it that it's hard not to like. It sounds like something from 30s or 40s Hollywood, which is a good fit for an arc that draw lots of inspiration from classic children's media. The Wizard of Oz has been a go-to movie in my head throughout Dressrisa, vibe-wise.

Every now and then I have to really appreciate how frequently One Piece's library of tracks just work. The shows soundtrack seems deliberately designed so that pretty much and song can be put anywhere in the story and find a way to create chemistry. “Three Towers” also plays in this episode, and has been a prime example of this throughout most of the series.

Music aside, it does get a little frustrating when you just finally get into the big exciting pay-off stuff in the arc, but you know some of the beats have to get dragged out immediately after it. I spent a lot of time getting excited to see Luffy vs. Doflamingo animated, but now I'm ready for that to be done so we can get on to the next arc sooner than later.

Rating: C+

One Piece is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.com.

Sam Leach writes about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @luckychainsaw


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