by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 736 of
One Piece ?
It's weird to think that in a series so driven by action and adventure, one of the things One Piece fans look forward to the most is exposition. The usual series structure goes thusly: the Straw Hats end up on an island and get caught in the local drama there for about a year's worth of episodes (or in Dressrosa's case, two or three), culminating in a big final battle that connects us to the political ramifications of our heroes' actions during the post-fight cool down. It's during this cool down period that we also get updates on what many of the other big players in the world are up to, often answering a lot of hanging mysteries.
These post-arc info dumps have become treasured by fans over time. We look forward to them as a reward at the end of each arc's tunnel, and since most arcs usually round out to about a year, we can often feel like kids impatiently waiting for Christmas. I know that I'm particularly excited, because that means I actually have interesting stuff to write about for the next few months.
The info dump begins with a visit to the new Fleet Admiral, Sakazuki (a.k.a. “Akainu”, the Marine who killed Luffy's brother) as he chews out his superiors, the Five Elder Stars. This is enticing for several reasons, mostly because this is the first time we've seen any of these characters in full since the time skip. Also, I find something alarming about seeing Sakazuki in a white suit. It's also interesting to see Sakazuki compete with the Elder Stars, the group that seemingly has final say on all World Government matters. This only highlights further how much the government and the Navy are such a morally ambiguous group, with every significant leader having having such different priorities, yet it's all in the name of making the world a better place.
The biggest piece of info dropped in this exchange, however, is the fact that Kuzan has aligned himself with the Blackbeard pirates in the wake of his departure from the Navy. This was hinted at back at the beginning of Dressrosa but the confirmation still leaves me perplexed. Kuzan has always been my favorite marine, so I'm hungry to learn what he's got up his sleeve. He's always seemed like a good guy at heart, so there's no chance that he intends to side with the likes of Blackbeard for too long.
From there, we get a montage of what the rest of Luffy and Law's supernova peers are up to as they react to Doflamingo's defeat via the newspapers. The most noteworthy of these scenes tie various members of “The Worst Generation” to members of the Four Emperors. Urouge is teased to be having a run-in with Kaido, and Capone Bege seems to be aligned with the Big Mom pirates, being a part of the team responsible for nabbing Caesar Clown away from the Straw Hats. Then there's the Kid, Hawkins, and Apoo alliance, who we learn are targeting Luffy's friend Shanks for his title of Emperor. After several dozen or so episodes of pure fighting, nuggets of information like this feel so refreshing.
Lastly, we get to see Sakazuki turn his ever-burning rage on Fujitora for bowing to king Riku and taking responsibility for Doflamingo's actions on the government's behalf. There have been a lot of parallels to the Alabasta arc in Dressrosa, and this final scene is ripe for comparison. The World Government has always erred on the side of maintaining their image of power. It was this thinking that forced Smoker to take credit for Crocodile's defeat back in Alabasta, but now that that position is being forced onto Fujitora, he's having none of it. There's a scene in the episode where Smoker admires Fujitora's decision, stating that he wouldn't have been able to make the same call, even with the same naval rank.
This episode is about as plain as can be production-wise, but the story content carries it without breaking a sweat. As I said before, we're now in the post-arc celebration/info dump segment of the Dressrosa arc, which means we can likely take a break from worrying about how well-animated the fighting is and just enjoy the story developments as they unfold.
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