by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 747 of
One Piece ?
I'm trying to think of another fandom that makes as much of a hubbub out of a new opening than One Piece. I'm sure part of it is that the OP only updates after a year or so, and there are a lot of expectations compared to the more memorable openings of yesteryear. Unfortunately, I think the odds tend to be stacked against Toei these days when it comes to delivering something satisfying.
Opening 19, “We Can!” comes from the band Kishidan, as well One Piece mainstay Hiroshi Kitadani, and the song itself is pretty awesome. I love the big “We Can! You Can!” chanting toward the end as it previews the upcoming story beats. It feels so perfectly One Piece, and it's frustrating that it doesn't get to be a part of a tighter opening overall. Also, can we cut it out with defaulting to the Straw Hats' Fishman Island outfits in every piece of promotional material? It just looks tacky.
Otherwise, thus begins the first filler arc in over a hundred episodes. I'm not going to moan and groan over receiving filler, since the main story's pacing has been so slow lately that we kind of need it. The comment thread on these reviews is packed with opinions on One Piece's release schedule and stingy filler practices, so I don't need to add too many more. How many other fan bases do you see arguing for filler? Not many.
This is the Silver Mine arc. After a super-funny opening scene where the crew marvels at the Barto Club's ineptitude as a pirate gang, the story transitions into the beginning of the arc, where a candy-themed crew of mysterious women attack the ship, kidnapping Luffy and Bartolomeo together. They haul them off to the titular Silver Mine, where Bartolomeo's hands are glued to a pickaxe for manual labor (he can't use his barrier without crossing his fingers), and Luffy is stuck behind bars with his body inside some kind of giant metal ball.
The mine is led by a man named Bill, who has united many crews under the Silver Pirate Alliance, with the goal of doing nothing of particular specificity. All he ends up talking about is “defeating our rivals” and being a group of unbeatable pirates. They have been hunting down powerful enemies and encasing them into metal statues as a result of Bill's Smelt-Smelt Devil Fruit. Bill is presented as a charismatic and cool guy with a crowd of followers cheering his name, thanking him for believing in them.
So far the Silver Mine arc seems to be playing out as a greatest hits of One Piece's more memorable filler arcs. The Silver Mine itself reminds me a lot of G-8 (the only 10/10 filler arc I think any anime has ever run), with its stronghold-type setting and alternation between indoor and outdoor locations. The group of villains with a bounty-hunting focus also reminds me of the Ice Hunter arc, though this crew of baddies are still technically outlaws as well.
Everything is about as average as you'd expect. One Piece filler arcs are rarely outright bad, just usually much more plain than the stuff written by Oda. The most interesting thing about this episode is that it's a slight rebranding for the One Piece anime, as it steers focus more toward the “Four Emperors Saga.” We got a new Kitadani opening, as well as a new set of eye-catchers for the commercial breaks, which I did not expect. It's neat to see them go back to the Wanted poster theme and their apparent willingness to display non-Straw Hat characters there.
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