One Piece Episode 753
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 753 of
One Piece ?
Oh man, it feels good to be a One Piece fan sometimes. I don't think of myself as a person with especially high standards for animation quality or direction of each anime compared to others shows airing, but I do think there is a difference between an episode that respects the property and an episode that treats it like a commercial product. So on that note, episode 753 fills me with a lot of optimism.
Last episode, we finally encountered the traveling “island” of Zou, a living, breathing, giant elephant that has been roaming the New World for over a thousand years. Sanji's half of the Straw Hat pirates are up on top somewhere, and now it's time for Luffy and company to reunite with them after they split early on in Dressrosa. Their mode of transportation? The living drawing Ryunosuke, courtesy of Kanjuro's Devil Fruit. The majority of this episode is focused on the climb up the elephant's leg, a scenario that is granted immense scale throughout the journey. Even when the Ryunosuke crew is a speck on the screen, we still can't see the edges of that leg.
This climb is slow and not especially eventful, but holy crap is it beautiful. After some time, the sun begins to set and the entire episode is cast in a breathtaking combination of blues, purples, and oranges. I'm trying to think of the last time One Piece ever attempted to feel this atmospheric. There's a shot of Ryonosuke climbing, sans music, that really looks fantastic as we just get a breathtaking view of the aforementioned sunset. I got butterflies in my stomach, just feeling so happy to see the anime once again try in ways I had started to lose hope on.
Most of the episode doesn't even strike me as especially high production. The animation looks average, with a few notable exceptions, and I would even nitpick some of the off-model stuff, but that color palette goes such a long way regardless. One Piece arcs have always tried to capture their own unique color scheme in the anime, and if the Zou arc plans to stick with this blue/orange thing, then it could easily be my favorite yet.
Story-wise, there are a few noteworthy things. First, Ryunosuke is a total trooper. Right up front, this little dragon doodle guy is portrayed as the ultimate woobie. He tries so hard to fulfill his given task, and yet he seems to be in some kind of existential pain the whole time. When they finally reach the top he turns back into a drawing, and the crew cries and thanks him in an overdramatic way. Robin especially seems to have grown attached to him, fawning over how cute he is the whole episode in one of those perfect character-breaking moments for her.
Second, we do finally reach the top and begin to explore the rundown remnants of civilization that they find. The top of the elephant is a sight to behold, with an enormous forest and even cities to discover. The land is not uninhabited, however, as a pair of Minks (animal people like Bepo from Law's crew) attack and stall our heroes from traveling further. The episode ends with a dog woman arriving on the scene riding a giant alligator. The dog-Mink happens to be wearing Nami's unmistakable bikini top and jeans combo, raising fear that something bad must have happened to her and the rest of the crew on Zou.
It almost feels weird to say, but the colors are far and above what has me the most excited about our upcoming adventures on Zou. My first and foremost thought when critiquing the anime is always to ask myself “would this have grabbed me if I was channel flipping when I was fifteen?”, and this episode definitely would have convinced me to watch more. We get a nice little complete story with Ryunosuke, along with the freshest sense of adventure I've felt in this series since at least the beginning of Dressrosa. One Piece is a very important show to me, so it makes me happy to see the anime do its audience proud.
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