One Piece Episode 769
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 769 of
One Piece ?
There's a misconception that One Piece is a series that's meant to go on forever. Part of the appeal of the series to me is that it does have an inevitable end point. Once Luffy reaches the final island and claims Gold Roger's treasure, that's the finale. Everything in this series is about inching closer and closer to that ending, albeit via an incredibly long-winded course. We know that the Four Emperors are the end bosses, and we know that the adventure eventually has to come to an end. It'll be massively bittersweet when it does, and I can't think of another high fantasy franchise this ambitious in its attempt to tell the biggest story ever told. That's the mission statement of the series, to be more epic than anything that's come before.
That B down below comes with a a few caveats; I feel it's necessary to say that this episode features one of the coolest and most interesting surprises the story could dish out. The story content in this episode is fantastic, but it's the production that leaves a lot to be desired. First of all, we drag out the first half of this episode too much with the crew's hijinks upon meeting Raizo, the hideous ninja friend that this whole arc has been about. The joke is that we've been expecting this super cool ninja dude, but in reality he looks so bizarre that it even breaks our main characters' hearts. Even the famously cold and stoic Trafalgar Law is disappointed that real ninja aren't as cool as popular culture makes them out to be. (Also, it's hilarious that there even is a popular culture in the One Piece world.)
The problem lies with the incredibly flat episode direction. Like, it's day-old-room-temperature-soda flat. There's no drama or style in the pacing or animation, it's incredibly workmanlike from start to finish. Stuff like this is to be expected on a show that runs all year long, but this was a chapter from the manga that I was really looking forward to seeing in the anime. Also, when we get into the latter half, the episode adopts a weird look where all the characters have little highlight accents (even on clothes) and suddenly they look like off-model, melting wax figures. Very disappointing execution here.
So production aside, this episode's story is a doozy. Along with Raizo, the Minks have been hiding another secret that changes everything for our main characters: a special red colored Poneglyph, foreign even to Robin. She can still read it, but it provides very different information than the ones she's been translating so far. The story goes, as Cat Viper and Dogstorm explain, that there exist four of these "Road Poneglyphs", and each provides the coordinates to a different island. When these four islands are located, their relationship to each other points to the coordinates of the final island itself, Raftel. Up until now, our crew's only path to the supposed final island has been to follow the Log Pose and hope that it leads them to the treasure, but only Roger's crew had ever made it that far, so there was no way to be sure.
This is crazy because it signals the end of the series in a much more clear and defined way than we've ever gotten before. Sure, it'll probably take another decade for the Straw Hats to locate all of these Road Poneglyphs and fight their way out of whatever scenarios they fall into, but there's something incredibly eerie about it being laid out in simple terms like this. From this point forward, Luffy's fights with the Emperors, his search for the Road Poneglyphs (thankfully he manages to have the only living person capable of translating them on his crew) will all be about connecting us to the end of the story. Still, it's not gonna happen easily, and it's definitely not going to happen without the world being torn inside out by all the major forces we will face in the future.
One Piece is going through some changes. As good as Eiichiro Oda is at drawing things out, he knows the importance of bringing this story to an end one day. I look forward to seeing what kind of world-changing battles that episodes like this plant the seeds for, and as much as it hurts to imagine One Piece ending in theory, I wouldn't be satisfied if it didn't manage to hurt a lot in practice. I want this series to mess me up so bad.
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