by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 773 of
One Piece ?
A few hundred episodes ago, there was the Paramount War between the Whitebeard pirates and the Navy. Whitebeard, then one of the Four Emperors, was killed, kicking off the uprising of the traitorous Blackbeard as the new force to be reckoned with. Since the two year time skip where Luffy took a break from piracy to grow stronger, a lot happened in the political landscape of the pirate world. We knew Blackbeard had taken over as the new Emperor, but what happened to the rest of Whitebeard's crew has been a hanging question for a while.
Last week left us with the cliffhanger that Cat Viper was interested in seeking the help of Marco, Whitebeard's 1st Division Commander, in the fight against Kaido. He then elaborates that in the two years of Luffy's absence, Marco and the remainders of Whitebeard's crew did indeed fight with Blackbeard and lost during something called the "Grudge War", thus explaining why Whitebeard's crew seems to have slunk away into obscurity. However, Marco should still be out there somewhere, and if we're lucky, he's still willing to fight alongside some old friends. Thinking about the alliance and the ways that this new, bigger family can grow is a lot of fun, and knowing that Marco and his crew are strong candidates to join the ranks is pretty exciting.
Once again, this episode's main purpose is to hammer out more of the specifics about Luffy and the alliance's immediate plans. While Luffy runs off to Whole Cake Island to save Sanji, the rest of the group has other things to do in preparation for the upcoming fight against Kaido. Cat Viper's going to take this time to get in contact with Marco, while the samurai and much of Luffy's crew will hide out on Wano while they wait for the whole group to return. Nami, Chopper, and Brook - the Straw Hats who did not stick around for the Dressrosa arc - all announce that they'd like to assist Luffy on his trip to Whole Cake Island in the story's attempt to balance the spotlight within its main cast. We're in an era where the crew is almost never whole at this point, thanks to one story dilemma or another, so I'm counting on the eventual reunion of the entire nine person crew on Wano to be especially sweet.
These last few episodes haven't been fantastic looking, and I imagine that they're victim to resources being focused on more dramatic, action-packed episodes like we see in the preview for next week. This last batch of exposition-heavy episodes don't demand a ton of visual polish, but between the awkward pacing and thin production, you do start to feel the weaknesses of this anime adaptation. Next week's episode looks awesome, but I wish they could have condensed the last four or so episodes down just a bit.
The Zou arc nears its climax as Jack returns, using the mighty power of Kaido's fleet of ships to attack the elephant (which is the size of a country), with every intention of taking it down and killing everybody living up top. Story-wise, Jack never managed to assert himself to me as more than one of Kaido's henchmen, despite his massive strength and bounty, so I wouldn't expect a big battle to get drawn out over the next few months. That would be an instant sap of momentum after all the set-up we just got. I remember at this point when reading the manga, I was theorizing the possible death of the elephant, either by its wounds or by old age, and at the very least that's something I still suspect might happen at some point in the series, if not in this arc.
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