by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 775 of
One Piece ?
I'm no expert on what kind of behind-the-scenes conversations the the Toei staff must have with each other about the One Piece anime's pacing. Obviously, they're put in a tight spot where they don't want the story to overlap with the manga (I think we're only 30 or 40 chapters behind at this point, if even that), so I'm willing to extend a lot of patience. Besides, I'd rather One Piece be too slow than too fast.
Most of the time, adapting one chapter per episode works out pretty well for them. The average One Piece chapter is pretty dense and full of parallel subplots to jump around between, so it's rare that a specific scene ever feels too slow beyond extended gags that go on too long. Even within this compromise, however, I wish they could just say "screw it" and condense moments they normally wouldn't to make up the difference later. The episodes lately have been extra slow to a detrimental degree. However, this episode contains a lot of implied filler content, and I was actually surprised at how well thought-out it was. It's a little annoying that the story is still making stuff up to keep us from finally departing the elephant and being on our way to Whole Cake Island, but if filler writing could be this smart and strategic the rest of the time, I bet we wouldn't be too far off from an ideal scenario. (It's also worth noting that a proper filler arc appears to be on the way before we get to Whole Cake Island, which is necessary if they've felt the need to slow down the canon material this much.)
The idea is that Zunesha the elephant has suffered some gnarly wounds from the cannon attacks that Jack launched before his crew got smacked out of the sky. Chopper teaming up with the Minks to treat these wounds (not easy considering the size of the creature) was in the manga, but the "hows" regarding the technical stuff was left to our imagination. How did they get a bandage that size? Where did their boats and pulley system come from? All that stuff was answered in this episode, as the Straw Hats use their unique skillsets to come up with a plan. Everybody pitches in with their powers and abilities in ways that feel genuinely practical and clever. It wasn't like the story was making up problems that only our heroes could solve. It was all perfectly organic, and it felt like the kind of explanation Oda himself would have given if readers had inquired for one of his SBS Question Corners.
The other focal point for this episode is Carrot, who gets a decent amount of attention in this episode. She really admires the crew, and it's implied that she has some desire to head out to sea. This is setting up a surprise that was more blindsiding in the manga (spoilers: she joins the Sanji rescue team for the Whole Cake Island arc), but it also sparked some conversation among my peers. Is this pronounced focus on her implying a long-time role in the series as a result of her popularity? I saw my friend and popular YouTuber RogersBase suggest something along that line, and I got excited by the notion, but ultimately didn't feel like anything about her character in this episode was more significant than what the manga was already giving us. As of right now, it's just more screen time for the bunny girl.
Beyond the Zunesha vs. Jack scene last week, the One Piece anime hasn't looked very good in the past few weeks, and this week is not an exception. It's disappointing to see an episode that clearly had all its ducks in a row in terms of screenplay somewhat fall apart in the production. It's weird for the writing to be my favorite part of a filler-heavy episode. It makes me wonder what this anime could be if they delegated their talent better.
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