by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 778 of
One Piece ?
Life can be tough. Sometimes it's your job to review an episode and feign at least some semblance of professionalism in lieu of a bunch of random keyboard smashes as you struggle to articulate why you like a cartoon bunny girl so much. But sometimes those are just the cards you're dealt.
The last episode left us with the surprise that Carrot had snuck onto the Thousand Sunny in order to join Luffy and friends on their way to rescue Sanji from Big Mom's home turf. Carrot is the resident bunny of the Mink people, one of the combative musketeers serving beneath the Dukes of Zou. She's small, but a strong fighter who's capable of the "electro" powers that the other Minks share. While on Zou, she never got the focus that Wanda did, but now she and Pedro are going to be part of the team, and they're more or less the only Minks we'll interact with for the coming arc.
For the Zou arc - and I felt this way reading the initial manga version - Carrot was just kinda there. She was one Oda-fied furry among many. It's the moment when Carrot appears on the Sunny, where she's got her puffy newsboy cap on and she's sparkling with adventure, that her personality really unlocks. It honestly feels like this is the moment when Oda really figured her out, and boy is she fun. She's a very excitable character who will change between big emotions on a dime, but instead of this being shrill or annoying, it's all really charming.
It also doesn't hurt that her adventure outfit is super cute. I love her and can't wait to see more as the arc goes on.
After the Carrot shenanigans are out of the way, the episode resumes the montage of clip shows that started last week with the Alabasta and Fishman Island revisits. This week, it's an admittedly impressive remake of the Drum Island arc (the currently named Sakura Kingdom has a seat at the Reverie) and more importantly, Chopper's tragic backstory involving the death of his mentor, Dr. Hiriluk. Again, this clip show takes up a little over half the episode, but I was surprised at how well-paced it was. It didn't feel like a ton was being cut out or abridged. This is such a cherished story from the classic days of One Piece, so it's nice to see it done with a lot of care. On top of that, we also follow up on the former king of Drum, Wapol, who's preparing for the Reverie himself to represent his new country: Evil Black Drum.
The most surprising thing here is that they actually animated (however limited) Wapol's cover story from the manga. The anime gave up adapting these stories a long time ago, little bonus narratives that follow characters we haven't seen in a while via the covers of each chapter, so this was a real delight. The cover stories are kind of strange beasts in terms of how much fleshing out they do or don't require, so I thought they found a perfect chance to catch us up on why Wapol's where he is now, through what's essentially a little slideshow that balances minimalistic-yet-effective movement with the sequential visuals of the manga. I was pretty impressed by the sequence.
I was really surprised at how much I liked this episode, since it's mostly another clip show, but in reality it's so much more than that. There's a lot of great story content sweetening us up before we arrive on Whole Cake Island, between all the fun Carrot stuff and the final revelation via the newspaper that the Revolutionary Army's headquarters has been found and destroyed by an unknown force. This is an episode that's carried both by great (however sparse) manga content and incredibly well-executed filler. I had a really great time.
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