One Piece Episode 785
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 785 of
One Piece ?
With all these Shonen Jump shows that I'm reviewing, the topic of pacing is unavoidable. This is a genre infamous for unfolding at a painfully slow rate, and as time goes on, the number of different ways that a show can be slow becomes more and more apparent. Reviewing can be tricky, since something that bothers you in one case might not bother you in another. One Piece is so slow at the moment that it's pretty much all anyone can talk about. Even after hundreds of episodes, this still feels uncharacteristically sluggish (operating at slightly less than a manga chapter per episode), and yet it's still not bothering me. Partly, it's because I'm sure it'll readjust soon enough, but another part of me is simply nostalgic for a time when I could watch something paced like this and think nothing of it.
We're three episodes into the Whole Cake Island arc, and only by the end of this episode have the Straw Hats actually landed on shore. The rest of the time has been spent catching back up with Sanji, and then Luffy and the gang meeting two of Sanj's family members in Reiju and Yonji. We ended last week's episode with concern over Luffy's well-being after succumbing to a poisonous fish whose potency can overcome even Luffy's above-average resistance. Starting the arc like this makes you worry that this is the classic put-Luffy-out-of-commission cliché that the show has executed numerous times, but the problem is immediately solved as a way of showing off Reiju's powers.
Speaking of Reiju, her character is something of a dangerous weapon on the show's behalf. I can't imagine a world where she doesn't become one of the go-to hot babes of One Piece, and the fact that she's basically just a pink-haired female Sanji in a daring Super Sentai outfit is bound to summon all sorts of crazy feelings for fans to sort out. As of right now, she appears to be a much friendlier face than her brother Yonji, and she even uses her poison powers (Devil Fruit? Something else?) to suck face with Luffy and feed off his ailment, which just so happens to be her favorite meal. It's too bad Luffy was unconscious and will be unable to remember receiving his first drawn-out, sloppy, melodramatic kiss.
This episode does a good job fleshing out how the various groups relate to each other, just to drive home how many different ways there are for this story to go. We've got the Straw Hats who want to bring Sanji back, we've got the Vinsmokes who want to see Sanji married off so they can pool their military might with Big Mom's, and we've got Pekoms who works for Big Mom but is momentarily indebted to the Straw Hats. Things aren't dramatic enough for these characters to be at each other's throats yet, but all of their intentions are clear, so they all know who stands where if they have to confront each other later. The main question is how long will Pekoms remain friends with the Straw Hats before they have to go back to being enemies?
The episode does end with them finally arriving on land, and the first thing that really hit me was the awesomeness of the new color palette. There are a lot of subtle ways in which the animation quality has possibly worsened over the years, but ever since the time skip, there's been a noticeably higher attention to the atmosphere of colors. It's hard to say exactly when they started to up their game, but things have been especially strong since Zou. We're now in Whole Cake's governing region of Totto Land, and the cotton candy sky of soft blues and pinks makes for a pretty cool afternoon sunset. Everything pops, and even Eiichiro Oda's overbearing sense of color gets reined in.
Things have been moving slow, but we're also about to get bombarded with significant character introductions over the next few episodes, so I haven't found this build-up suffocating. This week was all about Reiju, and next week is looking to give us a more thorough look at Big Mom and Pudding. I hope it gets back on more regular pacing soon, I'd even be up for a strategically placed mid-arc filler if it had to go there, but for now, the beginning of a new story arc has me invested enough to give it the benefit of the doubt, especially if the players continue to be this interesting.
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