One Piece Episode 787
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 787 of
One Piece ?
Well, my high on the recent One Piece anime content could only last for so long. I knew it was bound to happen soon enough, but for the first time in a while, we got an episode that's just all around not-great. The story's still fine, but it's a stepping stone between much greater things, and the noticeable dip in production values isn't doing it any favors.
Last week, the audience was given a proper introduction to Big Mom, the big bad of the Whole Cake Island arc and one of the Four Emperors of the New World. However, the Straw Hats have yet to meet Big Mom themselves, instead getting introduced to Big Mom's daughter and Sanji's bride-to-be, Charlotte Pudding. Pudding is a sweet, attractive young woman who isn't presented as a villain, just another victim of her mother's whims. The biggest piece of information in this episode is the exact size of Big Mom's family/pirate crew: 39 daughters and 46 sons between 43 husbands. Big Mom has plenty of powerful underlings who are not related by blood, but the major members are her children, and they're all available to get married off for whatever political reasons Big Mom may desire (such as the Vinsmokes' military power).
Pudding's specific situation is a mystery, as there are plenty of reasons to suspect she may not be as genuine as she appears. This intrigue is deliberate given everything we've known about Big Mom up until now, and there are plenty of reasons to lean one way or the other. Pedro seems to think she's suspicious, but maybe that's a red herring? This will go on to be a major theme in the arc, where each character's true allegiance is impossible to predict. As it stands, Pudding is a delightful person who seems to be falling in love with Sanji, despite wanting to help him reunite with his crew. She knows he wouldn't be happy in a forced marriage, so she's willing to sacrifice her little crush to save him.
The animation in this episode is one of its two major weaknesses, the other being the fact that the majority of the episode centers around one drawn-out conversation between the Straw Hats and Pudding. It's alarming when they cut to another scene of Sanji preparing to confront his family, where the art quality ramps up drastically. These past few episodes are full of evidence pointing to animation teams with drastically different techniques and resources being delegated to specific characters and settings. I'm sure that's a common practice in anime, but rarely is it so jarring as it has been here. The bulk of this episode looks pretty bad, with everything looking flat and lifeless at best and the characters' eyes failing to point in the right direction at worst.
The episode does end with a solid cliffhanger though, as the Straw Hats return to their ship with fresh instructions from Pudding on how to get to Totto Land's main island undetected. Their temporary ally, Pekoms, is nowhere to be seen, having scratched a "turn back" warning for them into the walls of the ship. Luffy's response? "Things are getting exciting!" We're on to "act two" of the Whole Cake Island arc, where the anime adaptation is at its greatest risk of disappointing. Next week's episode looks fine, and I don't begrudge the occasional dud like this week's episode, but it's enough to make you sweat a little.
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