One Piece Episode 788
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 788 of
One Piece ?
I assumed that we were back on a one-chapter-per-episode pace, but it didn't dawn on me last week that the tease of Sanji's next two brothers was meant to be much meatier than what we got. This week, we get the proper introduction of Ichiji and Niji, the red and blue rangers of the Vinsmoke family. This is a pretty cool scene as we watch these two and their Germa 66 army cleanly win a war that had been raging for years on a distant island ("Brock-collie Island." Get it?) The Vinsmokes and their military nation act as super powerful mercenaries for hire, and there's a lot of grey area as we don't know enough about either warring nation to find sympathies, despite all the blood and tears coming from both sides. Whoever the "good" or "bad" teams were, the Vinsmokes just wiped out one of them, and now they've got a wedding they have to get to.
The general sluggishness of the Whole Cake Island arc so far is at its worst yet in this episode, as we're only just now getting what should have been last week's big stinger as the opening scene, and the most exciting stuff about this week's corresponding manga chapter has been pushed back to next week. In the meantime, we get an extremely stretched out encounter between the Straw Hats and a giant sea centipede as they're interrupted on their way to get back Sanji.
This episode is saved thanks to the fact that it simply looks much nicer than last week's messy attempt. I love the way Luffy looks in the episode, as if he just jumped straight out of one of the recent One Piece movies and into the centipede's now-footprint stamped face. It also helps that the Straw Hats hanging out on the Sunny tends to be a lot more fun than sitting in a room talking to Pudding. It's unfortunate that even after a short sprint of filler, the anime's story content is still uncomfortably close to the manga's, and thus slow pacing like this is probably going to have to continue. Thankfully the arc thus far has been entertaining enough that it doesn't bother me too much, but now we're past the point where I can calms anybody's worries. It looks like it's going to stay this slow for a while.
From the looks of things, it appears as though we've taken two chapters of the manga and are breaking it into three episodes of the anime, which isn't a death sentence on its own but it has impacted the final scene of this episode in a really unfortunate way. The episode ends with us cutting back to Big Mom, who's now in the midst of a hunger pangs rampage that can only be calmed by her desired meal of the day: some delicious croquembouche. Even her own underlings and children are terrified of her when she's in rampage mode, knowing that the only thing that can stop her kaiju attack on the city is getting her croquembouche. She's not above killing anybody who gets in her way and we see her putting her Emperor level strength to good use.
This is another scene that's stretched out uncomfortably long, and anybody who's read the manga knows that it stops just before it gets to the most interesting part. Since her rampage has nothing to do with the Straw Hats at the moment, ending on a cliffhanger of "what's mama going to do next?!" is not as effective as the way this scene will actually conclude next week. It's an awkward way to end an episode that was already starved for content.
Slowness and iffy structure aside, the most filler-tastic stuff of this episode with the elongated fight between the Straw Hats and the centipede is actually the most entertaining. It's one of those cases where just seeing the main characters do their thing in a relatively nice looking scene is enough for me to enjoy. This episode could have been a lot better if it looked this good while also moving the main story along, however. That's the way the ship sails, I guess.
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