One Piece Episode 799
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 799 of
One Piece ?
The one hurdle that I think Whole Cake Island is going to struggle with until the end is that it's really hard to nail that "Oh no! A Straw Hat might leave the crew!" trope that the series has done so well in the past. I'm reminded how badly I want to be on the edge of my seat as Luffy and Cracker fight, exchanging banter over whether Sanji would ever want to sail on a pirate ship again after being promised a life of luxury among royalty. Luffy argues against this, and I wish it could feel more cathartic as he does because come on, how could anybody ever feel the suspense at this point?
I say this because otherwise Luffy vs. Cracker is a great fight. Last week got us going, but this week we barrel forward into a well-directed episode full of animated character acting from both combatants and some fun twists to the battle. Luffy unleashes Fourth Gear for the first time since Dressrosa, and we all remember how much of a last ditch effort that was with its dramatic cool-down phase. Cracker is that level of an opponent, being one of an Emperor's top generals and all.
I also like the mild scenery change that we get as the fight takes them to the outskirts of the Seducing Woods, where they bump up against the wall of Whole Cake Chateau. There's a clearing with a little Hansel and Gretel house that they get to smash into as the fight goes through its ebb and flow, before Luffy smashes Cracker back into the woods with his new power-up. The best part, however, is when Luffy's attack seems to break Cracker in half, and we discover that the large-bearded man we've been fighting this whole time was just a suit of armor for the real Charlotte Cracker, who's got a much leaner (and in my opinion, cooler) design. Cracker's been so good at hiding his true persona that even the Navy's wanted poster of him only shows his armor, none the wiser.
Cracker has a "Biscuit" Devil Fruit that allows him to summon a seemingly infinite amount of carb-heavy materials and shape them however he wants. This means that the armor that Luffy had been struggling with so much can be one of many, piling on the excitement as we wonder how Luffy could possibly fight his way out of this. A shonen hero never giving up is a cliché, but I've always loved how much One Piece makes you feel it.
In general I would describe this as a very pretty episode. We cut back to Sanji and Reiju, and all that stuff looks great, but I did find myself chuckling at the on-the-nose visual metaphor that the anime included, where Sanji is admiring a butterfly that flutters away the second he's reminded of the bomb cuffs around his wrists. Nice try, guys. Very subtle.
My Hero Academia has really raised the bar for me when it comes to looking solid and on-model at its worst and mind-blowing at its best, so when a One Piece episode makes me say "I wish this is how all One Piece episodes looked!" I have to pause because even that height isn't quite up to snuff compared to other modern shows. It's still true though, and when we do occasionally get an episode of One Piece that has that extra bit of pulse, all is right with the world.
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