One Piece Episode 800
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 800 of
One Piece ?
I was hoping we would get a more polished episode to rein in number eight hundo, but alas I was naive. Last week's episode looked really nice, but there's a lot more trouble this time around as Luffy and Cracker continue their fight. Fourth Gear is already a pretty goofy-looking transformation, but Toei usually does a good job balancing that natural weirdness with its size and power, so I'm sad to see it looking so sorry this week. There's a moment in this fight where Luffy has to use an attack that's supposed to give him the illusion of six arms, but in actual motion it just looks dumb.
I'm going to be pretty tough on anything involving Luffy vs. Cracker in this episode, and that goes beyond just the animation in this case. So in the manga, this fight takes place throughout the entire night. The fight starts, Luffy powers up, Cracker shows his true form, they exchange a bunch of massive attacks, and it's clear that Luffy's going to have trouble with Cracker's seemingly infinite biscuit armors. Then it cuts to some of the other scenes concerning Carrot, Chopper, Brook, etc., finally connecting us to a scene with Big Mom where we realize it's now morning. We're supposed to think "What?! Luffy and Cracker are still fighting?!"
In the anime version, we get to see the sun rise mid-battle, while they're still showing off each others' big attacks. If the scene looked nice and took place at the end of a long tiresome fight, I could go along with a change like that, but it happens while the two of them are just getting started. The sense that Luffy and Cracker have been at it for a comical amount of time is undercut dramatically. The characters and the audience experience time differently, which is a big reason why slow pacing in a show like this doesn't bother me so much, but this is a case of them trying to create the illusion of story progress at the expense of the story's actual intent.
As it has been through a lot of this arc, the art quality looks a bit nicer once we come back to the Vinsmokes' side of the story, or at least it does when we're being treated to those nice thick outlines that seem to pop in and out of the show at random. Other parts of this scene have that same melty look as the rest of the episode. Sanji's other two brothers, Ichiji (red) and Niji (blue), arrive at Germa's castle and we get to see the whole family in one place for the first time. It's also here that we realize that Vinsmokes' aesthetic theme makes them out to be not only sentai rangers, but nazi sentai rangers. I've heard the argument that it's more of a reference to the villain group Shocker from Kamen Rider than actual nazis, but that's splitting hairs.
From there, the episode inches toward one of the more controversial aspects of this arc, which is the topic of Sanji's chivalry and how it's framed. We end with a dinnertime argument between brothers. Niji refuses to finish his plate, and to spite Sanji he calls for the head chef, a woman named Cosette, who Niji humiliates and throws his plate at just before Sanji catches it. In the past, Sanji's cartoonish chivalry has been his vice, often the subject of humor or in the case of the Enies Lobby arc, his major achilles heel. It's supposed to be cathartic that, in this arc with Sanji as the main character, chivalry is finally allowed to be a source of strength, but as this arc goes on, we'll start to see a pattern of female characters who come off like they're written in just to make Sanji look good. It would be a lot easier to cheer if I didn't know what came next.
The arc continues to drag now that the adaptation hasn't been at the usual one-chapter-per-episode speed for months, and it looks like it's just going to keep getting slower. As usual, the impact this has on the experience will vary from episode to episode, but I found this one pretty tiring. I like how the anime continues to sprinkle in little Disney musical moments as we get a new one in the background of Big Mom's scene, but that was the most entertainment I got this week in an otherwise sloppy episode.
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