One Piece Episode 801
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 801 of
One Piece ?
The Luffy vs. Cracker fight takes a step back from being the star attraction to being the B story, as Sanji continues to interact with his family. I had an issue with how the anime decided to interpret the length of their fight last week, when they transitioned the fight into the daytime, but seeing Luffy then deflate from his use of Fourth Gear and struggle to hold himself up in his paralyzed state, knowing that his fight isn't nearly close to over, does a good job conveying that sense of exhaustion anyway. There's going to be a lot of Vinsmoke content in the coming episodes, and Luffy will have to survive long enough for that part to resolve itself, even though his biggest power-up has worn off.
We're not speeding things along any time soon, but thankfully they're killing time this week with some re-animated flashbacks to Sanji's history with Zeff, instead of continuing to take half a chapter's worth of content and spreading it all out over twenty minutes. At least this way, people can skip this part of the episode if the Zeff story is still fresh in their memory or revisit it if it's still a favorite. It's another one of those cases where the newer animation style just can't sell that original griminess, offering a version that feels lacking in physical detail. I even went back to the old version to compare, and while the drawings are still technically similar, the soul is unquestionably different.
Outside of the flashback (which is roughly half the episode), Sanji continues to deal with his family. One of the more exciting moments comes when Niji tries to kick Sanji but has to stop himself, yet there's still an explosion of wind that erupts. The follow-through of the feint feels massive, and we get a sense of how strong Niji is compared to Sanji. This comes as a result of Sanji being friendly to Cosette and eating the food Niji threw on the ground. It's a nice callback to when we first met Sanji and learned how sincere he was about his "never waste food" attitude.
There's a very small amount of new story content in this episode, mostly the continuing Cracker fight and learning what Sanji's father thinks of a man like Zeff stuffing unhelpful values into his son, since Judge has always been about whatever makes the strongest soldier above all else. Animation-wise, it's acceptable, but the moment-to-moment scene direction is far more cohesive than it was last week, although there's a much smaller variety of stuff happening here.
The pacing remains between a rock and a hard place since Toei's probably waiting for Whole Cake Island to end in the manga before they can reliably plan for the next filler arc. Their choices are to either stretch things out uncomfortably or continue doing this re-animated flashback thing, which is tricky in its own right because this arc has a plethora of new Sanji-related flashbacks already, and they're all being told out of order. It's a lose-lose scenario.
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