One Piece Episode 803
by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 803 of
One Piece ?
Luffy vs. Cracker is a fight with an interesting shape to it. There's some funkiness going on in how it translates to the anime, since they're animating a lot of content that was off-screen in the manga, but the idea of an exhausting, uphill battle that Luffy has to overcome just so he can reunite with Sanji and continue the rest the arc is a good one. The real danger comes with the inclusion of Fourth Gear, which can only last so many minutes in a fight that takes hours. This episode opens with Nami and a deflated Luffy doing their best to keep the fight going despite their incredible disadvantage, and the sequence is well animated with a lot of expressive movement. It looks great.
But the real meat as always rests with the Sanji stuff, where we enter the newest and most thorough flashback regarding his childhood with the Vinsmokes. The focus is mostly on the bullying that his brothers dished out, as well as his father's disappointment in him since can't keep up with the intense superhuman training that the kids are put through as a result of their genetic modifications. Sanji's modifications never held, so he's a regular human among pseudo cyborgs, which makes it that much more satisfying that present-day Sanji's going toe-to-toe with them in strength.
Since this is the beginning of a flashback, the most gut-wrenching stuff is still to come. Seeing Sanji fight his brothers in the present while they beat on him in the past is effective, but we've seen that quite a few times in this arc by now. It's the little moments that shine in these backstories, like Sanji's turtle friend that his brothers feel the need to kick around, or Judge firmly establishing how reprehensible he can be. Sanji's parents are interesting because there seems to be this whole other story there that we've barely scraped the surface of. Judge is a garbage dad, but his awfulness seems to be in service of something. He's got a dream he's trying to accomplish.
This episode has all the feeling in it that I want from One Piece. It's active and awake during the fights, and calm and sensitive during the flashbacks. The art and music come together really well, making this one of the more appealing episodes in recent weeks. We're in "I wish the anime was like this more often" territory once again, and I couldn't be happier. The Cracker fight could easily be overstaying its welcome if you're experiencing this through the anime for the first time, but of all the Cracker-heavy stuff lately, this week is pretty strong. That, combined with the great Sanji flashback and an overall energy to the episode, makes this a good one in my book.
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