by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 805 of
One Piece ?
With Sanji's flashback finished and Luffy's battle with Cracker nearing its end, the Whole Cake Island arc is getting ready to change gears, and what's coming next is a wild ride all its own. Twice in a row now, the show has opted out of using that weird narration thing it does between the opening credits and the last-episode recap. It was always redundant filler that caused new content to start at least five minutes into a given episode, and while I don't know if it's gone for good, it would be nice if Toei was thinking about tightening up that part of the show, because that's always been low-key the most frustrating part of this adaptation.
Whether that time was better spent on skippable fluff over stretching the actual content of the episode out even further is another discussion, however. The climax of Luffy's fight with Cracker begins with the discovery that the biscuit soldiers are edible when soggy (easily secured with Nami's weather baton), and what follows is about three separate montages of Luffy chowing down in increasingly comical ways. The repetition along with the cartoonish action doesn't make for a great combo, but it's goofy in a very specific One Piece way as Luffy packs on the carbs and shows off his Wapol-tier chompers. It's a moment of levity after the heaviness of Sanji's backstory, telling us "Okay, you've sat through enough misery. The heroes can start winning again."
From there, we return to Sanji's swollen face being tended to by his sister, making sure he looks like a handsome young man for the sham wedding. One of the more contentious details is revealed here, where Reiju asks Sanji about the origin of his chivalry. The story we're given is that Zeff pounded the "never hit women" value into his cooks. "It's a tradition since the age of the dinosaurs" is the note that the scene ends on, letting it be as simple as that.
Sanji's chivalry is a unique quality among the Straw Hats, and its been a sore spot for fans ever since the Enies Lobby arc where he refused to attack his female opponent, even if it meant putting his friends in greater harm. Not only is that an insulting attitude in the face of the show's assortment of lady villains, but we're told it's something he couldn't overcome even if he wanted to. It's so ingrained in him that he becomes pathetic over it.
But on the flip side, that's also kind of the point. As much as One Piece wants to inspire its audience to get stronger, never give up, and follow your dreams no matter how unlikely they seem, it also wants to teach you about your limitations, something that the Enies Lobby arc revolved around. What makes Sanji unique as a womanizer is that he's not actually trying to push himself on others. That's just who he is, and those values are tied to the most important relationship he's ever had in his life. The further along One Piece gets, the more old-fashioned its gender dynamics become (especially as this arc moves forward) but it's coming from the perspective of an author who's aging with his art. Oda seems fully aware that this is not the story people want to hear, but he's nonetheless submitting the things that are important to him and asking us if we can accept them as part of what makes his world go 'round.
The Luffy vs. Cracker fight is almost over, I swear. It's been a long time coming, especially for a background fight, but sometimes that's just the shonen way. One thing I continue to find noteworthy is how older songs from the soundtrack keep trickling back into rotation after being relegated to episode recaps for so long. This episode ends on our old friend 'Overtaken', almost like we're really watching One Piece or something. There are a lot of little things that the show can do to keep its original spirit alive, and that's certainly one of them. Aside from dragging during healthy portions of the Cracker fight, I found this episode really pleasant and enjoyable. The Sanji/Reiju conversation is such a small scene, but it's also a massive piece to the puzzle when it comes time to engage with the rest of the arc, so it's significant in that regard.
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