by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 806 of
One Piece ?
The Luffy vs. Cracker fight has not benefited from the anime's less-than-one-chapter-per-episode pacing, but I really admire the experience it's trying to take the audience through, constantly shifting between the foreground and background while we watch both combatants get exhausted by each other's near-infinite tricks. Luffy's victory is a satisfying one—it took multiple rounds of Fourth Gear and most of an in-world day for him to finally come out on top of his 800 million bounty foe. Luffy barely defeating a Doflamingo-level opponent is just a stepping stone to facing the challenges of this arc, although knowing Luffy, he'll keep pushing forward despite the overwhelming odds.
It took a lengthy ten episodes to get here, which is far from ideal, but I love how it started in the middle of the night and bled into the next day, allowing us to emerge back into the world with fresh optimism. The method of defeat is also novel, as Luffy combines his big chubby body after eating hundreds of Cracker's biscuit soldiers with Fourth Gear in order to create the massive "Tank Man", which looks equal parts intimidating and stupid. But laugh all you will, because Luffy is sick of this fight and ends it by blowing Cracker across the island in a satisfying, aggressive victory.
Between the end of the fight, the exposition we get about Big Mom's powers, and the setup with the Vinsmokes heading off to meet the Charlotte family, this episode feels uncharacteristically packed. More than that, the general tone is the most distinctly One Piece out of all the Whole Cake Island episodes yet. From the animation to the music, it looks and sounds great, but that's not to say it's overexerting itself. This is the kind of episode that would be average in a better produced show, but it stands out as a breath of fresh air for One Piece, as it revels in its comfortable low-rent Disney tone. There's a very specific feeling that I look for in Toei's One Piece, a feeling they seem largely disinterested in these days, but an episode like this is so back-to-basics that I can't help but imagine the shift is purposeful.
The episode ends with Sanji sternly joining his family as they board the carriage leading them to Big Mom. The atmosphere is tense as we get the contrast between the lavish celebration of Germa soldiers waving them off, and Sanji's bitter expression as he readies himself for his wedding. He doesn't want to be a prince, he wants to be a pirate, darn it! The marketing for the show has been promoting the upcoming Luffy vs. Sanji fight up and down, and the build-up to it in this scene is fantastic.
It's almost indescribable how good it feels to see a One Piece episode that simply feels "right". Independent of the animation or pacing, there's a soul to this production that shines through every now and then, and I'm a total sucker for it. The Whole Cake Island arc is on its last stretch in the manga right now, and this chance to re-evaluate it through the anime after gathering my thoughts puts me right back where I want to be with this show. One Piece is good, you guys.
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