by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 813 of
One Piece ?
Now that we're slowly wading our way through the real story of Whole Cake Island, the usual concern over how far Toei's production values can carry things rears its head. This is an episode full of ideas that's undercut by sloppy and inconsistent art. Characters will randomly morph into much shinier, more sinewy versions of themselves, and there's the common risk of the female characters' loud, over-sexualized designs drowning out a scene's intended tone. We're entering the phase of the story where it's going to be The Pudding Show for a while, but we can only count on the show's more deft hand to work its magic on her some of the time.
After learning what a hot mess the Vinsmoke family is, it turns out that the Charlottes may be even worse. The Straw Hats' old friend Lola was under the impression that things are square between her and her mother, but that's not how Big Mom sees it at all, swearing that she'll pull Lola's whereabouts out of Nami so that she can track her down and kill her. Lola, the wandering marriage-proposal-spewing pirate, was dishing out the rejection once upon a time, which unfortunately led Mom's most important political marriage into ruins. Lola isn't an active participant in this arc, but it appears as though her time back home left quite the scar.
Thus we return to Pudding, who's implied to be a victim of her mother in a similar way. We flash back to baby Pudding saying goodbye to her big sister Lola, the only member of the family to ever take fate into her own hands and leave. Whether Pudding ultimately feels more sorry for herself or Sanji in this marriage is left vague, since the myriad of upcoming twists are going to leave you with different answers as to her true nature.
Tying everything together this week is the back half of Big Mom and Luffy's phone argument, where all of Big Mom's worst qualities get tested. Her past failure to become King of the Pirates and the way she aggressively dominates her children are the qualities that make her feel like a weak soul, especially with the ever-tenacious Luffy on the other end of the conversation. We have no doubt who would actually win in a fight (Mom), but Luffy's straight shooter attitude continues to make him a great foil for any villain. Big Mom's precious wedding is tomorrow, and now her feathers are ruffled, making her all the more pathetic and threatening.
Big Mom is at her most entertaining when she's angry, since she looks like she's just seconds away from sinking the whole island out of frustration. The last scene of the episode is great as she tries to cheer herself up with the usual Disney musical sing along, but the constant bad news turns the instrumentation sinister and she has to take a seat to simmer down. This episode's execution is at odds with itself, dancing the line between exhilaration and embarrassment. It looks so ugly at times, but I admire its spirit when I'm not distracted by Pudding's badly drawn barbie doll cleavage.
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