by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 818 of
One Piece ?
Last week's episode ended just shy of revealing the next most interesting thing about Pudding: her Devil Fruit powers. Pudding is the wielder of the Memo-Memo Fruit, which ends up being the reason why she can afford to do the classic villain monologue where she reveals her family's evil plan to destroy the Vinsmokes. She's able to put her hand right into Reiju's head and pull out a magical film roll that contains all her memories, which Pudding's free to manipulate. Not only is this fitting of an actress character who can give as many big speeches as her heart desires, but it introduces a new mystery. At what point might this power come back into play? Are there assumptions we've made about the narrative that could turn out to have been a product of her manipulation?
Anime pacing aside, the lead up to this point of the arc has been a straightforward and effective rollercoaster. The heroes win, and then they lose, and then they get a chance to win again. Luffy and Sanji have been going through their respective tough times, but they've still got Brook and Pedro upholding their end of the plan, as well as another surprise ally who finally makes his reappearance by the end of the episode. The majority of our time this week focuses on Brook's continued scuffle with Big Mom, so he's got the toughest challenge of them all.
Since Big Mom is supposed to be so strong, the show spending this much time on her fight with Brook doesn't help sell that monstrous power of hers. Then again, she's also looking to add him to her collection of rare creatures, so she's upfront about holding back. The Charlotte family's treasure room is set ablaze as Brook narrowly avoids getting squashed like a bug, and he gets to condescendingly call her "young lady" because he's technically 22 years her senior. Brook's uncompromised dedication to securing the Poneglyph—he's dead set on accomplishing his mission so that even if Sanji decides never to return to the crew, the Straw Hats' trip to Whole Cake Island will not have been in vain—is one of the coolest character moments we've gotten from him. Mami Koyama's performance as Big Mom also continues to be stellar.
It seems like every time there's an excruciatingly slow episode, the show follows up with something more dense. You've got the aforementioned Pudding and Reiju scene, which looks much better than it did last week, you've got Brook being shockingly suave for a dusty old skeleton, and you've got the final scene where, just seconds before Luffy's arms are finally about to tear right off (it looks so gross), Jimbei arrives to bust his friends out of prison. Luffy didn't even know Jimbei was on Whole Cake Island, so seeing his face light up with excitement melted my heart. Is this it? Are we finally on track to Jimbei joining the crew?!
Our characters came to this island with only two concrete goals: get Sanji and a copy of Big Mom's Poneglyph. If they can accomplish either of those things, there's little reason for them not to just say "toodles" and escape the moment they're in the clear. Our path to those goals is becoming streamlined, since Luffy and Nami are as good as free, Sanji is sure to regret his fight with Luffy after learning about Pudding's true nature, and Brook is mere inches away from that Poneglyph. It's the knowledge that these stories are never quite that simple that gets the imagination flowing. That wedding still has to happen to some degree, and Luffy is going to fight Big Mom face-to-face, right? There's still so much to accomplish, and I can't wait to see some of the upcoming stuff in motion.
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