by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 827 of
One Piece ?
Last week gave us a stylish and dramatic tease for what the meeting between the Straw Hats and the Firetanks would look like, but first we have to rewind and fill in the blanks. I was surprised to be getting another cold open so soon, since they've been something of a rarity these days. Basically we get to see the scene where Luffy agrees with Jimbei's plan to meet with Capone, and then the rest of the episode is the crew washing up and getting dressed for the occasion, since the godfather of piracy won't greet anybody as filthy as the Straw Hats have gotten throughout the arc.
So everybody gets to freshen up, which leads to an elongated exposition dump between Nami, Carrot, and Chiffon as the girls take a bath. It's a combination of juicy new information and total cheesecake, though for what it's worth Toei managed to be much more reserved with the nudity than I expected, not going any further than the extremely passive fanservice the manga offered. I can't decide if I'm relieved or disappointed, since I tend to find the anime's fanservice really unattractive, but when else are we ever going to see Carrot in the buff?!
The joke is that while the show is being completely shameless with a bath scene, we're also hearing a pretty important story by Chiffon about her and Lola's relationship with their mother. Before she was exiled, Lola was being proposed to by the prince of the giants. Big Mom saw this as a chance to make amends with the giants, since she had a notoriously tumultuous relationship with them (and somehow it's all of the giants in the entire world, instead of a specific clan or something), but things went south and Lola left the island. Chiffon ended up being the one to take the brunt of Big Mom's physical abuse, since she's Lola's identical twin and Mom now hates the sight of her face. Chiffon is one hundred percent on board with her husband's assassination plot against her mother as a result.
Only by the end of the episode do we get to the meeting teased in the flash-forward from last week, but this story from Chiffon is interesting enough to hold us over. It further solidifies the contrast between the utopia that Whole Cake Island and Totto Land represent and Big Mom's sinister, selfish intentions. Big Mom's relationship with giants has been brought up in the past, and we're continuing to learn about an unspoken insecurity bubbling inside of her. As we plow forward into the second half of the Whole Cake Island arc, Big Mom's role as the antagonist that these different groups must unite against gets driven deeper.
This isn't the prettiest looking episode, more like the kind of production values low point that we normally get before an upswing in quality. The whole thing is so flatly drawn and paced that even an attempt at another musical number (this time with Big Mom's chefs baking the wedding cake) didn't do much to excite me. But unlike last week, there's a lot more story to chew on, and the anime-original scenes of the Straw Hats picking out their clothes are worth a chuckle at least. We even get some closure on Luffy's missing tooth, which has been an unsightly hole in his mouth since his fight with Sanji. This is hand-waved with a joke where Luffy and Brook drink some milk to heal their broken bones, and it magically fixes them in an instant to the surprise of the other characters. I love how One Piece can use cartoon logic like this (it even connects to a quirk Brook has had for years), but it also comes only after Luffy and Sanji have made up. There's an emotional logic to it that allows one thing to feel like a reaction to another thing in the story.
So the Straw Hats are all cleaned up, ready to meet Capone face to face and decide if an alliance can be made, meaning we end up pretty much exactly where we started. The show's keeping track of the amount of time we have left until the wedding/tea party, which is currently at three and a half hours. There's going to be more planning and exposition as the various organizations get into place, though I think things are finally ready to start getting interesting again. I don't think this is a great episode, but there are enough individual moments scattered throughout to enjoy it for what it is.
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