by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 829 of
One Piece ?
It's time to split up and get into place as the Big Mom assassination plot commences. Sanji's heading back to his room so he doesn't raise the enemy's suspicions (though that doesn't stop the incredulous Montd'or from breathing down his neck), and the rest of the crew is off to sneak into the wedding unseen. Luffy has some kind of surprise entrance in mind that he won't even tell his friends about, and it's agreed that Pudding's attempt to shoot Sanji in place of the big kiss will be the official signal to spring into action. Meanwhile, it's Caesar's job to employ his flying ability and use Brulee to escape into the mirror world, which should then connect the Straw Hats back to their ship where they can sail off safe and sound.
Things are still moving slowly as the Straw Hats prepare to disrupt Sanji's wedding, but at long last we've got ourselves an indisputably good-looking episode. I think pacing would be less of an issue for me if the visuals looked this polished on a regular basis. There's an emphasis on detail and atmosphere that I really appreciate. We're getting up in the morning, putting on our Sunday best, and heading out into the bizarre, zany world of Big Mom's domain, and you can really put yourself into that space in a way that you couldn't in the manga. As the citizens of Totto Land buzz and various important figures start to gather for the wedding, things are feeling lively. It's not even that animation-intensive of an episode, but it has just enough little flourishes where it counts.
As for plot progression, things continue to be pretty bare. I think one of the best scenes is a cutaway to the Sun pirates where they think back to an earlier conversation they had with Jimbei. The reason Jimbei couldn't honor Big Mom's terms of separation was because her roulette wheel included numbers that referred to how many loved ones would have to suffer in order for him to leave with dignity. Jimbei couldn't abide this, so he's choosing to betray her dishonorably. His old crew understands this choice, but they fear his over-willingness to sacrifice himself for his Luffy in the fight with Big Mom, a warranted concern considering Jimbei proudly admits this to be the case. If Luffy becomes his new captain, he'd have to put his life on the line for him. "It's just a matter of doing it now or later," he says. It's a cool scene, buttering the audience up for all sorts of ways Jimbei's fate could go from here.
With the story still vaguely gesturing at imminent forward momentum, I feel like I should have enjoyed this episode less than I did, but instead I found it rejuvenating. After finding the past few episodes very stiff, this appropriately feels like waking up refreshed in the morning. It doesn't lend much new to the conversation, but it's a strong episode that leaves me feeling confident that some good stuff is on the horizon from this adaptation. By the end of this episode, the bride and groom are dressed and ready to go, and we continue the trend of leaving the audience in suspense that something might be happening soon. The show is a slow-burn these days, leaning heavily on suspense to keep the viewers engaged, and if that's the way it has to be, this is the kind of episode I'll relish.
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