by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 833 of
One Piece ?
The big cliffhanger we ended on last week was Luffy's surprise entrance to the wedding. I was so focused on Pudding that I neglected to mention in last week's review that the wedding cake, the one Big Mom covets so dearly, was actually so large that it served as the altar, and the flashy entrance that Luffy was so giddy and secretive about was that he had Capone's crew sneak a piece of mirror into the wedding cake when they were snooping around the kitchen a few episodes back, so he could use Brulee's powers to warp through and burst out of the cake alongside a bunch of wild animals he caught in the forest (using Brulee's powers again to turn the animals into Luffy clones so they could serve as a distraction.)
We seem to be easing back into a one-chapter-per-episode pace, though that could just be a temporary thing. I hope we're getting back on track because pretty soon Whole Cake Island is going to transition into one big 30-40 episode action set piece driven by organized chaos, and that sounds like trouble waiting to happen when it comes to the anime. The story content in this episode is crazy good, but that high octane energy easily gets lost when it feels like all the big scenes are standing around, quietly waiting for their turn to debut.
But boy, do we have some big scenes this week! The star of the show was Jimbei, who confidently decides to step into the middle of the action just when Luffy looks ready to fight Big Mom face-to-face, choosing that moment to request a formal parting of ways with the Charlotte family. Jimbei's a man of honor, making it clear that he was not satisfied with the treason he got strong-armed into, and he volunteers to confront Mom's 'Soul Pocus', a power that allows her to steal the soul of anybody who fears death. There's a lot of "I'm going to join the man who will be King of the Pirates!" talk from our fish uncle this week, and it feels great.
Jimbei's journey through the Whole Cake Island arc is a thing of beauty. Before this moment, there was a lot of talk about "death flags" for the character, since he talked a suspicious amount about how willing he was to lay his life on the line for his soon-to-be captain. This fear gets subverted when it turns out Jimbei's willingness to die is exactly the reason he survives (Big Mom can't even pull a second of lifespan from him because he's that much of a badass), which is probably the most One Piece way possible to have a character cheat death, and it allows him to then return his symbolic sake cup of brotherhood and finally cut ties with a "Thank you for all your troubles!" It's the most polite yet powerful way I've ever seen a character tell his old boss to shove it.
But as the final scene to cap off the episode, Jimbei's declaration is only the first part of a one-two punch. Immediately afterward, in the disarray that follows Big Mom trying to snuff out her new enemy, it finally clicks with the audience that the Luffy clone who looked out of place at the beginning of the episode was just Brook in a really bad Luffy disguise, and now he's sneaking up to the Mother Carmel picture to smack it with a hammer. I cannot watch this scene without laughing. It's way too good of a punchline for the episode.
We're entering a phase of the arc where I have such intimate memories of reading the source material for the first time that it's going to be rare for the anime to meet my expectations and kick my heart into overdrive. That Jimbei scene is so good, but I didn't walk away from this episode with my blood on fire like I wanted to. Between the tease of a Big Mom vs. Luffy showdown, the reveal of Katakuri's Mochi-Mochi fruit, Jimbei's speech, and Brook breaking the Mother Carmel picture, I really want these scenes to feel as dense and concentrated as they are on the page. I know that's not a reasonable expectation from this show, but every once and a while the anime succeeds at capturing the hugely transcendent emotions of this series, and other times it's just pretty good.
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