by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 843 of
One Piece ?
At long last, it's time for the Luffy/Capone/Caesar alliance to come to an end. They may have failed to kill Big Mom, but they succeeded in knocking down her castle (an accident) and pissing her off (hey, what can you do?) so Capone's ready to cut his losses and call it a day. The Big Mom pirates are furious and on the hunt, so they only have so much time to escape the territory completely. Sadly, this is also Caesar Clown's final appearance in this arc, concluding his multi-hundred episode long saga as the Straw Hats' resident hostage/bargaining chip. His final gag is to hang out in the background, shouting goodbye and hoping somebody somewhere will care that he's gone.
I care, Caesar. I care.
The Big Mom pirates were able to survive the fall off the chateau thanks to Streusen's food powers that turn the Whole Cake Chateau into an actual cake so that people can land on soft bread and frosting. However, food produced by the Cook-Cook Fruit apparently doesn't taste good enough for Big Mom's liking, and in the rubble of her fallen castle all she can do is lament the loss of that wedding cake she was craving for at the ceremony—the one that Luffy busted with his grand entrance. Mom's "hunger pangs" were established early in the arc, and the combo of those and her seething rage toward the Straw Hats as she hits a furious withdrawal and topples the nearest city screaming "wedding cake!!!" over and over again. Her children have a lot to worry about between killing the Straw Hats and stopping Mom from killing them.
After spending the past few months on top of the bright, confectionary-themed chateau, it's refreshing to see the green grass and trees again now that we're back on the ground floor. This episode's greatest strength is that we're finally entering a new phase of the story, with new settings and goals. That doesn't mean that our heroes are anywhere close to done with Big Mom and her family, but there's still something bittersweet about parting ways with our allies nonetheless. There's a lot of good comedy that comes with the end of the Straw Hat/Firetank partnership too, like Capone putting up a "Straw Hats went that way -->" sign in a last ditch attempt to get the Big Mom family off his heels.
The weakness of this episode is that somewhere along the way we slipped back out of the one-chapter-per-episode pace, so a lot of the runtime gets taken up with Big Mom's kids standing around talking, and the fate of Charlotte Opera, who was sent to try and calm Mom down in the midst of her rampage, is left for next week. If you were an anime-only watcher, then you'd likely be confused as to why the Straw Hats are now free to escape Big Mom's territory without any more fighting. Like, really? That's it? The faster the show can get us to the the Straw Hats' next concrete goal on WCI, the better.
This is a serviceable episode if ever there was one. Entering a new phase of the arc can be a little exciting, but it also comes with new challenges. The gimmick of Whole Cake Island moving forward is a giant chase with Big Mom herself, so we're going to hear her shout "wedding cake!" a deathly number of times. It's about to get very old, very fast. However, the focus on story flow and momentum in this part of the arc is incredible, and I'm looking forward to seeing it be adapted, janky pacing and all.
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