by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 883 of
One Piece ?
Oh, yikes. It appears as though every episode of this Reverie is going be at least half flashback, while the main story barely inches forward. This doesn't give me much to talk about each week, so how about we mix it up and I'll put aside a little section for a mini-review of the material being recapped in any given episode? It's mostly going to be stuff I haven't covered before in these weekly reviews, so it might be fun to flex my nostalgia muscles when I can.
- Ace/Sabo/Luffy flashback: I remember this flashback coming along in the manga shortly after I first caught up week-to-week. It's weird to think that One Piece even got away with something like this, introducing Luffy's secret older brother who's been here this whole time, we swear—no, he's not here to replace the hot older brother character who just died, what gave you that idea? It helps that this flashback is a rock solid down-to-earth drama about class and poverty that's long enough to make you feel like you know these characters before inevitable tragedy strikes. This is an example of One Piece flashbacks feeling less like backstories propping up a larger narrative and more like Eiichiro Oda taking a chance to branch off and write out his Oscar-bait screenplay ideas (and being weirdly good at it). All this sentimental brotherly love would go on to be an aspect of the series that I think fan enthusiasm heightened beyond its initial importance, but I'd be damned if Sabo's eventual return as an adult wasn't one of the most exhilarating shared community experiences in the whole franchise.
Thankfully, this particular clip show is a touch more relevant than most of the recent recaps, since it helps remind the audience about this King Stelly guy. Stelly was the fugly kid that Sabo's biological parents adopted and raised to take over the Goa Kingdom in his place. Before Whole Cake Island began, we got to see the back of his head as he was preparing to enter the Reverie, and I liked to theorize that he was going to turn out comically handsome to contrast his ugly child self. But no, Stelly's final form still looks like a doofus, and he's here to represent the general idea of snobby ineffectual rulers who desire selfish power over serving the people. As a king among kings, he seems especially out of his depth, and he's poised to make everything worse for everybody in the near future.
While royalty is being shuffled around the government holy land of Mariejois, the Revolutionaries are making their move behind the scenes to crash the party. This is the first time we get any kind of specific mission statement from the Revolutionaries, where Koala explains that it's not the World Government itself they want to dismantle, but the Celestial Dragons who sit at the top and pull the strings. The World Government and the Navy have always featured the broadest spectrum of moral respectability in this series. There's clearly corruption and evil at the heart of the system, but there are also good people working within it and getting chewed up in the process. The Revolutionaries' vision for the future still features a government of some kind, so they aren't agents of chaos like the pirates.
Six episodes into the Reverie, we've covered three chapters of manga material. I don't see this pattern of excessive flashbacks reining it in anytime soon, either. The world-building and intrigue of this arc is about to get really juicy, but the anime isn't given the opportunity to relay all of its info-dumping with the density I think it deserves. We're getting about five minutes of story every week, and even if you can survive the onslaught of recap, the main plot is forced to start and stop at every inch, which is a criticism you could make even at the show's usual pace, but it's so much worse right now. I'd honestly prefer several months of anime-original filler material over this awkward half-step.
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