One Piece
Episode 891

by Sam Leach,

How would you rate episode 891 of
One Piece ?

There's a unique aura going into this episode. By this point we're all equipped with the knowledge that the One Piece anime is getting a face lift starting next week to kick off the Wano arc. I really like how all the previews have looked so far, and I'm excited for this series to get a much needed shot in the arm. This episode is a hello and a goodbye—a transition into a new age.

With Whole Cake Island and the Reverie behind us, it's time for our heroes to figure out what this Wano country business is all about. The Thousand Sunny crew is approaching their destination, but that doesn't mean entering the country is going to be easy. Like Whole Cake before it, Wano is cut off from the world around it. People aren't expected to enter or leave all that often, and our first obstacle is some crazy weather that leaves even Nami concerned about the crew's navigational fortitude. Part of what's interesting about this episode is that, while the anime hasn't formally changed art styles yet, we're still witnessing an aesthetic transformation to emphasize Wano's roots in traditional Japanese imagery. The waves surrounding the island look like an Ukiyo-e painting and giant koi fish become our primary mode of transportation, not to mention the stellar soundtrack throughout the entire episode. To actually get into the country, the crew must follow the koi fish up a raging waterfall, calling back to the famous legend about koi turning into dragons. (Hmm. I wonder if there will be dragons in Wano?) The layers of cultural pastiche are as thick as they come.

Holding the episode back is how little story the anime has to spread over its runtime. There's a small bit of recap to remind us of Luffy and Momonosuke's partnership, but it's not as substantial as the previous clip shows we've been seeing. This episode is otherwise centered exclusively around sailing into stormy waters and trying to make sense of the landscape, ending with the ship getting sucked into a whirlpool and Luffy drowning. As exciting as the upcoming anime reboot is, the question of pacing might not be something the show can meaningfully address. Wano is still running in the manga and barely feels like it's gotten started, so hopefully the anime staff have a thoughtful strategy for how they're going to tackle filler.

I don't think I'm ever going to be particularly nostalgic for this era of the One Piece anime. Be it the character designs or the style of visual compositing, it always felt like the best case scenario was for talented animators to do good work in spite of the stiff plastic sheen that's haunted many of Toei's properties in recent years. Between this and Dragon Ball Super, it's comforting to see such dramatic shifts being made to help these stories feel more like artistic labors of love over vapid commercial products. I wish I could I could say more about this episode beyond "The times, they are a-changin'!", but that's definitely the prevailing feeling that I'm experiencing this week.

Rating:

One Piece is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.com.

Sam Leach records about One Piece for The One Piece Podcast and you can find him on Twitter @LuckyChainsaw


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