by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 895 of
One Piece ?
And now for something completely different.
When the news came out that Wano would be put on pause merely three episodes in so we could deviate into several weeks of movie tie-in filler, I honestly wasn't too bummed out by the prospect. The anime's new look has been so great that I've developed a renewed confidence in the TV show, and I don't mind being patient if it means the final product continues to be this good. The filler may be awkwardly timed, but even two episodes feels like a healthy buffer to make sure the anime isn't going to catch up with the manga's story.
However, I was hoping that these episodes would at least be more interesting than this. Stampede is a good-looking movie, and its visual style is clearly drumming to the same beat as the Wano reboot, so it's disappointing that its tie-in episodes aren't at all in line with the quality we've been tasting lately. This episode has been pulled out of a time capsule, having waited dormant since the distant year of one month ago. The Wano-specific eye catches have been hurriedly swept back into the closet, and the varied line width on the character art is less pronounced. I can't tell if it's supposed to look like a new episode or an old one.
Plot-wise, this week's adventure appears to be taking place slightly before the events of Stampede, with Buena Festa stringing together is ideal cast of ruffians for the "Pirate Festa." Stampede's main villain, Douglas Bullet, is name dropped, but as far as I can tell we'll have to wait until the movie itself before we can meet him. In his place, our villain of the week is Cidre, a bounty hunter who picks a fight with the Straw Hat pirates while receiving his invitation to the Festa. Bounty hunters are one of the most under-represented categories of One Piece tough guys, though this Cidre dude likely isn't going to be leaving any lasting impressions.
Stampede's big hook is that we're going to be seeing a massive cast of secondary characters coming together in a big crossover. Luffy's met hundreds of major players throughout his adventures, but who ends up crossing paths in the main series is always dependent on the needs of the story and the goal of this movie is to toss that limitation in the trash and go absolutely nuts. This filler arc is just the pregame, however, so there's only one character on our Super Smash Bros. demo disc, and that's Boa Hancock. Luffy's misadventures lead him to an island of carbonated water in search for cola to help fuel the Thousand Sunny, and naturally he reunites with Pirate Empress by accidentally falling from the sky into the hot springs while she bathes naked. (Again.) The bar is pretty low for filler antics, and as far as swooning lovestruck ladies go, Hancock's a little difficult to go back to in a post-Charlotte Pudding world. Together they must team-up and fight Cidre, a man who hates pirates so much that he'd even kill a member of the Seven Warlords.
As a commercial for Stampede, I can't fathom what this episode aims to accomplish. It's incredibly forgettable and speaks to absolutely nothing that might get my hype meters running for this upcoming movie, which is assuming the audience is keen to watch a commercial for Stampede at the cost of the Wano arc's progression in the first place. I can't speak with any certainty that I even understand the chronology of events here. Is Stampede going to start with Luffy and Hancock having already met? Or is this filler going to be completely ignored? I suppose this is all within expectation, but so far this mini-arc is in one ear and out the other.
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