by Sam Leach,
How would you rate episode 904 of
One Piece ?
We've been introduced to a fair number of characters and subplots since stepping foot in the land of Wano, but we've merely witnessed the tip of the iceberg. One of the common trends I've liked about the anime lately is how it will make minor tweaks to better prepare the audience for what's to come, like how this week's episode directly names Shutenmaru, a man that Kiku appears to have some familiarity with. It's a very small difference from the source material (which simply refers to Shutenmaru's band of thieves as a group) but it's nice to know they're thinking about to keep the absurd amount of information as clear as possible. Shutenmaru now has a chance to exist faintly in the audience's mind before his proper introduction.
There isn't a ton of new material for us to chew in this week aside from the introduction of another side villain—Speed, a horse-woman who's got a fun gag about having 350 degree vision—and a brief demonstration of the farms that produce clean food and water for the shogun. We're taking the absurdity of Wano as a setting to some fun places, with giant sumo wrestlers getting tossed across town and eccentric dancing firefighters appearing to stifle the fires that set the streets ablaze as a result. “How dare you destroy my house with a sumo wrestler” is a phrase that can be uttered so casually in a few countries.
I appreciate that our heroes are finally getting themselves tangled up with Holdem in person after all this time, because he's easily my favorite of the Bakura Town villains. There's a good balance of silliness and theatrics as Holdem looks down on the crowds from the rooftops, performing herculean feats of strength and finally giving Luffy the fight he's been looking for. I was getting tired of having to constantly cut back to the same repetitive scene of Holdem trying to pull dumplings out of Otama's cheeks with pliers, so any change of pace, even a slight one, is welcome. The pins have been set up with the supporting cast constantly urging Luffy to keep a low profile, so obviously we have to start a ruckus in spite of that, and now a bunch of big names like Hawkins and Law are beginning to arrive just in time to see their well-kept plans go up in flames.
Most of what I've been saying for the past few months still holds true. My opinion of this stretch of the story in the manga is already fairly precarious since we're delving into a corridor of the plot that's disproportionately busy for such a small piece of the arc. The series isn't trying to trick us into thinking that this is some crazy unprecedented escalation of events, but it does want to set up a lot of stuff that's going to be important later, and it hopes to be entertaining in the meantime. In the best circumstances, the slow-motion nature of the adaptation is great for unloading some of the denseness of the story, but sequences that only offer mild excitement end up having to repeat themselves too much.
At least we seem to finally be reaching the climax of the Bakura Town arc soon, so hopefully the pay-off is pretty interesting.
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