One Piece – 455
「仲間達の行方 革命軍と暴食の森の罠!」 (Nakama-tachi no Yukue – Kakumeigun to Bōshoku no Mori no Wana!)
“The Friends’ Whereabouts! Revolutionaries and the Gorging Forest’s Trap”
I went into this episode with much more interest than last episode, as Robin’s placement actually had some serious consequences, and we all know that serious consequences make a plot more exciting. Robin is currently stuck on Tequila Wolf in East Blue. It’s not really an island, but more of a bridge that the slaves are building to connect islands together. The episode starts out rather movie like, with the audience thrown right in the midst of the torture. I feel so bad for Robin, chained in cuffs and being tortured/interrogated, why’d she get the worst end of the stick out of all the Straw-hats? Was it the female sympathy card? Or is it that only she is smart enough (or sympathetic enough) to see the complexities of a slave run organization? With the red uniforms and a cross sign (the cipher pol symbol) as their insignia, one can’t help but think of the Nazis and dictatorship. Their poor treatment of the slaves doesn’t help their case either. This has got to be the worst kind of slave life you could live, even child labor? But c’mon, Robin went through hell in Enies Lobby, and now she has to suffer through this? Robin is not a sadist Oda! You’re being too cruel ;_;
If there’s anything to take notice this episode, it’s that the old man in the cell next to Robin is going to lead the revolutionary army (one of Dragon’s many leaders?). He might be a really important character later on, but his face is like that of a supporting character, so maybe not.
After thinking about it, the fact this whole place exists just shows how much of a dark side One Piece’s world has. Comparatively speaking to other shounen, it’s dark, but this is our reality. These kind of places can only exist with human minds leading them, in the past, the present, and the future. Even now in foreign countries, I’m sure there’s a place almost exactly like Tequila Wolf. One Piece began as a relatively happy series, with a rather ignorant eye to the darkness in human hearts, but this bit truly changes everything. This episode felt like I was watching a containment camp drama of some sorts (Rainbow anyone?).
As for the animation in this episode, the massive clutch Robin unleashed was amazing. This episode had quite good animation, even if it was a sloppy style. I usually see this kind of animation in scenes where it requires quick animation but with less effort. It’s a compromise of some sorts, with the cons being less defined characters. It may also just be this particular episode’s director’s style, which I’m also used to, as these kind of episodes were very common during the Water 7 and Enies Lobby arcs. If you didn’t know, One Piece has several animation teams, each led by different key animators (and/or directors), and they switch off accordingly depending on how difficult or important the scenes and animation will need to be for that particular episode. That being said, I don’t think they even chose specific directors for this episode, as it probably just happened to be the good ones.
Meanwhile on the Boyn Islands in Grand Line… Usopp’s predicament so starkly contrasts Robin’s serious mood, it’s almost annoying, with the aforementioned realism thrown straight out the window with its man-eating sunflowers and ridiculously dressed masked heroes. The punch to Usopp’s face as he landed into the sunflower’s face was just hilarious and so out there, it completely caught me off guard (also, who was reminded of the baron’s flower in movie 6?). I haven’t genuinely laughed to an episode of One Piece for quite some time now, so this was a nice change. The scriptwriters and animators really put a lot in this episode (for reasons I’m not really sure). Usopp’s a really funny character on his own, but this island just amplifies that about ten-fold. Perhaps he was sent to this island to improve his comedic traits. Heracles is a mysterious character himself, possessing massive strength, but immense idiocy (it’s always one or the other in One Piece isn’t it?). A big reason why Usopp is so funny is that he’s just a normal guy like any of us, stuck in a world of ridiculousness. On a trivial note, Usopp’n should be his new side persona. As a surprise twist, the island seems to be a gigantic plant with a mouth in the middle, and eats animals when they’ve fed till they’re full with delicous meat on themselves. Luckily, Usopp can eat ramen faster than gravity can pull his weight down. Surprisingly, Usopp’s the only one so far that didn’t take a look at Rayleigh’s vivre card. He didn’t really seem that worried about getting back this episode either, but that’s possibly due to the constant trouble that keeps happening to him.
These episodes are getting me seriously psyched for the upcoming war, which I guess is a small reason as to why they’re showing these episodes. However, I’m only psyched due to knowing what’s coming up next, so I suppose these intervals of foreshadowing with Luffy and Jinbei don’t really have any weight on anime only viewers. Next episode deals with Zoro and Brooke, with the former also being one of the more interesting islands to land on. Besides that, Zoro gets to deal with Perona, which should be “fun” to see.