Nothing can break the flow like taking a break for a side story to prep for a movie.
What They Say:
A special flashback episode to prepare for the movie release! The countdown is on to Luffy's showdown with Shiki the Golden Lion! It all begins when the Straw Hat crew tails a large, mysterious beetle to an even more interesting island!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)”
While the story of Impel Down has certainly been stretched out as most One Piece arcs are, this episode shifts gears completely by presenting us with the start of a side story meant to set the stage for the movie that’s due out in Japan in a few weeks. The ties to the current storyline are indeed there though as the man who escaped from Impel Down, Golden Lion Shiki, is the seeming central focus of the movie in dealing with the East Blue and something going on there. That said, the current storyline in One Piece is nowhere to be found and instead presents this as something that has “happened a few days before” current events.
The episode is pretty slim all told in what it’s actually trying to do. The Straw Hat gang is all starved once again as they’ve had numerous banquets before reaching the next island so they’re running out of food, even though their stomachs are quite full. There’s some urgency to it but it has a very non-threatening feeling to all of it. So when the gang is fishing and they capture quite a large fish, their emotions overtake them when a giant flying insect from a nearby island swoops in and steals it. That is all the incentive needed for Luffy to want to make it a member of the crew, much to everyone else’s dismay.
This eventually leads to several of them ending up on the island in chase of the bug as Luffy wants to defeat this new strong opponent. It’s here that they discover there are people on the island who have run away from other places and built up an amusing village of diversity with almost every other kind of land or village represented here. But how does all of this tie into the movie and the Golden Lion? Shiki actually has an interest in the boss bug from here and he’s recruited into his service the Amigo Captain’s to be the 51st group to join if they can return the bug to him. They’re a bit more in the background overall, but it’s leading into a setup where in what I presume to be the next couple of episodes prior to the release of the movie as the main story.
Lackluster is what sums up this storyline and break in the flow as it doesn’t even feel like it’s all that well animated. It’s literally a story that’s dropped into the existing framework and doesn’t click because of it, unless perhaps you knew about it before hand, which I did not. The gang is all here and it’s admittedly good to see some of them since they haven’t had a big role in the Impel Down arc just yet, but there’s a lack of connection to all of it because of the uncertainty of where it all really fits. There is one big positive to all of this though and that it’s gotten me to actually find out about the tenth movie, Strong World, and to check out the trailer for it which we included here. At least what all of this leads into has potential to be pretty good and hopefully we’ll see FUNimation pick it up as soon as they can. Otherwise, this episode was pretty disappointing as I was looking forward to more Buggy and Luffy, but even beyond that this has a somewhat stilted and awkward feeling to it, much like the new opening song that does not fit the animation at all.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.