They can't be serious, can they?
What They Say
The great Ivankov is Luffy's only chance for survival, but his powers may not be as miraculous as they seem. What is necessary for Ivankov's powers to work? And does Luffy have what it takes?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)'
One Piece has certainly always had its odd moments throughout the years and the introduction of Bon Clay oh so many years ago really makes that apparent. When he first did his ballet steps across the screen, you know he was going to be different. One Piece has quirky characters, odd designs and at times really does move to the beat of a different drummer. With this episode though, they push it up a couple of notches where I'm really just sitting there wondering, well, why?
The search for Ivankov has led Bon Clay and Luffy to Level 5.5 where prisoners have been 'taken' by the mysterious force that permeates the Impel Down prison at times and has been attributed to demons. Everyone here, particularly in the open bar where we see everything, is happy and having a party that seems like it must go on forever. It's pure cabaret style material with dancing guys and girls, massive amounts of make-up and a lifestyle dedicated to enjoying the moment. All of it is provided by Ivankov, the biggest drag queen in the place (literally) and Bon Clay really can't believe his eyes. Ivankov has quite the gift with medicine and its application though as there's a sequence where a pirate arrives wanting revenge on him for Ivankov's turning his father gay. What does Ivankov do? He injects him with a medicine that turns the pirate from a big muscle bound guy into a petite tiny girl, complete with all his clothes falling off of him.
The whole series of events involving the party section of 5.5 feels very off, to say it politely. It's strangely crude in a way that's not exactly offensive but feels completely out of place within the show. It doesn't feel like satire, it almost feels like it's being mean in a way. Thankfully, once they get out of that area and Bon Clay gets to approach Ivankov, we start to find out what happened to Luffy and more of what the deal with this area is. Bon Clay is still pushing hard to do everything he can for the friend he abandoned but even that's starting to find a limit when he understands the kind of pain Luffy is going through in order to be cured of the poisons injected into him by Magellan. Luffy has a great Princess Bride kind of scene going on here which is fun to watch but hopefully it won't be dragged out too much like other things have been and the story can get back underway '" and out of this particular area of Impel Down.
Sadly, some of my favorite material doesn't have much impact in this episode as Buggy and Mr. 2 are only seen for a brief scene as they're still trying to avoid the hungry wolves in the snow bound level. The bulk of the episode is all about Ivankov and it's incredibly dragged out as he prances around in his fishnets and make-up saying 'heehaw' over and over. Or they do the pan to the various guys dancing in their fishnets on stage or we see a few women and crowd members dancing and drinking wildly. It's all so very pointless, or at least feels that way right now, because it's so out of place and comes across as mean in a way that's hard to pin down. There've been a lot of characters in One Piece that haven't done much for me one way or another, but Ivankov is the first that I can think of where I felt like he's too much of a really bad caricature to be in here. Unfortunately, most of this episode left me feeling uncomfortable with it.
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.