Can One Piece recover from the last disastrous episode? Of course it can. But can I?
What They Say
Luffy's treatment has begun, but by the time it's finished, Ace will already have been executed! Bon Clay cheers Luffy on, hoping for a miracle! Also, we learn more about Ivankov's mysterious powers.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The last episode of One Piece was a really difficult one to get through where I really had to wonder if they were serious with the character of Ivankov. As bad as he is for most of it, what really killed the episode was that it was almost all about dancing and frivolity for twenty minutes. There was precious little plot or real revelation outside of seeing Ivankov using his ability which in turn caused Bon Clay to really hope for a miracle for Luffy. Seeing Luffy undergoing the treatment lifted his spirits until he realized the depths of what's involved with the treatment. The real meat of the episode took up maybe a minute or two though and that left everything else to be really bad. Bad, bad, bad.
This episode deals with Luffy in the background again for the most part as he continues to undergo the treatment. That leaves Bon Clay to try and understand what's going on with New Kama Land as he has a sit down with Ivankov about things. Bon Clay's understanding definitely grows as it's revealed how this place works with how they acquire goods and the various secret entrances that are scattered about the prison. It's an intriguing idea with the whole of level 5.5 being portrayed as an ant hill of sorts where it's continually dug out and more added to it by the people who have found their way here. We also learn that there's actually a Level 6 where the worst of the worst are kept, the most villainous of villains. These are the people who have done things where the crimes must be covered up because of the cruelty of them or they may embarrass a particular government. One example that's given is the former Jail Manager of Impel Down, a man named Shiryu, who indiscriminately began killing prisoners at one point so Magellan had to put him away.
Where the focus goes that I appreciate, admittedly once again, is the level to which Bon Clay will do things for Luffy. He's terribly concerned that his friend won't survive the treatment but it becomes even more critical when he learns that Luffy won't be recovered in time to save Ace who is going to be executed in eight hours. With Luffy needing five days total to truly recover, Bon Clay sets to encourage his friend through his travails by cheering him on loudly and strongly for hours on end, a display that has everyone else coming along to do the same thing as they're inspired by his intense friendship. Bon Clay is still a character that I have a love/hate relationship with because of his portrayal and personality, but the good outweighs the constant bawling he's been doing in this arc for awhile. I'm surprised he hasn't sunk the prison with as many tears as he's shed.
While there are things to this Level 5.1 arc that don't appeal to me in the slightest, the good material still outweighs it. Bon Clay has become one of the best characters of the show, though I still like Buggy more and miss him this episode and Luffy's perseverance and strength of character shines through once again. What has made this entire Level 5.5 arc difficult is Ivankov himself because of both his personality and design. There is some interesting angle to him when you look at his hormone changing ability given to him from the Horm Horm Fruit but right now it's just a side gag that has created an unwelcome Rocky Horror Picture Show sideshow for this area of Impel Down.
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.