The fight against Eneru gives Luffy his biggest challenge yet with the fate of Skypiea in the balance.
What They Say:
Lightning bolts rain from the heavens and cloud-dwelling citizens run for their lives as Luffy and Eneru go toe to toe to determine the fate of Skypiea! The rubber-man is determined to make this exceedingly evil villain pay for his sins against the innocent, but Eneru won't be easily defeated. With his electric ark chock full of gold, the heinous holy man sets in motion a petrifying plan to obliterate life on Angel Island!
Luffy is ready to rumble, but his shipmates are falling one by one, and his punching power bottoms out after Eneru encases his hand in a giant ball of gold. Only one hope remains: Nami and Luffy must risk their lives in a desperate attempt to ring the sacred bell of Shandora - and chase away Eneru's looming cloud of death!
What We Say:
The Skypiea arc comes to a close with this set of episodes and it does a decent job of taking things to the next level with how it plays out. Skypiea has been a bit of a difficult arc at times to enjoy because it's gone in a way that hasn't felt entirely natural at times and just a bit too dragged out for my tastes. The separation of the cast, which while a common idea, really hasn't worked to keep me completely engaged with each of their stories. Especially as some of them have been knocked out for awhile like Sanji and Usopp. The one area that has worked well is that of Robin. With her being a recent addition to the cast, she manages to spend some time shining with her explorations of the islands and her understanding of what's really going on with some key parts of it.
With the final set of episodes that deal with the fight against Eneru, about half of this batch of episodes is given over to dealing with it. It's actually an amusing fight at first because Eneru's lightning abilities don't work well against Luffy since he's the rubber man, but Eneru doesn't quite get that. The back and forth on board Eneru's ship show him having a bit more of a challenge than he's had for some time, but Luffy's barely holding his own overall and it goes even worse when he gets stuck with a rather sizable and heavy gold ball that covers up one of his hands. It changes his dynamic in the fight rather drastically, but some basic science does manage to still apply to One Piece as he does his best to take down Eneru.
Eneru's war against Skypiea does have some rather strong moments to it. His anger has become apparent when he gets his Ark Maxim out and starts doling out destruction, enough so that entire islands disappear and the general population is ready to flee to the Blue Sea because of how bad everything is going. Luffy and the others are providing the push back against, but considering the chaos that has been going on with Eneru for awhile and then everything that cropped up since Luffy got there, it's understandable that they want out of there as quickly as possible. Luffy's fight with Eneru when it gets down to the nuts and bolts of it doesn't feel like it comes together well though. There's a feeling of being incomplete and even over too quickly once they get to it. The lead-up takes several episodes, built upon what happened in the last batch, and when they get truly seriosu here it feels like it finishes off too quickly.
Two other events are important within this set of episodes. The first is that a couple of episodes are given over to an extended background story that shows what happened four hundred years prior when the island first came up to Skypiea and what was happening before that. The shift of the island up to Skypiea is what brings it closure, so getting to see Montblanc Noland and his discovery of the island and its city of gold, spreading the tale of it later only to be called a liar, brings everything full circle from how this entire arc started and why Luffy decided to try and find Skypiea to begin with. It's an interesting enough story to get dealt with considering what it caused to happen, but it feels like it's just a touch too long. Not by like a whole episode, but if felt like it could be tightened up a fair bit. It's good to see Montblanc's fate in the past and how events in the present bring closure to everything from then through now.
The second event is that with the Skypiea piece wrapped up, the group has to make some discoveries and head back to the Blue Sea. Robin has a really intriguing discovery here that goes back to what she as after in Alabasta which in turn is something that could be the big overriding storyline of the series in general as it's now tied to Gol D. Roger. It's very amusing watching Luffy and the others sneaking a whole lot of gold out of Skypiea before they're caught when other surprises are in store and the misunderstandings adds to the way the Straw Hat crew can get things so right yet so wrong at the same time. The end of the Skypiea arc has a good deal of fun to it as it wraps up a lot of the subplots from the arc as a whole and it brings in the humor and silliness that makes these characters so much fun. And it forces them to deal with the really problematic return trip to the Blue Sea, which isn't going to be easy considering how bad the trip up was.
While I liked the Skypiea arc overall there are things that didn't work well. I loved the design of the place and the people there, as well as the overall back story that we got to support all of it. There's a sense of something biy and mysterious here that gives it the right kind of air. On the downside, the storyline as a whole didn't feel like it was too clearly defined for awhile which lead to it having a sense of meandering at times. Splitting up the cast, again, really didn't endear me to it even if it did make sense to some degree in the end. Robin makes out rather well here and she feels like she's really becoming a part of the group now because of events that unfold here. With the close of the arc, Skypiea definitely has the feeling of a place that's certainly unique in a rather varied and intriguing world called One Piece and that it was given a proper mythos overall with a lot more to explore. I liked this storyline but not without some reservations. At this stage, it feels like it's suffered in the same way that the Alabasta arc did in how it's structured. It's definitely not a bad ending, but it could have been tighter and more engaging.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 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.