The journey to the third level continues as Luffy and his new gang meet up with the guards and boss of the second level.
What They Say:
Luffy, Buggy and Mr. 3 must battle the hungry beasts of hell in Impel Down - one wrong move and they'll be devoured! While they're trying to keep off the menu, Jimbei and Ace have time for a serious talk.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)”
The end of the filler arc is a wonderful thing, especially upon word that beyond a brief appearance by the beetle in the Strong World movie, nothing from those episodes made any matter at all. And that only serves to reinforce the sheer pointlessness of those episodes. The only carryover from there is the opening sequence, which fits even less with the more serious material now that we're back to the Impel Down storyline. And thank goodness we're back to that storyline as one more episode of the Special Presentation material may have driven me off entirely for awhile. And the less said about those episodes going forward, the better.
Luffy's search for his brother Ace continues as he works his way through the second level to find a path to the third level. The chase is on in a pretty good way as the guards are searching for them, but the special guards of this animal level are also out in full force. These creatures turn out to be a large group of Manticores which have learned unusual phrases from the prisoners that they spout off while giving chase to Luffy, Mister Three and Buggy. It's an amusing chase and Buggy actually has a fairly decent idea on how to ditch them. Unfortunately, that ditching lands them into the hands of the big boss, the Sphinx creature who views everything he sees as a form of noodles that he can eat. It's not a terribly dangerous boss by all appearances since even Mister Three figures out a way to distract him for awhile, which means it lacks any amount of real tension.
In addition to the chase sequence, which does end in a very amusing way, there is some tension to be had in this episode. That material comes from Ace as he sits in his cell waiting patiently while listening to and talking to another prisoner there named Jimbei, a man-shark. Jimbei's got a long history with Whitebeard and is talking about how he wants to take him down, which of course has Ace giving him some pushback on it. There's some discussion about the reality of their situation and some of the context of their pasts which have them in the position their in, particularly with Jimbei talking about how he never wanted to be a Warlord of the Sea, but the whole piece feels somewhat off in relation to the previous Impel Down episodes as it's almost ouf of place.
With the Impel Down storyline getting back on track, One Piece moves along quite well here as the second floor of the prison is explored. Luffy doesn't have a strong role here, nor does Buggy really, as Mister Three takes a bit more of the lead since he's trying to figure out how to ditch Luffy as he's trying to escape while Luffy is trying to go further down to find his brother. Some of the energy has been lost due to the Special Presentation episodes, but it's pretty obvious it'll come back rather quickly as everything starts up again. The cast is still kept small here but that helps to make it an easier jumping on point as you get to see Luffy running around and trying to save his brother. This isn't the best episode but it's a good one for this arc so far, though it does need more Hancock.
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.