After a very solid action episode, will One Piece follow it up well or will it slow down again?
What They Say
A re-energized Hannyabal is all that stands in the way to the exit of Impel Down! Also, the story of Ace's capture is revealed, sending Luffy into a rage! Meanwhile, Buggy has an unexpected plan to exit level 2.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One Piece has certainly picked up on the action and movement recently with the upward journey of the cast in an effort to get out of Impel Down so they can save Ace. Conflicting with that is the arrival of Blackbeard who is trending downward for his own reasons which now hits Luffy's group and that causes all the progress to be halted in favor of back story, dialogue and lots of grimacing. This isn't a bad thing, since I've missed out on the episodes between one hundred and four hundred so a little fleshing out doesn't hurt me in the slightest, though it all is somewhat confusing at times.
One of the bigger moments to this episode, one that's a long time in coming really, is Hannyabal's stepping up to the plate. He's become like another person, to the point where the guards wonder if it's Bon-chan again since he's so out of character, as he's intent on stopping the upward progress of Luffy and his group. While he's spent much time whining and scheming, he now has to deal with him directly and it's a pretty decent little fight where both people have such drive to them that they'll naturally hit each other hard. After all the time in which we've see Hannyabal in such poor light, seeing him strong and determined is very welcome. What is also a big plus is that we see his first days in Impel Down in a flashback where he's assigned to be a guard on the first level under Magellan's watch and we see how he screwed up when it came to a new prisoner named Olive. The adversarial relationship between him and Magellan is certainly made clearer here, though it's still hard to sympathize with the guy.
The rest of the episode feels like a hodgepodge though we do get one wonderful scene with Buggy. Him and his group have had a hard time getting past the poison wall Magellan set up as cursing doesn't seem to help. So what do they do? They all take a whiz. A line of prisoners urinating does fit in with the One Piece mentality and I'll admit that this did make me laugh because of the absurdity of it. What helps though is that the group is out of the way when Blackbeard pushes his way through and destroys the poison wall. That gives Buggy a chance to escape with everyone and build his stature up more since the foolish prisoners somehow believe that his cursing out the wall with venomous dialogue has helped.
There's a good chunk of the episode that deals with Blackbeard as well as he does finally come across Luffy and Jimbei. There's a lot of history here, some of which does come out, as we see some of the relationship between Blackbard and Jimbei as well as a flashback to when Luffy came across Blackbeard without knowing his name. With Blackbeard being responsible for things with Ace, that certainly doesn't sit well with Luffy and he's so very intent on a fight, though the whole situation feels like a powder keg that's been lit and we're just waiting for the fuse to make it all go boom. The tension is really good, though as I've said, I've missed a few hundred episodes so I'm likely missing some of the basics of all of these relationships. Even still, watching all of this come together during this arc to this moment has been great.
One Piece doesn't have quite the same energy as the previous episode, which is a shame since it was so much fun, but what we get here does more solid character building work and sets more up for the escape. There's a lot of big players running around Impel Down now and it keeps getting more intense. With Blackbeard now up against Luffy and Jimbei and Magellan is getting ever closer to everyone else, it's something that damn well better have some great payoff. All of it is slowing Luffy down from getting to Ace in time before his execution which just adds all the more urgency to it. As slow as One Piece can get sometimes, it has an intensity to it that makes it worthwhile.
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.