The side stories continue as we take a peek at what Robin and Usopp have been up to all this time.
What They Say
The revolutionaries make their move in Tequila Wolf, but the trouble is just beginning for the jailers as Robin also makes her move! Meanwhile on Bowin Islands, it's eat or be eaten so Usopp starts packing on the pounds in order to survive!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One Piece continues to run through the little side informative stories which are useful to showcase where the rest of the gang is at this point after their separation. Luffy and his amusing current crew are racing toward Navy Headquarters to save Ace before he's executed and we've seen a few of his main crew on their various islands where they're coping with troubles or training. With several of them shown before, this episode takes us to two places where we get to see Robin and Usopp dealing with their things. Unfortunately, Robin only just joined the crew in the old episodes I'm watching so there's less familiarity there overall with her crew integration, while Usopp is obviously pretty well know. Though I am 300 episodes out of date on his progress, if any.
Robin's story has her as she's at a prison somewhere and being kept separate from most others while being fairly well abused by some of the guards. Since the know what kind of person she is, they know if she gets out that she'll tear up the country. Robin being who she is, she takes it with a smile and a joke. The main drama, at least initially, comes from the other women in the prison as there's the usual problems you have with the tough girls, the snitches and apparently the young girl that's in there that tries to make everyone happy and live in harmony because of their tough situation. The story has some nice animation to it and it feels decidedly different from the main show itself and most of the other side stories we've seen so far, but it's the kind of side story where the focus of Robin is relatively small overall as more time is given to others. It's enjoyable enough and seeing Robin's reputation out there like this is fun, but it just doesn't come together well enough.
As serious and brooding as Robin's storyline is, we get the complete opposite with the story for Usopp as it's like a big, bold Saturday morning cartoon. Usopp's been on the Bowin Islands for awhile now and it's a kind of wacky survivor style island where there's huge man eating dandelions out there trying to eat him and other people that add some wacky comedy to it all. While there's a lot of danger and threatening situations here, such as ants several times the size of humans, Usopp looks like he's having fun overall even as he's getting stronger and quicker through all this kind of training. The pairing of Usopp with a masked old man dork works pretty well as they're goofy enough together while still showing how Usopp is getting better in a number of ways. The goofy is what sells it though.
With both of these characters being familiar, and the goofy side of Usopp's story not seeming as badly out of place as say Sanji's or the general oddity of Franky's, this side story episode is fairly decent. Robin's is the definite winner of it in terms of showing what she's been up to and expanding her reputation a bit while keeping things serious, but Usopp's approach of having a story about fun and weird is enjoyable as well. The balance is nicely kept and considering the amount of serious material we've had, it's good to have a bit of humor thrown in as well. All the things these characters have been going through makes me want to see the main group return together so they can all realize how much they've changed and grown, for some of them at least, and to get on with the next big adventure. But primarily, I want more of the main storyline with Luffy now and can't wait to get back to that.
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.