With most of the cast taken care of at this point, it's time to get down to the last couple of them.
What They Say
While heading to the sea to return to Sabaody Archipelago, Zoro and Perona stumble upon a surprising discovery. Brook, however, decides he has to wait to find Luffy and the others until he can fulfill his debt to the people of Hungeria.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When it comes to stories that stretch things out a bit, whether intentional or not, it can go a lot of ways. With One Piece, having just watched a huge chunk of filler style episodes around the end of the "second voyage" season and seeing the awful material recently for just before the movie release last year, I was definitely leery of what we'd get for this phase of the series. I do like the overall concept, unlike last years movie filler, where we get to see what everyone else is up to while Luffy has been on his big prison busting adventure. Some of it has been decent but most of it has been really mediocre at best where it just wants to do something simple, funny and weird. It usually succeeds on the first but less so on the second and third depending on familiarity with character, setting and so forth.
With the focus on returning to the Sabaody Archipelago so they can all meet up again per Luffy's direction, Zoro's managing to get himself out of the control of one particularly cute but odd woman named Perona who came onto the show in an area I haven't seen yet. She and Zoro certainly have an odd relationship where she's basically treating him as a prisoner of sorts but ends up being more under his thumb once he gets his swords back. Zoro's intent on getting back to everyone else while increasing his skills since they had problems previously where their opponents were stronger than they could deal with. Having note seen Zoro since the end of the second season of the series, about three hundred episodes ago, it's interesting to see the minor changes to him where he definitely looks a bit older and more mature while also not being quite so reckless in a way.
Zoro's story arc leads to a bit of a fight, but it seems to be more about establishing what he's basically been up to an firming up his relationship with Perona. The second part of this episode focuses on Brook, which is definitely not an easy jumping in point since I'm completely unfamiliar with the character, similar to Franky earlier in these side stories. Brook's been hanging out in Hungeria, a rather run down and seemingly desolate place that looks like it's pretty much in ruins. Brook comes across as a decent little pervert here where he's seemingly revered by the residents because of his appearance where he's thought to be something far more than just a normal guy, which he obviously isn't since he's all bones. His appearance certainly make sit understandable why the people here consider him an incarnation of Satan and give him due deference, relating to him the events of the recent past and why they're so anxious to have him there to help them.
Similar to the other side story episodes, it's a real mixed bag for someone like me because of the disconnect in the characters from when they were seen last (hundreds of episodes ago for me!) or just the fact that they're completely new. When it comes to the existing characters, I've been able to enjoy them easily simply because they're fluff for the most part with a few hints that long time fans will get more out of. With the newer characters that I have no frame of reference for, they haven't been good introductions for the most part because they've been focused on the weird and silly. This one was a lot tamer than some of the others with only Brook having a bit of wacky material, but even that felt like a far cry from the strange that we saw with Sanji and Chopper for example. This wasn't bad in the slightest, it was just empty storytelling for me that gave the characters (and actors) a chance to get a little screen time for a bit.
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.