Beware any episode entitled "A Special Retrospective."
What They Say
Ace's execution looms as Luffy and the others speed to Navy Headquarters - and Ace, Blackbeard and Luffy's long and sordid history is revealed!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At this phase of the show, with Impel Down fully done and behind us and now a few episodes that have given us a look at where the rest of the crew is at, we're moving to that dangerous close period where more obvious filler material may enter the fold. In a way, I'm surprised that the other members of the Straw Hats didn't get shuffled off to deal with adventures of their own for several episode arcs each as that would legitimately give them some breathing space for new manga chapters. Having them double up for a few episodes to tell half-length stories about what they've been up to felt like they were just trying to cram a little bit in before moving on to the next big thing. A little nod to remind us all that these characters exist and are pursuing their own journeys.
Since they're still not entirely ready to move on with that next big thing yet, we get a special retrospective episode and you can practically groan just from the title alone. While it gets bookended with a bit of new material as we see Luffy being asked about his brother a little bit, the bulk of the episode is all recap material going back to the early days. We see Luffy and Ace as children running around and then their reunion in Alabasta where Ace gives him some paper that will allow him to call to him at any point. On the flip side, we also get some material that highlights Blackbeard himself and how he fits into everything.
The background information is probably something that's a bit helpful for longtime viewers who may have forgotten some useful bits of information over the years, but I found it to be fairly chaotic and nonsensical at times once I got past the recap material that I was familiar with. Since it involves characters beyond just the primary characters, the lack of reference for them causes it to lose some of its value and understanding. Luffy's emotions and honesty throughout it helps a fair bit in making it all work because we get to see how difficult all of this has been for him. But beyond that, it's just a montage of various scenes that shows off the longstanding issues between a few of the characters that will be highlighting the next arc. Hopefully.
It's a recap episode with maybe two to three minutes worth of new animation added to give it some narrative. Does anything else really need to be said about it?
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.