Luffy's inching ever closer but finding that he doesn't have quite the right stuff just yet to make it to the final barrier.
What They Say:
Luffy has faced innumerable obstacles in his quest to save his brother Ace. Now, at the final moment before Ace's execution, will the Navy's estimation of Luffy prove right: is he too inexperienced and undisciplined to face such powerful adversaries? And at this critical juncture, what does Garp's entry into the foray mean for Luffy and his friends?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One Piece ramped things up, again, last week with Luffy getting ever closer to Ace but still getting beaten back. Since he's so dramatic when taking hits, it does make for some amusement. But where it ramped up even more is when the Whitebeards had a secret weapon of sorts hidden below with a paddle boat that Oars was properly placed with in order to help shove it through the encircling wall that was put up. Giving everyone a chance to get through, albeit a relatively small space, sets up for a lot of intense action to happen. Whitebeard set up quite the nice charge for it and motivated everyone, but the sense of dread is really in place as we see the upper echelon of the Navy men there are about to get their hands dirty.
With the size of the cast at this point, something that's problematic for me since there are so many characters I barely remember and a number I haven't met yet on the DVD releases, there's always another story ready to happen. Some of it gets done in snippets, with old grudges coming back into play, but this episode focuses largely on Luffy which is much needed. He's been progressing well towards Ace all this time considering the carnage at hand, but with the big dogs, almost literally, now being the ones he has to deal with, his challenges are growing in difficulty. Some of it does feel like it works well, especially when you consider how much he's gone through so far, but at the same time you expect better out of him after what he fought through at Impel Down and the odds there.
With the shift between the big moments and the small moments, the flow of the show manages to hold up pretty well. Since it goes across numerous fights in this one, with Luffy's time being the primary piece, it gets easy to get caught up in all of it and just enjoy it for the ride. You may want some more meaty scenes to it is all, but the fun that comes from it is really quite good. In particular, Hancock again makes an appearance, especially when she learns of Luffy being wounded, and her intensity to get to him is really fun to watch. With the way this episode culminates though, having Garp finally get his own hands dirty, everything feels like it's about to go to a whole other level. It's a tide turning moment that leaves you with a shiver.
Challenges are most assuredly laid down with this episode and that has the potential to really shift the dynamic going forward. Much of the Marineford arc has had this ebb and flow to it with each side gaining advantage at one time or another, and this is another of those moments, if it actually succeeds. Battles can be won by morale alone and the Navy just got itself a huge boost. Luffy for his part has a good run but we're seeing him starting to hit his limits, which is little surprise considering how the battle has gone and how long it has gone on for. There's a lot to like here, as it serves up a good deal of action, even if it is largely a setup piece for bringing more of the big guns out and solidifying positions on both sides.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.