Reunited at long last and it feels so good...
What They Say:
Reunited and fighting for their lives, Luffy and Ace make the final dash to escape, but the whole might of the Navy stands in their way! As the two make their way to freedom, Whitebeard gives what may be his last order to the pirates!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Luffy's arrival on the platform with Ace in the previous episode was definitely an achievement and a half as he's been struggling for an age (to us) to get there through numerous fights and lots of carnage going on around him. Appropriately enough, this episode kicks off with a lot of cheers, a lot of very upbeat music that can make you all tingly and giddy and a ton of smiles as you see Ace burning a hole of fire through the smoke to return to his compatriots with Luffy and Mister Three in tow. It's a great sight to see them bursting out of it and with the way the music swells to the emotions of all watching, it's definitely the culmination of a lot of things for many different people.
While they're out of the frying pan, they're definitely not out of the fire as there's still a whole lot of action and fighting going on around them. Ace's power does change things a little bit since he can be pretty flashy and big with it as the Navy men gear up to fight back against them, but you can feel that once again, the tide of the moment has turned against them and that the Whitebeards and others are feeling much more confident about their position, even with the losses they've suffered. Having the two brothers fight side by side and being as full on happy as they are about it, and to see Ace simply not hanging his head in shame over needing to be rescued, is definitely a fantastic moment. He's been held back of his own will for so long now that when he's free to cut loose, and he has to in order to make all the sacrifices mean something, he does so with a grinning abandon that seems like it's his true calling.
Buggy does get things right here though as the battle progresses, as he notes that the real fight starts at this point in how Luffy, Ace and all the others have to get away and stay away with heightened chases after them. The fight here really gets taken up a few notches as there's the mixture of excitement and danger to it all now that Ace is free and seeing the stronger focus on the pirate side helps a lot as their challenge is very different now. One subplot that I really appreciated throughout the entire Marineford storyline is the one involving Squard, who has to try and redeem himself now after all that he did to Whitebeard early on. It's his attempt at making good on a mistake he made but also for those with him to show they stand by their leader as well. I'm not much of a fan of Squard in general, but he really comes across well in this part of the story by trying to do what's right, even if it's wrong.
One Piece hits a real crescendo here now that Ace has been rescued and the escape portion of the series has to start in. There's a good deal of excitement and epic, sweeping moments to be had early on before it gets really serious about moving on. There are those who have to make amends, a good feeling of brotherly love to be had and Whitebeard's moment to really define what happens next. Which unfortunately has a commercial right in the middle of it rather than placed more appropriately, a continuing problem with the majority of FUNimation's simulcasts. Nothing takes energy out of an episode faster than a commercial at the wrong poit. But in the end, what we get here is wholly exciting, thrilling and dramatic. It's not quite up to part of the Impel Down storyline in my book, but it's an excellent episode that definitely stands out in the Marineford chapter overall. The era is most definitely changing as of here.
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.