Has the fierce fight to save Ace all been for naught?
What They Say:
Did I deserve to be born? Ace may finally find his answer during the climactic battle at Navy HQ. Ace once promised Luffy he would never die. Will he be able to honor that pledge? Or is it truly the end of an era?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For the last eighty or so episodes, One Piece has been focused on finding and rescuing Ace. From Impel Down to Marineford, Luffy has put it all on the line by dealing with all manner of Navy and pirate in order to rescue his brother from his execution at the hands of the Navy. He's come close several times but was always just a bit too far from being able to follow through. With the previous episode, he had finally gotten to him and Ace opted to finally live again, especially because of all the sacrifices that had been made by Whitebeard and the pirates he's known for so long. But for all of it to seemingly end as Akainu slugs through him with his molten fist while he defends Luffy was incredibly tense and heartbreaking as you can't be sure just what the trick may be or if there even is one. I certainly wouldn't put it past Oda to really put Luffy through the wringer like this.
Everything is incredibly tense here as Ace does his best to hold out after having this happen to him, keeping still as Luffy gapes in front of him. The Whitebeard pirates find themselves re-energized and even Jimbei goes up firm against Akainu in a dangerous match that isn't a good place for him to be. The key here is the emotions many are feeling after watching what Akainu did as they can't believe that Ace has lost. It even impacts Garp who almost looks like he's about to toss away his entire Navy career to go to his grandson and help him. We get a nice bit of flashback through Ace's eyes over all of this as he works through in his head as he's dying about what the reason he was born was for.
The relationship between Ace and Luffy is one that has really come across strongly in this series and this lengthy arc only solidifies it once more as the kind of mythic and epic tale akin to tales of Greek mythology. The trials and tribulations both have faced separately and together as well as the way Luffy has come to save Ace is powerful. These final moments here, with his past coming before him, are powerful enough and important pieces that define him. But what resonates the most is the way the two brothers are holding onto each other, quietly emotional but powerfully nonetheless. Ace's accepting of events and Luffy's denial are the proper opposites, especially as Luffy learns that there's nothing anybody can do for him at this point. Not Ivan. Not Jimbei. And all as the world fights in anguish around them as they cope in their way with Ace's fate.
As everything comes together, we hit a truly pivotal moment in the series that can likely change Luffy quite a lot. Over the course of the two main storylines of the last year, we've see a lot about these two brothers and their relationships with each other and with all those that have crossed their path in their lives. From childhood to first meetings such as with Whitebeard and time spent with Garp, they're fully realized relationships that have lasting impact and play heavily into the events that in a sense truly culminate here. While Ace has not been one of the lead characters for the series, having been of screen for so long during various arcs and not a formal part of the Straw Hats, this arc has defined him as an instrumental piece to Luffy's life and that makes him a key player. This is a defining moment for him and One Piece pulls it off beautifully, leaving you hating what's going on and wondering when the trick will appear.
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.