No, you didn't miss an episode, you missed a One Piece and Toriko special episode, which wasn't allowed to be simulcast since it's really a Toriko piece. Yet the numbering stays the same.
What They Say:
With the loss of Ace heavy in his heart, Luffy remembers the first encounter he had with Ace - and how he started his journey following in his brother's footsteps, all the way until the fateful day that Ace was killed.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One Piece hits a bit of a different phase this week, a week after it spent some time propping up the Toriko series that's out there this season, as it has more of a feeling of epilogue once again from the two massive adventures that just happened in the rescue Ace storyline. We've had some down time already, with Luffy and those protecting him taking him to Hancock's island of women where they can get him healed up some, but now things are shifting again after the fallout from that. Thankfully, the show does make it clear that the entire Marineford battle has left scars across many people, but it's worth focusing on a couple in particular at first here.
The episode takes us back in time by ten years when we see a younger Luffy after he had ingested the Devil Fruit that made him so rubbery and that of Garp as he tries to knock some sense into him since he's already talking about becoming a pirate, something Garp is obviously against for many reasons. And to try and knock some sense into him, he's putting him in the same remote island house where Ace, who is ten years old himself now, has been watched over by Curly Dadan alongside a couple of ruffian type men, all three of which are having a hell of a time keeping up with Ace because of the way he is. This leads to the first meeting between the two brothers, which is entirely too adorable simply because of how Luffy looks.
There's a lot of silliness as the two kids come together, largely because of Luffy's personality as Ace is very much the quiet, serious and somewhat angry type, so watching how Luffy grinds up against that is a lot of fun. But there's also some sadness to it, such as a short sequence where Curly drunkenly talks about how difficult the boys are when Ace isn't there, only for Ace to actually hear it, which sets a burning inside of him that efels like it's always been there. Still, even with that, there's a sense of fun as the days start to go on as Luffy tries to get closer to him and Ace leads him on numerous chases because of his greater skill and familiarity with the land. It has a very good lighthearted feel to it that's very much 'right' in how their younger days are portrayed, with a mixture of fun, sadness and anger that's in there between the two of them.
With this flashback story, there is a whole lot to like since it lets us have some more time with Ace, something I'm sure we'll see happen at times over the course of future episodes, and to do it in a fun way that helps to detail the boys younger days a bit better. While I would hate to see a L'il One Piece series take form, there is something fun to be had with it and it'd probably do well. There's not a lot of material really here in a way, but it's a wonderful episode for showing the irst days between these two boys, the respect they do start to develop for each other and why their bond is as close as it is. The focus is largely on Luffy, but Ace makes out really well as well and the whole thing has a very upbeat and fun feeling about it, even though we know what's to come in ten years. Definitely a welcome episode considering recent events with a storyline that looks to be a good bit of fun. And One Piece definitely needs some fun.
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.