Episode 50: "Usopp vs. Daddy The Parent! Showdown At High Noon!"
*drum roll* Finally we hit Episode 50. Normally a mile-stone, but considering I still have 750+ episodes before me it's more like a drop of water on a hot stone.
It is certainly in other ways a mile stone because this is the first 100% filler episode of One Piece.
While Usopp gets his sniper glasses here that we would see later on, the scene where Usopp buys them only exists in a draft sketch Oda did but did not actually write into the manga, so it still counts as being a full-fledged filler.
That being said, it is kind of a better filler. Daddy is pretty swell for a one-shot character (love how he turns from serious bounty-hunter to doting parent from one moment to the next) and his daughter Carol is tolerable for a kid character (although her design is rather garish to look at).
What makes this better than most filler is that it feels like it could belong in the manga due to Usopp going another step in his character development. Hearing the story about his dad and the courage he gained from this, it definitely feels like something Oda could have written into the manga. Also neat to see Usopp's prowess as a sniper further in action.
Nothing more to be said, just a pretty good filler episode.
Tomorrow will be a break to read Manga Volume 16, so see you on Monday.
Episode 51: "Fiery Cooking Battle! Sanji vs. The Beautiful Chef!"
Manga: Sanji sees the elephant bluefin tuna and just buys it. Anime: Sanji has to win a cooking contest in order to win the elephant bluefin tuna.
That's how easy you can make a filler episode.
In that regard, this is however the weakest of the Loguetown episodes, mainly because Carmen and her cohorts are pretty uninteresting characters and if you are expecting "Shokugeki No Soma / Food Wars"-esque cooking duels, you are in the wrong anime for this. While the focus on Sanji's dream (finding the All Blue) was nice (since that seems to be the dream that Oda has forgotten about during the years since that one hardly gets mentioned anymore) and the look about the intertwining of oceans was interesting, it cannot save this episode from being dull. It says something when the highlight was easily the side scene with Luffy & Zoro/Buggy & Mohji in the restaurant
Moving on towards the climax of the Loguetown arc tomorrow (where the final shot of today leads right into manga content again).
Episode 52: "Buggy's Revenge! The Man Who Smiled On The Execution Platform!"
The veil has been lifted! We can keep this a secret not any longer!
The beautiful woman who assists Buggy in tracking down Luffy is no other than...Alvida from the very first episode, only a bit thinner and 100% more fanservicey! Thinking about it, I wonder how the Smooth Smooth Fruit operates. Would seriously any attack slip off, even haki-powered ones? Questions among questions.
Okay, we get right back into manga-based territory here again with Luffy on the verge of getting killed by Buggy, but miraculously getting saved by lightning from a storm that just so happened to turn up. Highlights of this episode include Luffy's reactions to Alvida and Buggy that are really funny and the very good scene with Luffy's "execution" and save where the picture composition, the sound effects etc. really make this quite an epic scene. So all in all a good episode.
But who is that mysterious cloaked figure who showed up at the end?...
No major manga differences to report here.
Tomorrow will be another break to watch the first One Piece TV special, so see you all on Thursday!
Episode 53: "The Legend Has Started! Head For The Grand Line!"
We finally get to see Smoker's power...the Plume-Plume Fruit, the first Logia type devil fruit power we see.
Come to think of it, Luffy really was lucky for most of his first leg into the Grand Line, mostly having to deal with Zoan- and Paramecia-type users. The only Logia users he met, he was just lucky that the first one's power was weak against water in general and the second one proved to be an element Luffy was immune towards. Seeing him completely helpless like this against Smoker, he really is a man that was helped by the gods.
This concludes the Loguetown arc with a pretty solid mix of humor (Buggy and Alvida's antics, Zoro and Tashigi's quarrel after their fight) and drama (Luffy's fight against Smoker, the first appearance of the mysterious Dragon), ending on a pretty epic scene with all five Straw Hat members swearing on each of their individual goals on a barrel before they enter the Grand Line. All in all, a pretty good conclusion to this arc. Sadly, it proves to be the last manga-based part for a while. But that is for tomorrow.
But who is that Dragon anyway?
Manga differences: -Longer focus on the fight Alvida & Buggy Pirates vs. the Marines compared to the manga. -When Dragon intercepts Smoker's weapon, this was the first time we see him in the manga. In the anime, we already see him two times before he appears. -Originally, Usopp and Nami took out Richie and Mohji fairly easily and waited for the others to arrive in the manga. The whole part with the marines firing at them and them having to set sail did not happen in the manga. -Zoro and Tashigi's fight being longer in the anime version. -Smoker originally did not allow Sanji to flee and took him out as well in the manga. -Nami being drifted off to see and Luffy having to catapult them onto the ship was also anime-only (since the ship was still anchored in the manga, they just got on normally).
Episode 54: "Precursor To A New Adventure! Apis, The Mysterious Girl!"
And so we enter the first filler arc of One Piece (though thank goodness it is only 8 episodes long, a far relief from Naruto or Bleach levels): The Warship Island Arc.
And it's off to a decent start I think. Apis is cute and very endearing for a child character and the villains are OK. Navy Commodore Nelson Royal comes across as Jabba The Hutt in human guise (perhaps Luffy should punch him like he did Alvida to help him) and Eric just comes across as an arrogant prick (though we do not learn his powers in this episode).
We also get off with a lot of questions at the start: Why are the Marines after Apis? What is this Dragonite Nelson and Eric are after (they certainly do not seem like your average Pokémon players)? Who is this Grandpa Ryu Apis mentions when fleeing from the Marines? Why did she know that a helpful wind is coming even before Nami noticed it? Questions among questions....
What I really like about this one is the humor: Apis's reaction to the Strawhats (incl. her image of them and her adorable attempts to make herself useful...Just some very funny scenes.
And the episode ends on the Calm Belt...OK, that's one bit of manga business we attend to in the next episode.
Since the whole episode is filler, no differences from the manga version to report.
Episode 55: "Miraculous Creature! Apis's Secret And The Legendary Island!"
Man, how I long to have some pork buns right about now.
This episode solves some of the mysteries from last episode in that we learn that Apis ate the Whisper-Whisper fruit, allowing her to understand animals (apparently Blythe Baxter must have eaten the same fruit on her way to Downtown City). We also learn that she hides an old Millenial Dragon who she refers to as Grandpa Ryu because he is old (and, according to her, also a bit senile). And since Dragonite is used to make an elixir of immortality, it's easy to see why Nelson the Hutt and Eric want to get their hands on that dragon (which they assume Apis hides because of the dragon claw necklace she wears, a gift from Grandpa Ryu).
All in all, it is a quiet episode again with the main conflict being the crew's escape from the Calm Belt (which is actually something that happened in the manga) and afterwards it is mostly exposition and calmly setting into Warship Island (although the scene with the endless legend being told by Apis's grandfather (not Ryu) is pretty funny.
Next ep should be a bit more exciting.
Manga differences: -Of course, Apis was not present in the manga when the crew went on the Calm Belt. -In the original, the sea king sneezed on its own. Here, after Luffy saves Apis from getting eaten by a frog (in the manga, Usopp was the one being saved without the following happening) and while being held by Luffy's rubber arm, she snatches one of the sea king's nostril hairs, causing him to sneeze.
Episode 56: "Eric Attacks! Great Escape From Warship Island!"
So, what is Eric exactly? A Paramecia-type user or a Logia-type user? For Paramecia, his body does not seem to change and the same goes for Logia, since he does not turn into wind or similar. Would be neat to ask Oda what he thinks (that is if he even has paid any attention to one-shot anime filler villains).
So, here the other Straw Hats learn of Grandpa Ryu and make their vow to find Lost Island and bring him to the Dragon's Nest. But first they have to escape Eric and the Navy (which is easy since these might be the slowest Navy soldiers ever, giving the Straw Hats enough time to build a raft for Grandpa Ryu in the mean time). Some good action with Sanji and Luffy (in which we finally learn Eric's power) and some fun humor (mostly Usopp) make this a decent enough outing.
Tomorrow will be a break due to reading OP Manga volume 17, so see you on Tuesday!
Episode 57: "A Solitary Island In The Distant Sea! The Legendary Lost Island!"
The quest for the dragon's nest continues in this one.
Some fun scenes in here (Zoro and Sanji washing dishes especially I found hilarious ) and Lost Island is a pretty interesting location hidden by a mirror mirage and a stormy sea. By the end, it also ends on an effective cliffhanger where the crew finds a strange roof painting in the main building of Lost Island. The first cracks also start to emerge between the working relationship of Eric and Commodore Royal where Eric is revealed to be a sneaky snake.
All in all, a decent episode as we move onward in this filler arc.
See you tomorrow! (BTW if my times seem a bit wonky during the next two weeks, it's because I am in Japan. So, while for me, it will be two separate days, it could happen that it appears to you like I post two reviews on the same day).
Episode 58: "Showdown In The Ruins! Tense Zoro vs. Eric!"
Where did that "tense" even come from? Zoro did not seem all that different from usual.
Anyway, this is a better episode than the previous ones. Mainly due to us finally getting more background about the Millenial Dragons which is presented as a sweet deductic reasoning by Nami. The moment when Grandpa Ryu finally remembers the location of the Dragon's Nest is also done as a really good scene enhanced by the music and imagery.
Humor is again top-notch mostly due to everyone's reaction to Luffy again (especially the scene where he again saves Zoro by reeling him in from afar . And in the end, we find out that Fatty Nelson might be more dangerous than his fatness might suggest.
Only disappointment was the fight the title promised us which was not much of a fight at all. One time Zoro dodging an attack by Eric, then Zoro following Eric who followed the rest of the Strawhat Crew fleeing the island.
Just now realized that as far as dragon designs go, the Millenial Dragons have a relatively original design, looking more like prehistoric birds rather than the run-of-the-mill Chinese or Western dragon design.
Another good episode here with Blubber Nelson proving actually a good strategist with his Folding Crane Ship Formation trapping the Going Merry. Some good fighting between the strawhats and the marines ensues (even Usopp gets another good shot destroying Nelson's big-ass cannon), again some funny scenes (lots of Zorobuse by Luffy in these for some reason) and some drama when Eric kidnaps Apis and Grandpa Ryu, tossing her onto the boat which finally causes Grandpa Ryu to stand up and read him the riot act.
The episode ends on a sad cliffhanger with Grandpa Ryu being shot out of the sky by the marines, lying on the ocean surface on the verge of death while Apis through tears calls his name.
Episode 60: "Through The Sky They Soar! The 1000 Year Legend Lives Again!"
Goodbye Grandpa Ryu, we will miss ya.
While this penultimate episode of the Warship Island Arc is more subdued than the previous one (except for the scene where Luffy uses his Axe attack to crush Fat Nelson's flagship...that attack is so underrated), but it makes up for it in atmosphere as we marvel at the Millennial Dragons' appearance, the rising of the Dragon's Nest from the ocean and taking into full account why Grandpa Ryu wanted to return her. And the scene with Apis and the baby dragon conveys so much emotion withoutanything being said that it is just gorgeous (also that baby dragon...so cute).
Before we can wrap this up however, we have to take care of the final boss of this arc: Eric.
Tomorrow will be another break to watch the second One Piece movie before returning on Sunday. See you then!
Episode 61: "An Angry Showdown! Cross The Red Line!"
This marks a break in two ways: It is not only the final episode of the Warship Island Arc, but also (according to Crunchyroll) the end of the first big story part, the East Blue Saga. Interesting in that way that the filler arc gets wrapped up before the commercial break and after it, we get right back to manga-based material.
In summary, the Warship Island Arc was a decent enough filler arc. I have certainly seen worse filler arcs than that one. The pacing was nice, the filler characters more (Apis, Eric) or less (Blubber Nelson) interesting and the story was good enough to hold my attention. Ignoring the rather short Luffy vs. Eric final fight (seriously, this shows why ultimately he was only a small fry) and a satisfying goodbye to Apis, we leave on a funny note with Apis and her grandfather to wrap up OP's first filler arc.
The entrance into the grand line is suitably epic in combination with the music and you really get the feeling that the crew enters a new part of their journey. Reverse Mountain is certainly an interesting location and seems suitable as the place to enter the Grand Line.
Manga Differences: -One very obvious one...Eric was, of course, not there originally in the manga making one final threat while the ship is going up Reverse Mountain. And this makes one curious point about that episode: the crew nonchalantly killing somebody since there are only three possibilities:
1. Eric cruelly drowns in the current of Reverse Mountain. 2. He catches onto a rock and has to wait until another ship comes by which might take a long time. 3. He manages to get up on the Red Line and has to walk a long-ass way to get to Mary Joa with nothing but rock before him.
Either way I think he's pretty screwed. Then again, he was just a filler villain, so no big loss.
Episode 62: "The First Line Of Defense? The Giant Whale Laboon Appears!"
And so we start the second story arc of One Piece: the Alabasta Arc.
And it starts with a bang giving us a whale so big that Captain Ahab would probably have gladly retired against rather than fighting him, an old man looking like a flower and a strange pair named after a weekday and a number (and who remind me of Team Rocket's Jesse & James for some reason).
This episode is once again more on the humorous side (the crew's reaction to Luffy provoking the whale, the crew's interaction with Crocus etc.) which it does well. Laboon proves to be an interesting setting as well (how long did it take Crocus to build all this inside the whale?!) and the scene with Laboon spotting the Going Merry was really well executed. And the episode leaves us on a good cliffhanger with Crocus starting the story of why Laboon hurts himself ramming against the Red Line. But the viewer is also curious about that strange combi who want to catch the whale for meat consumption for their village.
Manga Differences: -The running gag with the permanent perspective changes before Crocus says anything as well as them breaking the fourth wall by acknowledging it was not there in the original (well, the dialogue was but not the changing perspectives stuff).
Episode 63: "A Promise Between Men! Luffy And The Whale Vow To Meet Again!"
Laboon seems to be pretty gullible. Why accept a draw because the opponent said so? Laboon would have probably crushed Luffy at this stage.
Anyway, besides wrapping up the Laboon story in a happy way by Luffy (though it had to emerge from destroying the mast of the Going Merry and stabbing Laboon's open wound...yikes), this episode mostly serves as a big exposition dump about the Grand Line, explaining about the specific composition of the islands, the log pose (basically the special compass used for the Grand Line) and how one travels the Grand Line until reaching the final island, Raftel, where the One Piece is supposedly hidden. Crocus also seems to have known the Pirate King Gold Roger somehow...
The comedy is again strong here in this one mostly due to Luffy's antics and his crew's reactions to it (him using the ship's mast to attack Laboon, him eating the whole blue-fin elephant tuna before the others incl. Sanji's violent reaction to it and the consequent distruction of the first log pose) and it gives a good balance to the exposition we get.
We get also more members of this organization Ms. Wednesday and Mr. 9 work for, aka Mr. 13 and Ms. Friday who are...an otter and a bald eagle, have the nickname "The Unluckies" (gee, I wonder why that is) and drop Jokey Smurf-esque explosion presents...how weird. Anywho, the first course on the Grand Line is to Whiskey Peak where the Straw Hats will drop off Ms. Wednesday and Mr. 9.
And so ends that episode with Laboon. I doubt however that he will play an important role down the line again.
Manga differences: -In the manga, we see Laboon's pirate friends only in silhouette while in the anime we clearly see them, especially the captain's face, quite distinctly. But since they are unimportant, this won't mean a thing. -Originally, Sanji, Luffy, Ms. Wednesday and Mr. 9 pulled themselves out of the water while here Laboon splashes them onshore after they have fallen off. -Luffy announcing to the two weirdos that he is gonna be the Pirate King and their chuckling reaction to it is anime-only.
Tomorrow will be another break to read Manga Volume 18, so see you the day after tomorrow!
Episode 64: "A Town That Welcomes Pirates? Setting Foot On Whisky Peak!"
I think this epis...*cough* Ma-ma-maaaah~!...episode is a very good one despite not featuring any action.
Most of that has to do with a good mixture of humor, exposition and intrigue. We get some more information about the Grand Line (unpredictable weather that changes one moment from the next, Log Pose has to adapt to an island's magnetic field before pointing to the next one) that continues making this ocean sound like the challenge that only the best of the best can conquer.
The highlight is the humor here of course. Everybody's reaction to Zoro who slept basically since they got out of Laboon last episode is awesome and missed all the crew's work getting through the storm (especially Nami rightfully beats the shit out of him although he tries to stare her down at first) is hilarious as is the crew's raucous partying at Whisky Peak (Luffy causing three cooks to faint, Sanji flirting with 20 girls at once, Zoro and Nami drinking everybody under the floor and Usopp telling lies like always). All in all just very fun scenes to watch.
And we finally learn more substance about the organisation Ms. Wednesday and Mr. 9 belong to: Baroque Works, a secret organization whose members do not know the boss in person and only refer to each other by codenames. We also meet two more members: Mr. 8, a sheep-haired guy who likes to do voice control, and Ms. Monday, a muscular black lady posing as a nun whose physique would make Nia Jax look like Alexa Bliss by comparison.
Alos nice set piece of Whisky Peak where giant cacti grow and the "thorns" are actually the graves of the unlucky souls who ran into this town.
So, all in all, a very good one.
Manga differences: -The crew getting through the unpredictable weather was shown in more detail whereas in the manga it was just a bunch of quick panels in succession. -Nami and Zoro just started drinking without any incentive in the manga whereas in the anime, Mr. 8 announces a prize of 100,000 berry to anyone who wins the elimination drinking contest which gets Nami's attention (who was at first reluctant to drink. Also during that scene something is hinted regarding money and Zoro that will become important in a few eps).
Episode 65: "Explosion! The Three Swords Style! Zoro vs. Baroque Works!"
The Von Erichs could have learned a thing or two from Zoro how to apply a real Iron Claw.
Yeah, this is action all around the clock and very entertaining due to Zoro being such a cheeky and smart-ass opponent. I was at first confused when he mentioned that now's the time to test his new swords from Loguetown (since he used them against Eric and, even in manga continuity, he used them fighting the marines in Loguetown...unless he only used one sword there, cannot remember), but since he mentions "serious test" I can let that slide.
So yeah, it's all Zoro, all the time, slicing and dicing through the bounty hunters of Baroque Works with the occasional kicking, Iron Clawing and other actions thrown in. All done with dynamic animation and despite the serious nature, it allows for some funny moments (Ms. Wednesday and her duck Carue [the hell's up with that duck?!], most of Zoro's comments etc.), so that makes this all the more an entertaining episode. This also starts a running motif of people assuming that Zoro must be the real captain of the straw hats because of his strength.
I know that the sound of Mr. 8's saxophone shotgun is probably a stock sound effect but I don't know where it is most famously known for (I mostly associate it with being the sound of the sousaphone in the old graphic adventure "Simon The Sorcerer"). Speaking of him, nice trick of hiding cannons in his hair.
The episode ends on a dramatic cliffhanger when two new agents show up (Mr. 5 and Ms. Valentine), revealing that Mr. 8 and Ms. Wednesday are "double agents" that have infiltrated Baroque Works. More on that in the next one.
Manga differences: -All the scenes with Nami in this ep are anime-only filler. -Originally, Zoro got hypnotized by Ms. Wednesday's belly dancing (due to her shirt pattern) while in the anime, she adds a perfume to it that seems to do most of the work (although the dancing is still there). Dunno what's up with that.
Episode 66: "All Out Battle! Luffy vs. Zoro, Mysterious Grand Duel!"
That has to be the most disgusting attack yet...I mean, Snot Bombs? Really?
Anyway, this episode is going back to a good mix of action and humor with the main action focusing on the duel in the title that happens due to a misunderstanding. Luffy and Zoro are really going full face at at and the fight is pretty intense but gets a bit of humor injected by Luffy and Zoro casually getting rid of Baroque Works Agents Mr. 5 and Ms. Valentine in the meanwhile (and lemme say, Ms. Valentine's tendency to laugh after every sentence got on my nerves pretty quick, so good riddance to her).
We also get a bit more information about Baroque Works whose goal is to create an "Ideal Nation" with the higher agents being promised high positions in that state. But what this has to do with this Alabasta Kingdom, we do not know yet.
Also gotta love how Nami manipulates Zoro into doing her work for her. Sly as a fox (and Zoro's reactions are great too )
All in all, another fun episode.
Manga differences: -Fight between Luffy and Zoro is extended a bit compared to the manga.
Episode 67: "Deliver Princess Vivi! The Luffy Pirates Set Sail!"
OK, how can one simple hairstyle change transform one from a femme fatale...
...to a cutie you want to take out to ice cream to?
Anyway, the Luffy/Zoro fight gets pretty much settled by Nami interference (who may be the strongest strawhat member after all, considering the success with which she regularly punches out the others).
A bit more dramatic episode this time around featuring the death of Mr. 8 aka Vivi's bodyguard Igaram (because there is no way that he can come back from being blown to bits, right?) and a long intense talk with the second-in-command of Baroque Works, Ms. All Sunday, who I don't know her motives yet and if I should like or hate her (but who cares, she will probably be gone after this arc like all the other second-in-commands in the previous arcs).
Despite the more dramatic tone, it still leaves time for some comedy bits (mostly with Nami lamenting the situation and getting angry at the carefree attitude of the others) with the highlight being Vivi letting slip that the true identity of Baroque Works's boss is one of the Seven Warlords, Crocodile. Her reaction to that is just so adorable.
Speaking of her, I generelly like Vivi as a nice counterpart to Nami in that she is not as cunning or conniving and has more of an adorable vibe to her but that she still has determination. Definitely like her as an addition to the straw hat crew (because she gets a Wanted Poster commercial break stinger, she has to be sticking around, right, right?).
Finally, we do get a bit of further lore by being introduced to the Eternal Pose, a Log Pose that has the coordinates of one island forever saved.
No major manga differences I noticed to report here.