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one piece

Tales Worth Telling: On Manga, Anime, and how they changed Japanese storytelling

May 16 // Yussif Osman
Japan has a long and vibrant tradition of storytelling. Of course, there is the current massive industries of anime, manga, light novels and video games, but long before television and anime there was kamishibai, a practice where a street performer would narrate a tale whilst flipping through illustrations on a mobile stage; or rakugo, where the comic or storyteller would perform multiple characters in dialogue with one another with nothing but a fan with which to gesture, meaning characters had to be well developed and distinct. And then there is kodan, the heroic tale and predecessor to modern Shounen series. Stories told in these ways, for the Japanese people became news and sensation, novel and theatre for people of all classes. A culture so drenched in the art of storytelling has a great deal to teach the world about how to build worlds, create characters and set plots in motion. In contrast to much of Western media, the bestbetter anime and manga do not patronize the viewer or reader. One Piece for example, is not about what someone thinks people want to see, it is about the story the author and artists want to tell. Hayao Miyazaki was once asked about the creative process for a creator in Japan, in contrast to a creator in the West. In the West, films are often made by committee. I am not saying there is anything wrong with writers' rooms, on the contrary, collaboration can be a wonderful thing, the problems arise when a studio, which has ultimate creative control over a property, makes assumptions about what people want to see. A number of films come to mind, Fox's interference on Josh Trank's Fantastic Four or the X-men movie universe as a whole, where executives felt the need to simplify characters for an audience who just 'won't get'. I also think of the 4Kids dub of One Piece, where it was assumed that orchestrated music would not appeal to young viewers and certain themes would be inaccessible. I'm not saying that this never happens in Japan, in fact it's probably happening now more than before, but for the most part, Japan with its massive storytelling industry has put emphasis on the importance of story and not just delivery. This is evident in a passion for characters in and of themselves and in a will to drive story and touch readers and viewers, to say something true about the human condition, more than just attempting to entertain. This is storytelling for storytelling's own sake. When composing each new story, Hayao Miyazaki was concerned with just that, the story, something he has said himself. Japanese animation has confronted the world with rich and deep stories with both real and bizarre characters that speak about what's real in us, in the human condition. One Piece, which is the manga and anime I will use as my primary case study comes to mind here. Overwhelming enemies who engage in fantastic and brutal battles with the rubbery Luffy says a lot about life and the need to overcome moments of adversity by literally bouncing-back and meeting life head on, thus the head-strong, if not simple character of many Shounen heroes. Even these stories, in all their whimsical adventure, do more than just entertain, they resonate, like I've said before in my article on Digimon, high stakes make for high hopes and therein I believe lies the appeal of epics like Attack on Titan and why it became so popular. And outside the Shounen genre and the work of Hayao Miyazaki we have a plethora of incredibly moving stories, from Makoto Shinkai's 5cm per Second to works such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and The Boy And The Beast, you have a compelling and grounded premises with fantastical characters and circumstances which only enrich and make more vivid the narrative as the characters themselves remain very human, full of awkward subtleties and quirks which make it possible to empathise with them. At this point, I would like to bring up the tradition of drawing on manga to create anime. There are huge benefits to doing this, not simply because you can simply copy a story on to the screen because it often doesn't work that way, often anime take a concept and re-interpret or build upon an idea, but the benefit of manga is the vast worlds that the characters have emerged from and that has been built around them. Something I find that Japanese media has done very well, whether that's anime, manga or video games, is build tremendous and beautiful worlds and I don't just mean that on an aesthetic level, I refer to histories and politics, nations and ideologies all built from scratch from which incredible stories can spiral. More developed worlds, mean longer runs for readers and viewers to become invested, people grow-up with the characters and see them through their journeys and become committed to the worlds they live in. Worlds you can invest in are richer, richer worlds help make more interesting characters with more interesting histories and good characters with a great world to interact in, makes for a great plot. These three components: world, character and plot when executed well, I believe are responsible for producing a great story. Recently in Western media, this has also been evidenced with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I will illustrate this now with an anime/ manga which I believe does this best in One Piece. In One Piece, we're faced with the setting of a number of oceans and seas in their own hierarchy of fury and adversity, inhabited by a complex hierarchy of pirates and forces, such as the Marines and the Seven Warlords of the Sea, the revelation of each one being something we always look forward to. Hierarchies and structures within which characters explore their given world, create a framework in which viewers and readers can actually look forward to things, to more of the Wizard Saints in Fairy Tail or more Dragon Slayers. Then there is the notion that the most expansive sea in the series, the New World is largely unexplored and home to range of bizarre islands, from lightning countries to flaming tundras. But perhaps the most thrilling part of reading or viewing a great world is discovering it from scratch as characters do and One Piece, like many anime and manga does this artfully, leaving us thirsting for more. One could also turn to the slow revelation of the plethora of villages in Naruto or the wider cosmos in the Dragonball series'. And of course one of the most compelling parts of One Piece, is the world's history itself, the missing century and lost civilization which left behind ponelyphs describing its history, secrets that revolutionaries and pirates are trying to unearth and the World Government is trying to keep hidden. I hope what I've illustrated here is a network of circumstances and characters which interact in complex and far-reaching ways to create what is a compelling plot. Whether they were exploring a new country, liberating one or unearthing new secrets, the Straw Hat Pirates have never bored me and when it has been less thrilling, it is only because of the drastic scale that the series can often rise to. And even away from the high-stakes of One Piece story arcs, the characters and the themes they represent are warm and intimate, such as friendship and how it should be cherished, Usopp's wish to be brave or Robin's wish to live. I'm not saying great things don't come out of the West, when it comes to animation, I would in particular like to highlight such work as the Batman and X-men animated series' or Transformers which were all incredible, but I'm not trying to make a point about Western media, I'm trying to make a point about anime and manga.  But while we're on the topic of Western media, this is a good opportunity to bring up a handful of ground-breaking series' which have been heavily influenced by anime and manga and in doing so, illustrate how the world's love of Japanese media has created a demand for better storytelling. An obvious series that comes to mind is the Avatar animated saga and its sequel the Legend of Korra. In the tradition of long-running manga, Avatar brought us a vast world to explore and high-stakes politics to understand alongside enchanting and compelling characters heavily influenced by Eastern culture and civilization. Less obvious is Steven Universe, which I have said in a past article, is heavily influenced by such anime as Revolutionary Girl Utena in its style and themes of fluid sexuality and gender roles. There are many others, such as the French conceived Sav! The World Productions and their creation the award-winning Oban Star Racers, or the more recent Miraculous Ladybug. I go as far to make the case that the popularity of anime and manga in the West, made it more acceptable to tell more serious stories for younger audiences and so helped to mainstream the now massive comic book phenomenon. Like you, I love the Japanese format of storytelling, the amazing characters and stories it produces set across interesting and diverse worlds. So I took it upon myself to try it, to take inspiration drawn from anime and manga to produce stories in the same vain. Hei Stories, a youtube channel which uses audio and illustrations in the kamishibai style is a platform for original stories in the fantasy genre which aim to stretch the imagination and compel listeners to invest in complex characters. The first story that is being uploaded is Seeking Scarlet At The End of The World, which takes influence from Middle-Eastern and Asian culture to tell the story of a young woman with phenomenal abilities set in a world under siege. As the Raindance movement is hijacked by the Great Secret Keeper, his acolyte, Iconoclast, assaults Polis Earth, with the Orion Alliance long gone, not even the mythical Guardian seems anywhere in sight to stop her. Despite the crisis, the displaced people of the Deepa Wali culture celebrate life into the night and continue to pray. In a universe where material beings are not the only life forms and where the cosmos is ruled by an Eclipse King, I wanted to create a story of hope and cover contemporary political and social issues we're currently faced with such as the refugee crisis. I hope you will enjoy it and join the conversation here and on youtube about storytelling and what kinds of stories engage, inspire you and humanize other human beings, whether they are in your city or across oceans. So what does make a good story? Sincere, warm characters full of agency in a developed world, from Shakespeare's turbulent Scotland to Tolstoy's revolutionary Russia, a good world and characters people can be passionate about go a long way in creating a story that can resonates with readers. With Japanese media so aware of this, I look forward to every season, knowing it is bound to bring something entertaining, inspiring and compelling and above all, shedding light on the human condition and the world we live in.  
Japanator Original photo
Stay A While, and Listen
I won't hazard a guess as to how many of you have read my previous articles, but something that may have come across is the emphasis I place on the importance of good storytelling. Whether it was Digimon or GAT...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 732

Mar 07 // Anthony Redgrave
Not a lot can be done in one minute and therefore not a lot is done in this episode. Rebecca is still slowly advancing on Viola under the control of Doflamingo, Luffy is still waiting for his Haki to recharge like a battery, and the rest of the Straw Hats are desperately trying to stop the impending Bird Cage from destroying all of Dressrosa, or what's left of it.  In a twist of fate, it is Gatz that proves to the hero of the episode. Just as Mansherry's healing power starts to wear away, Gatz is able to rally the people of Dressrosa to their aid. He acts like Luffy's hype man, revealing Lucy's identity to the rest of the population that still don't know and gets the crowd pumped for his return. It's actually quite effective and entertaining despite it being stuff we have already heard before. Luffy has been out of action for a few episodes, so we as an audience are very excited to see him return to action. The countdown is cut short as Doflamingo attacks Gatz bringing the mood to a low. The cheering stops, Rebecca is launched into a final attack against Viola, and Luffy is nowhere to be seen as the clock runs passed a minute. It's a short beat of lowered mood before we see the hero return and save the damsels in distress. We all know Luffy will return so it was how he made his appearance and when which makes this beat so effective. Bringing the mood down and all that built up momentum to a standstill was the contrast that made Luffy's reappearance hit harder than if he were to appear immediately after the countdown.  The grounds are set for Luffy to end this arc finally. I'm guessing Luffy's final attack will take approximately five episodes to actually execute and bring down Doflamingo. Alternatively, the Bird Cage is brought down or stopped so Doflamingo and Luffy can prolong their fight without the constant worry of the Bird Cage completely obliterating Dressrosa before the fight is over.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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A hero's come back
I know anime takes a lot of liberties with real world scientific laws. Pretty much everything we know about modern science can be skewed in anime and then thinly explained before becoming the norm in that series. Time isn't o...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 731

Mar 01 // Anthony Redgrave
Throughout Dressrosa, there is a massive rally for people to start pushing against the descending bird cage. Dressrosa civilians, gladiators, and even the monarchy are joining up with Zoro, Franky, or Robin to push against the Bird Cage. Even the Marines join the cause with Fujitora turning a literal blind eye towards the pirates to help push by imbuing his blade with Haki. I thought it was really cool seeing Zoro do this for the first time against Pica, but with the arrival of generic Marine than can imbue their weapons with Haki, it's just another super power that's tossed around. Those Marines aren't even officer class! They're just Marine grunts that get tossed around by any main or slightly interesting tertiary character. Rebecca gets assigned to crowd control duties by her dad and grows tired of not being part of the action. And like a child going through their troublesome teens, she picks up a blade and has the urge to murder. Fortunately, her target is Doflamingo who has already extinguished the last of Luffy's protection. Violet, having the same idea as Rebecca, engages Doflamingo in mortal combat instead. It's sad to say that this is extremely stupid because both these girls are leagues below Doflamingo. Like stupidly so. A pointless sacrifice that gets Violet beaten down hard. At least, there are some cool martial arts moves animated in this fight.  As the episode winds down, the Bird Cage Brigade are able to stop the stringed menace for a few seconds giving evidence for a possible solution or delayed death. The same is sadly not true for Violet as she is caught up in Doflamingo's strings with a manipulated Rebecca heading towards her with her blade raised. It's a twisted death at the hands of her niece being controlled by Doflamingo except the ex-warlord has forgotten one thing. Rebecca always fights with a blunt blade due to being completely against attacking other contestants. I have no idea why she would bring a blunt blade when going to assassinate Doflamingo apart from that is what she is most comfortable using.  The clock ticks down like a doomsday clock or when Noah was about to descend on Fishman Island. The clock strikes one minute to midnight and it will take exactly one minute before Luffy can recover. This could be the longest 60 seconds in anime history if the next episode doesn't run the time limit.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Rebecca does something stupid
There is so much in anime that happens in between minutes of time that if I was able to that much done in the span of a few short minutes, you would see a lot more Annotated Anime articles on Japanator each week. One Piece's  time manipulation is kicked into high gear this week as the 10-minutes takes more than 20 minutes real-world time to tick down. 

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 729

Feb 15 // Anthony Redgrave
The episode kicks off where the last one ended, Luffy powers down to his normal form and is picked up by one of the most irrelevant characters in the arc, Gatz. If you don't remember him, he is the commentator of the gladiatorial matches. Turns out that Law's prediction of Luffy running out of Haki is true and it takes exactly 10 mins for it to recharge. 10 minutes may be a short time for us mere mortals but when you have a crazy puppet controlling psychopath on your ass studios can stretch it out to 10 episodes. There is a silver lining as Luffy states that when he has recovered he will finish off Doflamingo. I'll be personally holding you to that Luffy! So begins the great chase with Gatz carrying Luffy and the minor gladiators providing protection and support. I liked how there was a brief beat where all the gladiators reconciled their differences with Luffy and vowed to protect him. It's a small plot point that is seen in other One Piece arcs where the denizens begin to count on the Staw Hat's support against the central antagonist. This familiar plot structure feels like progression is happening in this two-year-old arc. Although we can expect all the crudely drawn Gladiators to die and the more defined gladiators to have a more sophisticated death.  As foreshadowed last episode, Jesus Burgess bursts through taking advantage of Luffy's condition. Fortune favours the pirates as Sabo comes to Luffy's aid and intercepts the attack. This episode highlights the either sheer stupidity of the entire cast of One Piece or their lack of perception as it comes to a shock for all involved that Sabo was the one that ate the Flare Flare fruit in the arena and had replaced Luffy as Lucy in the last fight. Even if I missed a few episodes showing that Sabo had taken Luffy's place I would've recognised that it was Sabo underneath the fake beard and sunglasses! Actually judging from Jesus's first attack on Sabo completely missing due to not imbuing it with Haki and going straight through the Logia user supports my claim that pirates are stupid. He clearly knows that Sabo ate a Logia fruit so why doesn't he attack with Haki exclusively!? All other attacks are completely useless unless you too are a Logia user! The conclusive scene of the episode is something out of nightmares as Doflamingo literally slaughters the gladiators trying to buy time for Luffy. It's a subtle edit but if you imagine the string tentacles with red instead of dark purple it paints a much more gruesome picture.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Let the streets run red
From browsing Reddit, I stumbled upon an excellent Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike match between Dudley and Ryu where they go back and forth, back and forth. And it's how I feel about the final match between Luffy and Doflamingo. A hopefully ending soon match of Pong. 


Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 728

Feb 01 // Anthony Redgrave
The scales of the fight between Luffy and Doflamingo have been balanced in the previous episode with Doflamingo awakening his Devil Fruit powers causing everything around him to turn to string. Luffy continues to fly around like a balloon trying to find an opening. There is quite a lot of fighting in this episode as there were in the last few, a lot of kinetic high-octane scenes of the two combatants trying to gain the upper hand. On the ground citizens having been motivated by King Riku's inspirational speech on surviving scurry to the centre of Dressrosa. Personally, now that we have found out the Bird Cage doesn't affect buildings made of Sea Prism stone I would have rallied the immobile to stay in the factory. The benefits of not getting sliced like a tomato at Subway outweighs being pushed by the building.  Luffy's barrage eventually connects with a Leo Bazooka, a move that has nothing to do with the character Leo who is featured heavily in this season and Doflamingo flies across the entire town into the side of Flower Fields. Despite the show proclaiming, this was the end of the fight, any One Piece fan worth their salt knows it's a false ending. The celebrations are too muted, Luffy isn't completely drained, and there are still uncertainties around whether Luffy is an ally or foe due to his pirate lifestyle. If this was the ending there would be happier inspirational music, people celebrating a whole lot more, and Luffy being completely drained. Oh and crying. Lots of crying. But the tearful joyful kind. On cue everyone realises Doflamingo hasn't been defeated as the Bird cage hasn't disappeared. Before Luffy can deliver a second attack on the immobilised Doflamingo, Gear 4th runs out. Luckily it doesn't have the side effect of Gear 3rd of turning him chibi. I would've thought it would have this effect considering it uses parts of Gear 3rd to make him a whole lot buffer. Doflamingo emerges with a grin and more inflated head veins than Vegeta. Doflamingo isn't the only pirate after Luffy's head as Jesus Burgess (yeah that guy is still relevant) was waiting for the opportune time to steal the Gum Gum fruit from Luffy. Why he would want a devil fruit that makes a person into the Japanese Mr Fanastic I don't know. It's not as if it's the strongest devil fruit in the series despite winning the most fights. It's not a Logia, and Luffy gets by due to making the most out of the bad devil fruit, scraping through most of his fights. I think Luffy could make any Devil Fruit worth having because he's an excellent creative fighter and works damn hard to make his moves work. The preview for next episode looks to be an intermission between Doflamingo and Luffy meaning we have to wait around a little longer before we can conclude the fight. At least, we are in a position where they have been fighting. My prediction is that they're going to try and get Luffy to Mansherry for a quick patch job with Law so they can stop Doflamingo's regeneration. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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The Battle Rages On!
It's been a while since I've caught up with One Piece and there's been so much to see. A quick first impression of Fourth Gear is it looked so stupid. And I think that's what Oda was going for because when I saw it in ac...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episodes 722-724

Dec 27 // Anthony Redgrave
Episode 722: A Blade of Tenacity - The Gamma Knife Counterattack!I will skip the first half of the episode as it boils down to the rest of Dressrosa suddenly realising that the Birdcage is slowly closing in around them. The morbid person within me wanted to see some people getting sliced up like cheese slices by the Birdcage. Doflamingo states that it will take an hour to destroy everything and that he can always rebuild a new kingdom. Marines attempt to evacuate civilians back to the centre of Dressrosa whilst Usopp panics and the rest of the cast look nervously towards the Castle where Luffy is battling Doflamingo.  Back on the roof, Luffy barrages Doflamingo with attacks and vice versa. These few shots are dynamic and energetic showing off Luffy's agility at avoiding Doflamingo's string attacks. I could do without the multicolour string as it makes his attacks look less lethal and more childish and cheap looking. As Luffy closes the gap between him and Doflamingo, Law uses shambles to plant a Gamma Knife Attack on Doflamingo. In a turn of events, Law had created a room so large that it was unable to be seen outwards by Trebol allowing him to get the drop on the Heavenly Demon. Law's supposed death was faked and just like most magicians there was a body double that took the brunt of the damage, in this case, was a nearby Doflamingo pirate. The body switch was a smart move.  Together Law and Luffy were able to bring Doflamingo to the ground. Trebol is happy not to contribute for some reason and is more inclined to shout encouraging messages to Doflamingo. The plot progression could've taken 5 minutes to do, 10 minutes if you extended it to make it more dramatic and flashy with top notch animation which they did. The rest of the episode were re-treads of old material or reactions to the Birdcage event. And despite this, those 10 minutes of Law, Luffy and Doflamingo fighting were worth watching the whole episode.  I would expect this to be near the end game for Doflamingo if it not for next episode's title. Episode 723: Haki Clash! - Luffy vs. DoflamingoLike a horror movie, Doflamingo stands tall after a bad fall. In classic One Piece fashion, there is more than one way a devil fruit power can come in handy and it's all up to the creativity of its user. In this case, Doflamingo is able to use his string powers to repair all the internal damage caused by the Gamma Knife attack. I'm pretty sure you have to be medically trained to be messing around with the insides of a human and I doubt a guy like Doflamingo is. Before Doflamingo is able to kill Law (for good this time), he is interrupted by Luffy and begins to have a Haki Struggle (the One Piece equivalent of a beam struggle in DBZ). The big reveal in this episode is that Doflamingo also possesses the extremely rare Conqueror's Haki or Haki of the Colour of the Conquering King if we were to give it the literal translation. He first demonstrated it when he and his family were being tied up and tortured showing how they were able to get out of that mess. Trebol discovered Doflamingo and took him under his wing presenting him with his signature weapons; a pistol and the String-String Fruit. Trebol's ominous narration explains that Doflamingo is the one chosen by heaven showing qualities of a king foreshadowing his lineage as a resident of Mariejois. We also see a young Vergo with a silly bowl cut. He looks like a mega dork as a kid, Finally, the episode turns into Dragon Ball Z as the action is so fast you can only see the impact from air pockets appearing in a zig-zagging line. Luffy relentlessly attacks Doflamingo as the latter defends or gets hit. Nothing really phases Doffy throughout this episode. It ends almost as it had begun with Doflamingo mocking their attempts, Law on the ground too weak to fight the Luffy struggling to keep up.  Episode 724: Unassailable! The Stunning Secret of Trebol!Misleading titles are common in One Piece so after watching this episode I'm still not 100% certain about what Trebol's stunning secret really is. The episode begins with Trebol holding down Luffy so Doflamingo could finish off Law without interruption. However, Law's provocative calling at Trebol gains his attention and proceeds to make Law the next upcoming bukkake actor. Trebol's power isn't derived from a Logia fruit. His sticky-sticky power is actually papier mache as his body is hidden within all the sticky substance making him immune to Haki imbued attacks. Could this be Trebol's stunning secret? Law's big mouth causes Trebol to recount how Doflamingo was found by him, Pica, Diamante and Vergo. They pledged their allegiance to the young Doflamingo as they saw potential in the boy due to his Haki. Every little thing that had hurt Doflamingo, the family would go on and destroy making them a very powerful crime family rather than pirate. Think Godfather instead of Pirates of the Carribean. Through this, they groomed Doflamingo into a selfish, ambitious man and the evilest person destined to be the king of the sea. Despite acting like they are under Doflamingo as one of the executives, Trebol reckons he and Doflamingo were equals since it was Trebol that gave Doflamingo his start as a powerful individual. Is Trebol being equal to Doffy the stunning secret? I would expect at this point for Doflamingo to prove otherwise and destroy Trebol and then make a speech about how he was just using the family for his own gain i.e. what Law was saying the whole time.  I think this episode was already entertaining with another flashback covering how Doflamingo was integrated into the rest of the family but then it got better. Law manipulates his severed arm (somehow still gripping his sword) and drives it into Trebol revealing a very frail old man beneath all the gunk. It was completely out of the blue as I had expected Law to do another switch a roo. Trebol's mucus is actually flammable and as a last-ditch attempt ignites everything completely destroying the castle roof. Is the flammable property of the mucus the stunning secret? Fortunately, Luffy is able to grab Law and escape with Doflamingo following swiftly behind. Apparently Doflamingo has no need for a frail old man with a massive gash over his torso. The episode closes out 2015 on a cliffhanger as bullet strings heading towards Law and Robin. I have a feeling that Luffy's fight was Doflamingo will finally begin here now that Trebol has been defeated. Law is also in the presence of Mansherry so he can get fixed up and possibly join the fight. Whether her powers extend to reattaching limbs has yet to be seen.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] Episode 722: A Blade of Tenacity - The Gamma Knife Counterattack!I will skip the first half of the episode as it boils down to the rest of Dressrosa suddenly realising that the Birdcage is slowly closing in around them. Doflamingo states that it will take an hour to destroy everything and that he can always rebuild a new kingdom. Marines attempt to evacuate civilians back to the centre of Dressrosa whilst Usopp panics and the rest of the cast look nervously towards the Castle where Luffy is battling Doflamingo. The morbid person within me wanted to see some people getting sliced up like cheese slices by the Birdcage.  Back on the roof, Luffy barrages Doflamingo with attacks and vice versa. These few shots are dynamic and energetic showing off Luffy's agility at avoiding Doflamingo's string attacks. I could do without the multicolour string as it makes his attacks look less lethal and more    Episode 723: Haki Clash! - Luffy vs. Doflamingo [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] Episode 722: A Blade of Tenacity - The Gamma Knife Counterattack!I will skip the first half of the episode as it boils down to the rest of Dressrosa suddenly realising that the Birdcage is slowly closing in around them. Doflamingo states that it will take an hour to destroy everything and that he can always rebuild a new kingdom. Marines attempt to evacuate civilians back to the centre of Dressrosa whilst Usopp panics and the rest of the cast look nervously towards the Castle where Luffy is battling Doflamingo. The morbid person within me wanted to see some people getting sliced up like cheese slices by the Birdcage.  Back on the roof, Luffy barrages Doflamingo with attacks and vice versa. These few shots are dynamic and energetic showing off Luffy's agility at avoiding Doflamingo's string attacks. I could do without the multicolour string as it makes his attacks look less lethal and more childish and cheap looking. As Luffy closes the gap between him and Doflamingo, Law uses shambles to plant a Gamma Knife Attack on Doflamingo. In a turn of events, Law had created a room so large that it was unable to be seen outwards by Trebol allowing him to get the drop on the Heavenly Demon. Law's supposed death was faked and just like most magicians there was a body double that took the brunt of the damage, in this case, was a nearby Doflamingo pirate. The body switch was a smart move. After that many bullets pumped into a guy I didn't think Law would survive. But this is One Piece so he could've managed a few more episodes slowly bleeding to death or to unleash his final ultimate attack that he's been saving for a suicidal attempt to kill the main bad guy.  Together Law and Luffy were able to bring Doflamingo to the ground. Trebol is happy not to contribute for some reason and is more inclined to shout encouraging messages to Doflamingo instead of physically helping him out. The plot progression could've taken 5 minutes to do, 10 minutes if you extended it to make it more dramatic and flashy with top notch animation which they did. The rest of the episode were re-treads of old material or reactions to the Birdcage event. And despite this, those 10 minutes of Law, Luffy and Doflamingo fighting were worth watching the whole episode.  I would expect this to be near the end game for Doflamingo if it not for next episode's title. Episode 723: Haki Clash! - Luffy vs. Doflamingo [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] Episode 722: A Blade of Tenacity - The Gamma Knife Counterattack!I will skip the first half of the episode as it boils down to the rest of Dressrosa suddenly realising that the Birdcage is slowly closing in around them. Doflamingo states that it will take an hour to destroy everything and that he can always rebuild a new kingdom. Marines attempt to evacuate civilians back to the centre of Dressrosa whilst Usopp panics and the rest of the cast look nervously towards the Castle where Luffy is battling Doflamingo. The morbid person within me wanted to see some people getting sliced up like cheese slices by the Birdcage.  Back on the roof, Luffy barrages Doflamingo with attacks and vice versa. These few shots are dynamic and energetic showing off Luffy's agility at avoiding Doflamingo's string attacks. I could do without the multicolour string as it makes his attacks look less lethal and more    Episode 723: Haki Clash! - Luffy vs. Doflamingo [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Sans filler episode
And now we close on another year in Dressrosa. We had made substantial progress through the arc with most of the executive fights over and only the biggest fight to tackle now. The pacing is still slower than a tortoise and t...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episodes 720+ 721

Dec 08 // Anthony Redgrave
Episode 720: So Long! Bellamy's Farewell Blow!With the last of Doflamingo's Lieutenants falling by Zoro's hands and the SMILE factory being destroyed by the Tontatta tribe everything is looking up for the Straw Hat- Heart Pirate Alliance. Trebol is still under the impression that they still have Mansherry's healing powers to fix everything, but we know that she got saved by Leo some episodes back and this episodes is able to rendezvous with Robin, Rebecca and Kyros.  Apart from that nothing happens in this episode. Most of it is patting each other on the back or looking at the now tertiary characters briefly. I had completely forgotten about Kaola and her investigation until this episode. We do get a small flashback to when Zoro learnt to imbue his sword with Haki from Mihawk at the expense of being completely teetotal. I assume it's so Zoro doesn't get into the bad practice of sword fighting and drinking like Hyouzou.  I think what everyone wants to see is the conclusion of the Bellamy- Luffy fight and that doesn't occur until the last 5 minutes of the episode. Fortunately, it is a good 5 minutes. The finale of the episode recaps Luffy's entire relationship with Bellamy and his choice to finally end his suffering. It goes through the themes of honour, weakness, acceptance, and pride, things that we have seen before during this fight which seems overplayed now since this fight has been really drawn out. It ends with Luffy re-creating the Jaya arc and downing Bellamy with one punch. It's easily the best part of the episode. As the blow is struck, all audio is cut off and you can only see the rage of Luffy's expression mixed with the complete defeat from Bellamy. The impact is made so much stronger without any audio accompaniment. Episode 721: Law Dies - Luffy's Raging Onslaught!The last episode ended with a bit of a cliffhanger as Doflamingo and Trebol leer over a bullet-ridden Law corpse. Winding the clocks back a few minutes we see the last two executives mercilessly beating the crap out of the Heart Pirate captain. Doflamingo does offer Law an ultimatum; if he performs the eternal youth operation on Doflamingo then Doflamingo will grant Law one wish after he dies. I'm unsure of the validity of the request since Doflamingo is probably the evilest person in the whole of One Piece and Law would never know whether his final request was respected. Like many D.'s before him, he spits on Doflamngo's request making the Heavenly Demon lose his shit and pop many many many caps into Law.  Just as Luffy arrives on the scene, Doflamingo begins to shrink his Birdcage destroying Dressrosa and it's inhabitants, also known as the destroy everything because it's fucked up. By this point Doflamingo is cutting his losses and a fight with Luffy is completely meager now that Law is dead. I would have to agree. Luffy was having trouble fighting off a Doflamingo puppet so he would no match against both Doflamingo and Trebol together.  This episode was slightly better than the previous but again re-treads old ground with the same themes explored in the same manner. Doflamingo's tantrum at Law did reveal some interesting points around Law. Law's Heart Pirates name might be referring to the position Corazon once had in the Doflamingo family and the position Law was supposed to take after Corazon's death. Law wears Corazon branded clothing as a mocking gesture at Doflamingo as he is carrying out his will even in death against his brother.  Again there is a cliff hanger with Law whispering some advice to Luffy. After point-blank musket shots to a person, you'd think they would be too mangled to make coherent words or thoughts. In the world of One Piece, unless you die by the sword, bullets and explosions are mostly meaningless.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] So Long! Bellamy's Farewell Blow!
One Piece photo
Click bait titles
Whenever this show has a juicy title, you can always guarantee that 90% of the episode will be filler. The part you want to see will be at the very beginning then quickly revisited at the end for a cliff hanger. Or on the fli...

Salty Thoughts: What a One Piece superfan thinks of Pirate Warriors 3

Dec 01 // Anthony Redgrave
As a quick background before diving into the game, I'm a massive One Piece fan. I do a weekly recap on the site, I've watched close to all seven hundred summit episodes of the anime including half the released movies. I spend hours on the Wikia to brush up on the lore while tip-toeing around manga spoilers and won't shut up about it whenever it's brought up in conversation. On the other hand, Dynasty Warriors and musou games are completely alien to me. My history with the gameplay style can only be described as a lazy afternoon keeping my nephew entertained at a family affair. Flashy action on a split screen with little interest in Japanese military history or strategy. Diving into One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 was an interesting affair for a guy with a mixed background such as I.  Looks like the show, sounds like an elevator lobby Presentation wise the game looks great. Like a high definition moving coloured manga, the looks and feels stunning. This is supported by having the seiyu reprise their role from the show making it feel like playing through an episode. The game captures all major set piece events from the story and animates them wonderfully. Unlike Toei's ever fluctuating animation budget for the show, this animation is crisp and detailed. The cutscenes recreate the key visuals featured in the story helping fans reminisce on the many adventures they have embarked on with the Straw Hat crew. For me, it felt like a trip down memory lane taking Luffy from his humble beginnings in Shells town to becoming a major enemy of the world government for the sake of his crew. I'm really glad they spent the time to keep as accurately as possible to the original story and try to cram as many references to the arc as possible into the 30-minute missions. A really nice touch was having the 'To be continued' end cards at the end of each mission hammering home the fact you are playing through the anime.  But it's not all there. Although the game feels like a One Piece title from the visuals, the vocals can only take the game so far. There are no familiar tracks in this game. Having the unique themes of each Straw Hat as you play as them would've really made me connect with the game on a much deeper level. After 700+ episodes, you really grow attached to the tracks. I was expecting to hear; Mother Sea for the tragic cutscenes, character eye-catch motifs for the results screen and Overtaken for the finale of each stage. They would've tied the knot on this incredibly immersive experience. Instead, the music that is provided is forgettable.  It's in the little details...and the big ones, too The game gets very bipolar about the amount of detail it would like to have with the franchise. To date, it's the most accurate One Piece video game title. It's a game that doesn't allow players to purposefully retcon the story mode. You can only play as certain Straw Hats on certain levels as long as they were participating in the bulk of the fighting in the arc. For example, you cannot play as Robin in the CP9/World Government Arc as she was being held hostage and you cannot take Franky back to Syrup Village to Strong Right Kuro in his smug face. Only the characters that fight in the show, fight in the game. That also means unlocking Nami can only be done at the Alabasta arc since she is fairly useless without her Clima-tact arts even though she was recruited in the Arlong Arc.  I really like how the game incorporates the different devil fruit abilities into the gameplay rather than just being a purely cosmetic addition. Logia Devil Fruits are considered the most powerful since the user embodies the element it possesses. This means typical sword swings and gun shots should not be able to affect them and it's shown in game by having many attacks being useless when pitted against a Logia user. It's not completely foolproof as spamming attack (like you're doing every 2 seconds) will cause the armour to break but I appreciate the extra effort they went with incorporating it into the gameplay.  All devil fruit were not made equally regardless of Oda's weird way of power boosting some of the most inane powers I've seen in fiction. There are some gameplay issues that just go against the lore of One Piece and there is two that stand out the most to me. The first is Luffy's Gum Gum Fruit. It's supposed to make him immune to gunfire and it's shown off a lot in the show from him ricocheting back bullets and cannon balls. Playing through the first level, you can still get hurt by bullets albeit really minor chip damage. But it just doesn't make sense especially when the cutscene he is shown saving Zoro by bouncing bullets back at the attackers. My second gripe is the second level that features Buggy the clown, a clown pirate that ate the chop chop fruit. By definition, this guy cannot be cut up. Not slashed or stabbed, completely immune to sharp objects. In the show, the world's best swordsman Dracule Mihawk couldn't damage this East Blue Rookie in the battle of the best. In the second level, you are allowed to take the role of Zoro, the Straw Hat's first mate and resident swordsman. As always at the end of the level you have to fight the main pirate and, in this case, it was Buggy. I was expecting a difficult fight due to my poor choice of fighter or even an option to switch back to Luffy. The game ended up letting me fight Buggy as Zoro and winning without any resistances to any of my attacks. This just shouldn't happen. His body can be sliced in any way and survive so by theory he shouldn't have been able to lose. You could apply this logic to when Luffy fought Enel but even in the manga and anime Luffy got fried a few times despite the natural advantage. Enel was able to power himself up into a electric god compared to Buggy not changing anything about himself.  And other nerdy nitpicks Like Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, Pirate Warriors 3 follows the story up until the current arc and just like the Naruto, provides an alternative ending to the incomplete arc. In this case, the Dressrosa arc is heading towards its end in the manga and finally coming to the showdown between Luffy and the big bad Doflamingo. Unfortunately, the ending in this game has a lot to be desired. Just like Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, the game plays it incredibly safe and has the bad guy escape just after defeat.....It really leaves a sour taste in my mouth especially when Law and Luffy are backed by the entire Straw Hat crew and Aokiji (yeah he's there too). Doflamingo is still able to run away into the sky without any of them giving chase. This is wrong for so many reasons. Doflamingo had so much stake in Dressrosa not only as his Kingdom but also for business purposes. Would he really run away from a factory producing artificial devil fruits to supply to one of the four emperors of the sea? Or even abandon his head scientist Caesar after bargaining and scheming to get him back from Law. Doflamingo doesn't even attempt his signature move Bird Cage trapping the Straw Hats and their allies on the island! Despite my old man ramblings about the smallest detail (the default costumes aren't even canon!) I still really enjoyed the game. Every character feels unique and unlike most games I've played recently, I still want to jump back on and mindlessly attack drones with my favourite One Piece character. A current favourite is post time skip Tashigi but it just feels wrong attacking Marines as her. It is definitely the best One Piece game I've played so far and has the most comprehensive retelling of the story outside of the anime. Any One Piece fan should try to check this out as the reviews are indicating it's better than the previous two. Just try to take everything with a pinch of salt otherwise you'll end up as a salty sailor like me. ricochet To be continued
One Piece photo
Setting sail for the virtual seas!
It's been nearly 8 years since I've started watching One Piece and it seems to be one of the only constants I have kept when transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. So you can bet your bottom beli I jumped at t...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episodes 715-719

Nov 24 // Anthony Redgrave
Episode 715: The Manly Duel - Senor's Elegy of LoveLuffy continues his senseless and losing fight against Bellamy while Leo and co. get Mansherry back to Viola. This is all peripheral to the main stars of the episode; Franky vs. Senor Pink. We have been getting snippets of this fight for many episodes and but it has never progressed further than just trading a few attacks and hits. In retrospect, I think Senor Pink was absolutely trashing Franky, delivering a hit and the sinking back into the ground. This manly fight is backed by pure testosterone. Neither side wanting to back down nor dodging a hit since it would be unmanly to avoid it, or as they eloquently put it "refuse a drink at a bar by pulling the cup away". Senor Pink's ultimatum comes in this episode stating that if Franky can withstand his ultimate attack then he will back down. The final move turns out to be a very fancy Izuna Drop. Mid-way through the descent, Senor Pink mentions that he knows Franky's weak point i.e. his back since that is the only part of him that isn't mechanised. Things are looking bad for the Straw Hat until he rises from the crater like a goddamn Terminator, red eye and all.  Then comes the emotional flashback. I was told that Doflamingo's executives had some really tear jerker back stories and they weren't lying. I didn't think I'll ever relate to a guy looks like an overgrown baby surrounded by bikini babes, and somehow One Piece has me feeling nothing but empathy for the guy. I love the way it is introduced too. Senor Pink sends Franky flying and starts to wax nostalgic about Russian and Gimlet. We're kept in the dark about these names until the second half the episode which makes the reveal hit harder emotionally. Looking back it's understandable he still holds them dear to his heart. He had to live a double life as a pirate and a family man, and neither should ever meet. I'd imagine he kept his family a secret from the Doflamingo Family as he did his pirate life from his actual family.  On first appearances I thought Senor Pink was a wacky Oda creation with no reason for him being dressed as a baby outside of diversity and character design aesthetics. Having a history behind his appearance makes Senor Pink a much deeper character compared to the other villainous lieutenants the Straw Hats face. I'm just surprised I'm getting more emotional reactions out of the antagonistic cast rather than the heroes. Episode 716: Stardust of Death! Diamante's Storm of Vicious Attacks!We continue to take a look at Senor Pink's life and how he dealt with the mocking eyes of everyone when they saw him dressing as a Baby. Surprisingly well for a Man (with a capital M) that once wore stylish suits and chain-smoked cigarettes. I really didn't think Senor Pink's back story should have been included in this episode. At least not separated from the previous episode. It would've been better if they spent an entire episode on Senor Pink's backstory instead of having two halves of two episode. Fortunately, the pacing was still spot on, not dragging too much on familiar ground and concluding with the Tontatta tribe storming the SMILE factory. As the title implies, we return to the three on one fight on top of Flower Hill. Apparently the joint forces of Robin, Kyos, and Rebecca is still not enough to bring down Steve Tyler's One Piece doppelganger. Diamante makes it rain with lots and lots of caltrops catching Kyros in the barrage of iron spiky objects. However not even this is able to bring down the one legged gladiator so Diamante shoots him instead. And even this isn't enough to bring him down though Diamante did just hit is leg instead of anything more valuable like the heart or head.  Kyos delivers a speech prompting Rebecca to finally drop her sword which is good because she hasn't really used it for the past 10 episodes and had merely served as a decorative item to complete the Gladiator ensemble. I had really hoped Rebecca would be more than a damsel in distress. She was really competent before Kyros arrived, taking on gladiators, avoiding death, and fending for her own. Did the sudden re-appearance of her father negate a decade's worth of fighting experience!?  Episode 717: Trueno Bastardo! Kyos' Furious Strike!After my long break away from One Piece, the show is finally finishing off all their major fights. Senor Pink was finished off in the last two episodes, Mansherry has been rescued and Jora was defeated again. Now it's time for Diamante to eat humble pie and be destroyed at Kyros's hands. Not much to say here as it's just fighting. Not many special moves nor smart tactics. Kyros continues to wails on Diamante as they flashback to Scarlet as she joins the two together being Kyros's wife and Diamante's victim. The two do have another thing in common in this episode and that is to have the scariest close-ups ever in One Piece. The camera gets so close to their face that they contort in bizarre shapes and colors. I'm not too sure if they're sword fighting or tripping out on the flower buds.  Diamante is downed and everyone gets a pat on the back as Violet reads off the remaining executives; Pica, Trebol, the big cheese himself Doflamingo, and Bellemy. I wouldn't consider Bellemy an executive considering Doflamingo has tried to kill that guy about three times already. Episode 718: Moving Across the Ground! The Giant Statue Pica's Surprise Maneuver!Pica decides his fight with Zoro is useless and focusses his efforts on killing Riku instead. He reasons that if the entire country wants Riku back in power, killing Riku would prevent him from dethroning Doflamingo or Doffy as his executives call him. Pica then grows to be a Kaiju-sized monster and traverses Dressrosa towards King Riku and the rest of the crew. As Zoro gives chase, we get a glimpse into the swordsman's strategic mind. Unfortunately, this entire episode is played straightedge. We don't have any funny fails in mind planning or does Zoro get lost from following a behemoth. Having a giant CG Pica looked a little weird amongst all the animation but overall the visuals are on par with a normal One Piece episode; acceptable if you don't look at anything outside front and centre.  Episode 719: A Decisive Battle in Midair! Zoro's New Special Secret Technique Blasts!Now it's time to take down that high pitched stone monstrosity that has been avoiding death since the start of Summer. Zoro's plan is to fly to the top of Pica and slice him before he can destroy King's Plateau along with Riku, Usopp, the Samurai, and the other secondary allies the Straw Hats have picked up in the past year. He gets thrown by Orlumbus and flies through the sky like a plan with swords for wings. The picture of Zoro flying at high speeds through the sky with katana akimbo looks ridiculous. He looks like Woody in the first Toy Story as he's being propelled by the rocket strapped to the back of Buzz except this time it's a suited buff dude with a bandana and two samurai swords.  Meanwhile, Pica painfully takes his time flattening Riku and even pauses when he sees the citizens of Dressrosa banding together to sacrifice themselves with the former king. I'm not too sure why he would pause at that moment considering he's probably killed far more people unconsciously traversing to King's Plateau in his Kaiju form. Zoro slices and dices in the nick of time using his new skill: imbuing his sword's with Haki. Pica escapes as per usual but is cornered midair by the swordsman. The show then starts drawing parallels with the first time Zoro fought Mihawk. I think it's because Zoro uses an upgraded version of his Three Thousand Worlds technique against Pica except the thematic parallels don't work due to the context of each situation. This may be Zoro's strongest enemy to date, but he's not fighting against an equally strong swordsman or cutting a material that is inherently difficult to cut. When he fought Mihawk it was almost certainly a losing battle, he was out of depth. When he fought Daz Bones, he was fighting again against the odds since the guy was made of Iron as a devil fruit power. An uncuttable material. This time, we see Zoro slicing and dicing stone like it's made of cheese so it doesn't look like a difficult fight physically. Zoro for most of the series been able to cut brick and motor. The Pica fight should've been trying to test Zoro's cerebral skills to make him into a better swordsman. Without tactics and intelligence, brute force would only get you so far. However the show doesn't show Zoro stressing about it at all, he doesn't have a eureka moment nor worrying about how to beat this impossible opponent. He was always calm, collected, and content on cutting up stone after stone and chasing after Pica. This seems to be a running theme through the post time skip. The crew never grow stronger after every fight, their training appears to be sufficient to tackle these challenges in the new world.  And with that I'm caught up with One Piece and so are you. Hopefully, I won't leave this week's recapping for another five weeks again otherwise I may be court marshalled from the Japanator ship for going AWOL.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
One Piece catch up extravaganza!
It's been too long my friends for a salty sailor to be denied the high seas. I've saved One Piece until last since little ever happens week to week. And the five weeks I do decide to leave are the five episodes where three executives are taken down, one of the best heart-wrenching flashbacks in this arc occurs, and Zoro imitates an aeroplane. 

Review: One Piece Pirate Warriors 3

Nov 02 // Red Veron
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (PS4 [Reviewed], PS3, PS Vita)Developer: Omega ForcePublisher: Bandai Namco GamesReleased: March 26, 2015 (JP) / August 25, 2015 (US) / August 28, 2015 (EU)MSRP: $59.99 From Gundam to Fist of the North Star, the Dynasty Warriors formula works well with anime-styled action and the One Piece series is one of those that excels using that gameplay style. This new entry to the Pirate Warriors series has us playing through some of the official One Piece story arcs from Romance Dawn to the latest Dressrosa Atc, unlike the previous game that had its own original game-exclusive story. Though a "Dream Log" mode is there to satisfy those who would like to play some "what if" scenarios with their favorite characters and/or various team-ups/duels. The Dream Log mode is somewhat similar to Samurai Warriors' Chronicle mode. You get play through a map filled with different points that each have scenarios with certain objectives. These scenarios are short and have different choices to change things up, such as choosing to side with different factions of different characters.   The action in this new Pirate Warriors provides more variety than most Warriors games, each character will play differently whether it is in their speed or strength. Each character will have their own combos and even those who seem to have similar weapons do play differently, which adds plenty of replay value. This is a great way to showcase the uniqueness of the One Piece characters in more than just the way they look, button-mashing isn't going to work here. Another thing that differentiates this title is the use of a dodge button that replaces the jump button, this lets you dodge in any direction on one plane and works well when timed right. Co-op play adds much fun to the game but the online co-op is limited to the Legend and Free logs, while local split-screen co-op works with all modes.The different ways to play against or with characters feed into the way you increase your character's stats. Beating or teaming up with the differing characters gives you access to the specific character's coins. These character coins will upgrade each character's specific stats, adding a loot aspect to the game. Leveling up characters is easy, especially for those who like sticking to one character. You can just boost other characters' level to the highest level character you have using the generously abundant in-game currency. There are more playable characters in this new entry, which is great for local split-screen play and also adds to the new "Kizuna Rush" attack mechanic. The new "Kizuna Rush" system allows your player character to team up with up to three other characters for support that provide more stronger attacks at the end of your combos as you level up your Kizuna gauge. When you max out the Kizuna Gauge, you can perform a Kizuna Rush that obliterates all non-special characters onscreen and deals a good damaged to special characters. This adds more to your combat variety and timing your Kizuna attacks just feels satisfying, especially when clearing out huge mobs quickly.The Kizuna system works with "Hero Powers", filling up the Kizuna gauge beyond level 3 with certain characters allow for map-wide affecting specials which can range from healing your allies to landing attacks that damage all acitve enemies on the map. One thing that kept from enjoying the different Warriors games in the past was the performance and visuals of the games. I am very pleased that this latest Pirate Warriors game on the Playstation 4 runs great (with very rare minor hiccups) and looks great. This game is also on the Playstation Vita which looks good and runs just as well as its console counterparts. Pirate Warriors 3 also features cross-save support which allows you to upload your save to the cloud and lets you continue your progress on any platform. Pirate Warriors 3 being on the Playstation Vita is probably why the levels can be finished in around 10 minutes and have reasonably sized maps, this is great as it keeps you from getting bored in running around a map or dying accidentally and losing a lot of progress like in the mainline Dynasty Warriors game. Levels that have those timed objectives are much more balanced compared to the strict time limits or easily killed allies that end up in mission failure in the previous game. Presentation of the story is pretty but a bit inconsistent. There are nice looking full CG animated scenes adapted from the show but not all parts are presented in this manner, some scenes are done in the minimal animated voiced character models with a text box; then there there are the plain text exposition voiced over by the narrator. It may be confusing to those unfamiliar and the drama that fans love from the anime will be lost on One Piece newcomers since it just doesn't have the impact. There's plenty of content in this game for fans and those just wanting to play some Warriors action. Those wanting a different take on the Warriors formula and die-hard One Piece fans should find something in this new game, it's an improvement over the previous game but those tired with the second game won't find much different here. If you've never played a Pirate Warriors title and want to play a great take on the Warriors formula, Pirate Warriors 3 provides a great fun time.
One Piece photo
King of the Pirates!
As someone who isn't into One Piece, it's always a surprise for me every time I am reminded that the franchise is still wildly popular around the world. Its enduring popularity remains strong especially in its native Japan wi...

One Piece photo
One Piece

One Piece: Burning Blood trailer is all flash and dazzle


Some like it red hot
Oct 31
// Anthony Redgrave
I think everyone knows by now that I love me some One Piece. One Piece games have come and gone without any real standouts apart from the Pirate Warrior series. The newest iteration One Piece: Burning Blood is a fighting gam...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episodes 713+ 714

Oct 24 // Anthony Redgrave
The episode kicks off right where the previous had ended. Nico Robin had just captured Cavendish before he could attack her. Subduing the blonde swordsman, it is revealed that his violent personality is called Hakuba and is a lot more aggressive than Cavendish. The reveal isn't played dramatically but instead for laughs. Cavendish desperately tries to regain control of his body, Hakuba wrestles against Robin's restraints, and Bartomeleo tries to understand what the hell is going on. The humour isn't dragged out as Gladius takes advantage of the situation by placing a bomb on the mountain side. Bartolomeo is placed in a difficult defensive position that puts him or Nico Robin at risk. I think if I didn't like Bartolomeo, this fight with Gladius would've been disappointing. Bartolomeo was another character that was rather polarising when he was first introduced since his character design and personality mimicked a minor antagonist. This soon turned around once he started fanboying over Luffy and any other Straw Hat he saw. There was little action or kinetic energy between Bartolomeo and Gladius, but the tension and drama are present making it a suspenseful episode. I really liked the ending of this episode as a result of the fight. An executive goes down, Bartolomeo has his moment of epicness, and Robin is finally where she needs to be to help Rebecca.  Episode 714 brings us back to the Tontatta's campaign to rescue Princess Mansherry. The episode isn't spent too long on the actual rescue process i.e. Leo and Kabu running through the castle to find her and more on why Doflamingo had captured Princess Mansherry.  Princess Mansherry is the eater of the Heal Heal fruit which is a devil fruit that makes studying for medicine obsolete. Jora having been healed previously, tries to force Mansherry to use her power on the defeated executives. For me, it isn't the drama that lies with an executive coming back and causing the defeat of an ally, it's the idea that this arc may be prolonged because they have to fight the executives again. It's an unfortunate reason since it implies I'm not enjoying watching One Piece or I wouldn't enjoy more of it, but this does also heighten the tension in this episode. Jora discovers that Mansherry doesn't have to use her powers voluntarily as a tear from her eyes can heal anyone it touches prompting her to beat the dwarf princess. It's an uncomfortable scene, more so than the savage beatings seen in the fights that have caused disfigurement, blood shed, and even death.  The finale of the episode was decent wrapping up the Tontatta campaign and moving back to the fight with Luffy and Bellemy. I'm hoping the show keeps ups this pace and shows Franky's fight with Senor Pink soon. Every clip we have seen looks absurd when taken out of context and it's been so long sine we checked into the fight that I barely remember what the context is! [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
Cavendish 'Two Face' Dent
Cavendish is a good character for One Piece. His character design is nice and provides some fan service for the lady viewers who'd prefer the prince characters over the overly macho Zoro. Cavendish isn't just eye candy e...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 712

Oct 05 // Anthony Redgrave
At the end of the last episode, Gladius had unleashed his master plan of blowing up everything around him including his "elite" henchmen in hopes of destroying Cavendish in a move he calls Punc Rock Fest. The misspelling was a tactical one as Oda doesn't want to piss off the real Punks of Japan. The blonde swordsman just barely survives as he is let into Bartolomeo's barrier in the nick of time. As always Bartolomeo is the source of absolute joy in whatever episode he is in, fanboying out at any Straw Hat interaction and acting like an asshole to anyone that doesn't fly under the Straw Hat flag. Dellinger continues to beat the ever loving crap out of one of the more forgettable gladiators Ideo despite his excessively long arms. I think every other gladiator landed one blow at least against their executive except this guy despite fighting pretty well in the coliseum. Angered by his determination, Dellinger reveals his true form as a Fighting Fish Fishman and promptly delivers the first scare of the episode. His child-like appearance and personality with a psychotic smile attached was already quite un-nerving for me to witness in combat. Adding in a transformation that makes Hody Jones and Arlong look like pussies is absolutely terrifying. The cut to red eyes surrounded by darkness was a bit too over dramatic for a show like this, especially when considering what happens later.  Robin continues her ascent towards the Flower Fields to Rebecca's location being covered from below by Bartolomeo. Her running animation looks bad. It looks like they had forgotten to add the in between frames leaving only the keyframes. The result is her moving very awkwardly compared to the how everything else moves in the show. This episode has the signature budget look of the modern One Piece episode as looking past the foreground will reveal a lack of production quality. Flat and undetailed characters that only vaguely look like the character they are representing based on their shape and colour to distinguish themselves from blending into the generic background characters is a common sight in this episode. In a sight gag of Bartolomeo fanboying out over Robin, there is a college of pictures featuring the mature lady. Unfortunately, the college makes her look more masculine and angry compared to the subtle wry smile of the mysterious tall beauty. Nico Robin is one of the hottest females in One Piece and this joke did not show off her good side.  Dellinger, after disposing of Ideo arrives to see Bartolomeo in his barrier, Gladius ordering Dellinger to retreat, and all their henchman cut to ribbons. Cavendish speed line appears and disappears with only glimpses of his face. Some good camera angles are used to obscure his face to add an extra creepy element to the whole scene. This would have caught me completely off guard if it weren't for the handy flashback prompting me to remember his brief transformation in the ring. Dellinger is attacked by the manic Cavendish and is downed without putting up a fight. It's a wasted opportunity for us to finally see Dellinger's final transformation only to have him defeated in the same episode.  The episode concludes with Cavendish attacking Nico Robin making us fear her safety. There are some days where Nico Robin lives up to her name as the Demon Child and at other times she doesn't get even get into any fights or worse she is useless like in Pirate Warriors. In this case, she is able to apprehend the crazed swordsman ending the episode with her trademark coolness. More of this Robin, please! [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
One Piece photo
One Scary Piece
I'm not too sure if Toei planned it to coincide with the month of Halloween, but this episode is scarier than the whole of the Thriller Bark Arc. Yep, the arc that is devoted to all things creepy and ghouly was showed up by an episode in the Dressrosa arc. I'd watch this episode with the lights on and when the little ones are already tucked into bed.

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 711

Oct 01 // Anthony Redgrave
Lao G's defeat in the last episode has not phased Doflamingo's executives as they continue to fight against the gladiators and Straw Hats. Pica still remains elusive enough to avoid Zoro's attacks despite the size of the high pitched Stone Stone fruit user. King Elizabello II offers up is King Punch to take out the executive, but Zoro refuses aid. Either out of pride or strategy he suggests that the King Punch should be saved in case something stronger comes along. Sounds like me and saving rocket launcher ammo in any FPS. And if they're like me they will save it until passed the credits. On the other side of Dressrosa, there is another major fight occurring amongst a flowery field that has been made flag like by Diamante. Despite being one of the major fights of the Dressrosa arc, it has so far been monotonous to watch. Kyros may be a badass in the ring, Rebecca looks hot and is a capable enough fighter, and Diamante has a semi-interesting fruit ability, but the whole thing is really slow. The only progression here is Kyros doesn't let Rebecca fight and Diamante takes advantage of this fact by picking on her. From watching feminist videos online, this is an example of inserting Rebecca into a vulnerable female role for a male paternal figure to protect. We have seen her fight capably herself in the ring so why is she just sitting on the sidelines watching her Dad protect her. Arguments saying she is injured don't fly when we have Law struggling through an amputation. Speaking of, over at the palace roof Doflamingo is double teaming Law with a newly assembled Trebol. Sadly it isn't my yaoi doujin of the Doflamingo family but more akin to the BDSM doujin I saw in Comiket 2 years ago. It's not funny how brutal they are with Law barely giving him time to catch his breath. The animation here is made passable as there are some crudely drawn frames in some areas. The previous segment with Kyos and Rebecca has rough spots and boring animation but the movement of Law and Doflamingo as they trade blows is pretty good and dynamic. Below Luffy continues to plea with Bellamy as the latter uses his last ounce of strength to try and take down our protagonist. There are two parts that stand out this episode. The first is the updated visuals to show Bellamy's introduction to the series and the famous beat down he gives Zoro and Luffy in the bar of Jaya town. Definitely makes the visual style more cohesive when they aren't using the 12-year old footage. The second is Bellamy's pride and philosophy. He's a pirate scumbag that made a lot of wrong decisions, one of them is trusting the devil incarnate. But his pride prevents him from going against past decisions. He cannot forgive himself. He let go of the past and find a future with Luffy, the man he shamed and mocked for his dreams despite Luffy's change of heart. It's a battle on a much deeper level compared to two pirates being on opposite sides of the moral spectrum. Luffy has to respect a man that follows his dreams/ pride but doesn't want to defeat an already broken man. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Pride among Pirates
Better late than never with this week's annotated anime. Let's get on with the show that was formerly about a kid wanting to be a pirate but is now about trying to escape a kingdom midway through a coup d'etat.  coup d'etat

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 710

Sep 20 // Anthony Redgrave
The battle rages on in Dressrosa with Lao G fist fighting Don Chinjao and Sai coming to terms with the affectionate Baby 5. Baby 5's misinterpretation of Sai's fighting words is still very humourous as it has kept the boring fights featured in the last few episodes varied and entertaining. To test the subservience of Baby 5, Sai asks if Baby 5 would kill herself to which she readily complies. Sai has a change of heart when he sees his request being taken seriously.  Don Chinjao tries to prevent Sai from interfering with her suicide resulting in a clash between allies. A confrontation that is quickly resolved in Sai inheriting his grandfather's command of the Chinjao family. This whole bit between Sai, Baby 5, and Don Chinjao is very sweet and awesome amongst all the fighting. Sai starts to come to terms with the power of his words and so can now take over from his grandfather Don Chinjao, Don Chinjao respectfully steps down as the leader of the family since he has been bested by the younger generation, and Baby 5... well she finally finds someone that is not willing to take advantage of her need to please people.  The show then dives into Baby 5's up bringing. Amongst all the flashbacks we have had in the Dressrosa arc (and there has been a lot), this is the most disturbing. The imagery of Baby 5's mother and the environment they are in is encased in a creepy dark atmosphere. Baby 5 looks like an accurate representation of a child version of her, but her mother looks like a black Groot silhouette. We learn why Baby 5 has the compulsion to be needed and I guess the maid costume is also to emphasise her servient nature as well as moe fan service. The action portion of this episode is really good for a gladiator-executive fight. Watching Lao G bounce around the battlefield delivering acrobatic G shaped attacks against Don Chinjao is great to watch. The dynamic movements are fluid and it's always funny to see his insistence of finding the G in every sentence. But this doesn't hold a candle to when he later beefs up Master Roshi style to take on Sai. Don Chinjao is taken out and it is up to the newly promoted Sai to take on the old Geo first master. The final clash uses a different art style incorporating more highlights and brighter colours making it more flashy and dramatic. This episode introduces and nicely wraps up Sai's and Don Chinjao's little arc. I hope this isn't the end of Baby 5 as she seems like a really cool character to more of. Maybe a manga cover story of how she and Sai are coping with married life a la newly weds? [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] servient
One Piece photo
All is fair in Love and War
For those hoping there'd be some resolution on the Bellamy-Luffy confrontation, you'll be very disappointed. A very small part of the episode is spent on the fight, but it doesn't progress in any way unless you count Bellamy gobbing a bloody lugy on Luffy. The rest of the episode however is spectacular. It resolves two fights, has awesome action, and another feels heavy backstory.

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 709

Sep 14 // Anthony Redgrave
Doflamingo relinquishes his grasp on Bellamy stating cryptically that Bellamy has always been free. This prompts the show to divulge into Bellamy's past and get a few more uses out of the Jaya arc footage. Bellamy was always the asshole realistic pirate that wasn't disillusioned by the sense of adventure or grand treasure One Piece. He looked up to Doflamingo's ruthless attitude and sought to fly under his banner. Unperturbed by the threats of Diamante and Trebol's aggression, Doflamingo agrees to the young pirates wishes but we later learn that Doflamingo doesn't take lightly to weak members.  Flash forward to Luffy's encounter with Bellamy in Mocktown and his humiliating defeat at the hand of Luffy's one punch. The Jaya arc felt like there was a lot more going on apart from the immediate story line. There was Bellamy's crew (an associated pirate crew of the much stronger Doflamingo family), Blackbeard's introduction (with Ace hot on his heels), and the parallels Bellamy's bar fight with Luffy have with Shank's bar fight against Higuma at the very start of the series. Only now are we starting to see how all those individual events are connecting together which is a very cool for a long time fan. Anyway's after Bellamy's defeat he is fortunately given one more chance by Doflamingo in the arena to win the Flare Flare fruit. As we all know Bellamy's luck doesn't improve culminating in him being betrayed by his master and freed by a former enemy.  Despite being rescued by Luffy, Bellamy chooses the use the last of his energy to execute his signature move; Spring Hopper on Luffy. And here I was thinking Bellamy would become an ally and help Luffy up to the roof using his springs. I can't imagine it ending well for Bellamy given his track record. On the other side of Dressrosa, Gladiators continue to fight against Executives and we also get a fight finished in this episode! Yes! I'm so excited that there is one less fight to see. Big giant Hajrudin was usually seen being crushed by Machvise over and over again. Unlike the other fights where the combatants actually traded blows, Machvise could outmaneuver the giant but also hit him really hard with his power. The show does a great job in making you feel the pain and strain that Hajrudin goes through and this translates well when he starts getting second wind and fights back. The epic clash during the climax is classic One Piece making you feel the moment Hajrudin pushes against Machvise's attack. If Hajrudin does survive this encounter he'll be needing one hell of a doctor to patch him up. Also after the graphic nature of last week's episode I expected Machvise to look like the cheese on top of a pizza before it's been heated but that's just the gore hound in me. Next week, we are going to get a lot more gladiator fights (sigh I know) but this time it's with Baby 5 against Sai. I don't really care about Sai in this fight, but I do love seeing Baby 5 get more screen time. To me, her dependency personality quirk makes her an entertaining character to watch and it was funny to see her announce these feelings to a bemused Sai. She's one of the few villains in this show that I'll root for because she's so utterly adorable. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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The Bellamy Biopic
This week you won't hear me raging about how the plot pacing of this episode is back to the tip toeing filler filled monotony that Dressrosa is becoming quickly known for. God knows I've done enough of that in the past few Annotated Animes. Because this episode was pretty good since the first half is entirely about Bellamy and his back story. 

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 708

Sep 07 // Anthony Redgrave
Even though Law ended the last episode by landing a hit on Doflamingo, it doesn't appear to have any effect on the antagonist. No weakened moves, sluggish movement, or even any visible damage. The Heavenly Demon shrugs it off just like he shrugged off Luffy's attack earlier. Law and Doflamingo continue their one-sided epic fight as the combat is heavily weighted on Doflamingo's side. At this point he is toying with Law, making snide jabs at his devotion to Corazon as he gleefully dodges and parries everything Law has to throw at him. Despite Trebol regaining control of his body, he doesn't lend a hand in the fight choosing instead to mock Law from the sidelines. Things don't look too fresh with Luffy's fight either as the string Doflamingo continues to hide behind Bellamy. Nothing we haven't seen before. We do feel Luffy's frustration in this fight as he just wants to punch Doflamingo one more time and yet his philosophy prevents him from harming Bellamy even though they have had a rocky past. I was getting sick of Luffy's pacifism in this fight as it was always one step forward and one step back because of Bellamy's interference. So I was glad that this episode finally ends this back and forth with Luffy punching the shit out of the String String double. It was extremely satisfying see a mock Doflamingo made of string split apart and crumble to the floor. Hopefully next week we can see that happen to the real Doflamingo. After weeks and weeks of absence, we finally progress ever so slightly with the Pica-Zoro fight. And by progress I mean it's almost the same as before; Zoro slashes Pica and mouths off about his high pitched voice, the Doflamingo minions call him an idiot as Pica gets pissed and becomes a bigger Pica. This time Pica channels the Titan in the post-credits scene of the Attack of Titan second season anime series which does look really cool. I wonder if could make multiple copies of himself out of stone so the castle can resemble Mt. Rushmore with just Pica's face representing all the presidents. One Piece is a series that I don't associate with overly violent imagery. The closest it got to gruesome was in Marineford with Whitebeard's face being blown in half although it was a lot tamer in the anime version and Ace suffering the worst fisting of all time. But this episode's climax was worse than both of those things. I know that it has happened before in One Piece but the big difference here is that it shows the direct aftermath. I really hope that character isn't out of it completely because that person is one of my favourite. It'll be interesting to see that character cope with it or will Oda magically find a way to reverse/ fix what has happened once Luffy has Gomu Gomu no Bazooka'd Doflamingo into oblivion?  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Attack on Pica
So we're back again in Dressrosa with pirates, dwarves, marines, and gladiators all trying to topple the World Noble turned pirate turned Warlord of the Sea. I didn't think things would get exciting but this episode proved me wrong with none stop action and little deviation away from the characters we love.

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 707

Aug 30 // Anthony Redgrave
So we continue the One Piece tradition of fight scenes incorporating devil fruit powers while the characters make faces at each other and occasionally spouting exposition in the hopes of provoking a reaction. The show has finally started to colour in Doflamingo's string attacks making them really stand out. It makes them easier to see, but it doesn't fit the lethal nature of his power. I actually liked it when they only showed the light glimmering off the string as it looked like cheese wire or garotte wire. It's thin, mostly invisible, and incredibly deadly. The multicolour string thing he has now looks too cheesy to take seriously.  Since this is a return to the Dressrosa battlefield, One Piece decides to re-introduce all the main players and who they are fighting in the second half of the episode. This feels like padding as nothing new is shown and for long time viewers this is a waste of time. While the Doflamingo-Law fight and Luffy-Fakemingo-Bellamy fight have some good animation and choreography especially from the former, all the auxiliary fights are too brief to mention. They all do one attack and then a reaction face. It's really hard to tell if anyone is winning or losing a fight since this exchange of blows is not shown to affect anyone in the long run. The next episode it could the same person getting hit or the opponent getting hit, the fight doesn't appear to have progressed.  The second half of the episode is not worth watching unless you completely forgot about names of the Doflamingo family executives and would like a refresher. This arc is failing to do simultaneous fights in an engaging way because I don't care enough about the other fights occurring, or should I say I don't care enough about the other fighters fighting. An arc that did multi-fights correctly was Enies Lobby. Each Straw Hat took on a different CP9 agent and each fight was spread across a few episodes so there was some padding like in this arc. The conflict against CP9 was engaging because I knew the stakes were high to save Robin and I cared about each Straw Hat, even Franky who was a dick to them for most of Water 7. And it was entertaining since every character was unique and they were not afraid of expressing their personalities even in a life or death brawl. I don't feel the same way about the gladiators here since they were portrayed as enemies initially and their redemption was too quick for me to fully understand their character. If the Straw Hats were fighting an executive alongside a gladiator, it would me feel more sympathetic since I'm more familiar with the Straw Hats and I won't be adverse to rooting for them. But right now I don't care if they win or lose just as long as they do it quick so we can spend more time with the main story.  At least in this episode we get a better understanding of what the D. family is. Even though I despise the long drawn out nature of this arc, there is a lot of interesting One Piece lore being explained. [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Back to Dressrosa...
After a couple of awesome flashback episodes, this week returns us to current day Dressrosa where exciting battles are going on, While the animation and fight scenes are fantastic, the same plodding pace makes a return reminding us all why we hate this arc. 

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 706

Aug 27 // Anthony Redgrave
Corazon, for some reason, is still alive and trying with all his might to make sure Law survives this ordeal. As Law awakes he is greeted by Corazon's creepy smile that will bring about more nightmares than comfort in dire situations. Vergo, apparently confident that Doflamingo's birdcage would ensnare the two targets decides to fight with his fellow Marines against the Barrel pirates. As the Doflamingo family slowly approaches, Corazon runs decoy after hiding Law under his mute spell so he doesn't give away his position. From here it is awesome after awesome after awesome material. The show wraps up everything it has to say about Corazon in this episode allowing the audience to finally understand Law's affection for the Doflamingo sibling. But the show also spends some time with Doflamingo in an excellent mid-episode focus. Doflamingo had just gunned down the captain of the Barrel pirates and then stares pensively his flintlock. We are treated to a flashback to his first familial murder using the same weapon. We know the Corazon's fate at Doflamingo's hands but we also know Doflamingo's passion for family. Killing Corazon would mean exterminating the last of his bloodline and this contemplation mid-way through the episode shows the conflict of ideals that's running through his mind. This slow sobering section amidst the frantic chase is a big part of Doflamingo's character, building him up to kill his own brother. We get a few of these explorative moments with Doflamingo and it makes us somewhat sympathetic to some of his actions thus not being a villain for the sake of evil. The Doflamingo family finally catch up to Corazon and soften him up for the boss to deliver the final execution. However considering that Corazon has already survived multiple gunshot wounds, a Haki beat down from Vergo, and a kicking from the rest of the family, would Doflamingo's bullets really put him down for good? Maybe they're imbued with Haki... Corazon's fate is linked to death but there's a twist in the favour for Law. It's a convenient save for the little survivor and it doesn't feel forced like how heroes are saved by death traps thanks to good timing just because One Piece's nature. Tragic incidents occur to the good guys every other day so any fortunate circumstances get a free pass from me. I'd like to think of it as One Piece karma. Eagle-eyed One Piece bookworms would know that this flashback story is also connected to the past another supernovas making the One Piece world more dynamic and connected. This is one of the rare episodes of the show that make the show worth watching after 700+ episodes. Without the knowledge or experience from all those other episodes, it wouldn't have the same hard hitting effect. It's hard to explain it anyone that hasn't seen it but you'll talk endlessly about it to those who have. It's an episode that makes One Piece such a well crafted show. It can perfectly mix action, drama, comedy, and tragedy in 10 minutes without feeling disjointed and contains themes that are telegraphed from the framing and the way characters act.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Here comes the water works
I don't think I've seen such a good episode of One Piece in recent memory. It's not just good, it's great! It's better than the whole Rebecca storyline, Dressrosa stuff, and anything that was done  after the time-skip. It ultimately delivers on why Corazon is such a big part to the Dressrosa story and the origins of Doflamingo-Law connection/ feud. 

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 705

Aug 20 // Anthony Redgrave
By the grace of Oda, Corazon somehow fought off Barrel's men that had him pinned down by gun point and was able to deliver the Opi Opi fruit to Law. Law, apparently still in shock to see his feathery friend fails to notice the vast number of bullet wounds leaking vital fluid all over the snow. Even at a young age Law is skeptical about the fruit's abilities and only until Corazon force feeds him the devil fruit does he finally ingest the heart shaped power up. This scene's tone is all over the place. First we get a rousing speech by Corazon shouting about being happy about the successful heist and Law's upcoming cure, to a funny scene with Law struggling to fit the entire fruit down his gullet, and finally Corazon lying facedown in the snow slowly bleeding to death.  The gut punch comes when Law attempts to use his newfound power only for nothing to happen. I always assumed after eating the devil fruit, the users will have some way of controlling it or at least turning it on. Sabo ate the flare flare fruit and was tossing fireballs willy nilly in a matter of seconds since he was in a gladiator match and later toe to toe against an admiral. Corazon passes Law some valuable information for Marine eyes only regarding Dressrosa and tells him to run for the Marine ship that was hiding on the West Coast. Unfortunately, the first Marine Law meets up with is the double agent Vergo. Vergo smacks the shit out of Corazon but even Law. Yep, this haki imbued body of pure muscle doesn't waste any time hitting a kid on his death bed and a clown with the power of muteness. The episode ends with Doflamingo arriving with the family and casting bird cage on the island basically preventing anyone from escaping. This makes Vergo stupidly confident as he leaves the clown and the child to die slowly instead of tying them up and leaving them for the family to find.  As of now Corazon has shown more D. family qualities than Law. He is upbeat, wacky, resourceful, and very passionate about helping his friends. He is also stated that he will die with a smile, a very familiar D. trait as shown by Saul and even the famous Gol D. Roger.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] By the grace of Oda, Corazon somehow fought off Barrel's men that had him pinned down by gun point and was able to deliver the Opi Opi fruit to Law. Law, apparently still in shock to see his feathery friend fails to notice the vast number of bullet wounds leaking vital fluid all over the snow. Even at a young age Law is skeptical about the fruit's abilities and only until Corazon force feeds him the devil fruit does he finally ingest the heart shaped power up. This scene's tone is all over the place. First we get a rousing speech by Corazon shouting about being happy about the successful heist and Law's upcoming cure, to a funny scene with Law struggling to fit the entire fruit down his gullet, and finally Corazon lying facedown in the snow slowly bleeding to death.  The gut punch comes when Law attempts to use his newfound power only for nothing to happen. I always assumed after eating the devil fruit, the users will have some way of controlling it or at least turning it on. Sabo ate the flare flare fruit and was tossing fireballs willy nilly in a matter of seconds since he was in a gladiator match and later toe to toe against an admiral. Corazon passes Law some valuable information for Marine eyes only regarding Dressrosa and tells him to run for the Marine ship that was hiding on the West Coast. Unfortunately, the first Marine Law meets up with is the double agent Vergo. Vergo smacks the shit out of Corazon but even Law. Yep this haki imbued body of pure muscle and haki doesn't waste any time in hitting a kid on his death bed and a clown with the power of muteness. The episode ends with Doflamingo arriving with the family and casting bird cage on the island basically preventing anyone from escaping including Law and Corazon if they could get passed Vergo. As of now Corazon has shown more D. family qualities than Law. He is up beat, wacky, resourceful, and very passionate about helping his friends. He is also stated that he will die with a smile, a very familiar D. trait as shown by Saul and even the famous Gol D. Roger.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Bad Luck Favours the Bad Guys
Has anyone else noticed that Swallow Island not only looks like a Swallow from a boat if it is looking at it from the right angle but also looks like a Swallow from birds eye view too? It's funny how coincidences just work in...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 704

Aug 13 // Anthony Redgrave
Just as Law and Corazon start bond the amber lead poisoning that has been slowly killing Law begins to get serious. He collapses unresponsive to Corazon's cries just after Doflamingo's call via Den Den Mushi. Turns out Doflamingo has found a cure for Law's disease in the form the Opi Opi fruit which he would like Corazon to eat. The fruit is being held by the pirate Diez Barrels hoping to sell it to the Marines for a tidy some but before the exchange the Doflamingo family plan to steal it for themselves. Corazon being a Marine spy and brother to Doflamingo plans to double-cross them both and steal the fruit to cure Law. Turns out it cannot be used to its full potential if the user doesn't have any medical knowledge. We also get full confirmation here that if a person eats two devil fruit that they die as Corazon reasons he cannot eat it despite the intention to heal Law with its powers. But this could be complete superstition passed on from pirate to pirate as we saw earlier Blackbeard get the Yami and Gura fruit powers albeit behind a curtain. People in One Piece do mention giants, floating islands, Government super weapons, and Ohara being myths and they're all real.  The episode is a desperate struggle for Corazon to retrieve the fruit from Diez Barrel's crew before Law dies. With high stakes and slim chances this episode kept me on the edge of my seat. Corazon's power isn't amazing as demonstrated in an interlude of Corazon showing off his power to Law. It's small moments like these that make One Piece still one of the most charming shonen shows on-air. Corazon isn't a goal driven psychopath or an all serious mentor, he's a guy that wants to save Law but also make him happy.  The episode's finale is Corazon utilizing his devil fruit power to steal the Opi Opi fruit from right under Diez's nose. This is quite possibly the only time the Calm Calm fruit would be the most useful fruit ever apart from the Clear Clear fruit. Just as he enters the home stretch, forced clumsiness befouls the clowned hero as he stumbles into enemy hands. What happens next will require a lot of suspension of disbelief if he survives. I found it incredibly hard to fathom when Brownbeard got blasted in the face from point blank range by the Yeti Cool Brothers in the Punk Hazard arc and still survived, but this is like 10 times that.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Corazon the Clown
Corazon reminds me of that weird uncle everyone has. The one that comes around for the holidays, always gives you awesome presents, tells great stories, but is also just plain weird. You were scared of him when you were younger cause he was all up in your face but now you've grown to accept him as an eccentric individual. That's Corazon. 

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 703

Aug 06 // Anthony Redgrave
Along with the greatest shit eating grin in the whole of One Piece, Corazon sits down with Law and talks vaguely about the D. legacy and how his brother is probably the evilest thing ever conceived. Law isn't having any of it and threatens to tell Doflamingo of Corazon's selective muteness. Coinciding with the muteness theme, Corazon possesses the devil fruit power of muteness too. Devil Fruits come in two varieties; they are either vague enough to mean the user can do anything related to its broad definition of the power or they are too specific so they are extremely useful in one instance. In this case he uses it to talk to Law without anyone else hearing them including a curious Baby 5 and Buffalo. As Donquixote pirates prepare to leave the town Corazon kidnaps Law determined to find a cure for his Amber Lead poisoning much to Law's chagrin. This episode also sets up the beginning of Vergo's infiltration of the Marines. Vergo was the previous Corazon in the family before the present one took over meaning Corazon is a rank not a name. It's strange that the Marine's wouldn't recognise Doflamingo's previous right-hand man and would allow him to transfer to G-5. I guess Vergo is ridiculously good at avoiding the camera like Sanji. But Vergo isn't the only backstabber in this flashback as Corazon holds a Commander rank in the Marines working directly under Sengoku. Again considering Doflamingo has so many connections it's strange that he is unaware of his brother's actions against him.  The rest of the episode follows Corazon has he frantically searches hospital after hospital for someone to cure Law's disease. Of course, everyone has eaten the lie that Amber Lead poisoning is contagious prompting the Marines to hunt down Law and Corazon. We get some insight into Law's personality and why he joined with Donquixote. After Flevance, he was rejected because of his disease but was accepted into the Donquixote family thus prompting a large amount of respect and gratitude to Doflamingo. Corazon however made him relive the days he could not make human contact causing even more pain on Law despite Corazon's primary motivation for finding a cure. This episode also brings to light Corazon's personal interest in Law and it's far more interesting than the family D. stuff I mentioned before.  Another great episode this week. Whenever One Piece is out of Dressrosa the story becomes more interesting, better paced, and generally more entertaining. Thankfully there is more of this in the next episode.   [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Corazon does it for the D.
Today I like to make a shoutout to user Japanator reader Confuseddalek. Corazon really shines in this episode and we get to see why Law thinks so highly of him. Sadly we also get more vague information about what the infamous...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 702

Aug 02 // Anthony Redgrave
The Doflamingo family were world nobles living in Mariejois, but the patriarch decided to leave to give his family a more humble life. It could be he was under the impression of "the grass is greener on the other side" but when you live in Mariejois also known as the Holy Land of One Piece I don't think you can get any greener grass. Sadly the Doflamingo family are not seasoned veterans of the property market as they move into a village that absolutely hate the World Nobles. It's not like the family did anything wrong or were misunderstood by the villagers leading to a tragic backlash. The people living around them loathe the world nobles for their history of slavery and treatment towards the outside world. Like a tumbling snowball, things go from bad to worst as the Doflamingo family are forced into hiding and are hunted on a daily basis by the residents of the North Blue. This is where another episode would've helped viewers empathize with Doflamingo as we can already see he and Corazon had had a rough childhood, but it was all crammed into the first half of this episode. Literally the patriarch of the Doflamingo family introduces himself to the villagers at the market and is immediately attacked. No provocation, no misunderstanding, just pure hatred.  Back in the present Corazon covers for Law despite the latter's attack on the former and much to Law's surprise he is accepted into the Doflamingo family. The proceeding montage of Law bonding with the other family members is nice as we finally see some happy moments amongst an enemy crew. It's nice to see that these villains aren't one-dimensional killing machines, but they value each other's presence and companionship. The way the episode is presented helps me understand Doflamingo more as a person. He maintains the ruthlessness of a World Noble but values his family that he had lost to commoners thus having no remorse for slavery and absolutely hating anyone thinking they are above him. This makes it even more intriguing why he ended up killing his brother and father.  The episode concludes with Law stating his real name and adding himself to the list of D. members. Corazon also speaks and sparks the beginning of how Law became indebted to Doflamingo's brother. Corazon's voice is badass and didn't think it would fit a goofy violent guy dressed as a clown. It's sad knowing that we won't hear that voice for much longer as I think he will meet his demise in the next two episodes.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation]
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Yep this one's pretty good
Doflamingo remains one of my favourite One Piece villains. Despite the shit I had to put up with in Dressrosa it is all worth it to see the good episodes. Doflamingo has one of the more interesting backstories of all the characters in One Piece and I love how you can see how it had directly affected his personality and actions. 

One Piece photo
One Piece

One Piece cast don denim for Jeanist contest


One Piece's next top model
Jul 17
// Anthony Redgrave
Japanese toy company Banpresto have made a website dedicated to finding out which pirate wore it best based on the popular One Piece franchise. Called Jeans Freak, the Jeanist contest allows fans, non-fans, and everyday inter...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 701

Jul 12 // Anthony Redgrave
Law's backstory is one of the most horrific in the series. His story is told to Baby 5 while she and the other executives are on a raid. They talk so casually about the whole thing while being attacked, shot, and fired upon by cannons you would think they were paying more attention to the story than the actual mission. It's a tale of a wealthy town that becomes poisoned over time from the mineral that had made them rich. It's non-contagious, but that doesn't stop the Government from imposing a quarantine on the town. Eventually, the neighboring nations retaliate under the guise of self-defense and kill everyone in town apart from Law who escapes under some dead bodies.  The Mother Sea leitmotif doesn't play in this episode and I suspect it's because we don't spend enough time in Law's rosy family life. It cuts between the executives verbally telling the story to scenes from Flevance and it's surprisingly easy to follow despite these changes. Baby 5's reaction reflects our own as she is told this story becoming more depressed and understanding of Law's personality.  However, I cannot feel the same way when Law pulls this face. It's the same face as Luffy when he lost Ace back in Marineford. I always relate it to an "oh I'm comically scared face" rather than I'm completely and emotionally broken. The rest of the Straw Hats have relatively conserved shocked and sorrowful expressions when compared to this white-eyed huge mouth facial feature.  In the next episode, we go even further back in time to Doflamingo's and Corazon's childhoods. I'm really looking forward to this episode as we'll finally see why this Celestial Dragon was banned from Mariejois.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] Law's backstory is one of the most horrific in the series. His story is told to Baby 5 while she and the other executives are on a raid. They talk so casually about the whole thing while being attacked, shot, and fired upon by cannons you would think they were paying more attention to the story than the actual mission. It's a tale of a wealthy town that becomes poisoned over time from the mineral that had made them rich. It's non-contagious, but that doesn't stop the Government from imposing a quarantine on the town. Eventually, the neighboring nations retaliate under the guise of self-defense and kill everyone in town apart from Law who escapes under some dead bodies.  The Mother Sea leitmotif doesn't play in this episode and I suspect it's because we don't spend enough time in Law's rosy family life. It cuts between the executives verbally telling the story and scenes from Flevance. The pacing is steady and easy to follow despite the changes to scenery and Baby 5's reaction reflects our own as she is told this story. She becomes more and more depressed and understanding of Law's personality.  However, I cannot feel for the losses Law is experiencing when he pulls this face. It's the same with when Luffy lost Ace back in Marineford, I always relate it to an "oh I'm comically scared face" rather than I'm completely and emotionally broken. The rest of the Straw Hats have relatively conserved shocked and sorrowful expressions when compared to this white-eyed huge mouth facial feature.  In the next episode, we go even further back in time to Doflamingo's and Corazon's childhoods. Doflamingo isn't such a bad guy towards his family and that's something I can respect. He berates Jora for scaring Buffalo and threatens anyone that would harm his biological brother. I'm really looking forward to this episode as it has been hinted at throughout this arc. We'll finally see why this Celestial Dragon was banned from Marijois.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] Law's backstory is one of the most horrific in the series. I think it's an amplification of Robin's background but to a greater degree. His story is told to Baby 5 while she and the other executives are raiding pirates. They talk so casually about the whole thing while being attacked, shot, and fired upon by cannons you would think they were paying more attention to the story than the actual mission. It's a tale of a wealthy town that becomes poisoned gradually over time by the mineral that had made them rich. It's non-contagious, but that doesn't stop the Government from imposing a quarantine on the town. Eventually, the neighbouring nations retaliate under the guise of self-defense and kill everyone in town apart from Law who escapes under some dead bodies.  The Mother Sea leitmotif doesn't play in this episode and I suspect it's because we don't spend enough time in Law's rosy family life. It cuts between the executives verbally telling the story and scenes from Flevance. The pacing is steady and easy to follow despite the changes to scenery and Baby 5's reaction reflects our own as she is told this story. She becomes more and more depressed and understanding of Law's personality.  In the next episode we go even further back in time to Doflamingo's and Corazon's childhoods. Doflamingo isn't such a bad guy towards his family and that's something I can respect. He berates Jora for scaring Buffalo and threatens anyone that would harm his biological brother. I'm really looking forward to this episode as it has been hinted at through out this arc. We'll finally see why this Celestial Dragon was banned from Marijois. 
One Piece photo
Law has seen some S***
We've now entered the back story portion of the arc where tragedy is the dish of the day. No matter how pleasant and beautiful the setting may seem, the shit will hit the fan and the tear ducts will open once Mother Sea begins to play. I've never cried while watching One Piece, it so happens something gets in my eye when that song plays. 

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 700

Jul 08 // Anthony Redgrave
It seems that this episode is self-aware of the significance of 7 as the title shows up in the 7th minute. That means more than a quarter of this episode can be skipped. No, wait that's a lie. After the 10th minute, we return to the main action with Luffy, Law, and Doflamingo. The first 10 minutes were retreads old Fujitora dialogue from three episodes ago. Man, they were really padding for time with this one. Do yourselves a favour and skip to the 10-minute mark because I'm sure they'll repeat the marine talk in a later episode if you still don't understand their motivation. Finally, we begin the backstory between Law and Doflamingo which may be very significant as one of them may join the Straw Hat's if deemed tragic enough. Turns out Law's devil fruit has the death-defying ability to grant immortality at the cost of the devil fruit eater's life. But Law doesn't have any interest in this ultimate power thus putting him in dire straits with Doflamingo. We get a flashback to 10-year-old Law seeking acceptance into the Doflamingo family. He gets beaten on mercilessly by a younger Diamante and Trebol while kid version's of Baby 5 and Buffalo laugh at his misfortune. The family accepts children and have no qualms in kicking the shit out of them either. This shockingly equal treatment speaks volumes of Doflamingo's philosophy.  In the last few moments of the show, we get glimpses of Doflamingo's brother Corazon. He looks like One Piece's version of the Joker even more than the pirate with the epithet 'The Clown". It fits with his rather unpredictable personality of being extremely clumsy yet intimidating from his fits of violence towards children and absolute muteness. Psychotic tendencies must be a genetic trait.  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] It seems that this episode is self-aware of the significance of 7 as the main title shows up in the 7th minute. That means more than a quarter of this episode can be skipped. No, wait that's a lie, after the 10th minute we return to the main action with Luffy, Law, and Doflamingo. The first 10 minutes were retreads of what Fujitora had said three episodes ago. Man, they were really padding for time with this one. So do yourselves a favour and skip to the 10-minute mark because I'm sure they'll repeat the marine talk in a later episode for those that don't understand their motivation. Finally, we begin the backstory between Law and Doflamingo which may be very significant as one of them may join the Straw Hat's if deemed tragic enough. Turns out Law's devil fruit has the death-defying ability to grant immortality at the cost of the devil fruit eater's life. But Law doesn't have any interest in this ultimate power thus putting him in dire straits with Doflamingo. We get a flashback to 10-year-old Law seeking acceptance into the Doflamingo family. He gets beaten on mercilessly by a younger Diamante and Trebol while kid version's of Baby 5 and Buffalo laugh at his misfortune. The family accepts children and have no qualms in kicking the shit out of them either. This shocking yet equal treatment speaks volumes of Doflamingo's philosophy.  In the last few moments of the show, we get glimpses of Doflamingo's brother Corazon. He looks like One Piece's version of the Joker even more than the actual clown of the show Buggy. It fits with his rather unpredictable personality of being extremely clumsy yet intimidating from his fits of violence towards children and absolute muteness. Psychotic tendencies must be a genetic trait.
One Piece photo
Tragic Backstory Time
Whew! 700 episodes. I can still remember starting One Piece nearly a decade ago. Back then there were no official streaming sites so I had to go by Youtube episodes that were chopped up into 3 bits. I was inspired to watch it...

OP Up! One Piece Edition

Jul 08 // Red Veron
[embed]34044:4913:0[/embed] "Bon Voyage"Although it may not be the most flashy openings One Piece has had, I think it nicely encompasses the themes explored throughout the show. This opening touches upon each Straw Hat's backstory, the camaraderie they find as part of the Straw Hats, and the freedom they have as pirates. The downside is that we don't get to see any butt-kicking action.   [embed]34044:4914:0[/embed] "Kokoro no Chizu"My mind jumps straight to this opening when thinking One Piece apart from the Engrish We Are! There is so much here that I love. The colours, the action, the upbeat song that is synched to the visuals, and being paired to one of the strongest arcs in the series.   [embed]34044:4915:0[/embed] "Jungle P"  From this intro onwards, One Piece started to extend their intros to two verses instead of the one+ chorus. I assume it was to pad out each episode so they didn't have to show as much per episode. Anyways this is another strong intro even if it's let down by the appearance of Brook and Luffy destroying a civil service boat.   [embed]34044:4916:0[/embed] "We Are Special"Yep, we had to have We Are somewhere on this post. I went for the latest as the visuals are easier on the eyes. It's a funky rendition with the visuals being updated to feature more of the Straw Hat's Rogue Gallery.   [embed]34044:4917:0[/embed] "Fight Together"After the darker turn of events that were occurring in the show and the previous sombre opening One Day, Fight Together was what we needed as fans. It contrasted the gloominess and depressive feeling of being separated from loved ones with the passion and determination to grow stronger to protect them. This intro is also better than the entire Post-War Arc episodes dedicated to each individual Straw Hat.   So which one is your favorite One Piece opening? SHARE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! Let us celebrate some One Piece love together!   BONUS VIDEO [embed]34044:4918:0[/embed]
OP Up! photo
700 episodes is a lot of Openings
Having 700 episodes in 16 years, the One Piece anime has amassed quite a collection of openings and endings throughout its run. So this week's OP Up! and Week Ender selections are special, as we celebrate 700 episodes of One ...

Japana-Seven: The 7 best One Piece anime filler arcs

Jul 07 // Anthony Redgrave
7. Boss Luffy Historical SpecialsOut of the whole list, this is probably the furthest connected to the One Piece canon. It's based in the Edo era and all the Straw Hats are re-imagined as period characters. I like the whole concept of a new setting with familiar faces and this filler is just that. They're super light-hearted and it's nice to see villains and heroes play off one another in this fresh new setting. They're an hour a piece and I wouldn't recommend watching them all, but they were one of the fillers I always enjoyed whenever they aired. 6. Inherited Recipe! Sanji the cooking expert (Post-Alabasta Arc)Sanji has always been my favorite Straw Hat. He is one of the few characters in the show that can be badass, funny, and smart. The last trait is often missing in many of the Straw Hat's hard hitters, but Sanji has it all. This episode sees the Straw Hats come across a Navy boat with a young cook struggling to make the famous naval curry. Not much happens in terms of action, plot, or even humor, but it's how Sanji mentors the young chef into how to cook. By the mid-point, it's almost like a cooking show, taking the viewer step by step from raw materials preparation to serving suggestions. 5. Ice Hunter Arc/ Lovely Land ArcI would rank this higher on this list because this filler was really good apart from the ending. The set up was great; bounty hunters steal the Straw Hat's flag and they have to get it back while battling them. I love how the show always kept the bosses' appearance hidden until the reveal making him ten times more intimidating than he really was. Also, the fights were pretty good. Luffy had a hard time with the magnetic duo and the team up between Sanji and Usopp against the ice skating couple was great. There seriously needs to be more team up fights in One Piece. 4. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret IslandJust like direct to video movies based on a TV series, One Piece movies are like hour long episodes. In most cases, the main drama stems from the Straw Hats having a falling out before regrouping to fight in the finale. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island also follows this formula but differs in two key areas that makes it an interesting One Piece movie. The art style and tone. The art style is drastically different making the animation look fluid and at times gloopy and the tone gets really dark in the second half. I say give it a watch if you want to see One Piece being taken somewhere different.  3. Omake: Report Time and Monster TimeThese Omake shorts were aired alongside the Enies Lobby arc. Again most of them are re-imaginings of the Straw Hats in different settings but these are the two I think are worth a watch. Report Time has an interviewer talking to the Straw Hats about the cuisine they lived by before Sanji joins and Monster Time is what it says on the tin, it's Straw Hats as mythical monsters. Both are intended for comedic purposes and are great side distractions without spending a huge time investment. 2. Ocean's NavelThis is the first special episode shown on One Piece and in my young mind it didn't feel like a filler. It's a side story of the Straw Hats exploring an undersea island for treasure. Treasure hunting is an activity pirates should be doing instead of liberating islands from tyrannical rulers. This episode is great, newly joined Sanji cements himself as a new powerhouse by drop kicking a massive octopus, Nami and Usopp playing off each other as the two weakest members of the crew in hilarious ways, and there's a talking skeleton that looks like LeChuck from Monkey Island. It's a fun little episode that sparks the feeling of adventure rather than the mission/objective lead arcs like Alabasta and Impel Down.  1. Davy Back FightThis is technically cheating because it is a canonical arc but really, apart from meeting Aokiji at the end everything else can be skipped. Unless the last chapter has the Straw Hats facing off against Blackbeard in a Davy Back Fight for One Piece you can safely skip the entire game section. Except you shouldn't because it is really fun. The anime version adds more events; roller race, dodgeball, and red light/green light but they don't contract from the spirit of the arc. It's great to see the Straw Hats use their unique abilities in unorthodox ways to win each game. The filler does go against the established canon specifically Chopper overdosing on Rumble Balls without turning into his monster form. But that shouldn't stop you from watching this arc. One Piece is about having fun on the high seas and the Davy Back Fights has that in spades. The whole arc has a nice green grass, blue sky pleasant fun vibe that makes it perfect to turn your brain off and see your favourite characters play, fight, and enjoy themselves before things get serious in the next arc.  7. Boss Luffy Historical Specials Out of the whole list, this is probably the furthest connected to the One Piece canon. It's based in the Edo era and all the Straw Hats re-imagined as period characters. I like the whole concept of a new setting with familiar faces and this filler is just that. They're super light-hearted and it's nice to see villains and heroes play off one another in a fresh new setting. They're an hour a piece and I wouldn't recommend watching them all but they were one of the fillers I did enjoy whenever they aired. 6. Inherited Recipe! Sanji the cooking expert (Post-Alabasta Arc) Sanji has always been my favorite Straw Hat. He is one of the few characters that can be badass, friendly, funny, and smart. The last trait is often missing in many of the Straw Hat's hard hitters, but Sanji has it all. This episode sees the Straw Hats come across a Navy boat with a young cook struggling to cook the famous naval curry. Not much happens in terms of action, plot, or even humor, but it's how Sanji mentors the young chef into how to cook. By the mid-point, it's almost like a cooking how taking the viewer through step by step from raw materials like grinding together spices to serving suggestions. 5. Ice Hunter Arc/ Lovely Land I would rank this higher on this list because this filler was really good apart from the ending. The set up was great; bounty hunters steal the Straw Hat's flag and they have to get it back while battling them. I love how the show always kept the bosses appearance hidden until he was revealed making him ten times more intimidating than he really was. Also, the fights were pretty good. Luffy had a hard time with the magnetic duo and the team up between Sanji and Usopp against the ice skating couple was great. There seriously needs to be more team up fights in One Piece. 4. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island Just as many direct to video movies based on a TV series, One Piece movies can be considered longer episodes. In all cases there is one point the Straw Hats have to have a falling out before regrouping to fight once more. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island also follows this formula but differs in two key areas. The art style and tone. The art style is drastically different making the animation look fluid and at times gloopy and the tone gets really dark in the second half. I say give it a watch if you want to see One Piece being taken somewhere different as it's my favorite of all the filler movies so far. A close second would be Clockwork Island Adventure because of wedding dress Nami. 3. Omake: Report Time and Monster Time These shorts were aired alongside the Enies Lobby arc. Again most of them are re-imaginings of the Straw Hats in different settings but these are the two I think are worth a watch. Report Time has an interviewer talking to the Straw Hats explores the cuisine they lived by before Sanji joins. Monster Time is what it says on the tin, it's Straw Hats as mythical monsters. Both are intended for comedic purposes and are great side distractions without spending a huge time investment. 2. Ocean's Navel This is the first special episode shown on One Piece and in my young mind it didn't feel like a filler. It's a side story of the Straw Hats exploring an undersea island for treasure. Treasure hunting is something pirates should be doing instead of liberating islands from tyrannical rulers. This episode is great, it has Sanji showing off his stuff against big ass monsters cementing himself as a new powerhouse, Nami and Usopp playing off each other as the two weakest members of the crew and a talking skeleton that looks like LeChuck from Monkey Island. 1. Davy Back Fight This is technically cheating because it is a canonical arc but really, apart from meeting Aokiji at the end everything else can be skipped. Unless the last chapter has the Straw Hats facing off against Blackbeard in a Davy Back Fight for One Piece you can safely skip it. Except you shouldn't because it is really fun. The anime adds more events; roller race, dodgeball, and red light/green light and they don't contract from the spirit of the arc. The filler does go against some of the established canon specifically Chopper overdosing on Rumble Balls but if you can get passed that then the Davy Back Fights is one filler you don't want to skip.
One Piece photo
700 episodes makes for a lot of filler
Today I'm here to count down the top 7 animated fillers in One Piece as part of the 700th episode celebration. To make this list, it can be anything animated with One Piece slapped on it, from movies to omake. However, if Oda...

Japana-Seven: The 7 best One Piece storylines

Jul 07 // Anthony Redgrave
7. Little Garden ArcAfter Vivi was discovered to be the princess of Alabasta and not a ranking member of the criminal organisation Baroque Works, the mission was now to escort her back to her war-torn kingdom. This arc makes the list because of the main antagonists; Mr. 3 and Miss Golden Week, the artistic duo. From this arc, you see the creativity or required suspension of disbelief needed when viewing Devil Fruit Powers. Mr. 3's power, for example, is the wax wax fruit and yet he can turn typical candle wax into something as strong as steel! This arc has a lasting effect on Zoro as his amputation escape plan can still be seen on his shins. This was played off as a gag but added a sense of futility and desperation Vivi, Zoro, and Nami were going towards to escape.  6. Thriller Bark ArcI think One Piece's biggest strength is the widely different scenery each arc takes place in and the different tropes explored. Thriller Bark explores many horror tropes including; the ghost ship, zombie, and skeletons. Very fitting considering One Piece has a maritime setting, well except the zombie part. Like Little Garden, I love the main villain Gecko Moriah. One Piece fans first heard his name earlier in the series as part of the Seven Warlords of the Sea and speculation ran rampant on what he was like, powers, appearance etc. This air of mystery is what drove me to love him as a character and he did not disappoint when we met him on Thriller Bark. He also utters one of the most chilling lines to Luffy in the whole series just before his defeat. 5. Davy Back Fight ArcI am cheating by placing this on the list as it was in the top 7 filler arcs, but I really like it just because it's silly fun. Pirates are all about having a good time compared to the super serious ninja rivals so it makes sense that there is a universal gambling game in the One Piece world. This arc has team up fights with superb action, great jokes, and it's awesome to see each character use their special abilities to win each event. There are too many shonen shows that lose their charm by taking themselves too seriously and dramatically increasing the stakes as their series continues. One Piece never loses sight of it's childish roots and celebrates it with this arc.   4. Arlong Park ArcI felt that this was the last arc before the Straw Hats headed onto the Grand Line as the Loguetown was more like filler. Arlong Park explores Nami's past and showed the evil effects pirates had on many islands and towns. The crews before would destroy, bully, and abuse townsfolk but not to the extent Arlong did to Cocoyashi. The whole arc felt depressing, dark, and unpleasant and made even worse by Nami's betrayal and her tragic backstory. However, it also makes her redemption and Luffy's involvement even more satisfying as it plays out. The walk to Arlong Park with Overtaken in the background is probably the most badass moment in the whole show. There's no action, no fancy animation. Just walking with determination for justice and sake of their nakama. 3. Impel Down ArcI'm going to say it; I wasn't affected by Ace's death. He was a cool character with a cool power, but his action in Alabasta wasn't enough for him to be endearing. His death didn't come as a tearful gut punch but more of an interesting "huh...". Impel Down, however, was a great arc except the part where there is a transgendered paradise hidden in the maximum security prison. Lots of old faces were re-introduced, impossibly difficult enemies were faced, and best of all, villains became unlikely allies. I love it when that happens! Many of the Straw Hat's Rogues gallery had grown stale and weak so it was fun to see once legitimate threats Buggy and Mr. 3 struggling to keep up with Luffy. 2. Enies Lobby ArcThis whole saga was perfect. Water 7 was hot off the heels of the fun carefree Davy Back Fight despite the scuffle with an admiral and the Straw Hats were enjoying spending their new found wealth from Skypiea. But underlying cracks begin to grow bigger and bigger in the form of a hidden history between Nico Robin and the world government, Franky's backstory and the elephant in the room, Going Merry's condition. What I like about Enies Lobby is that it wrapped all of this up but didn't bog us down with tiresome explanations. The action was fantastic as an added level of drama was layered on with Robin slowly edging towards the Towers of Justice. CP9 (One Piece's equivalent of MI5) were brilliant as the main foes due to their colorful contrasting personalities that foiled the Straw Hat's own personas.  1. Skypiea ArcWhenever I think of long arcs I always think of this one even though it was nowhere the episode count of later arcs. Skypiea was a whole new world outside of sea that inspired exploration and adventure. It felt like an alien land, rich in history and lore. This was emphasised with the different races of Skypieans and Shandia and their different customs too. Montblanc Noland's backstory framed the arc and was  so powerfully tragic that when Mother Sea started playing I started bawling like a baby. It was a story of friendship, loss, misunderstanding, and broken promises, concepts that really hit home for me. The visual themes in this arc were gods, angels, and manifest destiny. All interesting concepts that I liked seeing in One Piece fashion and helped ground me so the whole setting wasn't too alien. The Straw Hats bring their comedy A game too in this arc; Usopp and Luffy breaking the fourth wall by singing Sanji's image song, Robin's dark humor and Zoro's Tarzan yell. Skypiea is an arc I will look back on fondly as it was a enclosed story within the saga. All the loose ends were wrapped up concerning Skypiea and you could follow it through from Noland's first landing to Luffy's liberation by ringing that golden bell.  7) Little Garden Arc After Vivi was discovered to be the princess of a Alabasta and not a ranking member of the criminal organisation Baroque Works, the mission was now to escort her back to her war-torn kingdom. This arc makes this list because of the main antagonists; Mr. 3 and Miss Golden Week, the artistic duo. You can see the creativity or required suspension of disbelief needed when viewing Devil Fruit Powers. Mr. 3's power is the wax wax fruit and yet he can turn typical candle wax into something as strong as steel! I also love Zoro's determination to get out of a trap by attempting to amputate his own legs, scars of this incident can still be seen. 6) Thriller Bark Arc I think One Piece's biggest strength is the widely different scenery each arc takes place in and the different tropes explored. Thriller Bark explores the ghost ship, zombie, and talking skeleton tropes. I love seeing what other tropes One Piece does and Thriller Bark combines all the creepy supernatural stuff into one. Like Little Garden, I love the big bad Gecko Moria. One Piece fans heard his name earlier in the series as part of the Seven Warlords of the Sea and speculation ran rampant on what he was like, powers etc. This air of mystery is what drove me to love him as a character and he did not disappoint when we met him on Thriller Bark. He also utters one of the most chilling lines to Luffy about the new world before his defeat. 5) Davy Back Fight Arc I am cheating by placing this on the list as it was in the top 7 filler arcs but I really like it just because it's just silly. Pirates are all about having a good time compared to the super serious ninja enemies so it makes sense that there is a big gambling event that pirate crews partake. One Piece does a phenomenal job in mixing the serious life or death battles and events with humorous interludes so we can catch our breath. Too many shonen shows lose this charm and become take themselves too seriously but One Piece knows when to ease up on the drama and hit the cheese button. 4) Arlong Park Arc I feel that this was the final arc before the Straw Hats went onto the Grand Line as the Loguetown arc felt more like filler, no major set piece battles just a quick stop with Buggy, Smoker, and cameo by Dragon. But Arlong Park was when the Straw Hats became whole with Nami finally joining the crew officially. Nami always felt sketchy, always leaving the crew to find treasure and using them to get her own way. This arc shows why she was doing this and why I thought Fishmen were all evil until the Fishman Island arc. Arlong is one hell of a bastard and his crew were one of the most intimidating the Straw Hats had faced. Not only was Zoro injured but Fishmen had the advantage as they were powerful on land but even more in the water. Nami's backstory is also one of the most saddest in the whole series which makes the conclusion of the arc all the more satisfying. 3) Impel Down Arc I'm going to say it; I didn't mind Ace's death. He was a cool character but wasn't endearing to me so it didn't come as a tearful gut punch and more of an interesting "huh...". Impel Down however was a great arc except the part where there is a transgendered paradise hidden in the maximum security prison. Lots of old faces re-emerged, impossibly difficult enemies had to be faced, and best of all villains became unlikely allies. I love it when that happens! Many of the Straw Hat's Rogues gallery had grown stale and weak and it was fun to see once legitimate threats Buggy and Mr. 3 struggle to keep up with Luffy as he traversed the increasingly difficult Impel Down. 2) Enies Lobby Arc I think people were expecting this to be no. 1 and will be angry to see that's it at no.2. I do love Enies Lobby and still remains one of the best arcs. Water 7 was the perfect set up by adding the mystery between Nico Robin and her history with the world government, drama between Usopp and Luffy over the Going Merry, and the Franky's own tragic past. It all came together to a grandiose showdown between the Straw Hats and CP9 (One Piece's equivalent of MI5). Each Straw Hat squared off against one agent in the hopes of freeing Robin and tension rose 10 ten fold as Robin was slowly transported towards the Gates of Justice and an impending Buster Call was issued. It all cumulated into non-stop action extravaganza that is only topped by: 1) Skypia Arc Whenever I think of long arcs I always think of this one even though it was no where near the lengths of later arcs. Skypeia was a whole new world outside of sea that inspired exploration and adventure. It felt like an alien place rich in history and lore so we were experiencing at the same time as Straw Hats so everything felt fresh and exciting. There are a lot of little parts of Skypia that makes it my favourite arc. Montblanc Noland's backstory is the best tragic backstory because we were introduced to him as a fairy tale liar but gradually discover that was a fabrication making it even more unfortunate that no one will know the truth. I also really like the themes explored in this arc that of gods, angels, and manifest destiny. A highlight was when Usopp and Nami come face to face with Enel and they have to use their wits to escape. It perfectly mixes the tense moment of them dying at any moment with their laughable foolish attempts at escape.
One Piece photo
Sixteen years of the pirate's life
The Straw Hats have been through a lot in their 16 years on TV. Through smiles, tears, Gomu Gomu no's, and devil fruits I've sat through it all just to see a glimmer of that almighty One Piece. So to celebrate 700 episodes/ 3...

Annotated Anime: One Piece episode 699

Jun 30 // Anthony Redgrave
Naturally Luffy's animalistic fighting style eliminates their gambit as despite successfully connecting with Doflamingo, doesn't put him down for the count. This episode shows where the majority of the budget for the Dressrosa arc went as the fighting is crisp and lively. Even the characters outside of the fighting look good as they have gracefully avoided the derp hammer. Doflamingo's fighting style is different compared to when he faced Law on the bridge as he chooses to employ a puppet-pincer style against Luffy. It reminds me of Gecko Moria's fighting style except Doflamingo actually participates instead of lazing around.  The fight isn't even close. The Surgeon-Straw Hat duo may have been able to sucker punch Doflamingo, but they are not ready for a face to face confrontation. Doflamingo is head and toes better than the two combined, making Trebol look pretty much useless. In another part of the town, Sabo's fight with Fujitora has already ended. Koala finds him day dreaming and their interaction is very similar to Nami's and Luffy's relationship. The fact that Koala and Nami also have the same hair color doesn't help with the avoid this comparison. The abrupt end to Sabo's bout with Fujitora is quite confusing as I have no idea why they had stopped or at what point they were at. They just stopped.  As the episode concludes Doflamingo takes down Luffy and stops Law from dealing the final blow to Trebol. A noble act for someone that sell's slaves, blackmails royalty, and enslaves whole countries. He then goes on a rant about hating people thinking they are above him and we get glimpses at his twisted superiority complex. Also does anyone else think his younger self looks like Duke Nukem?  [One Piece streams weekly on FUNimation] Koala
One Piece photo
Doflamingo is a psycho!
Donquixote Doflamingo has been one of my favorite villains in One Piece ever since he was introduced as one of the seven warlords of the sea. You only really saw him in-between arcs, but you could tell that he wasn'...


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