Reviewing an episode like One Piece 1035 is challenging because the distinction between adaptation and source material becomes very important.
Adaptation-wise, it’s very well done. The animation looks great and many of the most touching scenes are well-shot and executed. The care and attention paid to the story Oda is telling are evident even in a “normal” episode (though what counts as a normal episode of the Wano arc is up for debate). Nothing here is phoned in, no corners are cut, and all the story beats are delivered with the heft one would expect.
The issues arise when this episode is viewed in the context of its source material.
Wano is a big and complicated arc in a big and complicated story. One Piece was always a world with limitless potential, but even 25 years in the horizons seem further away than ever. No matter how many reveals Oda drops – and in recent times they’ve been coming in hot and heavy – he cannot help but introduce more characters, more factions, and more islands. For better or worse, there is never a sense that One Piece is “locked in” for its final trajectory. There’s always more and more and more.
The dichotomy between the Akazaya Nine and the Luffy/Kaido match in this episode makes things crystal clear. Kinemon and crew are, ostensibly, “side” characters or supporting cast members in Wano, the longest arc of One Piece, published over four years in real time and longer than some manga series by itself (and that’s not even counting Kinemon and Momonosuke’s introduction way back in Punk Hazard). This “side story” sure does look like a full meal all on its own, so much so that it has started to take away the shine from the (ostensibly) main story being told.
Is this Oda’s intent? For the drama of the Akazaya Nine – compelling though it is – to overshadow what the protagonist of the story is going through? It’s hard to say if that’s an issue of intent or merely the fatigue of reading the release in real-time. Is this a feature or a bug? One thing is for sure: the drama between Kinemon and Kanjuro is powerful and moving, a complete tale of sorrow fully-told, and Luffy’s battle with Kaido literally crashes in from above to disrupt it.
Not quite sure how to feel about that.
Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.
One Piece is currently streaming on
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