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The Method to ONE PIECE's Madness? -- A Special Review of Episode #618

Once Franky's back, it's impossible not to think about what this all means.

Initially, I was planning to muse about the conclusion of ‘Fishman’ in this write-up. My entry point to this series worked out to be somewhere within the final episodes of that arc, and the experience of dropping into an epic saga at the critical mass of its plotting was a bit like taking a cannonball into the deep end of a swimming pool.

Actually, to stretch that analogy even further, the swimming pool in question would be filled with fish, too - - because it was just dizzying to keep track of the ten Straw Hats, all the numerous villains they were battling and all the countless mer-people they were protecting from those villains.

After about a year and however many episodes, I’m finally coming out through the other end (as it were). There are likely just as many participants at play on screen here, but I have a point of reference for all of them, this time. While this part of ‘Punk Hazard’ would surely be incomprehensible to the novice, it makes all makes sense to me.

Well, a kind of sense… and only up to a certain point.

Our big bad Caesar Clown has been soundly vanquished. He ain’t getting up from that beating. The island of Punk Hazard is destroying itself. The mutated children have been rescued, and the victimized innocents are on their way to recovery. However, just when “Punk Hazard” seems to be winding down to a fairly clean finale, Oda pulls a few more rabbits out of his hat like a magician trying to sneak as many tricks in before curtain call - - even though he’s still performing at the next set.

The interlude with Joker’s girl Friday and the human bi-plane is weird, even by ONE PIECE’s standards. I’ve previously said that the show can feel like a more bellicose Lewis Carrol and, damn, if these two’s random exchange about their personal peccadillos wasn’t as nonsensical as any conversation you’d hear down the rabbit hole. The bi-plane’s non-sequitor, sing-songy critique of the girl’s excessive magazine subscriptions struck me the most. Just... so... random.

We were probably never going to get a ‘clean finish’ to this arc, anyway.

Since fairly early on, Oda’s taken a very shonen-stats approach to framing this whole conflict as a long-form prelude to further battles. Not only has it been repeatedly stressed that Caesar isn’t a big bad in his own right - - he’s merely a lackey to true big bad, Doflamingo - - it’s also been made clear that all this mayhem with Shinkokuni is just an advertisement to give other major villains ideas. Sure, countless arcs can be described just the same, but it takes a certain level of comfort and confidence for a show to stress the lesser importance of the conflict-at-hand on screen.

This episode ties, of course, with the dramatic reveal of yet another player who’s pretty much been taking a break on the sidelines bench for the past few episodes. Don’t get me wrong… I like Franky. I even thought that this juggernaut’s emergence from the shore - - at just the moment that our new baddies are going to meddle in things, no less - - was effectively done. Nevertheless, I can’t help but smirk over how this is at least the tenth time Oda’s pushed this particular button. It really does feel like he’s a kid with a giant toy box, and he’s just endlessly picking up and staging his action figures.

I’ve criticized MAGI for indulging the mangaka’s urge to just throw characters on screen without spending time to properly develop them. Thinking about it more, the indulging of that urge wasn’t the issue so much as the timing, because Oda is doing the exact same thing here. The only difference is that he’s doing it at this stage, after the audience is already won over; and they were probably won over during those first 50 episodes that every fan describes as ‘slow.’ MAGI’s downfall was simply trying to jump to that point without putting the time in. And that’s really why ONE PIECE seems to get away with doing the same thing. (Frankly, that's why ONE PIECE gets away with doing anything).

As much I was initially yearning for ‘Punk Hazard’ to just be done, at the point, I think I’m more interested in the prospect of just reading somebody’s point-for-point plot synopsis of this glorious mess. At the least, I'd love to read somebody else's lucid description of the scene with the bi-plane.

Watch, "Raid! an Assassin from Dressrosa!” here and decide for yourself, then read my comments about the previous episodes here.

About the Author

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk
FoxxFireArt moderator on Oct. 30, 2013 at 3:59 p.m.
You're far enough down the rabbit hole at this point, Tom, to know when you see someone with some crazy ability that it's likely a devil fruit. That's exactly what Buffalo is. Something you can always count on Oda to do. He'll show you something that defies explanation, then explain it.

Punk Hazard will get a good closing to these events. It should possibly be over by November. What we're seeing now is just a hint to the next journey, but this wont get more fleshes out till the Straw Hats leave Punk Hazard. Nearly everything will get a nice bow on it. Remember that we still don't know which of the Four Emperors Luffy agreed to go after with Law. That gets revealed near the end.

Next up will be Franky vs. Buffalo and Baby 5, and the events were surprisingly entertaining in the manga.
Kino88on Oct. 30, 2013 at 7:25 p.m.

there's always room for you if you want to be my friend, we are, we are, on a cruise..... we are MADNESS!, man I love this show.

Dekkenon Oct. 30, 2013 at 8:49 p.m.

Read the manga Tom, you can catch up with the story faster and you don't have to power through fillers and super slow pacing.

Donwunon Oct. 31, 2013 at 9:53 a.m.
I’ve criticized MAGI for indulging the mangaka’s urge to just throw characters on screen without spending time to properly develop them. Thinking about it more, the indulging of that urge wasn’t the issue so much as the timing, because Oda is doing the exact same thing here. The only difference is that he’s doing it at this stage, after the audience is already won over; and they were probably won over during those first 50 episodes that every fan describes as ‘slow.’ MAGI’s downfall was simply trying to jump to that point without putting the time in. And that’s really why ONE PIECE seems to get away with doing the same thing. (Frankly, that's why ONE PIECE gets away with doing anything).

Yup, i'd agree with this in particular

jj_jacksonon Oct. 31, 2013 at 11:39 a.m.
Well to be a bit more honest tom you kind of just jumped in at a random point and started watching. the only new characters there are were the villians. which if u think this is too much u should watch fairy tail and try to keep up with those villians every arc. the audience already knew law smoker tashigi and the straw hats plus doflamingo and baby 5.
zaldaron Nov. 1, 2013 at 6:17 p.m.

See Tom this is why when you complain about shows that are slow I don't understand...the action here wouldn't work as shown in Magi without the build up (though fifty episodes is to much even for me) now yes you have to like the characters to stay with them (and you didn't in the time travel show...though I don't know why) but it when you give the audience time to know them the later stuff works much much better.

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