Well, now… “fan service” in ONE PIECE?!
Nami’s extended bathing scene probably shouldn’t have been as surprising as it was to me. Her endowments would - - * AHEM * - - stick out even if this world wasn’t mostly populated by flat, Gorey-esque characters. Still, when the main character of your saga is an outrageous man-child who’s maybe a few years overdue for puberty (or a guy who’s seemingly supplanted an endless food appetite for any interest in sex), then even the slightest titillation becomes pretty jarring.
Or perhaps I’ve simply missed the 50-episode-arc where Luffy showed everybody how much of a horndog he really is. That’s kind of a scary scenario to imagine, actually. Less so for the many possibilities of Luffy’s stretching abilities than for that manic look that’s always in his eyes.
Moving one, now…
The show’s finally back to that special kind of creative escalation that I get such a rise out of. Oda’s clearly just making everything up as he goes along, but he’s somehow managing to keep pulling rabbits out of the hat. There’s something sublimely feverish to how the Straw Hats watch one absurdly huge fish get eaten by another absurdly huge fish, then see themselves getting listlessly pulled to their doom by the very sight they’re so awed by… and then for them to be saved from all these problems with an impromptu ballad. It’s the same sort of delightful improv you get when a kid's playing out a story with his action figures.
Then again, maybe there isn’t actually improvisational about this. The successive flashbacks at the end (which might as well have footnotes in their lower-thirds, if I could suggest) make it clear that all these hysterics actually do fit into some meticulously-woven latticework. And maybe that's the paradox which has made ONE PIECE such a phenom. It doesn't ever take itself that seriously but, damn, if it doesn't take its own continuity seriously.