The past continues to be explored at great length… too great of a length?
What They Say:
After the death of Fisher Tiger, Arlong’s abuse of humans lands him in jail, Jimbei becomes the captain of the Sun Pirates, and Queen Otohime’s passion to see her vision come true is renewed!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When it comes to the way that One Piece works through back story arcs, you can become frustrated with the amount of time they take to get done as they seem to stretch on too far. It’s not that the stories themselves are bad to be sure, as they’re definitely interesting such as this one with Fisher Tiger, but it always seems to throw the flow of the present day storyline off more than it needs to because of how long they run. Yet you can’t help but to be drawn in to them, especially this one that goes back and gives us the time before the series that shows us what Jimbei went through when he became the captain of the Sun Pirates as well as what Arlong was like in his formative adult years that lead him to starting his own group that we saw very early on.
With the death of Fisher Tiger, things certainly have a more despondent feel about them as everyone is essentially going through the motions, though Arlong getting captured by the Navy after attacking them outright doesn’t exactly help. His anger is palpable because of what the humans did and the way that they caused his death, making him intent on having his revenge on them. But not all the Fish-Man Island residents are like this, full of anger. Otohome comes back into the picture to offset the despondent nature and provide some hope as she leads rescue groups to save people attacked by pirates and left in the sea to die and she teaches many on the island about the above the sea world as well in an attempt to broker some kind of understanding.
Otohime’s struggles with this aren’t apparent at first as she’s such an embodiment of happiness, but as it goes on we see the real pain underneath about it when she describes the beauty of the world above, something the people below can’t really grasp because of the anger and problems with humanity. Otohime and Arlong dominate the episode a bit more than Jimbei, who is largely relegated to the third act here where we see him working through his time as the new captain of the Sun Pirates. He’s done well and found a way to manage things, even making sure that Neptune understands why he’s about to accept the offer to become one of the Warlords in order to secure the Fish-Man position in the world a bit more and offer them a path that doesn’t involve complete destruction. And it helps to bring a few of their own home in a way that wasn’t exactly expected either.
One Piece does hit some interesting material here, but it does come off as being a bit too drawn out, which is one of the things the series has always been guilty of to some degree. But it’s something that fans have been able to deal with because in the end, it almost always proves worthwhile, especially when the series really found its stride. The slow progression here has its payoff at the end with the throwdown between Jimbei and Arlong that sets them firmly on two different paths. Having that thrown into the mix with what Otohime is preaching and getting a much clearer look at Arlong’s motivations helps to make this arc pretty interesting, especially since Arlong in particular was such a simple character during his original run. Bringing a lot of things full circle is one of the best reasons to watch One Piece with its large run since it has so many opportunities to do so and to do so very well.