Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

One Piece (Wan pîsu) (Season Seven)

So if you've kept up with my reviews so far then you know the drill: I'm going to go on and on about how much I hate filler and then give you a fairly tedious plot description about the good parts of the canon material, right? Wrong! While I do believe that filler can kill an otherwise decent series, I don't necessarily believe that all filler material (or even canon material, for that matter) is made equal. Some filler can be damn entertaining. Remember that episode of Dragonball Z (Episode 125: Goku's Ordeal) where Goku and Piccolo tried to learn how to drive? Of course, you do. That was an episode that had absolutely nothing to do with any of the canon arcs and the writers didn't even try to pretend that it was anything otherwise, but it was still somehow damn entertaining. 

However, filler arcs are a bit different. An episode of filler here or there isn't too bad if the writing doesn't suck, but a well-written arc of original material that doesn't upset the status quo of the series is much tougher to come by. It does happen, though. The G8 and Ocean's Dream arcs from season seven of One Piece are good examples of what I'm talking about. Those filler arcs are fairly good. In fact, G8 is probably one of the best filler arcs I've ever seen. 

The Davy Back Fights arc is loosely canon material sandwiched between the G8 and Ocean's Dream arcs, but the Davy Back Fights just doesn't capture my attention the same way. Consisting of episodes 207-219, the Davy Back Fights are just too long and feature just about the most uninteresting and annoying villain in One Piece since Buggy the Clown. 

Ironically, what really kills the Davy Back Fights is the filler that pads it out. Episodes 213-216 are all filler, but they are the annoying as shit type of filler that actually changes the storyline just a bit. 

In the manga this is what happens: Straw Hats lose Chopper in a boat race, regain Chopper after a ball match in the Groggy Ring, and then Luffy steals the Foxy Pirate flag after winning the fight with Foxy. 

In the anime this is what happens: Straw Hats lose Chopper in a boat race, Straw Hats beat the Foxy Pirates in the ball match in the Groggy Ring but choose to free Tonjit's horse (a stupid move no matter how you look at it), and then they win Chopper back after a rollerblade race. With me so far? Now here is where it really gets ridiculous. Luffy accepts yet another three-round Davy Back Fight from Foxy and then proceeds to lose both Chopper and Robin in matches of Red Light-Green Light and Dodgeball. In the final round Luffy does indeed fight Foxy for all the marbles, but this time what is at stake has changed. 

The rules of the Davy Back Fights state that a crew member is lost to the other pirate group when a team loses one of the games. Conversely, if one team wins then they win one crew member of their choosing. With two of their crew members gone and only one match left, the Straw Hats can realistically only win one of the crew members back. Ah, but this is filler (or at the very least bastardized canon material) so it can't upset the status quo. 

The final result is essentially the same, though. Luffy wins the day and draws a goofy picture as the new Foxy Pirates jolly roger. The process just ends up becoming a lot more tedious than it needed to be. I mean, the Davy Back stuff just isn't that good in the first place and making it longer doesn't make it any better. 

If there is any arc in season seven that needed to be fleshed out just a little more than it was the filler arc Ocean's Dream. I rather liked the whole concept of memory loss. Watching Luffy fight Zoro was pretty cool, too. But that Ocean's Dream arc, that could have been just a bit better with a little extra effort, was cut short in favor for bringing Foxy back for a two-episode encore. Ugh. 

Episode 227 returns us to canon material and either starts off the Water Seven arc or ends the Foxy's Return arc. However the hell you want to look at it. It basically works out the same way. 

Still, season seven is worth watching because of the good filler and for the introduction of Admiral Aokiji. The Davy Back Fights would have been better with less padding. 

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