Skypiea Episodes 158-164
The Strawhats may be on break until October 20th, but we’re trekking along in “Skypiea”. The crew, of course, splits apart thanks to a ruse on the part of Conis, and Luffy gets the adventure he is always seeking. While the pacing of this arc is as divisive as the arc itself, its a journey I found easy to immerse in. While the “God” of Skypiea has yet to show his face, he makes sure his presence is felt. The character interaction is top-notch and the lore of One Piece deepened in the land of the skies!
After Conis shows her fear of “God”, Luffy and co. set off in search of the Going Merry. Luffy’s uncanny ability to focus only on the adventure in front of him hits full force here. Some of the best bits of this journey are Sanji trying to keep Luffy on task and not wrapped up in his own curiosities. This is a flaw in Luffy’s character many detractors of the series as a whole point to. On the other side of that coin, it’s what makes him such a captivating subject to me. Luffy’s greatest strength is his personality and nature, something highlighted well in this arc. As this peculiar trio heads into the “ball” ordeal, we get more great character interactions and structure in the battle to come. Satori is a fun character to have this team bounce off of, and for good reason.
In Search of “God”
As one trio battles the mantra-wielding Satori, the rest arrive on the altar and decide to explore Upper Yard. This sets the stage for plenty of character dives, specifically for Chopper and Robin. We also get some great moments from Zoro, who to me doesn’t get the credit he deserves as one of the series’ best-written characters. The main takeaway from this is Chopper’s bravery rising just a little bit more in his brief battle with one of the priests. The Going Merry’s doctor often catches flak for his lack of courage, and rightfully so. Oda does a splendid job of allowing Chopper to gradually find that confidence as he protects the ship from more damage. The nuance used with Chopper here is well-appreciated, and sets him up for big moments after Gan Fall’s battle. The only downside in this crop of episodes is Nami’s use.
While the pacing does make the series feel like its moving in slow motion, Oda and Toei make up for it as best as possible. We get some great character bits with Luffy, Chopper, Zoro, and Robin. Usopp and Sanji are hilarious as usual; Sanji hits one of my favorite lines in the entire arc during the Satori battle. The fights we get here are entertaining and easy to be roped into, despite not even seeing the big bad of the arc at all. Oda’s foreshadowing prowess is expertly applied across the board, something I never truly appreciated until this rewatch. The only downfall of this chunk is Nami taking a big step back as a useful crew member. I love the pieces of Nico Robin’s persona we get during the adventure into Upper Yard; this helps her rise as one of my favorite characters.
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