Writing - 8.9/10
Animation - 7.9/10
Overall - 9/10
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Skypiea Episodes 164-171
The Strawhats throw a party and embark on a quest for gold as the war for Upper Yard begins.
Skypiea Episodes 164-171
With thoughts of treasure on their minds, the Strawhats get ready for the second half of their adventure. The battle for Upper Yard begins to heat up as we hit “Skypiea” episodes 164-171. What marks this stretch of episodes is the debut of the arc’s big villain, Enel. A logia devil fruit-wielder, Enel wields some of the most interesting and visually pleasing abilities in the series. Wyper and the Shandians rear their heads in a major way in these episodes, providing a certain punch this arc certainly needed at this juncture.
The War for Upper Yard
A big chunk of this arc gives the Shandians and, most notably, Wyper, the spotlight. Wyper is, upon this second viewing, one of Oda’s best arc-specific characters, and he plays the role of renegade rebel with a certain grit that doesn’t ever feel forced. Wyper is an a-hole, and with every bit the reason to be when dealing with not only Enel, but even the former “God” Gan Fall. The Shandians have had their home taken from them, and don’t take kindly to invaders, whether it be the Skypieans or “Blue Sea” people. As the Strawhats once again gather together, again, we get top-notch character interactions between the crew and native creatures of the land. Gan Fall and the latest crew member, Robin, give viewers the outside perspective that one needs to appreciate the scenes.
The Survival Game Begins
With Enel finally rearing his very conceited head and the Strawhats out in search of gold, a massive plot point going forward is set with “God’s” survival game. An all-out war kicks off between Enel’s forces, including the remaining priests and Wyper’s Shandians. Stuck directly in the middle of the conflict are of course the Strawhats. The use of “sky combat” amongst both forces is a key point in this stretch, and one that decides many battles. Notably, here, we get to see more of Robin’s personality slip out, giving her a healthy dose of exposition. Robin in her previous role of “Ms. All Sunday” was a hidden delight of Alabasta, and her addition to the crew adds a certain particular wrinkle.
Oda keeps the pace moving well here, and Toei’s animation is far more enjoyable than people will give it credit for. Enel is every bit the villain his predecessor, Crocodile, was. Skypiea continues to be a breath of fresh air from what we’ve seen previously in One Piece. The big stars of this stretch are Wyper and the Shandians. They are, to this point in the story, the best arc-specific characters. What makes this arc hit is the departure it is from what has come before it. It is a testament to Oda’s versatility as a writer.
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