This is a buoyant, beautiful episode that manages to soar despite initially seeming like a lag between major events. There are many instances in weekly animation production where corners have to be cut for budget, time, or manpower, especially when coming off of or building towards a big episode. But not only are no corners cut in episode 1051, they’re downright polished and honed to perfection.
Yamato and Momo take up a good portion of the episode’s runtime. There’s a big emotional beat here with Yamato teaching Momo that he can fly by simply grabbing the sky itself. The match cut between their faces as they become in tune with one another is a particularly great sequence, and watching Momo learn to dig deep and believe in himself is something special. I loved the recollection Yamato had from when Oden saw Roger and Whitebeard clash, the sketch-on-parchment sequence creating a stunning look.
Yet despite all the effort that went into these moments, still more was given to Cat Viper and Dogstorm. It’s kind of wild to talk about One Piece these days, because you end up saying things like:
“So the giant Garfield and Oden analogues faced off against a big licky tongue man and a punk rock wooly mammoth. They used their transformation powers to deliver killer blows that blew up their enemies’ lollipops and belt buckles, respectively. Oh and it was also one of the hardest cuts of animation you’ll ever see in your life.”
But for One Piece fans, all of that obviously makes sense and completely tracks.
I’m not even sure what to say that your eyes couldn’t tell you. Among the dozens (hundreds?) of side stories and sub-plots that One Piece has going on right now, the “Dogstorm and Cat Viper seek vengeance for Pedro” is one that is so far down my interest list I often forget it’s still a thing. Yet while watching this episode, I was shouting and cheering as loud as anybody. If you showed this episode to someone out of context they’d probably walk away saying “I have no clue what’s going on but the warrior cat and dog were my favorite characters.” And it would be hard to argue with that.