One Piece: Chapter 863- Review

Chapter 863 was, without a doubt, my hands down favorite chapter of the Whole Cake Island arc thus far. Every single setup is coming together for a massive cluster of a punchline. All of the plot threads established throughout the arc are cleverly oozing together into one big mess. Regardless of the sloppy nature of these events, the tight knit tension that Oda masterfully weaves is still in place, amplifying to even higher levels.

Before reading this post, I would highly recommend checking out Code Provider’s chapter review over on his YouTube channel. As someone who is far more knowledgeable on the medium of manga than I am, he is able to give a fantastic review from a perspective I simply do not have.

Moving right along, I am glad Oda took the time to explain how the Straw Hats were able to get to the top of the cake. It was a detail that could have easily been brushed over, but I appreciate the time being taken to make sure the audience is completely following the situation at hand, especially in such a mess of climax. I feel the same way regarding the clarification that the Luffy clones were made by Brûlée, using animals from the Seducing Woods. I was able to make this prediction in advance, but I do know other readers who were not, so I’m glad Oda made this clear for their sake.

One of the factors that made this chapter so much more exciting to me was Big News Morgans’ presence. I explained in an earlier review why I have become so enamored by this character. As a journalist myself, the fact that he is on the scene actively reporting is just so interesting to me. It provides a stronger sense of scale to the arc climax; these are world-changing events. Even though he didn’t initially plan to, it’s nice to see a news industry tycoon on the scene covering the action himself. This is something you just don’t see in the real world.

One of the strongest traits of Oda’s writing style is heavily reflected in this chapter- his ability to seamlessly integrate comedy into dramatic scenes. Despite being one of the most tense and gut-wrenching chapters to date, I found myself laughing out loud twice- the first being when Nami insulted Caesar to the point of tears, the second when Bege is shocked by Luffy’s straightforward attack. This integration is one of the defining traits that allows One Piece to stand out from the rest of its Shonen Jump neighbors.

Dogtooth has been proving his bounty to be worthwhile over the past few chapters. Not only does he have future sight via immensely strong Observation Haki, but he is a Logia-type Devil Fruit user. Through his attack on Luffy, it is revealed that he is the bearer of the Mochi Mochi no Mi. When observing his ability, I couldn’t help be reminded of both Luffy and Trebol’s fruits; Dogtooth’s is essentially a hybrid of the both. I’m not one to harp on abilities and power levels in manga, but I thought this comparison was interesting to point out.

His use of this ability on Luffy also brought out an interesting point via Big Mom. Her anger towards Dogtooth for what she perceived as protecting her is very indicative of her personality. She is so confident in her own ability as a Yonko that she takes any form of assistance as an insult. I feel this immense narcissism will play an important role in her eventual downfall.

Enough beating around the bush- we all know who the true star of this chapter was. Chapter 863 served as Jinbe’s official induction into the primary Straw Hat crew. In an unforgettable scene that gave me literal chills, Jinbe declares mutiny towards the Big Mom Pirates and joins the Straw Hats.

As the narrative of this arc was built up, there were two possible paths that Jinbe’s character would take. He would either officially join the Straw Hats, or sacrifice himself to save them. Although the latter is still a possibility, the first has come to fruition. We have our tenth Straw Hat everyone.

This brings up the issue as to what will happen to the crew Jinbe currently captains, the Fishman Pirates. I can feasibly see the second in command, Aladine, assuming the captain position, and the crew will continue on as independent allies. Equally plausible is the assimilation of the crew into the greater Straw Hat Grand Fleet. Either would leave Aladine in a newfound position of power, as Jinbe would most likely live aboard the Sunny with the rest of the primary crew.

The reason this chapter was so special to me was not just the induction of a new crew member, but the manner in which it is conducted. Jinbe gives his generic, but always immensely satisfying, Luffy is going to be the Pirate King speech. This declaration has become a rite of passage over the course the series; it seems that every incoming Straw Hat makes some form of the monologue.

Jinbe’s, however, might be the most satisfying yet. The manner in which he directly confronts Big Mom sent shivers down my spine. His lack of fear towards death in the face of Big Mom’s fear reliant ability was an added bonus. His gentlemanly nature is only amplified through his symbolic gesture of a sake offering, one that Big Mom promptly refuses via smashing the cup.

In perfect narrative rhythm, this heel smash gives Brook the opportunity to destroy the photo of Mother Caramel. Big Mom was already at rage point, about to strike Jinbe. I’m sure we’ll find out if this move will put her in the catatonic state of rage Bege expected at the start of the next chapter.

Chapter 863 was one of those chapters that perfectly captures the spirit of One Piece. Oda manages to pack laugh-out-loud humor within the same pages as spine-tingling drama, unintentionally creating a microcosmic reflection of the series as a whole. Obviously any chapter that involves the inauguration of a new crew member is unforgettable. However, this was handled so beautifully that it may be one of the best inductions yet.

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The Smash Pros: The Art of Long-Form Comedy

In my opinion, long-form comedy is the most satisfying form of comedy out there. Although I do love stand-up and short videos, to me, the pinnacle of the genre comes in the form of the the long game. The core of the artform of comedy is jokes: setup and punchline in that order. However, I believe that, if executed properly, a long joke can serve as the best the genre has to offer.

As explaining this with simple vocabulary is a bit of a challenge, I will use a case study. Garrett’s Response to the Falsely Made Poorly Played Stream is one of my favorite pieces of comedy of all time. This excerpt from internet comedy group Mega64’s 2013 MLK Day stream is essentially a 41 minute joke. Despite its mammoth length, it still manages to follow the comedic formula we have all become accustomed to. The setup to the joke is purposely made to be excruciatingly lengthy. This makes the punchline, which encompaces the last 5-10 minutes of the video, even more rewarding. If you are a fan of Mega64, or of good comedy in general, I would highly recommend checking out this masterpiece.

For a few years, this video remained in my consciousness as the cream of the crop when it comes to long-form comedy. When explaining that style of humor to others, that was the video I would always recommend. However, I recently discovered a series that not only is the best piece of long-form comedy ever made, but is one of the best written pieces of media. This is the YouTube mockumentary The Smash Pros.

A spoof of The Smash Brothers (a popular documentary that examines the competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee community), The Smash Pros is far from a simple derivative parody. It’s very hard to explain The Smash Pros to someone who hasn’t seen it. Saying it’s a mockumentary of a sub-par documentary about the competitive Melee scene doesn’t do the series the justice it deserves. I guess the best way to describe it would be that it takes a simple comedic premise, and develops an entire world, with its own rules, unforgettable characters, and flawless execution of long-form humor.

The first two episodes of The Smash Pros are admittedly very difficult to get through upon first viewing. The constant barrage of information that the writers throw at you may seem overwhelming at first. When I tried to watch the series for the first time, I dropped it after episode 2. I thought I just didn’t get it; I wasn’t a hardcore smasher. However, I urge you to push through. The Smash Pros is a series that needs to be consumed from start to finish before any judgement is passed. Upon completion, you will realise that a majority of this barrage is actually the setup points for the massive, climactic punchline that is Episode 5: The Grand Finale.

One of the key aspects I must point out is that, no matter how absurd they may seem, The Smash Pros universe is bound by rules. In what is probably one of the greatest climaxes and conclusions in writing history, The Grand Finale sees the slow collapse of this rule system. In the epicenter of this collapse is the genius payoff to the massive joke that is The Smash Pros. Although the comedic formula is the same, the setup and punchline is extended over an entire show. It gives the viewer an illusion of feeling lost; maybe they just don’t get it. But, if the viewer is patient enough to stick with it to the end, they realize that that they were supposed to feel lost; they were still in the setup. Their minds will hopefully be just as blown during the payoff as mine was, leading to one of the most satisfying and rewarding punchlines in the history of comedy.

The only series I can say comes close to this radical extension of the humor formula is Curb Your Enthusiasm. Curb enters the long-form comedy fray via its seasonal arcs. However, even then, these arcs are not present in every season. Furthermore, not every episode within a season weaves into the setup and payoff based narrative of said arcs.

Please be patient with The Smash Pros. Don’t make the same mistake I did upon my first viewing. Just power through, and you will be rewarded for your loyalty with one of the greatest pieces of comedy in history. Stay tuned for some more in-depth Smash Pros analysis in the near future. I have so much more to talk about, and I hope you’ll stick with me as I do so.

Rick and Morty: S2 E4- Review

After the previous episode of Rick and Morty became my favorite of the series thus far, I wasn’t looking forward to this one. I knew that nothing could top the emotional and comedic high of it’s predecessor. However, what I failed to remember is that there isn’t a bad episode of Rick and Morty to date. Every single one is fantastic in its own right. Going in with that perspective, this episode did not disappoint.

While this episode was filled with outstanding humor, it was also terrifying. The concept of an alien race being able to transform themselves, enter a host’s home, and manipulate the host’s memories to make them think that they had been a part of their life for years is extremely unsettling to me. While I was laughing throughout the entire episode, a sense of fear and tension really began to hit me after the credits rolled.

While the topic of the episode was approached hilariously in the show, I came to the realization that this could easily be happening in reality, and I wouldn’t know any better. I don’t have an grandfather who travels the multiverse and knows all about different aliens and their cultures. I just have myself, and my personal beliefs about a massive universe that humans have yet to explore. Believe it or not, I actually had a hard time falling asleep after watching this chilling episode. Whether it be fear of the potential reality of its plot, or the existential crisis regarding the vastness of the universe that it caused, this episode really got to me.

While the twist ending was somewhat predictable, it still came off as clever. However, it ended up leading to more confusion than it did comedy. The only reasonable conclusion I could come to to explain this turn of events is somewhat farfetched, but ill do my best to help you readers understand it. Rick and Morty takes place in a multiverse. In each individual universe, there is a different Rick and Morty, and in some cases, a different Beth, Jerry, and Summer. This episode tips the theory that each individual episode, episode cluster, or even season may take place in a different universe in the Rick and Morty multiverse. However, knowing Dan and Justin, the twist could just be for laughs, and be completely forgotten about in the overarching narrative of the show.

Evidently, while this episode did not surpass its predecessor, that doesn’t matter to me. I connected with episode 3 of this season on a personal level. Therefore, I have unintentionally formed a bias; somewhat harming my critical perspective of the show. However, my reviewer’s eye is not even close to being destroyed in any capacity. I still found this episode to be well written, laugh out loud funny, and even disturbing. If an episode can pull off all three of those seemingly contradictory things with complete ease, it is truly a masterpiece.

Rick and Morty: S2 E3- Review

It is episodes like these that really make you realize how much of a masterpiece Rick and Morty is. When an extremely foreign and over the top concept can conclude with such a down to earth and emotional ending, you know Dan and Justin are doing something right. Not only did this week’s episode surpass the first two in humor, drama, and writing; but it has cemented itself as my current favorite episode of the entire show.

During a casual drive through space, Rick, Morty, and Summer follow a distress signal that takes them to a ship. The crew complains that the people of their planet have been taken over my a hive mind known as Unity. From this premise, you would think the episode would go in the generic route; the heroes helping the band of survivors defeat the consciousness and save their people. However, it completely diverts from that path, leading to one of the most unique and original episodes of a science fiction series to date.

I found this episode to be a clever satire of classic episodic science fiction shows, namely Doctor Who and Star Trek. If this were one of those shows, it would be very easy to predict the entire plot of this episode from the get go. However, this episode makes a sharp divergence, showing how unique Rick and Morty truly is.

The B plot in this episode was also very strong. Although we were treated to character development from Jerry, the true treat was Beth’s development. We really learn about her inner psychology, namely why she keeps Rick around in the first place. This gives the viewers a more three dimensional perspective of her character, without changing her base personality in any way whatsoever.

The strongest element of this episode, however, was the ending. I have never come close to crying in a Rick and Morty episode, until now. Although there have been emotional moments in the show before, none have even come close to this in impact. If you thought Beth had amazing character development in this episode, it doesn’t even hold a candle to the look we get into Rick’s psychology in the last few minutes.

Evidently, this was both the technical best episode of Rick and Morty, as well as my personal favorite. Its episodes like this that prove the genius of Dan and Justin, cementing Rick and Morty as the best adult animated comedy on American television. My only worry is that, despite their high quality, future episodes of this season wont be able to live up to this one.

Rick and Morty: S2 E2- Review

I didn’t think it could get any better than last week’s episode; to my surprise, it did. This week’s episode of Rick and Morty was one of the best yet. The entire episode is a non-stop train ride of clever comedy and bizarre visuals, in both the A and B plots. In other words, it is the most Rick and Morty episode of Rick and Morty yet.

One of the definite high points of this episode was the plethora of throwbacks to season 1 episodes. Almost every scene is saturated with easter eggs. However, none of them feel forced. On the contrary, they feel like a reward for dedicated viewers, those who aren’t just tuning in for the first time.

It would be criminal for me not to talk about one of the best scenes in the show thus far. There is a particular scene that takes place when Rick and Morty are in the arcade. Rick forces Morty to play an arcade game titled Roy. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was one of the most morbidly funny scenes in Adult Swim history.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of this week’s A plot was the telepathic gas cloud known as “fart”. The way he blent into the relationship dynamic between Rick and Morty did not feel forced at all. In fact, it led to a ton of great comedy. The character felt like a hybrid of a David Bowie song and a Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared video. Although it is very unlikely, I would love to see him return to the show sometime in the future.

However, this was the first time in a while that I preferred the B plot to the A. The B plot, while hilarious if interpreted as simply a long bash at Jerry, can be analyzed as much more than that. To me, I saw it as a look into the psyche of Jerry, giving us some major, and frankly needed, character development. Now if Dan and Justin could give us some Beth character development, we’d be all set.

Evidently, this episode is one of the best of the show yet, and definitely the best of season 2 thus far. It is insane to think about how much happened in its 22 minute runtime. It had the content amount of a feature length film, yet it still didn’t feel rushed. I can confidently say that this is one of the episodes that you should show someone if you are trying to get them into the show. If the season continues at an incline with regards to episode quality, we are definitely in for a treat.

Attack on Titan: Junior High- Trailer Review

Well, who’s ready for Eren’s Declassified Titan Survival Guide? The first trailer for the unexpected anime adaptation of the comedic Attack on Titan spinoff manga, Attack on Titan: Junior High, has just been officially released by Production I.G. Long story short, it looks ridiculous.

I can tell hardcore fans, as well as haters of the franchise, are definitely going to be ranting about this. However, I can also tell this show is not meant to be taken seriously, simply by the hilarious animation and soundtrack juxtaposition. The trailer gives off a zany, chaotic school vibe similar to shows like Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. I’m just hoping that Production I.G. is able to handle over the top comedy as well as they are action drama.

I also found it hilarious to see some of our favorite characters in these middle school roles. Its looking to me like Hanji and Levi are going to be teachers, and Erwin is going to be the principle; but again, nothing is confirmed.

Nothing more can be judged until the series is upon us sometime in October. If this is something to tide us over until the long awaited second season of Attack on Titan, thats fine by me. I just hope its somewhat decent entertainment, and not rushed out, poorly written garbage.