For the last couple of years, the animation quality for most episodes have been tolerable to downright crap. Some fight scenes were animated well, but most episode were paced and animated in a lackluster way, never keeping my interest long enough to watch a full episode. With episode 892, that all changes. The art style, animation quality, and production values are so damn good that if they keep this up, I’m probably going to ravenously watch through this entire season.
This episode is the first episode in the Wano Country story arc. Luffy and gang have escaped Big Mom’s territory and are attempting to arrive in the country of Wano in order to overthrow Kaido and the current rulers of Wano.
Wano is perhaps the most Japanese of all One Piece locations, so I can understand why they want to put a little more effort into this story arc than previous ones. It’s very reminiscent of the often revisited and romanticized period of Japanese history with samurais, ninjas, bushido, daimyos and all that sort of thing. There are plenty of places to draw inspiration from for the art.
The story is standard One Piece, which means a bit of drama with a bunch of jokes. I really loved their stupid aliases they came up with the blend in, which are really just their names with the stereotypical Japanese suffices added on to them. The entire episode was one big joke reference to the genre of romanticized feudal Japan and that joke worked for me.
The best part of this episode is still its art. I don’t know if they switched animation studios or they changed art direction or they simply put in more elbow grease, but the art in this episode is fantastic. It is movie quality animation. Not only the animation, but the attention to detail and pacing of this episode is a level above the vast majority of One Piece episodes that came before. I normally just read the manga and ignore the anime because the quality and pacing suck, but this is one of the few times where the anime is clearly superior to the manga and adds something the manga is lacking.
Overall, this was a great episode and hopefully just a sample of what’s to come. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.