Director: Tetsuya Endo
Writer: Tomohiro Nakamaya
Runtime: 105 minutes
So, by the fact that Episode Of East Blue wasn’t followed up by a special with an original story later in 2017, you can tell Toei quietly just kinda ditched the promised output of One Piece TV specials with original stories following new adaptations of old material.
It wasn’t until a year (a year and one day, to be pedantic) after that we got another special in the summer of 2018, with Episode Of Skypiea, another abridged remake of a story arc from earlier in One Piece’s storyline. BUT i find that this one makes a bit more sense, as Skypiea is such an unfairly hated story arc for many fans (which often made a lot of videogame adaptations of One Piece just completely skip it over it, while keeping a lot of minor story arcs)…. because someone shunned it entirely due to Ener’s ability being basically doomed to begin with against Luffy’s. But Amazon Lily’s arc that features Luffy making women marvel at his golden balls is perfect.
It makes even more sense to give Skypiea the “Episode Of” treament since we didn’t get any tangental piece of re-animated material from this arc in any of the specials before.
The writer is the same of Episode Of East Blue, and one can almost tell since he cuts off a lot of material that leads up to the events that happen strictly on Skypiea, for example the encounter with Bellamy and Teach at Jaya is completely ignored, and them meeting with Montblanc Noland Cricket is esponged of the salvage session with Cricket’s monkeymen buddies and their antics, which results in the special already getting to them riding the Knock Up Stream 15 minutes in.
Definitely it makes for quite the brisk pace, is done on the fairly sensible (and quite logical) assumption you’ve already seen/red the complete story, and you just wanna see a remake of the arc that gets to the juicier or otherwise most important parts. Don’t go into this one expecting to learn or get a refresher about the story arc in question, because the script – for example – just has them enter and immediatly branded as invaders, instead of them not knowing there was an ammission fee.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t notable differences to the story, there are plenty, all done for the sake of a speedier, less fragmented narrative, like Luffy, Sanji and Usop fighting Satori… not in the jungle as part of the Ordeal Of Balls (also completely cut), but on the same beach the Straw Hats landed after finally passing through the Knock Up Stream and met Konis, among others things.
To be honest, i understand some thing would have to be cut anyway, but they get too carried away and – not surprisingly – the story feels outright butchered, and relies a bit too much of you already knowing exactly the full story to begin, I will say i’m kinda surprised they actually put in flashbacks to explain in what way the Sky Island is connected to Mont Blanc Noland and his descendant Cricket.
The problem is that the Noland-Kalgara flashback sequences iare indeed repurposed -and ever so slightly touched up – old footage from the TV series. I did double check in this instance, but even if i didn’t it’s impossible not to feel that something is off or to not notice the change in animation, especially when the rest of the special is remade from scratch in a different style and quality.
NONE of the previous TV specials did this, not even for scenes already reanimated once already, so this is just appalling and incredibly cheap. I don’t blame the animators, i blame Toei, obviously.
So, overall, a disappointing mixed bag of a remake-recap of Skypiea, it seems this poor, mistreated arc can’t get a break.
What a wimpering way to close out the retrospective, but as Toei didn’t make any more “proper” One Piece TV specials since the summer of 2018, this is the end, for now.