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I know nobody really makes blogs about the anime these days but I think this is important to discuss so here goes.

Now, Toei, and more specifically the One Piece anime starting sometime during/after the Water 7 saga, are notorious for mediocre or bad fillers and padding, with strong exceptions like the G-8 arc being few and far between. This has become exacerbated with the current model of adapting roughly 1 chapter's worth of material per episode, meaning that in order to fill the ~19 minutes worth of runtime the studio has to throw in additional stuff. From what I've observed, people dislike padding far more than filler. Why? Well, while canon episode filler is usually just extra scenes for various characters or reusing the various comedic gags that Oda uses for his characters (helloooooo Buggy during Marineford), padding is stretching out a canon scene for those precious additional seconds and minutes. The more harmless variant of this comes in the form of stretching out an existing gag or adding in more lines for a dialogue exchange, but the truly reviled version is padding out a battle - the most egregrious form of this being the "tug-of-war" mode that Toei likes employing.

This often detracts from the episode because it causes a given character to appear weaker or more powerful than they were in the manga. Let's take the end of Caesar vs. Luffy: the manga had Luffy absolutely annihilating Caesar with Grizzly Bazooka despite the latter's Shinokuni upgrade in order to illustrate the very clear power gap between them, while the anime had Caesar somehow stopping Grizzly Bazooka for a moment or two and nearly petrifying Luffy's fists before the attack went through - never mind that the attack should've lost all its momentum once Caesar stopped Luffy's hands. This is a clear instance of the anime detracting from the story by doing padding wrong. A more recent example would be Luffy vs. Doflamingo: in the manga, once Luffy activated Gear Fourth, Doffy was barely hanging on and kept being overpowered right up until his defeat, while the anime presented the conflict more evenly and even turned the King Kong Gun/Godthread clash into another tug-of-war battle when, once again, the manga had Luffy instantly smashing through his opponent's defense to defeat them. You could argue that it was a little more acceptable for Doflamingo because of the monster he'd been established as up until that point, but regardless it was upping his power level/downgrading Luffy's from the source material for the sake of runtime and nothing more.

With that out of the way, let's get to the goshdarn point of this article: this week's episode, the main focus of which is Luffy's clash with Fujitora. Now, with the above examples you could be forgiven for thinking that every extension on Toei's behalf is inevitably poorly-done tripe, but this particular instance would prove that wrong. Why? Because even though the conflict is extended a good 8-9 minutes past its manga form, it is constantly engaging throughout and neither combatant is weakened or strengthened compared to their manga counterpart. All the attacks are believably delivered and handled, the animation is pretty much constantly on-point, and it really does feel like a taste of what the future Admiral fights will be. The highlight for me would be the 15 seconds or so where Luffy is blocking sword strikes from Fujitora with Haki-hardened arms - it's tense, it's fast-paced, and it's believable, all important factors for anime-only stuff to work. And that's not even mentioning the epic gravity attack that Fujitora unleashes at the end or the incredibly ominous and well-done scene of him blocking out the sun with the rubble on Dressrosa.

Once again, I know we don't really pay attention to the anime these days, but I just wanna congratulate Toei for doing something very much right despite their history lowering expectations so much. Please watch this episode and see what I mean.

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