One Piece Syrup Village Arc Review (Episodes 9-18)
As will be the usual with this series of reviews, I will be assuming you are going into this having either seen the show or seen my reviews of the previous arcs. As such certain things of the previous arcs may be spoiled, and I will be taking some liberties in not explaining things that many of you likely know already. If this is your first time seeing one of my One Piece Reviews, I am doing an Arc by Arc review of the show. That out of the way, let's begin.
This arc introduces a new character, Usopp the Liar. The village the crew visits are is very small with nothing of note beyond Usopp being known for constantly telling lies. To even explain the plot though, I will have to spoil a small aspect of it, that being the villain is revealed to be a Pirate who currently lives in the town as a caretaker wanting the fortune of the wealthiest house on the island. Given he is a known Liar, of course, Usopp is the one to learn of the plan.
The main conflict becomes our jolly pirate crew preventing the morning attack of Captain Kuro's former pirate crew, aided by Usopp and his tricks and ability to shoot pachinko balls out of a slingshot with some extreme accuracy. There aren't a lot of twists and turns in this plot, like most things you could kind of guess how they will turn out, and largely you are going to be right. The real crux of the arc here is how much you end up liking Usopp himself.
And it turns out he's a pretty good character. Like the rest of the main crew, it's clear he has a good heart despite some of his more eccentric personality traits. He may lie all the time, but there always seems to be a reason behind it. To protect his friends, to make things more interesting around a dull village, to brighten the day of someone in a deep depression, you never feel as though his lies come from a bad place. He's not the deepest character so far, but so far the show hasn't been about that. He's pretty simple and straight forward as of now, but like the rest of the crew has a unique charm about him and a personality that gets you in the adventuring mood of the show. I wasn't too sure how to feel about him the first few episodes, but as time went on I started to warm up to the guy.
That out of the way, this was probably the weakest arc of the first three. A lot of problems I was starting to have originally are becoming more prevalent here, and that is how stupid characters have to act at certain points to set up what they want to do. To a degree, it was okay in earlier parts cause at least the setups were pretty funny, but here it just gets stupid. For example, Usopp determines the pirates will attack from the slope on the beach, as it is the only way to enter the Island as the rest of the island is surrounded by cliffs. Well, that's what we are told. After the pirates don't show up Usopp realizes 'OH WAIT THERE IS A SECOND BEACH HERE WITH A SLOPE COMING UPWARDS WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT'S WHERE THEY WOULD COME UP!'. Worse yet, that's where everyone else had parked, meaning everyone was aware of the second beach, and not one person thought to say anything.
There were quite a few other things like that that happened throughout the climax, and it constantly pulled me out of the fights. Though somethings worked wonderfully, like the hypnosis one of the Pirates uses effecting everyone who sees's it happen, including himself and anyone else he didn't intend to use it on but saw it anyway. The show does walk a thin line with these gags, and sometimes it pays off while others it doesn't.
We still got some great fights, as well as some more interesting clashes of philosophy between Kuro and Luffy. As small as it was, it's nice to see just a bit more of what makes Luffy tick, and I”m liking the slow build-up of his character the show has been doing. This is one of the few times I'm seeing a shonen anime where the side cast doesn't far outclass the lead. It's actually really refreshing.
Overall it's still a good arc. It's frustrating that the comedy bits have started to weigh down on the serious aspects of the show to a degree, but it's not overbearing yet. The action is still great, characters are a lot of fun, and we get some interesting ideas and themes to play around with. I'm looking forward to the next arc.