One Piece: Episode of Skypiea was a television special that is an abridged retelling of the Skypiea arc of the One Piece anime.
One Piece: Episode of Skypiea
Original Japanese airdate: August 25, 2018
Directed by: Konosuke Uda
Runtime: 105 minutes
The special opens with the Straw Hats on the Going Merry and witnessing a boat falling from the sky. As the debris falls, a piece of paper hits Luffy’s face, and it turns out that it’s a map of Skypiea, an island in the sky. After Nami’s Log Pose picks up the signal from Skypiea, Luffy wants to go to the sky island, even though no one knows whether it really exists or not. The crew ends up on the island of Jaya and finding a man named Montblanc Cricket, a descendant of Montblanc Nolan, a man known as a liar through a children’s story published in the North Blue. He doesn’t know if the sky island is real or not, but he tells the crew about the knock up streams that go up into the sky. After Montblanc Cricket and his friends, Masira and Shoujou retrofit the Going Merry, the ship rides on a wave from a knock up stream. When they reach the top, the Straw Hats discover that the island does indeed exist.
As they arrive on Angel Beach, they meet a man named Gan Fall, and together, they save a girl named Conis, who is being chased by a Sky Beast. Meanwhile, Eneru (who is serving as God) sends Satori to punish the Straw Hats for the crime of invasion. The story builds up to include the Shandians trying to take on Eneru, and leads to a climax of the Straw Hats and Wyper (the leader of the Shandians) teaming up to take on Eneru.
For readers who are already familiar with this arc from the One Piece anime, you can already tell there are some major differences between what happens in the original telling and this one. Certain characters and plot points were omitted from this telling, and for the most part, their omissions make sense. In order to distill the story down to 105 minutes, the focus needed to be on getting the Straw Hats to Skypiea and fighting with Eneru. As the special continues, there are other changes made as well to shorten things down. For the most part, the changes and omissions made later in the special aren’t quite as noticeable on first glance (with the main exception being that Luffy is now the only person swallowed by the giant snake). Of course, the changes and omissions to the story also means that several characters who were introduced in this arc are either omitted entirely or have a reduced role.
Conis’ personality is also different in this version of the story. She’s not the timid girl from the original Skypiea arc, and she’s the one who ultimately helps the Straw Hats to get Zoro and Robin where they need to be, since the story of how the Going Merry ended up at the sacrificial altar was changed for this special. Conis has more agency in this telling.
I have to give this special a lot of credit for incorporating the backstory of Montblanc Nolan and his time with the Shandians when Skypiea was still part of Jaya. This is very important information for the audience, and it helps to explain Wyper’s motivations during the story. I really couldn’t tell that anything had been shortened or removed from this backstory, which I appreciated.
When it comes to the animation in the special, the footage was definitely reanimated. The look and feel of it has much more in common with the animation style being used in 2018 than it did with the animation style being utilized for the series when the Skypiea arc was animated. I thought the updated look to the animation enhanced the production and gave long-time viewers of the series a different visual way of seeing this story.
After watching One Piece: Episode of Skypiea, I understood why events had to be changed or omitted to fit the story down into this shortened version, but it was a little unnerving when I could tell when there were differences. However, I do have to give this special credit for the fact that it didn’t feel quite as choppy or jumpy as the One Piece: The Desert Princess and the Pirates Adventures in Alabasta anime film. But with the way this special is done, someone who has never seen this story before wouldn’t really pick up on the changes that viewers who are familiar with it would.
In the end, One Piece: Episode of Skypiea was an enjoyable special and successfully distilled this arc down to its main points. But if you’re already familiar with this arc from the anime series, expect this telling to be a little jarring due to the changes that were made to the story.
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