Fleeting moments of brilliance. I must say I expected more considering the time allocated for this episode. Deguchi was top KA followed by Mitsui as second credited; overall, the art and animation shows great polish. I might just need to rewatch the episode, but something that really bothered me with this episode was the art direction. Background art, while often overlooked, is so important when establishing atmosphere, and yet it felt like it was totally rushed in some areas. There were definitely some good shots, but I felt like they could've gotten way more creative considering Elbaf's viking inspired theme and its geographic position, or things like actually paying attention to the lighting inside a house coming from a fireplace, instead of painting it like it's lit by electric lights.
I think the problem is despite being on Elbaf, the directing never allowed for the scope of the giants home and culture to be sold. For example, there was no Marineford-tier shot, or even an angle to suggest the massive size of the Giants, so when things were big, I was taken out of the experience before remembering how we were on Elbaf. It's a case of Tell-not-Show. They TOLD us we're on Elbaf, but they never showed it. The background with the wolf and bear looks like a generic mountain. I think the problem was that, because Elbaf was only modestly established (probably because an arc there would be the thing to REALLY show it off not a 2 chapter flashback in the middle of this massive arc) the series had to be very conservative with its direction. It couldn't show too much outside of the village. Because it may contradict later events in the Manga, and even contradict some of it's cultural elements. Which is a double kick in the face considering that this is One piece, a series Entirely established on its use of Strong, hyper-exaggerated perspective. If Jojo's Bizzarre Adventure is known for it's Fabulous posing, and HxH is known for being simple-yet-detailed/psuedo-realistic art, Then One Piece is definitely the king of Perspective art. More appropriately - SCALE
…Seriously the amount of perspective used in this series is astounding. They were very restrained in selling Elbaf, and a lack of any real perspective shots killed the scope, and even the fundamental elements of One Piece's art direction as a franchise. Oda is the king of making things BIG!!, and yet when we get the Isle of frickin giants, its framed like an ordinary small village. Also, Whenever you multiply the size of a character, they move slower, it adds weight to them. That's not in this episode, despite being surrounded by giants.
Also, May I just go on record and say I despise how this show lights scenes? While on one hand I appreciate that they dont abuse post-processing to make lights happen artificially, I DONT appreciate that the drawings, and color choices tend to always be flat colors. Even the oldest episodes of this show (ok, Alabastia onward) had that purple texture on its characters, and made some interesting choices with its directing.