Another week, another great episode!
Finally, after a couple of iffier episodes from him, Satoshi Ito is back to his usual self and damn did he bring out the goods this week! His cool & stylish direction and his flair for atmosphere and use of colors were on full display on this episode. His storyboard in this episode was just remarkable. It was filled with dynamic angles, clever & creative composition ideas and solid action choreography to its core. And especially, the episode was packed to the brim with expressive faces which elevated the dialogue scenes and the comedy tremendously. I have been very vocal about how I absolutely adore expressive storyboards and Satoshi Ito totally delivered on that front. Btw the gags in this episodes were 10/10.
And this episode really moved more than expected. The animation supervisor Kazuya Hisada, american key animator Henry Thurlow and french animator Sanda absolutely outdid themselves on this episode and they executed Ito's strong action storyboard really well so the results can only be great.
Thurlow's scene had many strong aspects such as cool character art (even though Ichikawa corrected quite a chunk of his shots), very cool background animation and more ambitious perspectives such as the fish eye when Luffy zooms past the camera with Hyogoro on his back as he's about to attack Madilloman. The highlight of his scene is when the shockwave of Luffy's punch ripples through Madilloman's head like in a pond of water with at the same time blood pouring out of his mouth. That was a really neat addition.
Hisada's animation is just ever so loose and snappy at the same time and is pretty much a tasty trademark of his. A lot of people would characterize some of the looser, more angular and less detailed art in some long shots as poor work but it's simply factually incorrect hehe.
I loved the swift timing of Kaido's goons being flung in the air after Luffy unleashed his conqueror's haki during Sanda's part. I also really dig his rough impact frames.
I have to give a huge shout out to the chief animation supervisor Keiichi Ichikawa, who lately has been busting his ass in order to polish and clean up episodes to an significant extent. He's so incredibly fast, consistend and refined and being able to keep this up over the span of many episodes in a row is an extraordinary feat. While there are many supervisors who produce exemplary art, very few of them come close to Ichikawa's level.
This episode was also peppered with many instances of really subtle character acting, which was really the cherry on top if you ask me.
Overall, I absolutely enjoyed this episode a lot. The strong overall animation provided by fellow hard working and talented animators, the solid anime additions and Satoshi Ito's directorial efforts really enhanced the rather modest source material and I truly mean when I say that this episode was better than the manga.