452: Destination Navy Headquarters - The Voyage to Rescue Ace!
On the now empty Level 4, Shiryuu comments that the Blackbeard Pirates underestimated Magellan, and if he hadn’t come along with the antidote, they would have died. The pirates shrug it off, attributing it to fate. Blackbeard wrings the poison out of his shirt and thanks Shiryuu for saving them, and adds that he’ll make a fine addition to the Blackbeard Pirates. Shiryuu responds by saying that he has no future in Impel Down, and that he’s been waiting to meet a man of Blackbeard’s caliber.
Beyond Impel Down, the hijacked Navy battleship cruises onwards. While Buggy leads many of the escapees in celebrating their escape, Ivankov tells some of the others that they need to let Inazuma recover from Magellan’s poison in the infirmary on his own. He’s an important member of the Revolutionary Army, so it wouldn’t do to risk shortening his life with the same treatment he gave Luffy. At the ship’s stern, Luffy, Mr. 3, and a small group of prisoners and New Kama still gaze gloomily at the retreating Gates of Justice, still saddened by Mr. 2’s sacrifice. A tipsy Buggy wanders over to them, asking how long they’re going to stand around moping. It was too bad about Mr. 2, he says, but now he’s gone and there’s nothing they can do about it, and that they should be celebrating their escape. Luffy gets into a fight with him and as the two argue Mr. 3 says in exasperation that those two can just do whatever.
Jimbei, meanwhile, is guiding the ship’s helm. The only other one up there with him is Crocodile and Mr. 1. Crocodile says that he was surprised that Jimbei was able to summon that school of whale-sharks earlier, and that Jimbei is actually a decent fellow, to which Jimbei concedes that Fishmen are generally rather hostile as a species. Luffy hops up onto the deck, and Jimbei thanks him for giving him the opportunity to help save Ace. He then introduces himself as one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea (shocking the ignorant Luffy), but has since cast that title away, and adds that he’ll help Luffy raise hell at Navy HQ.
Upon hearing that that’s their destination, Buggy and the other prisoners freak out and demand that Jimbei turn the ship around. Crocodile calls them idiots for not realizing sooner, since the only places you can go to on this sea current are either Impel Down, Enies Lobby, or Marineford. The only reason they escaped in the first place was to take part in the war. Luffy suggests that Buggy can just get off if they disagree, only to be shouted down by him and Mr. 3. The prisoners wail in despair as they recount all of the big names that will be present on the Navy’s side. There will be the fleet admiral Sengoku, the three admirals Aokiji, Kizaru, and Akainu, as well as the five remaining Warlords Boa Hancock, Donquixote Doflamingo, Bartholomew Kuma, Dracule Mihawk, and Gecko Moria. All of them versus Whitebeard’s entire fleet. They’d rather go back to Impel Down! However, the group is soon distracted by the sound of a telesnail ringing from somewhere, which turns out to be from a compartment set into the main mast.
Eyecatches: Nami and Sanji
After much angst and deliberation over whether to answer it or not, Luffy nonchalantly picks up the receiver and casually answers it. The man on the other end is an officer at Navy HQ, who informs them that they are fully aware of how the ship has been taken over, and over what transpired at Impel Down. They’ve determined the two masterminds behind the jailbreak to be Luffy and, much to everyone’s surprise, Buggy. The officer continues by saying that they once though Buggy was just a low-level pirate, but now they are aware of the fact that he was a part of Gold Roger’s crew and that he was “like a brother” to Shanks, one of the Four Emperors. While everyone freaks out over this revelation, the man continues to express his amazement that Buggy has managed to lie low all these years, but now he has revealed his true strength, and that the Navy is positive that his goal is to save Ace as well. He concludes by reminding them that they are trapped in the Tarai Current, for the Gates of Justice will never open for them, and to just sit tight and wait. Luffy then yells into the receiver that he’ll definitely save Ace, and slams it down. While Buggy frets to himself that now the Navy’s going to be actively hunting him down, the other prisoners express their surprise and admiration for him, now that the truth is out. Luffy even remembers that Rayleigh mentioned Buggy back on Sabaody. The prisoners begin to hail Buggy’s name, and he tries futilely to discourage them until realizing that he could use this to his advantage. Everything that the officer had revealed was the truth after all, from a certain point of view. Now his reputation is sure to skyrocket, maybe if, by some chance, he defeated Whitebeard, he would become one of the Emperors, and from there, the Pirate King!
While he’s planning all this, the prisoners produce weapons and attempt to mutiny against Luffy’s group, but Buggy silences them and declares that thins ship will indeed head to Marineford. There, he’ll take Whitebeard’s head and make his mark upon the world, and urges anyone that has a dream to ascend to greater heights to rally behind him. The prisoners drop their weapons and break down sobbing, realizing that their stay in Impel Down had robbed them of their dreams, and plead undying loyalty to their savior, Captain Buggy. While the prisoners bask in Buggy’s golden light, Luffy comments that the mutiny seems to be over, Jimbei observes that Buggy has a talent for inspiring people, while Ivankov simply shakes his head in incredulity.
Meanwhile, Ace’s convoy has finally arrived at the fortress city of Marineford, home to Navy Headquarters.
As should be apparent from the length of this recap, this episode was pure exposition. Since it was a talking heads episode, it was given to Toshio Deguchi, the weakest animation director on the team. However, despite his reputation, the wasn't that bad. There were a few odd looking bits in the background and the animation that was more involved than simply walking around was a bit stiff, but everyone was on model and looked pretty decent. Since I keep discussing the various animation directors, I think I'll do a post profiling them in the future.
Plot-wise, there were only really two significant things that happened. First, Shiryuu joined the Blackbeard Pirates, who fits right in with this freakish bunch and will certainly be fighting Zoro in the future given that he wields a sword.
The second is Buggy's meteoric rise to fame. I can't help but admire him for the fact that he knows that he's the weak link in the chain, but is still able to get things to work in his favor. Whether he deserves it or not, he's certainly setting himself up for a larger role in the future. I fully expect him to make it to Raftel in time to participate in the series' Grand Finale
through sheer dumb luck. He's Oda's favorite villain after all, so he's bound to go places.
After this we're in for another batch of "Where are they now?" Straw Hat episodes. It's a welcome respite after Impel Down, since I'm sure everyone misses the rest of the crew, even if they won't admit it. Come to think of it though, they've been more absent in the manga than anime, since the whole crew appeared in Movie 10 and the tie-in episodes. I'm certainly looking forward to them.