After a grueling month of filler that tested the faith of One Piece fans, the early episodes of Impel Down reminds everyone just why One Piece is so fun to watch. With lots of comedy, light-hearted action, and a real, abiding love for its whole cast, One Piece episodes like A Reunion in Hell?! The Man Who Ate the Chop-Chop Fruit! have the rare ability to make you laugh but keep you on the edge of your seat at the same time.
As Luffy's infiltration of the Dante-inspired prison Impel Down begins, One Piece brings back one of its oldest villains as an unexpected ally in Buggy the Clown. Thrown in jail by the Marines years ago (Buggy first appeared all the way back in Episode 4), Buggy tries to make his escape from the hellish torture at the same time Luffy tries to sneak in to break out his brother "Fire Fist" Ace, who is scheduled to be publicly executed in mere hours. Buggy brings plenty of slapstick and weird sight gags to the episode's many chase scenes, as his blundering attempt to flee combined with his ability to fall apart at any time leading to some silly sequences that just put a smile on your face.
Luffy and Buggy make a great fighting team and a great comedy team too, as it's clear that they don't like each other but their powers of rubber and splitting apart work so well together that it's just plain fun to watch. So even as they cooperate with frightening skill, they're still yelling at each other and bickering like old men, keeping what might be a tense and frightening escape fun and fluffy instead.
The next episode promises to bring a whole lot of Gum-Gum and Chop-Chop action as the odd couple fight their way through the fearsome guards of the prison, and after watching it in the opening scene for months, I can't wait to see more!