If you were to chase me down, rope me to a chair, shoot me full of sodium pentothal and ask me what my favorite anime fight is, I'd probably name the Crocodile fight. Previous fights in One Piece all had their charms, from the Captain Kuro and Arlong fights, right through to the Mr. 5 and Warpol fights. But the Crocodile fight is something special. With it, for just a moment, One Piece becomes a work of pure cinema on par with just about anything in the action genre anywhere, at any time and in any format. It's the best of everything good about the series: an extended battle bursting with thrilling pirate action, underwritten by simple but effective plotting, and charged with heartbreaking emotion. It brings to bear over sixty episodes of conflict and slowly boiling pressures, unleashing them in a single cathartic burst. It's immensely cool, hugely satisfying, and a lot more artful than anyone has a right to expect (check out the masterful choreography to the 4th movement of Dvorak's From the New World). The fight marks the pinnacle of director Kanosuke Uda's knack for fusing sound and image into something far greater than the sum of their parts, taking classical music as well as the show's own wonderful pirate fanfare and wedding them with the weird angles and weirder characters of mangaka Eiichiro Oda's strangely timeless art to create sensations new and memorable.
It also marks a narrative pinnacle. Fans often make claims about the advantages of shonen series' endless episode counts, but this is one of the few times a series actually taps fully into that potential. It exploits shamelessly our long history with these characters, their setting, and their plight. Not only in the fights, which swell the heart with their long-delayed meting of bareknuckle justice, but also the personal struggles that inform them. Vivi's simple plea "stop the fighting!" shouted into a roiling sea of dying citizens " is given tragic force by the weight of shared history. The desperation and despair of that exhortation is like a living thing. We've seen the hell she has been through only to be brought to this juncture, crying out to a crowd that won't listen as it acts out her worst nightmare and her voice begins to fail... Well, let's just say that if you don't mist up, you may want your lachrymals checked.
Read More Click Me!