ONE PIECE REVIEW: A Paradise in Hell! Impel Down Level 5.5!

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I could say I have no words for how I should put this episode, but then we would have no review. So let’s get on with it as I try to put the reactions into words about the episode.

First off, the summary is this: Bon Clay desperately searches for Ivankov and finds him/her in a place called level 5.5 or Ivankov puts it Newkama Land. Now what I like about this episode is Bon Clay’s bravery and strength, amidst the cold and wolf attacks and very little help from, no surprise, prisoners he persevered until he couldn’t go any further. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. He gets overwhelmed by wolves, but fortunately Luffy gets up and…bites a wolf before tossing him like bad meat (like Luffy would do something like that). He then uses a burst of power to knock all of them flat. I guess to be King of the Pirates you have to start small and become king of the wolves. But that’s all he could do before passing out. Luckily, they were found by a man (?). I’ll explain the question mark later. Bon Clay wakes up in his version of paradise, a queer land (Their words, not mine) where there’s a celebration for being so where that same man, now a woman right there in the picture explains what happened to him.

You see this is how you add queer characters into a series. I happen to hear a lot about LGBT representation needing to be in shows today, and that’s fine and all, but it shouldn’t be a big deal, at least not big enough that the story doesn’t matter any more. People instead of focusing on the story would talk about “oh, there’s this gay, lesbian, or transgender here”, but not what the story is about, and writers now have to tip toe around how they should do this. Yes, the people here are probably criminals, but so is Luffy, his gang, and many others. I get a little annoyed whenever some character who doesn’t outright say they are straight or do straight things or even show interest in the opposite gender is automatically singled out as the person who should be made gay (seriously they could just be asexual or something), if it is implied by fandom is fine but only the author could say. This kind of feels like it’s painting a preconceived notion of what straight people are like. You should display your interest at all times or at least once in the opposite gender or you must be gay. It places a misleading label on heterosexuals or asexuals when they do not act in a certain way, does that make sense? You don’t want send out wrong messages. Anyway, how Oda did it was great. He kept which part of the community vague, meaning you can’t tell who is gay, lesbian, transgender, or whatever so that there’s no real focus and could include everyone on the sexuality spectrum. He also made the people, well normal by One Piece standards. You get the feel that they are normal people, good and bad qualities and all. They are neither bad nor good, only way to find is if you knew them, which he doesn’t let the reader do. This is brilliant in hindsight. By not showing much of their character, he doesn’t reveal any real bias that he might actually put in said characters, avoiding sweeping generalizations. He also I think subtly hints that if you really want to know a person, y’know, find out what they are like yourself. Don’t judge.

I also like Ivankov’s song. It’s actually pretty catchy. It’s also kind of in your face to those who would say gays are going to hell when he recites that if this was hell at least it’s a gay one. Ivankov seems like a colorful character and there’s so many questions this episode leaves up in the air, so I’ll tune in and I hope this review doesn’t start any flame wars. Eight out of ten.

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