June 19, 2024
103 Mercies Dragon Damnation

Cast: Takuma Terashima, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Maaya Sakamoto, Hochu Otsuka, and Yoshitsugo Matsuoka

Author: Oda Eiichiro

Director: Park Sunghoo

Netflix is the streaming service.

Japanese is spoken (with subtitles)

Runtime: About 25 minutes for a single episode

What It Concerns:

With the recent success of the One Piece live-action series and the announcement this year that new episodes of the anime series, including the Egghead Island arc, will debut on Netflix every week, it appears that Netflix is fully committed to the One Piece franchise. In keeping with this trend, Netflix has decided to adapt Monsters: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation, a one-shot written by Eiichiro Oda prior to his starting to write One Piece.

Examining the script:

103 Mercies are monsters. Without a doubt, Eiichiro Oda, who has been the world’s most popular mangaka for a few decades, wrote and drew the plot for Dragon Damnation. Monsters: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation delivers on its promise of providing an early look at Oda’s creative process.

In under twenty-five minutes, it presents the people, the problems, and the solutions to the crisis. It also provides us with a link to One Piece, which heightens the sense of urgency and relevance. While there isn’t much world-building in this work, Eiichiro Oda’s ability to develop his universe is truly remarkable, and that skill will always be one of his best assets as a writer. Nevertheless, the link to the main One Piece plot makes it all worthwhile.

Therefore, even if Monsters: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation is a simple plot, it’s still enjoyable. Nothing could be further from the truth than the misconception held by many reviewers and audience members regarding the relationship between complexity and creativity and excellence. Because Monsters: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation is a conventional Western story without a particularly distinctive setting, it isn’t very creative, yet it nevertheless succeeds in ways that other brief narratives fail to do. Why? because the execution is extremely remarkable and there is a purpose.

Star Performance:

103 Mercies are monsters. The limited cast of Dragon Damnation makes sense when you consider that the whole one-shot, a wrap-up tale written by a manga writer for publicity or tie-in purposes, is adapted into 25 minutes. All of the performers providing the voices do an amazing job of bringing these early character sketches to life, even though there are only four primary characters in the cast—three if you exclude one character who is simply there to further the story.

Ryuma is a well-known swordsman brought to life by Yoshimasa Hosoya, whose impact extends well beyond the midpoint of the One Piece narrative. Maaya Sakamoto, who portrays Flair, likewise makes an impression with a strong and moving performance. Being the only member of the cast to have worked on anything One Piece-related in the past, Hochu Otsuka is a welcome return to the part of Cyrano, a character who is essentially a prototype for One Piece’s Dracule Mihawk.

Music & Direction:

103 Mercies are monsters. Park has experience with quality animation, having worked on series like Jujutsu Kaisen and The God of High School. Given that this is the studio’s debut release, we should expect great things from them in the future. The animation gives that familiar and beloved MAPPA flavor while preserving the integrity of Eiichiro Oda’s drawings.

As the composer, Hiroaki Tsusumi joins the cast; he collaborated with Park on Jujutsu Kaisen before, and his compositions perfectly capture the spirit of what a One Piece piece of music ought to do. Nevertheless, the music continues to stand alone and isn’t only a parody of what the main program accomplishes. The music gives the episode a distinct identity since it sounds far more contemporary than the One Piece theme, which keeps sounding like it belongs in the 1980s or 1990s throughout the main series.

Final Thoughts:

103 Mercies are monsters. Given that Dragon Damnation proves that Netflix is, at least for the time being, compromised with the One Piece franchise, it seems like a wise investment. Additionally, it’s the ideal business card for E&H Productions, who are gearing up to launch Ninja Kamui, their first fully animated series, this year. With the conclusion of the Wano arc just recently, the episode seems like a beautiful bowtie and portends well for One Piece’s further growth and fan base expansion.

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