Review for One Piece Collection 7
I wonder if Manga Entertainment actually schedule their shonen releases this way, or if it’s just coincidence. This summer, they’ve got the Fairy Tail movie, and hot on its heels is the eighth instalment of the Fairy Tail series. And I recently posted a review for the first One Piece movie collection, the first three feature films gathered together in one handy package, and straight after I pick up the seventh collection of One Piece episodes to review. Regardless of whether it’s by design or whether it’s just serendipity, I’m hyped up for another collection of rubber band pirate antics, some zany comedy and out of this world action. Literally out of this world in this case, as in One Piece Part 7, Luffy and his crew have made it to the heavens themselves, and where the bad guy is God. Someone’s been watching Star Trek V.
Monkey D. Luffy wants to be a pirate. No he wants to be the best pirate of them all, sail the Grand Line, find the legendary One Piece treasure left behind by Gold Roger, and become the Pirate King. He’s inspired in this by his mentor, Red-Haired Shanks, who saved his life when he was a child. He also ate the Gum-Gum fruit, a devil fruit which has given him stretchy rubber limbed abilities, although at the cost of his ability to swim. You’d think this would be a fatal handicap in a pirate, but Luffy has set sail nevertheless, looking to gather the best crew on the high seas, and venture forth onto the Grand Line. The first candidates for his crew include the mighty pirate-hunter swordsman, Roronoa Zoro, the skilled, pirate-hating thief Nami, the world’s greatest liar, Usopp, and the toughest chef around, Sanji. He’s later joined by the world’s first and only blue-nosed reindeer doctor, in the form of the fatally cute Tony Tony Chopper as well as the enigmatic and multi tasking Nico Robin.
Previously on One Piece, when Nami’s Log Pose suddenly pointed upwards, it became clear that the next destination of the Going Merry would be in the sky. And sure enough, there turned out to be a far-fetched method of ascending to the heavens, a world built of cloud and on cloud, cloud firm enough for people to stand on, to live on, and prosper on. A whole world exists in the sky, the world of Godland Skypiea. This is no paradise however, it’s a rule driven world, strictly enforced and tyrannically administered by God, and simply by arriving at the island and not paying the ridiculous toll, Luffy and the other have been dubbed as criminals, everything they do exacerbates their crimes, and punishment in Skypiea is severe.
The next 26 episodes of One Piece are presented across 4 discs from Manga Entertainment.
157. Is Escape Possible?! God’s Challenge is Set in Motion!
158. A Trap on Lovely Street! The Almighty Eneru!
159. Onward Crow! To the Sacrificial Altar!
160. 10% Survival Rate! Satori the Mantra Master!
161. The Ordeal of Spheres! Desperate Struggle in the Lost Forest!
162. Chopper in Danger! Former God vs. Priest Shura!
163. Profound Mystery! Ordeal of String and Ordeal of Love?!
164. Light the Fire of Shandora! Wyper the Warrior!
165. Jaya, City of Gold in the Sky! Head for God’s Shrine!
166. Festival on the Night Before Gold-Hunting! Feelings for Vearth!
167. Enter God Eneru!! Farewell to the Survivors!
168. A Giant Snake Bares Its Fangs! The Survival Game Begins!
169. The Deadly Reject! War Demon Wyper’s Resolve!
170. Fierce Midair Battle! Pirate Zoro vs. Warrior Braham!
171. The Roaring Sun Bazooka! Luffy vs. War Demon Wyper!
172. The Ordeal of the Swamp! Chopper vs. Sky Punk Gedatsu!
173. Unbeatable Powers! Eneru’s True Form is Revealed!
174. A Mystical City! The Grand Ruins of Shandora!
175. 0% Survival Rate! Chopper vs. Ohm, the Sword Wielding Priest!
176. Climb Giant Jack! Deadly Combat in the Upper Ruins!
177. The Ordeal of Iron! White Barbed Death Match!
178. Bursting Slash! Zoro vs. Ohm!
179. Collapsing Upper Ruins! The Quintet for the Finale!
180. Showdown in the Ancient Ruins! Sky God Eneru’s Goal!
181. Ambition Toward the Endless Vearth! The Ark Maxim!
182. They Finally Clash! Pirate Luffy vs. God Eneru!
Manga Entertainment and Toei logos precede the content on the disc, which dating from 1999 is presented in 4:3 regular format. The show gets a native PAL transfer with 4% speed-up. The image that is clear and sharp throughout. Compared to the first fifty or so episodes, One Piece has settled down somewhat; we’re now some 160 episodes into the show, that’s about three years worth of development in animation, and the early static and primitive feel to the show has mostly vanished and now it’s a lot more consistent and fluid in terms of quality. The occasionally, wholly digital look to the show is now a thing of the past. There are still moments where the animation really takes a walk on the wild side, bringing to mind the wackiness of Tex Avery cartoons and the like. This is a show where surprise can make people’s eyeballs bug out of their sockets, and their jaws drop to the floor.
You have the choice of DD 5.1 Surround English, and DD 2.0 Stereo Japanese, with optional translated subtitles and a signs only track. As usual, I watched the series through in Japanese with subtitles, and found a fairly standard shonen anime dub, with enthusiastic and over the top performances that suit the tone of the show well. The stereo does a good job in conveying the show’s ambience and action sequences. Where One Piece really impresses is in its music score. Far from the comparatively weedy synth efforts afforded to the usual anime shows, One Piece apparently gets a full on orchestral score, at times giving the show an epic and grand soundscape that by far belies its comic book origins. The subtitles are free of error and are accurately timed.
The discs present their content with static menus set to the English version of the theme song, with jacket pictures to look at when the discs are at rest in compatible players.
The extras begin on disc 2, with an audio commentary on episode 166, with ADR Director Mike McFarland, and voice actors Luci Christian (Nami), and Stephanie Young (Robin). Of all the Funimation commentaries, I can deal with those moderated by Mike McFarland the most easily, as these are usually sane affairs that actually talk about the show.
You’ll also find two sets of textless credits on this disc, both openings and both closings, although once again the subtitles are locked on the Japanese versions of the songs.
Disc 3 has an audio commentary to accompany episode 171. ADR Director Mike McFarland joins Sonny Strait (Usopp) and just like the previous 2 commentaries, it’s a compare and contrast on the experience of starting the show in the middle (the Funimation dub of One Piece began just prior to the Skypiea arc), going back to the beginning, and then catching up again.
Disc 4 once again presents the subtitle marred but otherwise textless credits, one opening and two endings. Of course if you want to see the textless opening on this disc, just watch the start of an episode and turn the subtitles off there, as for some reason all of the episodes start with the textless opening instead of one with credits.
I have a difficulty here. How to make ‘more of the same’ sound inspiring and positive? One Piece Collection 7 really does give more of the same mix of comedy, action, drama and emotional weight that the previous collections have given. You’ll still be thrilled by the action, laugh at the dopey antics of the main characters, be enthralled by the story, and get a little misty-eyed when things get serious for the characters. One Piece is masterful at how it juggles its various hats, that’s been apparent from the first episode, and it’s no different here, now that we’re edging closer to the 200th.
If there is a weak spot in this Skypiea storyline, it’s that it bears more than a superficial resemblance to Nami’s storyline, the Arlong arc. That too had a community terrorised by an all powerful figure and his henchmen, to the point where the community capitulated and obeyed his every dictate. That was more of a personal and moving story given that it was an outgrowth of Nami’s tragic past. Here the stakes are, quite literally higher, with Skypiea an actual society in the clouds, with all the bizarre and unexpected things that implies. Eneru too is more than just a shark-faced pirate; he’s the self-styled God of Skypiea, with abilities and omniscience that borders on that of a deity. He and his henchmen rule Skypiea with an iron hand, to the point that the Skypiea residents obey his every whim through simple fear. And when you can be struck down by lightning for simply saying the wrong thing, that’s a justifiable position to take.
Eneru is quite mad of course, and his henchmen aren’t far off, and he has a diabolical plan in progress that is revealed over the course of these episodes. The thing is that we don’t have the personal connection that we had with the Arlong arc, that of Nami’s storyline or someone similar. You’d think it might be the new addition to the crew, that Robin’s past would be fleshed out here, but it’s only just hinted at. Instead the story relies on the guest characters to convey the emotional strength of the story. It works well too, the tale of the former God Gan Fall and the Skypiea islanders, the arrival of the Upper Yard island and its inhabitants, the Shandians, who were displaced from their homeland, and who fight to reclaim it. Over the course of these 26 episodes, the story is revealed gradually and in a way that draws the viewer in, gets them emotionally invested in the characters, rooting for the heroes, and booing and hissing at the villains. Our heroes approach the situation with their usual level of stupid intensity, Luffy spends most of the latter half of the collection in the stomach of a giant snake, during which time Eneru’s invincibility is demonstrated again and again. So the satisfaction is immense when Luffy finally escapes confinement and confronts Eneru, against whose abilities, the rubber limbed Luffy has a unique defence.
Despite the lack of background in these episodes, Robin’s arc is still an interesting one. She turns out to be the Indiana Jones of the group, with a passion for archaeology, and she’s shown to be in her element in the ruins of Shandora. When we first met her in the Alabasta arc, she was searching for a bit of lost history, the Rio Poneglyph, and she was cruelly denied at the end of that arc. But in the ruins of Shandora, an ancient city lost for 400 years, it looks as if she has a second chance. The action is poised when we too are cruelly denied, by the end of the final episode on disc 4. We’ll have to wait until collection 8 to see if the secrets of Shandora will be revealed, if Luffy can prevail against Eneru where so many of his friends have failed.
Once again, a collection of One Piece episodes reminds us just why this show is the biggest anime in Japan. Isn’t it time you got aboard the Going Merry too?
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