Review for One Piece Collection 13
If you recall my previous review for One Piece, you might remember my lament at the advent of filler in the One Piece universe, accompanied by the traditional shonen anime strategy of stalling for time, the lengthy flashbacks, recaps, and people standing around talking about the latest special move they’re about to unveil, further describing it while unveiling it, then reviewing it afterwards. With One Piece it was the previous episode recaps that got to me, as it started to take over five minute to get to the new material in each episode, what with the double length opening credits, the Gold Roger monologue, and then the recap. And now that Collection 13 has turned up for review, I am so grateful that there’s a lengthy recap on the first episode! Then again, 9 months between subsequent One Piece releases is just too long to bear. Hopefully Collection 14 won’t take as long.
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, the CP9 group had captured Nico Robin, and had transported her to the judicial island Enies Lobby. It turns out that she’s considered a threat by the World Government, and the best that she can hope for is that they lock her away and throw away the key. Luffy and the rest of the Going Merry crew had finally realised why Robin was submitting to this, and true to form they mounted a rescue attempt with their new friends from the Galley-La company. As this collection begins, Luffy’s crew face their toughest challenge yet against CP9, while Spandam is on the verge of taking Robin to her death. And speaking of death, he also activated the Buster Call, targeting Enies Lobby for total eradication.
The next 25 episodes of One Piece are presented across 4 discs from Manga Entertainment.
300. Demon God Zoro! An Incarnation of Asura Born From Fighting Spirit!
301. Spandam Frightened! The Hero on the Tower of Law!
302. Robin Freed! Luffy vs. Lucci, Showdown Between Leaders!
303. Boss Luffy is the Culprit? Track Down the Missing Great Cherry Tree!
304. I Can’t Protect Anyone Unless I Win! Third Gear Activated!
305. Shivering Past! Dark Justice and Rob Lucci!
306. A Mysterious Mermaid Appears? As Consciousness Fades Away...
307. Cannon Fire Sinks the Island! Franky’s Lamentation
308. Wait for Luffy! Mortal Combat on the Bridge of Hesitation!
309. Fists Full of Emotion! Luffy Unleashes Gatling With All His Might!
310. From the Sea, A Friend Arrives! The Straw Hats Share the Greatest Bond!
311. Everyone Makes a Great Escape! The Road to Victory is For the Pirates!
312. Thank You Merry! Snow Falls Over the Parting Sea!
313. Peace Interrupted! A Navy Vice-Admiral with a Fist of Love!
314. The Strongest Family? Luffy’s Father Revealed!
315. Its Name is the New World! The Fate of the Grand Line!
316. Shanks Makes a Move! The Linchpin to the Reckless Era!
317. A Girl in Search of Her Yagara! Great Search in the City of Water!
318. Mothers Are Strong! Zoro’s Hectic Household Chores!
319. Sanji’s Shock! Mysterious Old Man and His Super Yummy Cooking!
320. Everyone Finally Has a Bounty! A Pirate Group Worth Over 600 Million!
321. The King of Animals That Overlooks the Sea! The Dream Ship Magnificently Completed!
322. Goodbye My Dear Underlings! Franky Departs!
323. Departing the City of Water! Usopp Mans Up and Brings Closure to the Duel!
324. Wanted Posters Make it Around the World! Celebration in Their Hometowns as the Ship Moves Forward!
One Piece is presented at a 1.78:1 anamorphic ratio, and we get anime of the quality that we’ve come to expect on DVD in this high definition age. It’s a native PAL transfer of course, with 4% speed-up as you would expect. The image is clear throughout, and now obviously comes from an HD source, so improved is the line detail. Colours are strong, the animation is vibrant, and if there is the odd judder to pans (most noticeable in the opening theme song), it’s not detrimental to the viewing experience. 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.
It’s worth noting that for filler episode 319, it’s as if they’ve let the work experience guys do the animation for the duration. Poor Sanji’s eyebrow! There’s also generally a smidge of shimmer on fine detail particularly on the long shots of Water Seven.
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.
For this collection, the Tackey and Tsubasa theme song, Crazy Rainbow continues to open the show, and I have to say that it really gets me in the mood for One Piece. It’s one of the best theme songs the show has had in ages.
The discs present their content with static menus set to the theme song.
There are two audio commentaries on subsequent episodes of disc 1, the climax of Robin’s rescue. Both are hosted by ADR Director Mike McFarland, and on the episode 300 commentary he is joined by Christopher Sabat (Zoro), and Alex Organ (Kaku), while on episode 301, the guests are Stephanie Young (Robin), and Christopher Smith (Spandam).
Disc 2 has the textless opening (The Tackey and Tsubasa animation version), and a One Piece in the Booth interview with Brina Palencia, the voice of Chopper. This lasts 21:46 and takes us behind the scenes of the recording process, while also adding separate interviews with Mike McFarland and Brina Palencia looking at the cutest character on the planet.
Disc 3 has two commentaries, the first on episode 317 featuring that episode’s ADR director (and voice of Aobire) Jerry Jewell, alongside the voice of Abi, Apphia Yu. The second is on episode 319, and once again has Jerry Jewell, this time joined by Charlie Campbell (Gramps Bang Bang).
Disc 4 has the textless opening again, and this time the Once Piece in the Booth interview is with the voice of Monkey D. Luffy himself, Colleen Clinkenbeard. This lasts 21:15, and once again offers a behind the scenes look at the dubbing process, with interviews with Colleen and Mike McFarland about the character of Luffy.
In between all the fun that I had with Collection 12 of One Piece, I had more than enough room in that review for a whinge about filler, and about recaps. That was a point in the show where things were getting hectic, as the Enies Lobby arc unfolded, the Straw Hats’ attempt to save Nico Robin. And every few episodes things would pause for a filler episode, as the animators waited for more manga to be written. It had the effect of putting an emergency stop on a rollercoaster ride, the last place that you’d need it. Each episode also tended to start with a lengthy recap of the previous one, which all in all meant that we were getting our One Piece in increasingly small doses.
With collection 13, that’s almost a thing of the past. There are 4 filler episodes in this collection, but only one of them is in the middle of the action, the other three are sensibly placed at a lull in the story, as the Straw Hats recuperate on Water Seven. The recaps at the start of the each episode are somehow less annoying as well, especially once the Rescue Robin story ends, and there’s less of import to recap. To be frank, I was enjoying One Piece again almost unconditionally, and I spent a lot less time whinging about the way it was presented.
The first half of the collection concludes the Enies Lobby adventure, and I doubt at this point that it’s much of a spoiler to say that the Straw Hats succeed in rescuing Robin, although there is a price to pay. This section boils down to Luffy and Lucci battling it out in one of the towers, while the rest of the Straw Hats, plus Franky work together to rescue Robin. All the while the Buster Call is about to hit the island, as a fleet of Navy warships arrive to eradicate the island off the map. Things are tense and well paced at this point, with even the recaps not slowing things down too much, although episode 303 is the last gasp of ill-placed filler, as we return to Edo Era Straw Hats, with boss Luffy having to recover a stolen cherry tree.
Incidentally, the week that I watched this collection, anime made me shed tears twice. You might expect that from the Ghibli movie that I watched, but One Piece also had my lip quivering, and that was unexpected. One Piece has done an excellent job when it comes to establishing the Straw Hats’ ship as a character in the show, another member of the Straw Hats crew, and this collection sees that fine ship’s swansong. I had the same heartstrings tugged when I saw the Enterprise meet its end in Star Trek III.
The latter half of the collection is spent dealing with the aftermath, and sowing some seeds for further adventures. There are ominous things afoot further down the Grand Line, with Red-Haired Shanks and Whitebeard having a Captains’ meeting regarding Luffy’s brother Ace and the traitorous Edward Teach (Blackbeard). We get to meet Luffy’s grandfather Garp, who happens to be an Admiral in the Navy, and we also learn more about Luffy’s father, who turns out to be even more infamous than his pirate son. Naturally there’s a celebration for Robin’s rescue, and there are more comic antics on the island with three more filler episodes, although the last one really is poorly animated.
Then it’s the final stretch to the finish, five episodes where we learn that the Straw Hats have earned higher bounties, and some are less happy about this than others. Franky sets about building the Straw Hats a new ship, Luffy has to find out how to recruit Franky to their crew (it involves underpants), and Usopp has to settle the duel that he previously had with Luffy, and find a way to rejoin the Straw Hats. With the Navy bearing down on them once more, they leave it all typically to the last minute, but as this collection ends, they are setting off on new adventures aboard their brand new ship, the Thousand Sunny.
I’ve said this before, but of all the long running, shonen action shows that I have seen, or am watching, whether it be Dragon Ball, Bleach, Fairy Tail, or Naruto, One Piece is leagues ahead of them. It’s just so much more fun, and to this point in the run, 324 episodes in, it is by far the most consistent. It has its dips to be sure, but compared to Bleach dips, or Naruto filler, it’s the most minor of blemishes. Besides, it comes down to the simple fact that pirates are simply more fun than ninja or soul reapers. One Piece can make you laugh certainly, but it can also move your emotions, and have you at the edge of your seat with its thrills, and all that from one of the most visually wacky Looney Tunes anime out there. I can’t wait for collection 14. The Straw Hats are heading for Fishman Island, and that means Luffy will finally fill that troubadour vacancy on his crew!