Review for One Piece Collection 17
April 2017 was the last time that I wrote about One Piece. The gap feels much longer than that, time in which the series has continued to be released, both for broadcast (we’re up to episode 839), and for home video in the US and Australia, and time in which we’ve had another movie, Film Gold. I think it was the lack of information from Manga Entertainment that made the gap seem longer, as they understandably had to get their ducks in a row before they could announce any subsequent releases. The gap was long enough for me to consider actually importing further releases of One Piece, and it was only my backlog that swayed me from pushing the button. Yes, import! A long running, shonen property, the longest of them all has hooked me to the point where I’m willing to import to get my Luffy fix. Thankfully this summer, after 15 months, Manga are resuming their One Piece releases, and collection 18 is lined up right after this one.
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, the enigmatic and multi tasking Nico Robin, the cola-fuelled cyborg shipwright Franky, as well as the perverted skeletal troubadour Brook.
Previously on One Piece, the Straw Hat Pirates had made it to the half-way point on their circumnavigating search for the legendary treasure, but the world spanning mountain range once again blocked their path. Being pirates, the only way past is underwater, via Fishman Island, and that means getting the Thousand Sunny a special coating from a man named Rayleigh on Sabaody Archipelago. The trouble was finding him, although they did have the help of a mermaid named Camie, and a familiar fishy face, Hachi. Too late, they learned when Camie was captured that the elites of Sabaody practice slavery, and at the end of the last collection, the Straw Hats had made it to the Auction House to rescue her; and against all advice, Luffy was about to cross a line that they might all come to regret.
25 episodes of One Piece are presented across 4 DVD discs from Manga Entertainment.
397. Major Panic! Desperate Struggle at the Auction House
398. Admiral Kizaru Takes Action! Sabaody Archipelago Thrown into Chaos
399. Break Through the Siege! The Navy vs. the Three Captains
400. Roger and Rayleigh – The King of the Pirates and his Right Hand Man
401. No Escape!? Admiral Kizaru’s Light Speed Kick!!
402. Overwhelming! The Navy’s Fighting Weapons, The Pacifistas
403. An Even Stranger Enemy Appears! The Battle Axe-Carrying Sentomaru
404. Admiral Kizaru’s Fierce Assault – The Straw Hats Face Certain Death!
405. Eliminated Friends – The Final Days of the Straw Hat Crew
406. Feudal Era Side Story – Boss Luffy Appears Again
407. Feudal Era Side Story – Defeat Thriller Company’s Trap!
408. Landing! The All-Female Island, Amazon Lily
409. Hurry Back to Your Friends! The Maiden Island Adventure
410. Everyone Falls in Love! Pirate Empress Hancock
411. The Secret Hidden on the Backs! Luffy and the Snake Princess Meet
412. Heartless Judgment! Margaret is Turned to Stone
413. A Difficult Fight for Luffy! The Snake Sisters’ Haki Power!!
414. All-Out Special Power Battle!! Gum-Gum vs. Snake-Snake
415. Hancock’s Confession -- The Sister’s Abhorrent Past
416. Saving Ace! The Next Stop: The Great Prison
417. Love is a Hurricane! Love-Love Hancock
418. The Friends’ Whereabouts! The Science of Weather and the Mechanical Island
419. The Friends’ Whereabouts! An Island of Giant Birds and a Pink Paradise!
420. The Friends’ Whereabouts! Bridging the Islands and Vicious Vegetation!
421. The Friends’ Whereabouts! A Negative Princess and the King of Demons!
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 is native NTSC encoded progressively the image is clear throughout, and now obviously comes from an HD source, so improved is the line detail, although there is the odd moment of shimmer on the really fine detail. Colours are strong, the animation is vibrant, and there’s no more judder if you’re watching the show with progressive playback. 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 seems they got the work experience guys in to animate Robin’s adventure in episode 420, as the characters simply refuse to stay on model.
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 last collection wasn’t an anomaly. We now get English language text overlays burnt into the print. Any place where a new character or new location is introduced, some really ugly text appears to inform us of it. Given that One Piece has a signs only track as well as subtitles, I’m not sure why this was done.
The discs present their content with static menus set to the background music from the show. The episodes can be played with Marathon Mode, stripping out the credit sequences.
Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for Full Metal Alchemist.
The sole extra is the audio commentary on episode 398 with Luci Christian (Nami) and Justin Cook (Kid).
Disc 2 autoplays with a trailer for Full Metal Panic Fumoffu.
Here there is an audio commentary with episode 405, featuring ADR Director Joel McDonald, Major Attaway (Urouge), and Laura Wetsel (Jewellry Bonney).
One Piece in the Booth: With Sonny Strait lasts 19:44, and is a tongue in cheek interview with the Usopp voice actor.
You get the textless opening, and Funimation trailers for Space Dandy, Full Metal Panic, Noragami, 009 Re:Cyborg, Inari Kon Kon, X, and One Piece.
Disc 3 autoplays with a trailer for Full Metal Panic, and there is an audio commentary on episode 412 with Sarah Weidenheft (Aphelandra), Whitney Rogers (Margaret), and Doug Goodrich (Sweetpea).
Disc 4 autoplays with a trailer for Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F, and has an audio commentary on episode 417 with Lindsay Seidel (Sandersonia), Julie Mayfield (Marigold), and Lydia Mackay (Boa Hancock).
A Day in the Life of Zzzzoro is a 2:56 featurette with the voice actor Chris Sabat.
Finally on this disc, you get the textless opening, and trailers for Full Metal Alchemist, Fairy Tail, Fafner, Selector Infected Wixoss, Buddy Complex, Space Dandy, 009 Re:Cyborg, and Inari Kon Kon.
I’ve seen quite a few long running shonen anime now. The Dragon Ball franchise, I fell out of love with while I was watching it, I had to give up by the time I got to Dragon Ball GT. Naruto’s story is compelling, although there is a whole lot of filler that you have to put up with, so diluting the experience that it can take the joy out of watching it. There was never any joy in watching Bleach after the first season, and I just coasted through on the momentum of tedium. Fairy Tail when it’s canon is great, but the filler continuously misses the tone of the original story. But One Piece has one thing that all these other shows lack. One Piece is the only long running anime series that I am looking forward to watching again... and again... and again. Given that the broadcast is now somewhere near episode 850, and this collection just about gets us to the halfway mark, it doesn’t seem likely that I will, but I so want to re-watch One Piece.
What I did find surprising is just how easily I picked up where we left off with One Piece. After all, it’s been more than 12 months since the release of Part 16, and while the names of the guest cast (such as Camie, Rayleigh, and Hachi) at this point were somewhat vague in my mind, I was certainly not vague about where we were with regards to the story. The crew of the Thousand Sunny had arrived at the Sabaody Archipelago, looking for someone to coat their ship so that they could head to Fishmen Village on their way to the New World, but the wrong kind of people were guiding them. Sabaody was the realm of the Nobles, the purebred descendants of the rulers of the world, and non-humans weren’t tolerated in their realm, which is why the mermaid Camie wound up on the auctioneer’s block as a slave, and why at the start of this collection, Luffy goes and shakes up the world by laying a fist on one of those nobles, bringing down the wrath of the world government.
The first nine episodes on this collection are devoted to the mayhem that results, and it soon becomes clear that by daring to set foot in the New World, Luffy and his crew are moving up a league, a move that they aren’t ready for. This time, the enemies that they face from the Navy are too much for them to handle. On top of that, one of the Warlords of the Sea, Bartholomew Kuma shows up. We last saw him at the end of the Thriller Bark arc, where his powers sent the Negative Princess, Perona flying at the speed of a teleport, to who knows where. Kuma’s attack may be a blessing in disguise, as the Straw Hats escape certain death when Kuma sends them flying, one by one in turn.
They’re sent in all directions, to different locations, and the final four episodes in this collection catch up with the other eight members of Luffy’s crew. And it seems that they wind up just where they need to be to ‘level up’. We get the start of each of their adventures, with Chopper on an island with giant birds, and a tribe of raccoon/reindeer eating tribesman. Usopp on the other hand winds up on an island with a jungle full of man eating plants. Brook lands in the middle of a ritual where Satan is being summoned, and winds up being worshipped. Sanji thinks he’s struck it lucky when he lands on an island full of beautiful girls. Nami wakes up on a Sky Island where she encounters a strange wizard type studying the weather. Franky wakes up on a mechanical island where his cyborg body is repaired by tea instead of cola, and Robin end up among a group of slaves being forced to endlessly build a bridge. Zoro on the other hand catches up to Perona, who has been feeling the solitude all this time.
That’s at the end of the collection, as the rest of the episodes are devoted to Luffy’s adventure, and speaking of mono-gendered islands, Luffy winds up on Amazon Lily, and unlike Sanji’s landing place, all the inhabitants here actually are just women. There’s nothing to get prurient about, as none of the inhabitants have actually seen a man, and initially just take Luffy for a particularly scrawny girl with a rather permanently attached mushroom. Of course men aren’t allowed on the island, and much chaos ensues. Things get serious when the Kuja pirates return, those women who do leave the island to go plundering for riches and supplies for home, and who do know what men are. They’re led by Boa Hancock, who also rules the island, and things get serious for Luffy when she learns of his presence and demands that he be killed. Boa is sure of her beauty, and her adoring public, and can afford to be cruel and capricious because she knows that her beauty will always earn forgiveness. She also has Devil Fruit powers, just like her two sisters, only she turns those who are less than innocent into stone. Those few women who were sympathetic to Luffy get that treatment, but when she tries Luffy, his innocence protects him. So he has to face Boa’s younger sisters in the arena.
By the end of the collection, he’s managed to turn the tide, and change Boa’s opinion of him, a total volte face in actual fact. She offers him a return trip to Sabaody Archipelago, where he hopes to meet up with his friends again, but at the last minute he learns that his brother Ace is being held by the government, and his execution has been scheduled. Collection 18 will see the start of Luffy’s mission to rescue his brother, as he attempts to infiltrate Impel Down. And barring any delays, this time we only have two months to wait.
It may have taken far too long for this collection of One Piece to come to the UK, but it didn’t take me long to recall just why I love this show so much. Wacky characters and a rich and vivid story make it one of the best long running shonen shows around. We’ve got to episode 421 without too many filler missteps. No other similar long running show I have seen can claim that.