Review for One Piece Collection 22
I wasn’t going to miss this particular release. It’s a landmark moment in One Piece, the time-skip. The ‘opening’ chapter came to an end with the previous collection, finishing off the story of the war at Marineford, which happened after the Straw Hats were sent off in all directions by Bartholomew Kuma, and Luffy was left to fight alone. It also was the geographical halfway point in their journey on the Grand Line, as they were poised to venture into the New World. Two years pass before the Straw Hats reunite, and resume their quest for the One Piece treasure, although we skip those two years. The thing is that those two years also precipitate a change in the character designs, and they get updated, and finally the look of the characters matches the most recent One Piece feature films we’ve seen in the UK, films like Stampede and Film Z.
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, Luffy realised that he had much more to learn before resuming his quest to become the king of the pirates. Instead of rejoining his crew as planned, he chose to train under Rayleigh. The message got through to the other Straw Hats as well, and they too chose to hone their skills. Now, two years have passed, and the Straw Hats have returned to Saobody Archipelago. And boy have they changed!
24 episodes of One Piece are presented across 4 DVD discs from Manga Entertainment.
517. The Beginning of the New Chapter! The Straw Hats Reunited!
518. An Explosive Situation! Luffy vs. Fake Luffy!
519. The Navy Has Set Out! The Straw Hats in Danger!
520. Big Guns Assembled! The Danger of the Fake Straw Hats!
521. The Battle is On! Show Them What You Got From Training!
522. Everyone Together! Luffy, Setting Out for the New World!
523. A Surprising Fact! The Man Who Guarded the Sunny!
524. Deadly Combat Under the Sea! The Demon of the Ocean Strikes!
525. Lost in the Deep Sea! The Straw Hats Get Separated!
526. Undersea Volcanic Eruption! Drifting to the Fisherman Island!
527. Landing at the Fishman Island! Beautiful Mermaids!
528. Excitement Blow-Out! Sanji’s Life Under Threat
529. The Fishman Island Will Be Annihilated?! Sharley’s Prophecy!
530. The King of Fishman Island! Neptune, the God of the Sea!
531. The Ryugu Palace! Taken by the Shark They Saved!
532. A Coward and a Crybaby! The Princess in the Hard Shell Tower!
533. It’s An Emergency! The Ryugu Palace is Occupied!
534. The Ryugu Palace in Shock! The Kidnapping of Shirahoshi!
535. Hordy’s Onslaught! The Retaliatory Plan Set Into Motion!
536. The Battle in the Ryugu Palace! Zoro vs. Hordy!
537. Keep Shirahoshi Safe! Decken Close Behind!
538. The Straw Hats Defeated?! Hordy Gains Control of the Ryugu Palace!
539. The Haunting Ties! Nami and the Fishman Pirates!
540. A Hero Who Freed the Slaves! An Adventurer Tiger!
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.
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. There are English language text overlays burnt into the print. Any place where a new character or new location is introduced, 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.
In this collection, there was a noticeable layer change on disc 2.
You get four discs in an Amaray case, one on either side of two centrally hinged panels. The inner sleeve offers an episode listing.
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 Funimation NOW.
Episode 519 gets a commentary with Mike McFarland (ADR Director), Christopher Sabat (Zoro), Brina Palencia (Chopper), and Eric Vale (Sanji).
One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Live Dub last 19:00.
Episode 526 has a commentary with Mike McFarland, Sonny Strait (Usopp), Ian Sinclair (Brook), and Jim Foronda (Vander Decken).
You also get 2 textless openings.
Disc 3 autoplays with a trailer for Funimation NOW.
There are two commentaries on this disc, beginning with one on episode 532 featuring ADR Director Joel McDonald, and Doug Jackson (Minister of the Right), and Francis Fuselier (Minister of the Left).
The commentary on episode 534 has Larry Brantley (Hordy Jones), and Jim Foronda (Vander Decken).
The One Piece Cast Goes to Matsuricon 2016: Q And A Panel lasts 32:41.
There is only one textless opening on this disc.
And we’re back! It was episode 408, seen in collection 17, back in June 2018 when the Straw Hats were last together. Then the Navy attacked, and Bartholomew Kuma sent Luffy and his friends in all directions, compelled to follow their own adventures for a while. 109 episodes, 2 years of story time, and 2 years of real time later, the Straw Hats are finally reunited for the next leg of their adventure on the Grand Line. I have to admit that I enjoyed this collection so much more, seeing these characters renew their friendships and rivalries, fitting back into those familiar roles.
But this being One Piece, an epically long-running shonen action show, everything takes its sweet time. It takes seven episodes for the characters to actually reunite, and set sail on their voyage, despite the fact that they are technically all back at Saobody Archipelago at the same time. They’ve all changed in certain ways, although some more than others, both in appearance and abilities acquired during two years of training and adventuring. Things are immediately complicated, first by the Navy intent on capturing the Straw Hats before they can reunite, and more imperative, the presence of a Fake Straw Hats crew on the islands. They’re trading off the names and the notoriety of the crew that raised such a ruckus two years previously, and as you might expect, especially with the more gullible members of the Straw Hats, identities are mistaken, and silliness ensues.
Then it is time to resume their journey, heading off to their original destination, Fishman Island. The Thousand Sunny has received its special coating that will allow them to travel under the water, and the crew are reunited, and ready to set sail. But just getting there is challenge enough, as there are sea monsters under the ocean, and a particularly insidious Devil Fruit powered pirate named Caribou who now wants the notoriety of having destroyed the Straw Hats, and figures it will be easier to do under the water. If that isn’t enough, the Flying Dutchman haunts the ocean depths, as well as the Kraken.
It’s a messy arrival, but they do get to Fishman Island, although once again they are separated. It’s a particularly dangerous arrival for Sanji, as he’s been long wanting to see the mermaids there, but two years on the island of comedy anime transsexuals has left his libido out of whack, and any ‘real’ woman gives him life-threatening nosebleeds; Chopper worries that beautiful mermaids could literally kill him. Yes, the dodgiest joke of the last few collections gets stretched out here, and is probably the weakest aspect of this collection.
This is very familiar territory if you’ve been watching One Piece. The crew arrives at a new location on their journey, are contrived to split up, are initially enamoured of the novelty of exploration, the strange world, and the people that they encounter. But then the dark underbelly, the danger of this place is revealed, their lives are threatened, and they need to come together to win the day, defeat the villains, and along the way the story will progress. It’s just the sort of thing that happened in Alabasta, in Skypiea, and most recently in Saobody, and it seems to be happening on Fishman Island as well.
The island is the refuge of the undersea folk, the fishmen and the mermaids and the like, people who are discriminated against by humans on the surface, and they aren’t all too keen on pirates, although Luffy is looking forward to reuniting with friends like Camie, Hachi, Pappagu and Jimbei that they encountered previously. On their journey to the island, they also rescued a shark from the kraken, which actually puts them in a good place when it comes to King Neptune, ruler of the island, although his soldiers have an odd idea about delivering an invitation to the palace.
It turns out that revolution is brewing on the island, in a development that harks back to the Fishman Pirates arc, and has a direct, emotional connection to Nami. In a move familiar to long running shonen shows, One Piece finds a way to empathise with villains, although given that Arlong was the pirate that enslaved Nami after killing her adoptive mother, his motivations might be hard to empathise with. But it turns out that Arlong was motivated by a lifetime of discrimination from humans, discrimination that we previously saw when Camie was almost sold as a slave. Those that looked up to what Arlong was doing have now formed the New Fishman pirates, and are looking to overthrow Neptune and undo his policy of peace with humans. They’re led by a pirate named Hordy Jones, and they don’t look too kindly on the Straw Hats that put an end to Arlong.
Things really don’t bode well for the Straw Hats as this collection ends. Hordy Jones puts his revolution in motion. The captain of the Flying Dutchman, Vander Decken is obsessed with the Mermaid Princess Shirahoshi; he wants to marry her or kill her so no one else can (Luffy ends up kidnapping the princess by accident!). Caribou has snuck onto the island and has started snatching mermaids to sell on the slave auction block, and the Straw Hats are getting blamed. And the island’s trusted prognosticator has prophesied that Luffy will destroy the island!
After 100 episodes and near enough two years, it’s nice to see One Piece back to normal service, and while there are plenty of antics along the way, the main storyline keeps on edging forward. As with Nami and the Fishman pirates, we take another look at past events, albeit with new perspectives, while we also learn more about this world (Robin’s looking for another Poneglyph on the island which might hold a clue to the missing 100 years). And of course there is the usual comedy and action, and occasional moments of drama.
If I do have a slight concern, it’s with Dragon Ball syndrome. With all the fights in these stories, all the training and the levelling up, it’s only a matter of time before the main characters start unleashing world-shattering powers. Following two years of training by themselves, they all come back with new skills under their belt (Chopper’s new Kung-fu Point is delightful), but in a couple of instances, they start to look a little ridiculous and over-powered. I stopped investing in Dragon Ball the minute mountains started being destroyed, and there are a couple of action sequences in this collection that make me raise my eyebrows, and utter a weary, “Really?” But we’re not quite at that point where my disbelief suspenders will snap.