Review for One Piece Collection 24
Can you believe that Part 24 of One Piece is here? We kick off the collection with episode 564, and we’ll be knocking on episode 600 by the end of this review. That’s an episode count that is hard to really get to grips with, and I have to say that were it any other show, the prospect of re-watching it all would be daunting to say the least. Naruto had the good grace to split itself into two series, but One Piece heads on relentlessly. But this 24th instalment of the show is no milestone compared to where the broadcast series is now, as it has just passed the 1000th episode, as mangaka Eiichiro Oda insists that he’s heading towards the end. The irony is that we were closer to the broadcast episodes when Manga Entertainment released the 1st collection than we are now, with this 24th. The reason why becomes clear when you see that it’s been over a year since the last One Piece release in the UK. It’s beginning to feel like an afterthought, and I’m starting to worry that old age will claim me before we get to see the end of the story.
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 and the Straw Hats had finally made it to Fishman Island, the undersea settlement that they had set out to reach two years previously. They received an ambivalent welcome from the inhabitants, tainted even more by a dire prediction from a local fortune teller, and they wandered into a full blown revolution out to overthrow the resident royal family, and in the process Luffy accidentally kidnapped a mermaid princess. In this collection, the battle against the rebellious New Fishman Pirates concludes.
24 episodes of One Piece are presented across 4 DVD discs from Funimation UK
564. Back to Zero! Earnest Wishes For Luffy!
565. Luffy’s All-Out Attack! Red Hawk Blasts!
566. Coming to an End! The Final Decisive Battle Against Hordy!
567. Stop, Noah! Desperate Elephant Gatling!
568. To the Future! The Path to the Sun!
569. The Secret Revealed! The Truth About the Ancient Weapon!
570. The Straw Hats Stunned! The New Fleet Admiral of the Navy!
571. She Loves Sweets! Big Mom of the Four Emperors!
572. Many Problems Lie Ahead! A Trap Awaiting in the New World!
573. Finally Time to Go! Goodbye Fishman Island!
574. To the New World! Heading for the Ultimate Sea!
575. Z’s Ambition! Lily the Giant!
576. Z’s Ambition! A Dark and Powerful Army!
577. Z’s Ambition! A Great and Desperate Escape Plan!
578. Z’s Ambition! Luffy vs. Shuzo!
579. Arriving! A Burning Island – Punk Hazard!
580. A Battle in the Heat! Luffy vs. The Great Dragon!
581. The Straw Hats Stunned! Enter: A Samurai’s Horrifying Severed Head!
582. Startling! The Secret of the Island is Finally Revealed!
583. Save the Children! The Straw Hats Start to Fight!
584. A Swordplay Showdown! Brook vs. The Mysterious Torso Samurai!
585. The Warlord! Trafalgar Law!
586. In a Real Pinch! Luffy Sinks Into the Ice-Cold Lake!
587. A Collision! Law vs. Vice Admiral Smoker!
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 on discs 1 & 2. From disc 3 the subtitles and signs are locked during playback. The signs only track is back after being missed out in the previous collection. Another error is on disc 3, where the subtitles are presented in a deep red font, which is quite hard to read. Also, there are some ill-placed layer changes on discs 1 and 3. 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.
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. From disc 3, the episodes get a few screens of translated English credits at the end.
Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for My Hero Academia Season 2.
Disc 2 autoplays with a trailer for Ace Attorney Part 2
Here you’ll find a video commentary for episode 567 with Mike McFarland ADR Director, Colleen Clinkenbeard (Luffy), Larry Brantley (Hordy), and Jonna Miller, a member of the Funimation marketing team.
There is an audio commentary on episode 571 with Mike McFarland, Colleen Clinkenbeard, David Wald (Tamago), and Chris Guerrero (Pekon).
There is the textless opening, and trailers for All Out!!, Show By Rock!!, Fairy Tail Zero, Trickster, Gintama, and Koro Sensei Quest.
Disc 3 autoplays with a trailer for One Piece Episode of Skypiea.
The commentary here is on episode 576 and features Luci Christian (Nami), Karen Edwards (Lily), Francis Henry (Momonga), and Colleen Clinkenbeard.
Disc 4 autoplays with a trailer for Dragon Ball Super.
There are 50 seconds of Japanese One Piece Commercials, and the textless opening once more.
One Piece runs into a few issues in this collection, leading on from the previous release, and prompting a rather unsettling realisation of my own. The most important thing of course is that this release delivers more One Piece action, and following a long stretch (that 2 year time skip) when the Straw Hats were separated, it’s still nice to see these characters back together again and interacting. It’s when these quirky characters bounce off each other that the show is most fun. Add to that, the fact that they’ve had two years off training, and levelling up, they all have new abilities to show off, so there is still an aspect of discovery to the show.
That’s still most evident in the Fishman Island arc, which is where we rejoin the story in this collection. The Straw Hats face off against the New Fishman Pirates as Hordy and his gang look to complete their revolution and throw out the monarchy. Things are harder for the Straw Hats as they have the paranoia and the innate xenophobia of the locals to deal with as well. It’s like fighting on two fronts, and it’s the way they stand up to Hordy, and protect the townsfolk that eventually starts to win over hearts and minds But the issue here is that the Straw Hats have seriously levelled up over the past two years, and for most of them, it’s not much of a challenge at all. It’s harder for Luffy, as he has to deal with fighting in the ocean (Devil Fruit power users lose the ability to swim), and he’s up against Hordy, who is overdosing on steroids to keep powered up.
There then follows a four episode stretch of filler, where the Straw Hats encounter a giantess named Lily who ate the Mini-Mini fruit and shrunk to a few inches high (but whose appetite didn’t shrink accordingly) who eats them out of ship and home, but who also needs their help to rescue her father from being transported to Enies Lobby, with the promise of a slap up meal in return. It’s their first adventure in the New World, which instantly sets up a continuity issue with the next major arc on the disc, which instantly contradicts some of the narrative in the filler.
Next is the Punk Hazard island arc. In the interim, there has been a power shift in the Navy, with Admirals Akainu and Aokiji battling to see who would command. Their fight wound up on the Punk Hazard Island where their powers ran riot. The Straw Hats receive a distress call from this island to find half of it permanently aflame, and the other half bitterly cold and frozen in ice. Luffy, Usopp, Robin and Zoro go ashore to investigate, and instantly run into trouble with a dragon in the flames, as well as encountering a pair of ambulatory legs with no torso or head. These legs wind up attached to Luffy, turning him into some kind of centaur, which is useful when they run into a group of centaurs as they head to the ice side of the island.
Meanwhile, the Thousand Sunny has been attacked by people in hazard suits, the remaining crew rendered unconscious with gas. The ship is taken to the ice side where the others (except the skeletal Brook who is left for dead) are captured and taken inside Dr Vegapunk’s laboratory, now owned by the mysterious Master, where they promptly escape and decide to rescue a bunch of captive children, obviously some part of an experiment. Brook wakes up and finds himself in a battle with an ambulatory, sword wielding torso, while Nami and the others find a living, but severed Samurai’s head in their cell before they escape.
It turns out that The Master is being aided by Trafalgar Law, the rookie pirate that helped Luffy two years previously, and who in the interim has ascended to the position of one of the Seven Warlords, those powerful pirates condoned and even used by the World Government. Just how powerful becomes apparent when the Navy arrives in the form of Vice Admiral Smoker, Captain Tashigi and their men, and they pick a fight with Trafalgar Law.
It’s here you can see just how much the balance has shifted. Whereas the Straw Hat Pirates dominated the New Fishmen Pirates in the previous arc, here it’s Trafalgar Law who holds all the cards, so overpowered that any story mechanism to explain a loss on his part will have to be overly, and very obviously contrived. Trafalgar Law has a sphere of influence, within which he can do practically anything. He’s able to disassemble his target while leaving those constituent components alive (as in the three bits of Samurai that the Straw Hats encounter), he can control gravity, and he can even remotely bodyswap people, which happens to Sanji, Nami, Franky, and Chopper, with Sanji winding up in Nami’s body, much to her consternation (inside Franky’s body). How do you deal with someone as overpowered as Trafalgar Law?
It’s here that I came to the realisation that it might be that One Piece’s best days are behind it. The Punk Hazard arc is back to normal service in many ways, setting a challenge for the Straw Hats, splitting them up, giving them a mystery to solve, and some serious fighting action to partake of, no doubt levelling up in the process. But there is something missing now, which was a constant presence in the start of the show, the first 400 episodes or so. It’s a constant in US comic book adaptations as well, the idea that the origin story is the best bit, how Superman came to Earth, how Bruce Wayne’s parents died, how that pesky radioactive spider bit Peter Parker. It’s just as true with anime adaptations of manga, and I find that the most emotionally evocative stories in One Piece (the brilliant Alabasta arc excepted) have been the ones where we got the origin stories of the Straw Hats.
For me, the best stories were the ones where we learned the pasts of Nami, Robin, and Chopper, stories that genuinely brought a tear to my eye. Even when the other characters were explored, I was emotionally engaged with the storytelling. The last time One Piece was that good was when Luffy went on a rescue mission for his brother Ace. Now One Piece is just delivering entertaining shonen action fun, in story arcs that aren’t viscerally effective. The problem is that all nine of the Straw Hats have had their origins explored, so those cards have all been played. It’s hard at this point to see just how One Piece will grab me by the heart again.