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One Piece Season 4 Part 1 Anime DVD Review

9 min read

Let the games begin!

What They Say:
Monkey D. Luffy refuses to let anyone or anything stand in the way of his quest to become King of All Pirates. With a course charted for the treacherous waters of the Grand Line, this is one captain who’ll never drop anchor until he’s claimed the greatest treasure on earth: the legendary One Piece!

Along for the ride are his loyal crewmates, a wonderfully-bizarre collection of outcasts and misfits from the far corners of the world. Each member has their own special talent, and they’ll utilize their skills to help Luffy achieve his dream! Together, the rubberman and his crew can conquer any challenge and defeat any foe!

Contains episodes 206-217.

The Review:
The audio presentation for One Piece is a solid work though the favoring goes to the English language track. The series comes with its original Japanese mix in stereo which is good and has a solid feeling throughout it, though it never really extends itself all that much as it uses the forward soundstage. The English mix gets the 5.1 bump to it and that adds with the volume being louder in general and some occasional bigger moments thrown to the rear channels. It’s a decent mix to be sure, but it’s working with simple source material so it can only go so far. It makes up for it by being a bit brasher and outgoing. Both mixes work well and are free of problems like dropouts and distortions, leaving us with a pair of clean and clear mixes

Originally airing in 2004 and 2005, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This collection has twelve episodes to it spread across two discs with six on each. The series in its widescreen form has a very good look where it takes what we had in full screen and just gives it a new life. The placement, framing and general look of the series comes across as brighter, cleaner and better choreographed both in fight sequences and general humor. The transfer brings through the detail of the animation much better and it just feels like the source material is in better shape as well. Colors are bright, appealing and problem free with only a mild smattering of noise in some of the backgrounds that never really detracts.

Special Notes:
This set has the final full frame episode, #206, and the rest of it is in widescreen. The set also has some issues related to the ending sequences, music and rights related, which can be found here. With the first 205 episodes of the series, we watched it in Marathon Mode and have yet to see an opening sequence for the most part, so the issues here, while problematic and understandable for fans and licensor alike, did not factor into our grading as it did not impact us during playback.

The packaging for this release is a huge shift from what we had for the first three voyages. Whereas those were heavily pirate themed and consistent, FUNimation has changed things up here and even though I prefer consistency, I understand why they did this in order to grab peoples attention that it’s new and not just more or re-releases. While those sets were heavily dark, this one is done with a white background with some colorful black and red framing to tie it together. The artwork is kept to the center under the same logo as used before and it stands out well here, bright and colorful and playful in a way that draws you in. The front cover also lists the episodes so you know what you’re getting. The back cover goes for the same framing and is pretty light and inviting with the artwork as it uses the blue skies and clouds while also focusing on the Straw Hats themselves along the right. The left has a small summary of what to expect that hits some key points but keeps it simple. The discs features and what it contains is accurate, though it omits the clean openings that are included.

Inside the case we get a pair of clear thinpak cases that hold the two discs. Both covers are done the same in that they have the Straw Hate logo across it with the simple text logo as well which is all done in an old leathery volume kind of way. It has a good look but I almost wish we had more artwork here instead of this to go with the colorful slipcover that we have that holds the cases. The back covers are a bit traditional in that we get a wood deck feeling with the main colorful logo here as well as a breakdown of episodes by title and number. The reverse side has more of the wood feeling with the logo but no additional artwork or anything. No show related inserts are included.

The menu design for this release shifts away from the first three “voyages” that we had as it goes for a white background where part of the upper half is cut out in waves. White dominates it outside of the Straw Hats pirate logo along the left whereas the right has the season listing and the navigation in black and red, making for an easy read. The top portion brings in a bit of character animation artwork from the show that adds some splash of color that’s really nice to see. With a bit of mild instrumental music attached to it that doesn’t dominate, it sets the mood well and hits all the right notes. Submenus load quickly and easily and there were no problems moving around. I do wish they had kept to the menu designs for consistencies sake, but I like what was done here.

The extras for this release are pretty good as we get a few new English language commentaries as well as the clean versions of the openings here with a few variations to them that we discused below the video section above.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With such a wide gap between the third voyage and the fourth voyage, I wasn’t worried about getting back into the swing of things with One Piece. Between re-watching the series through the combined collections and watching numerous weekly episodes in the 500+ episode range, I’ve gotten pretty regular doses of the series. What has me excited about this is that these are the episodes that fill in the blanks from where I left off and where I am now in the simulcast realm. And it also helps that this set, after the first episode, is all in widescreen and the show has a very different feel as it comes off as more colorful and vibrant, a greater quality in terms of animation.

With the escape from the marine base dealt with very quickly in the first episode, and really not worth giving any additional thought about, this set starts us on a new adventure as the crew ends up on a strange new island where things are very different. After coming across a listless ship at sea and then going through some fog, they’re on a wide open island where it has some extremely tall trees and little else. At least until they come across the animals, which are all quite unusual in that they’re very long or very tall. That just has Luffy all excited with the silliness of it all, though it does introduce them to an old man who explains the oddness of the island. That has its own curiosities with its land bridges and nomads, but it feels like it has little to do with things that dominate this arc overall.

Where the bulk of this set goes is in dealing with the arrival of the pirates who essentially run this area. Run under the command of Captain Foxy, the Foxy Pirates are a huge crew of varied pirates that seem like they have a lot of fun and generally are jolly in a way, largely because Foxy himself has a good outgoing attitude. This comes from the way that he’s managed to survive as a captain for so long by using trickery to get what he wants. When Luffy and a couple of the others come across him, they’re unaware of who he is and that the ship is trapped by Foxy’s ship, which leads them to accepting his terms to a series of matches of games. Games under the Davy Back Jones label where if you don’t play them honorably, or at least pirate honorably, you’ll be ridiculed for all your years.

What’s involved with the games are things like roller skating races, boat races and feats of strength that include playing a game of ball where one of the participants for each team is designated as the ball that gets used pretty well. What’s at stake though is that when the challenge is issued, the team that loses also loses a member of their crew to the other. When the first match plays, Luffy and his crew lose and Foxy ends up nabbing Chopper, which of course makes him horribly upset since he’s so bonded to the Straw Hats. What makes the stakes even worse is that Luffy sets things for three matches, so there’s more chances to lose and more chances for Foxy to stack the deck. And we know Luffy hates to lose, so they even go to a second set of three matches which runs for quite a few more episodes and that in turn shifts the balance of things voer and over. Yet as much as it’s something that should frustrate because it’s a lot of wheel spinning, it never really does come across that way simply because it’s so much fun to watch these characters play off of each other. Especially coming from a lengthy simulcast run where the crew was separated so much.

In Summary:
Getting back into the main run of One Piece from years ago, dating back to the late 2004 and early 2005 season, is a real treat. I had a hell of a time getting into One Piece the first time around and it wasn’t until much later that I really connected with it and got into it even more through the simulcasts in the early 400’s. When everything really came together, that’s when we ran out of licensed episodes and that left me in the same anguished state as others. With theis set, while it isn’t high storytelling, it’s just a hell of a lot of fun. Captain Foxy isn’t exactly an engaging character in a lot of ways, but he’s got a fun personality that’s brought into it and it hits a lot of really fun notes with the races and challenges with all the quirks that are introduced. It may not be the best return to the series in a way, but it made me laugh and it flew by.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Commentary Tracks

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: August 7th, 2012
MSRP: $39.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 (episode 206) / 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (episode 207-217)

Review Equipment:
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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