Trouble comes quickly and easily to the Straw Hats at Water 7 – both with the locals and with themselves.
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 230-241.
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 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.
One Piece goes bright with its thin slipcover packaging as it has 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, even when it’s dark since it’s also colorful and playful in a way that draws you in. This edition brings us scenes from the fight between Usopp and Luffy while also including the villain of the second half in the background. 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 Luffy 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 is quite fun and simple 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 new English language commentary as well as the clean versions of the openings here with a few variations to them that we discussed below the video section above.
As One Piece continues the Water 7 arc, it’s one that I’m quickly finding myself enjoying a lot for the locale, less so for some of the character interactions that are going on among the Straw Hats. The Water 7 area is one that plays up its Venice-like aspects nicely but also goes in for the big ideas that populates the series so easily, with expansive water elevators and other fun ideas involving water that continually fascinates the crew. Even the little creatures they use that are like seahorses really bring some fun personality to it, though they’re used in different forms in other arcs, such as the camels we had for comedic effect back in the Alabasta arc. But it’s these little bits that help to really make it the fun show it is even when it turns more serious.
With this set of episodes, the series moves through a number of things going on and it feels busier and at times more cramped than it would otherwise. With the group split in a few ways, we get the fun of Nami, Usopp and Luffy going off with all their treasure to get ti changed finally. That brings in a huge haul, more than enough to fix the Going Merry, and it also opens up a few doors for getting them into the shipbuilders area where they’re able to meet the Mayor, Iceberg, who is pretty much the glue of the whole Water 7 area due to his skill. He’s dealing with his own issues, namely some World Government officials that are pressuring him, and he also has to deal with an assassination attempt. Which, strangely enough, comes from Robin of all people.
Which is one of the weaker aspects of the show, though it makes a certain sense. With Robin disappearing at one point, coming into contact with someone from her past that’s not shown to the audience, she has an about face and essentially abandons the Straw Hats. It’s not something the group expected and the result of it causes the Straw Hats to be sought after by pretty much everyone on Water 7 because of it. Zoro actually has it right in that even though they welcomed her to the crew, and she settled in fine, she was unlike them in a few ways and they could never be quite sure she was one of them in the way that everyone else is. The poor part of it, which may make sense later, is how Robin just says that everything is done and over with between them without any explanation. It makes sense from her point of view, but it’s also something that she could have brought some closure to in a much easier way just by telling them something.
For the others, the show has a different piece factor in prior to the problem with Robin that’s also awkward. While spending time in the shipyards, all their converted currency is stolen and Usopp ends up heavily beaten over it when it was taken by the Franky Brothers, a less than reputable group on Water 7. Usopp is so shamed by the whole experience, between the loss of the money and the beatdown he suffers that it causes him to really get into a rift with Luffy later on. Discovering that the Going Merry is beyond repair means essentially scuttling her and getting a new ship and that’s something that Luffy decides upon after hard thought, but Usopp feels that it’s the wrong choice and he emotionally pushes back against. He’s unaware of certain aspects of what Luffy and the others learn, but it doesn’t stop him from exploding over it and even leaving the Straw Hats. It makes sense in the context of it all, but just like with Robin, an extra sentence or two of explanation from someone would have gone a long way towards smoothing things out without as much drama.
While the Straw Hats are in disarray, a few other factors come into play to make the whole thing chaotic. One of them is the approaching storm that has everyone evacuating to shelters and essentially closing down the Water 7 island in total. While that’s bad enough, the real threat comes from the head of the Franky group as he sees what Luffy has done to his hideout after he stole the money and used it elsewhere. That has him set for revenge and he’s on a massive chase and fight to take down the Straw Hats in a big way for what they did. Franky is a character that I know a bit from my future episodes, but he’s never been a character that I could connect with having not known his origin story. That really starts here and we get a look at his reputation, his ability as a cyborg and the way he’s intent on taking down Luffy and the others in a pretty brutal way, at least for One Piece.
One Piece is expanding a bit on a really interesting area of the world here with Water 7 and we get a good look at some of the various guild members and their skills. The area in general is a lot of fun to watch get explored and revealed, but it’s the character stories that are the main focus. We get some good things here overall as a lot is going on, but it’s saddled with some really awkward moments with how a little conversation with both Robin and Usopp would have smoothed things out a hell of a lot easier and made for better results. That’s an expected route to be taken though so I can’t call it out all that much. The season definitely picks up a lot since coming to this place and there’s a good mix of humor, action and serious material here and plenty of uncertainty as well that makes it an engaging watch, even if frustrating at times.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Openings, Commentary Track
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 18th, 2012
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
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.