The truth behind Franky and Iceberg’s relationship is just the tip of the… iceberg.
What They Say:
Things have never looked bleaker in the world of One Piece. The Going Merry is no longer seaworthy, Robin and Usopp have left the crew, and the rest of the gang stands accused of a cold-hearted assassination attempt! Luffy and his remaining mates have a plan to prove their innocence, but a mysterious gang of cutthroat killers are one step ahead of their every move. Dark secrets and tragic pasts are revealed while a monstrous storm threatens to sink the city!
Contains episodes 242-252.
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 Robin front and center with a darkness about it as the CP 9 folks are behind her in the shadows and flames. 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 one of the CP 9 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 for a few episodes. The second disc also brings us some new “On the Boat” with the cast of the show and some fun bits about it..
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
One Piece continues to move through its Water 7 arc and this set drops down a bit with just eleven episodes. But what a ride of episodes overall as there’s a lot of background material brought into play that helps to flesh things out really well. The Water 7 arc is working similar to a lot of how One Piece does things in revealing itself, but there’s a certain sense of fun about it and a welcome exploration of Franky himself. With his character being the one that even a couple hundred episodes down the road that I’m having a hard time dealing with, getting his back story here has definitely helped to improve the perception I have of him.
With Robin having gone rogue and left the Straw Hats, things have been split up in a couple of ways. She’s got her path with the CP 9 folks that she’s now been drawn into, Usopp is brought under Franky’s heel while he tries to figure out what he’s really up to before the big storm hits while Luffy and most of the rest are attempting to break into Iceberg’s place to find out why Robin is leaving. And poor Sanji, out there in the wilds himself trying to find Robin again and seeming like he’s just lost in general. He has a few brief scenes here but he’s the one that gets the least amount of time. Even Chopper manages to get a bit more time than him here which is rather amusing. Zoro manages to get a bit more than either of them, but let’s just say it’s not some of his best moments.
With Usopp, he’s spending his time initially trying to fix the Going Merry so that he can get it properly seaworthy. His fight with Luffy has him even more intent on saving the ship since the others have written it off, but he ends up taken in by Franky and that leads to a clearer truth made about the Going Merry itself. There’s some really good things about those who sail the seas and the bond with their ships which allows Franky to be a bit more philosophical than one might think. But it also lets the show segue into his own past a bit with how he was spending part of his youth after being abandoned building his little one man battle ship boats. Franky’s youth is pretty cute and it’s something that has him as an earnest kid with his vision of how to build boats, something that factors into the other part of the tale, which is told from what Luffy is up to.
With Luffy’s attack on Iceberg’s place, we get a good deal of a reveal here as the CP 9 folks have come to get what they’re after. The masked men have a goal as part of the World Government as they want some blueprints that Iceberg supposedly has, though it may be something that has been passed on to someone else is what they learn. Iceberg’s past is similar to Franky in that he was taken in at an early age as well by Tom, one of the most gifted of shipwrights that’s existed on Water 7. Taking us back in the past by over twenty years, we see how the two of them wre polar opposites under Tom’s guidance as Iceberg was all serious and Franky approached it in a different way. There’s a lot of really interesting story to be had between the three of them as we see how the Sea Train came about and an earlier attack on the island in order to get what Tom has, which goes back to that Pluton blueprint which could be a fantastically powerful weapon.
So much of this episode is focused on the past as it goes through all of it with relation to this trio and their earlier struggles. It’s all key to the present as it connects to how Water 7 operates and the path that both Franky and Iceberg have taken with their lives and the choices they made. Both men have such a bond between them with Tom and what they all suffered through, but also how that bond was strained almost beyond repair for so long. Seeing that in the past goes a long way, but the threads of it in the present as the truth behind CP 9 is revealed with who they are and the impact it has on those that know them is pretty well done. Iceberg is weaker in the present with his role here, particularly since he’s wounded, but that’s more than made up for when it comes to what we see of him in the past.
If there’s a weak point, it’s that Luffy and the others are generally minor characters here for much of it. Usopp gets a lot of the screen time in his talks with Franky, but most of the crew spends their time with Iceberg and CP 9 where they’re just trying to understand what it is that Robin is doing with them. Luffy is his usual earnest self in trying to get to the bottom of it by demanding answers of Robin, but she plays it aloof and he ends up going against the CP 9 folks themselves as they just want to make sure that their smaller plan of framing them for Icebergs murder comes into play properly. I like what they do here with the Straw Hats, though Luffy and Zoro get stuck in a hard place a couple of times. Which is cute, but that’s the kind of role that they really have in this set.
One Piece has a segment of episodes that largely works towards explaining some of the past, recent and further back, that helps to explain why Water 7 is like it is and how the various key players in it are connected to each other. While Iceberg came across well in previous episodes, Franky was still a problem. Here, he’s fleshed out more and that helps to make him more engaging and interesting, particularly his time spent with Usopp in talking about the role of ships and those that sail them. The amount of time spent twenty-three years prior and going forward from there was the big winner for me as we see him, Iceberg and Tom together and it all works towards making the whole place a bit more fully realized. Though there’s only eleven episodes here, it flies by and adds a lot to the arc overall. Very enjoyable and a lot of fun.
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: March 19th, 2013
Running Time: 320 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.