The stuff legends are made from.
What They Say:
The Sea Train has left the station! Next stop, Enies Lobby!
Nami, despite her desperate dash, arrives at the station too late to stop the Sea Train, but she’s relieved learn that Sanji has stowed away on board the vessel and will stop at nothing to rescue Robin! With the storm of all storms bearing down upon them, Nami and Chopper risk their lives to save Luffy and Zoro from the rapidly rising waters. Back aboard the train, Sanji is aided in his battle against the CP9 goons by the arrival of the mysterious Soge King, a wandering warrior from the Island of Snipers!
As the scattered Straw Hats fight to reunite, fate draws them ever nearer the foreboding fortress of Enies Lobby. Will our heroes live to face the hour of reckoning?!
Contains episodes 253-263.
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 eleven episodes to it spread across two discs with six on the first and five on the second. 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 the new Sea Train with a good shot of Luffy in the foreground while the background has Robin along with Sogeking. 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 the “new” character of the Sogeking 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 couple of episodes. The second disc also brings us some new “On the Boat” with the cast of the show and some fun bits about it as one deals with Christopher Sabat and the other with Colleen Clinkenbeard. They run twelve and thirteen minutes respectively and are fun pieces to check out as they talk about the show and their experiences with it. We also get a couple of clean opening and closing sequences as there’s a change in these episodes.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Water 7 arc has certainly been a lively piece for a lot of reasons, from the simply interesting designs of the location itself to the array of inhabitants there and to the drama that’s unfolded as Luffy and Usopp have parted ways. It’s brought in new long term characters such as Franky and has put Robin in quite the position where she’s lied to protect everyone in order to keep them safe from CP9 but also is going even further with it in order to ensure that they don’t get caught up in her past, which is pretty dangerous and legendary depending on the circle that you’re in. It’s had some slow times to be sure, but by and large it’s been an exciting arc that has kept most of the crew together and moved things right along, which had Robin being whisked away in the only Sea Train there is in the previous collection.
Of course, you know that there’s going to be another train hidden down below in secret based on all the background we got in the previous set when it comes to Franky, Water 7 and the relation with Tom and Iceberg. That has Luffy ready to roll again, but what makes it really fun to watch is that the situation has three very different groups having to come together for a common cause. While it makes sense that Luffy will go no matter what with the Straw Hats to find Robin, but it’s bringing together those that support Iceberg to join the mission since they realize the scale of what’s going on and the betrayal that was made between the shipbuilders. And it also has the Franky Family getting involved since Franky went off with Sanji to try and rescue Robin right away and that has them wanting to follow what their boss believes is the right thing to do. Luffy’s ability to bring them together with a handshake is definitely something memorable.
With a problematic Sea Train in hand, one with no ability to stop, they head off onto the rail in order to catch up to the other train. The way the group comes together is definitely comical since the Franky Family brings a few giant sea creatures and a regular ship in tow, but mostly it’s just the oddness of the group as they revel over what Luffy and Zoro are capable of. It’s spread throughout the set here, but the best moments come when the pair set foot at the front of the train to deal with things coming their way, from cars disconnected from the other train to Aqua Laguna itself. That moment is the most impressive as they cut a massive hole through the wave that’s already larger and more powerful than any Aqua Laguna ever seen before and the impact on the others that have lived through previous storms is significant.
While we get a lot of things going on with the new Sea Train, the show also focuses a lot with what’s going on with the one that Robin is on. With Sanji, Usopp and Franky figuring out what’s going on, they make a coordinated effort to try and rescue Robin, which has them dealing with a slew of Marine characters in a fun way and even some more powerful individuals along the way. It’s more straightforward than I thought it was going to be in some ways but it has a kind of classic fun about it as they make their way along the train. There’s some good character drama here though as Usopp feels that he can’t rightly stay with the other two to find Robin because he left the Straw Hats and you can see how he overplays his hand in some ways, but Sanji is so used to him that he kind of just rolls with it. Usopp really goes big and silly with his plan to work around what he did previously and ends up costuming up as Sogeking, a man from the island of assassins who wears a big mask and is pretty dangerous. There’s a lot of really fun moments as he goes with this, but it’s also well balanced as we see some good character material between him and Robin as he tries to get her to leave and can’t understand her motivations even after revealing they all know the truth. It is a bit convoluted, but it comes down to Robin’s personality with how she’s truly been alone for so long over the years that she can’t do anything but take all the burden on herself.
One Piece is admittedly pretty frustrating at the moment if only because we’re getting ten, eleven and twelve episode batches at a time when you really want more and you want it more often. This set is spent with the majority of it being between the two trains and while that could be problematic for some shows, it’s kept fresh, fun and moves right along at a good clip with so many things happening throughout it. Often I find myself favoring one storyline over another, but the two main ones we get here and all the subplots are just generally well handled and tied to each other that it left me smiling and enjoying it throughout. Some moments are better than others and I definitely favored Luffy and Zoro’s saving the day moments, but something about Sogeking just keeps drawing me back in to that.
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: May 14th, 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.