Robin’s past has caught up to her, as has everyone else’s through a series of terrible flashbacks.
What They Say:
The tragic secrets of Robin’s past are revealed in series of heartbreaking flashbacks! Bullied because of her unique powers, young Robin’s only friends were the kindly scientists who nurtured her genius intellect while her mother searched for the answers to life’s greatest mysteries. Lonely and afraid, Robin took comfort in the company of books until the day the World Government arrived.
Commanded by men who feared the might of science, an army of warships launched a brutal attack on the peaceful island of Ohara – an attack that threatened to separate mother and daughter forever! Robin’s dark past left her with a lifetime of scars, but Luffy and the Straw Hats never give up on family! Even if it means a deadly showdown with the assassins of CP9!
Contains episodes 276-287.
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 seven 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 a rather dark and ominous cover with Robin as the central figure being somewhat sad and angry while ringed by the Straw Hats who all look resolute and even angry in some cases. 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 various serious scenes from the episodes. 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 Hat 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” segments with the cast of the show and some fun bits about it as the actors ruminate on the series and their roles. 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)
With the events of the Water 7 area fully behind us and the Straw Hats having survived the trials to get to Enies Lobby, One Piece is at one of those pivotal moments. A pivotal moment where it will stand on the pivot for quite a few episodes. On a weekly basis, you can see this as a touch less problematic in a way, especially if you’re a relatively new viewer as it’s great for catch-up, but watching it in marathon mode here can almost be painful as for five or six episodes, it feels like a groundhog day moment for what seems like just a couple of minutes of material in real time. They do change it up slowly here and there so we get a few interesting areas and ways of looking at it, but for the most part, the transition between back story and forward progress is long and arduous. It’s the kind of training that a One Piece fan really has to be ready for at this point to prepare for some of the future arcs.
The first episodes here are actually quite good as we get the Young Robin material when she was a child, before things went to hell in a handbasket, as she lived on Ohara hoping one day to meet her mother. That her mother was actually there and unknown to her is a big tragic, but the general idea works well since Olva doesn’t want her daughter to be caught up in what’s considered a criminal escapade. Along with many of the other scholars on the island, the exploration of the Pongeglyphs and what they represent is definitely interesting material and their approach is definitely a scholarly one as they simply want to know the truth of the past and give voice to history. History that could be crucial in some future fight as well, as history always seems to repeat itself. For Robin, she’s largely on the outside of this, but she’s aware of what they’re doing and the importance of the Poneglyphs.
When things go badly for the island as the World Government declares a Buster Call on the place, which allows a large force to go and basically eradicate all the scholars, we get probably one of the more interesting aspects of the series as a whole. In talking about the past and what happened with the Poneglyphs some eight hundred years prior, we basically get an instance of where the victors wrote the history and what happened was determined by the World Government who has opted to bury it all. It’s certainly an interesting angle to take and it adds another layer of dastardly to the World Government. But it also makes a lot of their actions clearer as they hunt down the scholars, look to acquire particular weapons and so forth. But in the end, the personal side of it is that we see Robin has her losses and ends up on the run, removing connections and family from her life for years to come in order to survive. And it works well to establish the character we know and why, in the present, that she’s willing to sacrifice herself since she did make friends and can no longer be who she was all those years.
With the Straw Hats ready and willing to fight for her, we get a series of five or so episodes that have them making the leap from tower to tower to get her, but that takes up only a minute or so of each episode. Instead, we get big recap pieces of the old full frame episodes that highlights the bonds of the crew and the changes they’ve gone through. In a way, I really don’t mind these kinds of things, but in having recently watched the first two hundred or so episodes in the larger collections that came out, it was like banging my head against a wall. Especially since it goes on for so many episodes and offers no real new material for it. What makes it even more problematic is in that the opening piece in the present just gets done over and over. So if you skip the actual recap material, you essentially get five episodes in a row of the same exact thing from slightly different angles.
Thankfully, the set does get us beyond that for a few episodes and we get the startup of the fight between the Straw Hats – now with Franky – and CP9. Who are certainly looking forward to the fight and all it entails since they can cut loose a bit. With Robin in sea prism shackles and kept to the side for awhile, it’s up the crew to deal with the various CP9 members – individually of course, since it’s faster – while trying to find the right key to free Robin. Naturally, there are trials and tribulations along the way, from Sanji and Chopper getting handcuffed together to Sanji facing off against an attractive woman that he’d prefer to seduce. And a whole lot of other fighting along the way. As is par for the course with One Piece, it is fun, but it’s also just the start of festivities here as there are a number of opponents, five keys and plenty of wacky action to get through, which will spill in plentiful form into the next set of episodes.
One Piece is both fun and frustrating here with the mix of episodes that are offered. I really liked the first couple of episodes as it explored more of Robin’s past and how she survived, which feeds into what we already knew of her to varying degrees. I also like the reveal of the history of the world. But as soon as it’s ready to shift into forward motion, we get stuck in a series of mind numbing for me flashback episodes with groan inducing groundhog day like moments at the start of each of them. Thankfully, once past this center of the set, the show gets back on track and is a lot of fun, but it’s just the start of what’s to come. I like what’s here overall and if you carve out the recap material, it’s a pretty strong volume with what it does with Robin, the reinforcement of the bonds between all of them and the variety of the action that starts up. Include the flashbacks and you may just groan a lot and see how fast your skip button works on your remote.
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: September 3rd, 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.