The fights roll on as the events on Enies Lobby turn dangerous for everyone there.
What They Say:
While Luffy races to save Robin from the cowardly clutches of Spandam the madman, the rest of his mates fight for their lives against the heinous henchmen of CP9! Robin steps into save Sanji from taking a beating at the hands of a lethal bathing beauty, and Chopper goes on a rampage after eating one too many Rumble Balls during his showdown with a samurai lion! Meanwhile, Franky teaches a zipper-mouthed freak a thing or two about the punching power of cola, Zoro s swordplay is hampered by being handcuffed to Usopp, and Sanji reappears just in time to introduce his wolfish opponent to the burning power of the devil s leg! The fists are officially flying, and the most epic One Piece arc ever just got brutal!
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 2007, 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 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 brighter cover than the previous one but it has an intense image as we see Chopper going against his opponent in a fierce way. 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 nearly seventeen minutes each 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)
One Piece has moved through season nine fairly well with only a few hiccups along the way that frustrated me. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole Water 7 experience and what it offered and it was finally a piece that showed me how Franky became a part of the group, which has been useful as he hasn’t always been a favorite of mine since I started watched the simulcasts in the 400 episode range. The previous set spent a whole lot of time slowly moving forward as it essentially had five or so recap episodes that made it a very drawn out experience. But as it moved forward at long last, that means this set is almost all action and the kind of forward progress that comes from it. Which means just a little in the end, but it works because we get some really fun scenes throughout.
With this set of episodes, we get more of the lengthy spread that One Piece fans have come to expect. Slowly but surely, Spandam is making his way to the World Government with Robin in tow underneath the water through a special tunnel, which we saw Luffy make his way into as well with a little help. This gave us some Third Gear time with Luffy, but it’s almost all done off screen which is disappointing. But we do get the fun of him being pint sized for a little bit, which is adorable. In the end, it pits Luffy against Rob Lucci, but we don’t get a lot of time with him as Lucci holds him off as Spandam takes Robin deeper in. Of course, there’s some extended time with Robin and Spandam and that works in a hilarious way as Spandam screws the pooch big time by saying out loud to everyone on Enies Lobby what he’s done in calling in the Buster Call, which will annihilate everyone on the island.
Not surprisingly, most of this set is the various fights that started off before with the pairings that came up. They cover most of the episodes in the set but they’re spaced out well. Sadly, Sanji is taken out for a lot of it after his fight with Kalifa since he was just poorly prepared to handle a woman and she used her power to smooth him out in a big way. What becomes really good to watch is when Nami takes up against Kalifa and we get her working with her staff and more recently acquired abilities to create rain, lightning and other weather effects, making her more useful in combat situations. That’s always been one of the harder points for Nami throughout the first couple of hundred episodes, but as she comes into her own in this regard, it makes for a very fun and engaging sequence as Kalifa gives her a run for her money and challenges her creativity.
Chopper’s fight against Kumador is one that is both good and bad when you get down to it. The bad is that Kumadori just isn’t all that interesting of an opponent even with his specially controlled hair and iron body. His dialogue is also a bit grating as well as it plays out. But Chopper finds himself having a hard time facing him down and that pushes him to his limits as he realizes he has to put his life on the line like everyone else has. He’s come close before, but this time he has to use his special medications to take his body to the next level of transformation. It’s a challenging bit as it goes on and you see him struggle, but you also get to see him going out of control. Some minor flashback hits with Doctorine that’s very useful, but once Chopper goes into his mindless mode, it shows just how much potential he has, how much danger there is to it and just how much it impacts him on several levels.
To my surprise, I found myself enjoying the fight sequence that involves Zoro and Sogeking more than I expected. Zoro’s fights do tend to be pretty good and it plays out in an amusing way here with him shackled to Sogeking, who is naturally trying to get out of a fight with Kaku and Jabra, who themselves have transformed into their next forms of giraffe and wolf. It’s more comedy than action for most of it, but when it shifts serious as Zoro gets into it, it does work better. But it was the Sogeking stuff that clicked for me more than I expected and I laughed at a lot of his lines when having to deal with Zoro and how he tried to deal with the CP9 members. The whole thing is more comedy than anything else, but it has some great moments and left me laughing with the situations they end up in.
The only downside to this set that threw the momentum out of whack for awhile is a two part alternate world kind of take where we see the gang reimagined as samurai-ish characters in a feudal setting. While I wouldn’t have minded this kind of story after this arc concludes, having it in the middle here is just annoying and I found myself watching the time for each episode more than the episode itself. It has its moments, especially the various relationship changes, but it’s just a curve ball in the middle of an otherwise decent arc that focuses on the action and pairings that come up.
One Piece has long established itself in how it acts with its arcs and the things they do throughout them. It may have driven me batty early on, but I’ve grown accustomed to them and enjoy it overall, even if there are things like the two part sidetrack here and make me grind my teeth a bit. The bulk of the episodes here though are all about the action with a few teases along the way with what’s to come with the Buster Call in effect and how it’s going to affect everything. I like the pairings that are going on, I like how Franky is being more involved with the Straw Hats and I really like the slow, small but important moments with Robin that shows that she’s going to make the right choices as everything is realized. There’s a lot of fun to be had here as the Straw Hats go right to the gates of hell for their friends no matter the cost.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Ending, Commentary Track, On The Boat
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: October 15th, 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.