The story moves on!
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! Nami 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!
Contains episodes 288-299.
For this viewing session, we listened to English dub. The English 5.1 track is solid with no distortions or dropouts. On par with the other releases, this is a solid sound track that predominately uses the forward sound stage.
Originally airing in 2005, the Water 7 Arc does not disappoint in its original full frame aspect ratio. One Piece’s transfer is consistently clean and pleasing to watch. All of the colors appear very solid and exhibit great vibrancy. Cross coloration is absent and aliasing is at a minimum. On rare occasions there is just a small bit of noticeable background noise, but nothing to be concerned about. Nearly 8 years old, the animation quality is not quite up to par with today’s new anime style. However, One Piece’s bizarre character designs will keep your attention as they can be very random and often memorable.
The packaging for this collection follows the previous collection. Season 5 changes things up a bit with a white background slip cover for the two think pack DVD cases. You will find the familiar One Piece logo across the top with some artwork from the series on the front with the typical collection summary and technical specifications on the back. The artwork is bright, colorful, and always an attention grabber. This edition features Chopper in Monster Point Form fighting Kumadori. The thinpack case artwork is virtually the same as the previous collection. Overall, this is a decent design with a welcome set of changes that refresh the packaging.
Nothing has really changed with the menu system for this collection. The menu design is rather simple, but effective. The menu background uses the same design that is used for the DVD cases and box. The main menu features a larger image of The Going Merry that is found on the back side of the cardboard slipcover. The right side of the main menu features a vertical menu selection. Your standard episode and setup menus are all found here as well as a great looping musical score for each menu. The music loops appropriately and does not abruptly end, which is a nice touch. The menus are easy to access and transition smoothly without any problem.
As with other the collections preceding this one, the marathon mode feature allows you to view all the episodes without having to watch the episode introduction, preview for the next episode, and the closing credits.
The extras for this release focus on the English voice cast. The “On the Boat” segments with the cast of the show are fun and allow us to experience the cast as they share their experiences in recording the dub.
I think it is safe to say that the brunt of recap episodes is a bad distant memory that we won’t have to endure for some time as the previous set over-killed that in an epic way! What you will find in this collection is a full brunt of action that does little to let up on the intensity as the fighting commences. Oh, and there is a mad giant reindeer on the loose!
The normal pace of story telling that One Piece fans are accustomed to has returned and so does the plot. Spandam is still hell hellbent on making his way to the World Government with Robin while the rest of the CP9 battles the Straw Hats. Luffy kicks things into Third Gear for which we get to see just a little bit of the new attack and the chibi form that he takes on after using it. Rob Lucci, the parrot guy, stands in Luffy’s way as he attempts to rescue Robin from the clutches of Spandam.
Spandam is the epitome of an idiot leader who is more of a madman than a leader. He is a buffoon who is weakest when he is not around his henchmen, who are literally the brains of the operation. In the heat of the moment, he also spills the beans on the big plan to unleash the Buster Call, which will obliterate everything on Enies Lobby. And so begins the fights and pairings with each of the crew and CP9. The fight between Kalifa and Nami is quite good as we get see Nami use her Clima-Tact, which we have not seen since the Alabasta story arc. Nami outwits Kalifa with her ability to predict the weather. It’s nice to see that Nami can hold her own without running away as she usually does. Sanji would have been a great partner in this fight, but he succumbed to the womanly smoothness of Kalifa.
Chopper’s fight against Kumador is quite epic. Kumadori may have been a mismatch for this fight as he just doesn’t seem as formidable as the other CP9 henchmen. However, Chopper isn’t much of a fighter, but when the cards are stacked against him, he is not one to roll over dead. He pushes himself beyond his own abilities as he downs one too many rumble balls. The end result is something between a homunculus from Full Metal Alchemist and an out of control Evangelion. His new ability Monster Point, is a mindless giant fighting machine that destroys everything in its path. Fortunately, Frankie has a solution to help Chopper recover from this behemoth appearance.
My favorite fight so far involves Sogeking and Zoro as they take on Kaku and Jabra. Obviously Sogeking can only put on his personification for so long before the cowardice of Usopp comes out, especially when he is handcuffed to Zoro. This prompts Zoro to fashion new sword with Sogeking attached to it. This makes for some great comical relief as the seriousness of this fight is anything less than serious.
The pace for which things are moving within the plot are at a fever pitch when an unexpected break takes place as a short two part episode is inserted that puts the main cast in an alternate universe. While this does throw things off, it is kind of fun seeing the Straw Hats play different roles. But, what makes it even more fun is that Buggy is back! You just have to sit back and appreciate what it is, because it looks like there may be more of this forthcoming.
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.
The establishment of solid story arcs and linking it all together is what makes One Piece such a great series. While it can be frustrating, I can appreciate how it has been put together and why it continues to be one of the best manga/anime franchises out there. It just works and there is just a little something for everyone regardless of what kind of fan you are. The majority of episodes in this collection are full on action with a few teasers of what is yet to come. The Buster Call and the final showdown with CP9 are all that remain. No matter what this crew is going to stick together and come out winning!
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: B+
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
Samsung UN46B6000VF 120Hz LED HDTV, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA 2.1 Channel Soundbar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer, and Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p