What They Say:
Nami, Zoro, Chopper, and Robin are trapped aboard the Going Merry when it’s commandeered by a monstrous lobster! To rescue his crew, Luffy must venture onto the sacred grounds of Upper Yard! Contains episodes 157-182.
Set up in both 5.1 English and 2.0 Japanese, One Piece has a superb English audio in terms of needing to actually lower my standard settings so I could hear without ruining my ears. The Japanese track is also very good, where setting it to standard settings was almost as good as a standard 5.1 track. There were no issues with sound transition or any overlapping issues with missing audio or out of place dubbing or synching with the subtitles.
Visually, the extremely colourful and unique style of One Piece follows well on a widescreen format, no picture issues with distortion when pausing and no freezing or synching with the audio so a very quality release. There was one point early on that there was some slowdown with the animation but it was only briefly, again keep in mind the releases are test discs. The animation is very colourful and unique as One Piece tends to be and looks really well with the cloud animation.
A 4 disc release, each with a different characterization on the front of a map like background, ranging from The Going Merry in Disc 1 to Eneru in Disc 4, with the selections are vertical on the right hand side. The choices are Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras. Each is easily accessible both from the main menu and from the show itself if you need to revert to the main menu with little time delay. Very basic otherwise as the menus are static so pretty much the same as all previous releases.
The two main extras are firstly pretty much all the openings and endings from this box set are on it in clean formats (two openings and three endings in total).
The main extras are a few commentaries – all hosted by Mike McFarland (ADR Director and voicing a few characters) – in the first commentary of episode 166, he is joined by the ladies of the Straw Hat Pirates, Stephanie Young (Robin) and Luci Christian (Nami) – Luci seems to enjoy playing Nami and describes her as everyone’s favourite bossy navigator, whilst they are talking about the earlier episodes, pressure of the previous dub (Nami’s backstory was 2 years later after their first dubbing mid way through the series) and much the character traits still remain the same (Nami not letting go close as does Robin, going quiet) Go through a lot of the voices and roles of the cast and other performances, it is a standard commentary which is more about the history of the show and the ladies themselves.
The second commentary is on episode 171, where joining Mike is Sonny Strait (Usopp) – again going through Sonny’s work after starting in the middle of the arc, how it started from ep 144, Sonny himself being a fan of the manga and how he used the manga as reference, comparing it to Warners Brothers goofiness and then evolves and showcases the depths of One Piece compared to other long running shows, how stuff now makes sense after going back into the show, how it was the first major bad guy arc when first started, with a few interesting things like Trait revealed he is a cartoonist with stuff both DC and Tokyopop have published. Again, an informative commentary but enough goofiness just to be fun.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This One Piece set is quite different from the recent Naruto Shippuden Box Set reviewed because it suffers from pretty much the opposite problem the Naruto set did. Whilst Naruto suffers from filler seasons more commonly than most other shounen jump shows, One Piece tries to lower the filler by expanding their arcs so that it spreads further episode wise. This is quite easily showcased in the Skypeia arc by stretching (forgive the pun) the release right up until Enerus’ battle with Luffy as a cliffhanger for the entire 26 episodes. Whilst it isn’t as noticeable as say when a series like Dragonball Z does it, it is there…albeit that is actually not a huge issue when there is still a lot to enjoy with this latest arc, as we set up for the battle between Luffy and Eneru.
As mentioned, it does drag a lot with the set up but it does still bring a lot of entertainment within. We start where we left off, with Nami’s group in trouble with their exploring and get adducted, which leaves Conis who has been helping the group when they arrived to try and get the remaining members (Luffy, Sanji, Usopp) to save them. However she reveals that she was leading them into a trap, because their god, Eneru, punishes those that help any freeloaders. As such, she is nearly struck down by lightning but is saved as Luffys’ group approaches the upper yard to find Namis’ group – as we finally get a good shot of our main antagonist for this arc, Eneru.
It turns out the old man who saved the group in the last arc and gave them the whistle was Gan Fall, who was the previous ‘God’ of Skypeia. Eneru has since taken over as he appears to have a god like form, impervious to pain, incredible powers over lightning, and damn near invincible. He seems jovial but also enjoying seeing his people either in pain or having to kneel before him, which includes his warrior Priests that he sends out both to stop the Straw Hat crew, but also as a self-created prophecy that he is predicting as he begins to plan something…
We get a trademark scenario of the One Piece universe, with various members of the crew now separated, and now have to face off against adversaries. Sanji and Luffy take one of the priests out, but Gan Fall is defeated by another, forcing Chopper to confront his fears about thinking he is the weakest of the Straw Hats to defeat another later. The history of Skypeia is talked about in depth, mainly thanks to when Robin separates from the group and discovers some archaeology with some info she knows about the Golden Bell that even Eneru didn’t know it, it brings some interesting plans as the group obviously intend to get as much gold from Skypeia whilst still looking to ring the bell. In the meantime, another group, a tribe like group known as the Shandians’ who were among those who attacked Namis’ group originally, are looking to take out the Pirates AND Eneru, claiming Skypeia was originally their land. The key one is a warrior named Wyper, where we see the abilities known as dials, which can cause incredible impact like an explosion on someone but also cause the user much damage. It leads to an all out war with everyone on Enerus’ priests, the Shandians’ and the Straw Hats…all whilst Eneru makes a bold prediction of how many will remain standing before his plan is revealed…
We get a ton of battles sequences, with Zolo defeating one priest, Luffy fighting Wyper and then getting caught in some underground ruins (which later turns out he was swallowed by a giant snake!), the other Straw Hats get involved as well but Eneru seems content to cause problems, appears and taking out Sanji and Usopp in super quick time which showcases he is someone to really be careful of as Sanji is rarely beaten that easily. Chopper manages to defeat one as well as does Robin whilst exploring the archaeology of Skypeia (she got separated as the others sense of direction between Luffy, Zolo and Chopper isn’t exactly top-notch…) whilst Eneru takes out as many as he feels necessary to keep with his philosophy. It leads to a death match circle with Wyper, Zolo, Gan and his best priest Ohm whilst Nami and a girl see rescued named Aisa who seems to be able to hear in her head when people have fallen are also eaten by the giant snake…leading to their amusing meet up with Luffy.
When they learn that Enerus’ plan is in fact to kill everyone in Skypeia so that it can return to the ground, it now brings more personal for many of the cast, even worse because people won’t believe God would ‘forsake’ them. When the final 5 appear to be Nami, Zolo, Robin, Wyper and Gan (Luffy being still stuck in the snake after a moment of stupidity) Eneru completely dominates them all with what is apparently Devil Fruits powers of a Logia type – basically the top of the top. Even when a Sea Prism stone is used (which nullifies Devil Fruit powers) he is able to resuscitate himself and take them all out. Powerless, Nami is forced to try and pretend she is on his side and hope Luffy can stop him – which leads to our combined cliffhanger when Conis actually denounces Eneru in front of Skypeia…and when they realise she hasn’t been struck with him that maybe she is telling the truth of Eneru ready to destroy them…and Luffy escaping to fight him…and then the truth that lightning doesn’t work well on rubber…
There is a lot going on in this arc, and it keeps going back and forth as I said to almost stretch out the arc further to maybe avoid filler or get as much story as they can. There was a lot I didn’t mention (the relationship of the little girl Aisa with the priests and the Shandians, people learning about Eneru but becomes too late as they are taken out of the game, Conis looking to be a victim of the Skypeia people believing in Eneru which causes her major gamble, Robin’s archaeological discoveries, etc) – the focus eventually becomes Eneru and his prediction of survival…and that goes wrong when he never is able to sense Luffy after being swallowed by the snake, which looks set to screw him over because his rubber abilities is the natural enemy of his lightning abilities, which does seem to be one of the biggest issues because Eneru is practically invincible…to everyone except Luffy, like he was a big bad just put there for Luffy to beat. Even his motivations are pretty weak compared to Arlong, Kuro, Crocodile, etc where this is a motive involved whether financial or prejudice. Eneru doesn’t really explain his motives as well because he just seems ready to destroy Skypeia because he is God, and therefore he wishes to exist on a higher plane, taking those who he deems worthy. So whilst in terms of power he is on another plane, his character and motives are rather week, especially as he seems really non-threatening personality wise, it does seem like it clashes with his true powers.
That said, it is still an arc which goes through a lot. Ironically most of the attention goes through a lot of the side characters and not even with the Straw Hats themselves. Seeing Chopper go through some issues as he thinks he is the weakest and is determined to prove himself, and seeing Robin nonchalantly take out a priest whilst looking for more information about the Golden Bell of Skypeia (which even Eneru didn’t know about) and then learning the history of Gan Fall and the powers and tragedies of many of the Chandians and some of the followers of Eneru – special mention has to go to poor Conis, who was such a good heart that despite knowing she could be killed had to admit to the Straw Hats they were going to a trap, and in turn gets shunned along with her father as she brought upon God’s wrath – it makes her final stand right at the end of the arc just much more satisfying. Of course, this does mean the attention is off the Straw Hats (Usopp and Sanji of all characters are taken out quickly, Zolo does get some good moments in battle but as a character is quite quiet, and Nami until the end is used quietly and more for someone to listen in to Gans’ stories) and even Luffy as he is trapped inside a snake for most of the arc, but with the final episode we are sure that will change.
This is a weird example of a story arc where they actually maybe stretch it out too much with so much going on, and stretching those parts even more so. However, it does eventually tie into the big battle, and whilst it isn’t as impressive as the Crocodile arc (mainly because there whilst is another issue with the main area in trouble, the villain there has much bigger goals, was developed more, and seemed to be a lot more interesting and cunning) it is still big in the story and there are plot points involving the gold and character development in characters like Chopper – and the set up for the finale looks set to be a big battle, which should be good….
One Piece Set 7 is something a bit strange. I should be happy that it is all an arc based on the story but a combination of stretching the story a bit too much combined with a villain not as interesting as the previous ones makes this seem a bit weaker. However it is still very entertaining in terms of the characters, the battles, the development and the finale ending in a cliffhanger. The Pirates themselves are kinda put on the back-burner in favour of the Gan Fall and fear of Eneru stories, but that has been set up well for the final battle and it certainly kept me entertained.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: August 11th, 2014
Running Time: 588 minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Review Equipment: Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.