It’s lonely without a shadow.
What They Say:
Luffy’s impulsive attack on Gecko Moria ends up costing the rubber-man something he can’t live without – his shadow! When Zoro and Sanji find themselves in the same boat, the three fierce fighters must find a way to recapture what was lost, or face the possibility of death by sunlight. Luckily, their skeleton friend, Brook, knows the trick to defeating Moria’s zombie army, and he’ll gladly share the secret in exchange for a little help defeating a sinister zombie samurai!
Meanwhile, Nami is kidnapped by an undead scoundrel who wants to make her his wife, and Usopp must rely on his natural state of negativity if he hopes to survive his encounter with a gothic Lolita and her ghostly minions. Hair-raising thrills are the story of the hour as the Straw Hats attempt to escape Thriller Bark with their shadows – and souls – intact!
Contains episodes 349-360.
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. This set doesn’t hold up quite as well in a different area though as the line noise is pretty glaring in a number of scenes, particularly with the various ships, and it gets somewhat distracting at times.
One Piece goes bright with its thin slipcase packaging as it has a white background with some colorful black and yellow 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. The cover for this release gives us a pretty fun piece that provides a look at the villains of the arc while also given us a golden clad armored Luffy. 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’s 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 two new English language commentary for a couple of episodes and a clean opening sequence. The big extra again here is the in the booth session, which this time spends its time with Chris Sabat. Clocking in at thirty minutes, it does a pretty good job of going through what goes into a performance, the performance trial and error side itself and some dialogue from the production team as well about what they put into it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The sixth season of One Piece got off the ground in the previous set, which I didn’t get to see, and it moves through more of the Thriller Bark arc here. The introduction of Brook into the series is an important one since it adds the last of the regular main crew that we’ll have for a couple hundred more episodes at the least (and in general, potentially) so seeing him in those first interactions is definitely a treat to see. With that having gotten out of the way previously and then the situation working so that Luffy and some of the others have been captured by Moria while the rest are on the outside, it’s the usual kind of chaotic mess of a start to a new arc in the One Piece universe. One that has put us in a dark and murky floating mini-city of sorts that has a real kind of creepiness about it since it’s almost perpetually murky. And for good reason.
This set of episodes works a couple of fairly standard plot points as one would expect for an arc like this. The first half largely revolves around the goings on with Moria with him toying with Luffy at first since he’s got him in a cage. After previously capturing Sanji and Zoro and placing their shadows into the mario’s that they have on hand, he sees great potential with Luffy by taking his shadow, which is easy for him to separate, and placing it inside of an oversized body that he has chained up in the basement that’s known simply as Oars. It’s definitely interesting to see as the shadow ends up in Oars and it retains a portion of Luffy’s personality, wanting to get out into the world a bit but also going on about wanting to be the king of the pirates. Moria, for his part, is just enjoying the show, something that others like Dr. Hogback don’t exactly like but know they have to put up with as a part of Moria’s crew.
A lot of this is used to give us a better understanding of how the shadows work and some of the silliness of it all with the variety that’s there. There’s also the fun of getting to know some of the others a bit more, like Penora and Cindrly, but the best part of the fun is in watching Kumacy, the giant stuffed animal type that works for Penora. Kumacy has been “invaded” by Nami, Usopp and Chopper in order to get information but he can’t seem to say anything about it. There’s a lot of goofy stuff with that as it plays out as they try to listen in and end up surprised by a lot of it while also trying to remain hidden. Naturally, it goes on for only so long before they make haste and bug out of there, but it’s a useful thing to provide a view of what’s going within Moria’s group and the dynamic of it all. It definitely gets you a bit more into Penora and her style a bit but also just loving the utter silliness of Kumacy and having the Straw Hats hidden inside of him.
The best part of this batch of episodes though is what starts at the early piece and carries through the middle. We get some good time with Franky and Robin questioning Brook about things since he does have information, and we get a good understanding of what he’s been going through with his journeys. Robin’s fairly understanding of it, but Franky is full of doubts in a very outgoing way, which makes sense since this is his first really big adventure with the Straw Hats and he wants to get it right. While I liked that part a good bit since all three do come off well, it’s when the story is related later on to the freed Luffy, Zoro, Sanji and the others that it takes root. What we learn is that Brook came from the crew that, decades ago, interacted with the whale Laboon that we had seen an age ago. With the knowledge of how Laboon was so connected to those pirates, and believing that Brook was a big part of that, it just reinforces Luffy’s desire to have Brook in the crew and to ensure that they do meet again with Laboon someday as promised. The only downside is that we get almost two episodes worth of flashback material going over when Luffy and the others met Laboon.
The second half of the set is a bit more traditional in what it’s doing as it has the gang heading off to get their shadows back and dealt with Moria’s forces that get thrown at them. There’s a lot of familiar actions throughout this as it goes on, with a lot of low level types being dealt with while Moria and his group are off doing their thing. But we do get a few character fights that come into play as well. One has Sanji heading off to rescue Nami as she’s being wedded off to one of Moria’s higher-ups while being completely out of it. That has its own fun, especially since we get Wedding Dress Nami, and also some interesting and amusing bits about Sanji’s own past. There’s another piece that has Usopp coping with Penora, which is really a good struggle for him since she can become a ghost and he can’t get her. He also has to cope with Kumacy as well, which makes for some comedy. Add in some time with Brook going up against his own shadow, which surprisingly still has a lot of his personality after five years, and it’s a good mix of fights going on that’s moving towards the larger matchups.
While the structure of One Piece is definitely familiar at this point, it’s still very much a fun thing because of the trappings and characters. This arc is moving along well by getting us more familiar with Moria and his crew and what they’re like and their abilities and also putting their bigger aspirations on display. Moria himself isn’t the most compelling of villains, but Penora works nicely and there’s some other silly/creepy stuff at work too, especially with Oars. Brook gets a good bit of time here throughout and he definitely becomes likable as it goes on and we understand more of him, which is further cemented when we learn of his really further back backstory and the connection he has to the Straw Hats. Things are moving along well here and it keeps a brisk pace without feeling like we’re off on bad side stories that are taking up too much time.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentary (352, 356), One Piece in the Booth, Textless Opening.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 18th, 2014
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 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.