What They Say:
The latest adventure kicks off with a battle between Fire Fist Ace and the dastardly Blackbeard. Flames collide with the crushing power of darkness as these heavyweights lay waste to an entire island. When the dust settles on their showdown, the scene shifts back to the Straw Hats who find themselves trapped in frigid waters – and hunted by a family of bounty hunters.
After their icy adversaries steal the Straw Hats’ flag, it’s all hands on deck to recover the precious symbol of their pirate pride! Chopper unleashes a Rumble Ball on a hockey hooligan, Franky unveils his Shark Sub in a clash with some pesky penguins, and Luffy goes toe-to-toe with a foe that’s too hot to handle! Side by side they’ll fight to the death – because a pirate without a flag is no pirate at all!
Contains episodes 325-336.
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 2007, the Enies Lobby 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 Blackbeard and Ace as it is one of the signature moments for the collection. 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. The DVD labels now use an image of the Thousand Sunny.
Nothing has really changed with the menu system for this collection. 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 Thousand Sunny 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 menus are easy to access and transition smoothly without any problem.
The extras for this release are pretty good as we get two new English language commentary for a couple of episodes. The “On the Boat” segment for this collection features Colleen Clinkenbeard.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This collection brings the ninth season to a close, which ended in 2007. The previous arc had a lot going for it and we saw the crew deal with a lot of adversity. Franky came on board as well as the introduction of the Sunny as the new Straw Hat ship. I think Franky will turn out to be a very welcome addition to the crew with his bombastic attitude and big heart. Enies Lobby was a big challenge for the crew and we learned a lot more about how resilient this rag-tag crew really is as their fellowship well become evermore important as the continue to journey onward.
This collection opens up with some new revelations as we get to see what is going on with Ace, Luffy’s brother, once again. Ace’s allegiances in the past and where he’s been are about to catch up with him. This culminates in a confrontation with Blackbeard. Blackbeard’s demands for allegiance don’t settle well with Ace an ultimately ends up in a fight. A true display of their devil fruit powers is showcased. Unfortunately, this best action and plot development for the entire collection.
As this is the end of the ninth season, I am not surprised that the plot development is very short lived with the rest of the collection. Of course, you will find some tidbits of what is to come with the New World, but they are pretty much forgettable. The biggest chunk of episodes focuses on a seemingly abandoned ship with no sails and a lot of damage. What little is left of the crew causes the Straw Hats to respond with aid as it is in their nature to help. Of course, this what sets our lovable crew apart from the stereotypical pirate mantra. The fishermen are surprised to be helped by pirates. Of course there is some humor to be had with this scenario. We learn some interesting things about these fishermen as they are actually pirates themselves, who ran into some big trouble while braving the New World themselves.
And wouldn’t you know it, these guys are nothing but a decoy for a trap sprung by a pirate group that works for the Acchi family. Acchi family plans to capture the Straw Hats and acquire the bounty that is on each member’s head. Of course, this doesn’t sit well the Straw Hats. The Straw Hats end up helping the fishermen, aka. Phoenix Pirates, since their captain turns out to be a nice guy. His biggest fault is the failure of feeling so overpowered when they went to the New World. A lesson is learned here as the crew must take care to note what lies ahead of them, especially with Luffy’s over zealous attitude for wanting to be King of the Pirates.
The Phoenix Pirates saga is well spread throughout the set as the story arc actually concludes with the final episode. Dealing with the Acchi family turns out to be the real struggle in this arc as the Acchi family children present their father a huge birthday celebration which includes Straw Hat bounties. Taking on the Acchi family proves to be quite a treat as each of the sibling has some unique and humorous abilities that include figure skaters, twin brothers, and some evil penguins. Of course Luffy gets to take on Papa, who has some a devil fruit power that can turn his body incredibly hot. The youngest of daughters steals the Sunny’s Jolly Roger. Keeping it secret from Luffy is one thing, but the humor involved is some of the best for this collection. Of course this parallels with Luffy and Papa’s fight which is a nice twist.
Transitional story arcs in anime can be a bit bland, but One Piece does try to make it fun while adding a tidbits of what is yet to come. Seeing multiple sides of your favorite characters is always good, especially when humor is involved. However, it is nice to see that one story arc begins and ends with one collection, which is very rare in anime, but can sometimes be found with side arcs such as this. Advancing the story in any way is all contained in the first episode with the fight between Ace and Blackbeard. I am sure it is a taste of what is yet to come as the New World is anything but old.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Ending, Commentary Tracks, On The Boat
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: December 3rd, 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