What They Say:
As Luffy attempts to track down Moria and take back what he’s lost, Usopp reaches deep into his bag of tricks to even the odds in his battle with Perona. Meanwhile, Nami narrowly avoids an undead trip down the aisle, and Zoro clashes with a zombie samurai in the hopes of adding a new blade to his arsenal.
Armed with the secret to defeating Moria’s minions, things briefly appear to be looking up for the Straw Hats, but the onslaught of Oars, the towering terror powered by Luffy’s shadow, threatens to doom the crew. Undaunted in the face of this insurmountable evil, the Straw Hats stand strong together, vowing to fight till their very last breaths. As the hour creeps toward dawn, Oars prepares to deliver a furious flurry of devastating death blows, but his heinous attack is interrupted by the shocking arrival of Nightmare Luffy!
Contains episodes 361-372.
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 solid piece that’s a little less goofy than the previous one as we get Luffy, Zoro and Usopp together in action poses while Oars is in the background, all of which is set against the backdrop of the moon. 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 Eric Vale. 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 so far has been a lot of fun since we got the introduction of Brook and some really good scenes with him while dealing with Thriller Bark. The previous episode in fact gave us a strong fight sequence for him, one that he didn’t win, but it helped to really establish him better as a character. This was also reinforced by the far too extensive flashback sequence to awhile ago with the whale that the Straw Hats had dealt with that Brook and his crew had a connection with quite a number of years ago. It worked well while adding to the backdrop of what the rest of the Straw Hats were doing and particularly with Oars coming into life and power, which he’s using in some pretty big ways thanks to Moria and the little tricks that he can add to the whole experience.
While there are some game changing events within this set of episodes, a lot of what we get is admittedly the forward moving fight sequences. There’s a lot to like in seeing Perona’s arc here as we get to see how Usopp has figured out how to defeat her, and more importantly how to deal with her real body so that it’s a pretty strong defeat that allows him to move forward and reconnect with the others. Though that often means the end of a character’s arc, Perona’s is a bit more interesting from there. When she does recover, she’s smart enough to see how bad things are getting on Thriller Bark and comes up with the smart plan of basically grabbing as much treasure as they can, throwing it on the Sunny, and getting out of there. Unfortunately for her though, she ends up coming across the worst person possible while doing that – Kuma, one of the seven warlords. He’s come to find out what Moria is up to since there’s concern over Crocodile’s exit that Moria may be next and Kuma wants to see Luffy and the Straw Hats for himself. Unfortunately, Perona gets caught up in his schtick and finds herself “bounced” to somewhere else in the world through his power. Kuma mostly observes outside of this and his brief encounter with Moria where he tells him about Blackbeard, but it’s setting up things to come.
The fight sequence for this batch of episodes is largely focused on Oars now that he’s got Luffy’s shadow and Moria instructs him to go after the Straw Hats when he sees them, which happens fairly quickly as more and more of them connect with each other and get caught up in it. It’s a pretty solid sequence of events over the course of it, but it takes some intriguing if comical turns as well. Oars is pretty much a big powerhouse, but Luffy’s abilities don’t translate to him even if he has Luffy’s shadow in him. Moria shows us how he can do some of his stretching abilities though, but it is a real stretch to believe it. Especially since Moria basically sets up shop in Oar’s stomach where there’s a cockpit for him to direct things while swapping out with his own shadow-side that lets him get into plenty of trouble after he initially shakes Luffy loose and returns to his main mission.
What works nicely with the fight, even though it’s spread so far, is that it brings together Robin, Usopp, Zoro, Sanji and eventually Nami. Each have their own things to face, with Zoro finishing off his fight with the samurai that Brook lost to, which is where we learn just how much of an amateur Brook was compared to his opponent. Nami’s arc is decent as well as she initially has to get out of the coma she’s been put in for her nuptials as we see her shaking that off and dealing with her groom to be before hightailing it to the Sunny herself. Getting her out of the wedding dress is a plus and putting her in a combat mode as she has to deal with a few things before even getting to the rest of the group reminds us that she’s become a formidable opponent herself. Oars is an outsized opponent though, so individually as they try, they can get only so far. The quick thinking, relative to this series, shows them some ways to inflict damage, but it’s really just a holding pattern until the main guy can get here.
Luffy’s story here is one that initially has him dealing with Moria’s shadow side but only for a bit. Instead, he ends up elsewhere on the ship for a bit and meets a group of people who had lost their shadows. Interestingly, they’ve been acquiring shadows by eliminating the undead where they can and have found a way to insert them into others, though it’s a temporary effect. With Luffy proving himself to be a badass, the idea of stuffing a hundred or so shadows in him so he gets more powerful – and expands due to his ability – means he gains a lot of skills and abilities that will allow him to take down Oars. We don’t get much of that fight in this episode, but seeing him power up like this while getting all shadowy is fun, especially when he starts getting called Nightmare Luffy. So much of what we get here is setup, but it also makes for an entertaining ride along the way because so many things are happening and the characters are adjusting and moving forward.
The third installment of this season keeps us firmly in the Thriller Bark arena, but we’re getting the changes. Moria is getting hands on with this fight, though he falls back to letting Oars handle a lot of it as well in his oversized and goofy way. I really found myself liking Perona and Nami’s stories in this one but also the commentary we get from Book while watching Zoro fight his samurai opponent. Less appealing was the time spent on the “combining” sequences that Franky and the others did to try and boost themselves up against Oars, something that Robin said was beneath her human pride. And I agree. It was just an awful series of sequences that really made me cringe while watching it and thinking about it as it kind of took away from the show a bit for me. There’s a lot to like in this set and I’m excited to see where it goes next, especially with Kuma in town.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentary, 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: January 13th, 2015
Running Time: 320 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.