What They Say:
Luffy and Hancock arrive at the underwater prison of Impel Down, where the Snake Princess uses every ounce of her beguiling charm to smuggle him past the guards. Once inside, unexpected alliances help Luffy survive the increasingly dangerous levels of the prison. At the depths of it all lies the poisonous Warden Magellan whose toxins put the rubber-man’s life at stake. It’s up to his new allies to save him by tracking down a miracle worker rumored to have vanished into the gates of hell. Enter Ivankov. This larger-than-life personality has the Healing Hormones needed to save Luffy, but the cure could take years off the pirate’s life! With his brother just beyond reach, Luffy must take the ultimate leap of faith before it’s too late.
Set up in both 5.1 English and 2.0 Japanese, One Piece continues to have 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.
Set on a standard 16:9 – 1.78:1 ratio over 4 discs which is the standard for most UK releases, 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 syncing with the audio so a very quality release.
There was no packing for this test release.
Each of the menus is the same – basically an image of the Straw Hat Pirates logo on the left hand side on a white background, with the menu under the One Piece Logo. The selections are vertical on the right-hand side. The choices are Play All, Marathon Feature, 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.
One Piece has similar extras as previous ones with commentaries and two cast members doing something similar to their character, albeit one is comic and the other more professional…
We have a commentary for episode 425 featuring Jeremy Innman (Magalen) and Brad Jackson (Hannybal), first commentary for Brad – we get some key pointers such as the two first worked together in DBZ (Android 16), comparing the episode count and the episodes continues at a paced er…pace, many voices, many directors, most controversial characters played, a lot of these commentaries always tend to be a mix of comedy and information and these are no different…
We have a commentary for episode 432 featuring Marissa Lenti (Mistress Sadie) and Hayley S Vezito (Domino), they mention meeting for the first time which is quite common when doing commentaries as they are solo in the booth, a newcomer for Funimation in Marissa (1 year, worked in New York previously), the return of some older characters, favourite characters and why, Marissa being a fan of anime as a kid (Digimon mentioned – you realize so many of the more modern Vas would have grown up on Pokemon and Digimon which aired in the west 20 and 18 years ago respectively) along with their early acting roles.
Next is one for episode 434 with Mike McFarland (ADR Director), Colleen Clinkenbeard (Luffy), and one of my persona favourite characters with Duncan Brennan (Mr 3, Bon Clay) – understandably we get some chat about the returns of some favourites, Duncan comparing when he first voiced Bon Clay to getting back into the voice and character, Mike mentioning that he voiced him in the game prior to the show licensed, how his character works as does the show in balancing drama vs. comedy, how large the cast became and getting the actors for it, interesting bits about their recording, and how the transition from Bon Clay being a good guy from a villain came about…STRAW-BOOOYYYY!
Last commentary is on episode 442, we have the return Mike McFarland, Colleen Clinkenbeard and Jeremy Innman but also we get Randy Pearlman as my favourite of the newer characters Ivankov – both Jeremy and Randy mention about how they’ve voiced a lot of other smaller roles in One Piece throughout the years showcasing just how large the cast is and how many episodes there is and a focus/description of Ivanov’s character (be loud) during the recording times – this one is basically a love letter to Ivan and the series in general.
We get the first of two segments involving a live action role of one of the actors – here we get Brina Palencia (Chopper), can she heal the ailments of other actors…by playing operation ^^ other actors playing along as she tries to play Operation…(Mike McFarland has writer’s cramp, Sonny Strait has a broken heart, etc) – eventually goes into her Chopper voice as the frustration of playing Operation finally gets to her…it’s a fun little segment.
The second one is played a bit more straight – we get COOKING WITH SANJI: Eric Vale (Sanji VA) cooking a pasta dish, and does show how to cook it as well as making the sauce of cilantro, ginger, peanut butter and sugar, vegetables to use (red pepper, carrots, mushrooms) – incorporated with Sanji clips – with steak and a Nami hugging pillow 😛 OK not completely serious but it is actually a recipe being cooked my Sanji in essence so yeah, it did make me hungry whilst watching it…
Lastly, we have the clean openings/endings, and trailers for A Certain Scientific Railgun S, Terror In Resonance, Kingdom, Riddle Story Of Devil, Fairy Tail, Buddy Complex, Free! Eternal Summer and DBZ: Ressurection F.
One Piece after a bit of a delay seems to be getting more releases out and flowing into story as this definitely is a big arc, on one hand seems almost DBZ ish as they are clearly stretching out as best as possible but at the other side of the fence there are a lot of new characters and returning characters so it isn’t as bad as it seems…especially considering some of the story and fun that is coming out of this…
This is pretty much Luffy only as none of the other Straw Hats are involved as this is basically his arc rescuing Ace. However in place of the Straw Hats are a lot of other characters, some you recognise from the past, and some new ones to add to the story. With Ace caught, Hancock manages to sneak Luffy in with her powers (and charms) and here we learn the levels of the prison, which is pretty much the way the arc stretches out. Here, our first old ‘friend’ is revisited in Buggy The Clown who is basically trying to escape, and of course bumps into Luffy. The two team up despite old grudges (and Buggy now clearly WAY out of Luffy’s league in terms of power) because Buggy also knows stuff about Ace and despite trying to ditch him, he always seems to stay with Luffy. We get our next character from the past, Mr 3 (of the Wax- Wax fruit in the Vivi arc) and a new character caught with Ace, a fishman named Jimbei, the only one of the Warlords who refused to adhere to the Navy demands due to that he wanted to stop the war between Whitebeard and the Marines due to Whitebeard protecting Fishman Island (remember back in the Arlong arc? Wow that’s a long time ago…).
With the three pirates running from beasts and Mr 3/Buggy wanting to ditch Luffy, the trio get to level 3 whilst riots occur from the hubbub, and we get to see them struggle through a desert before we get the return of Mr 2….one of my fave of the villains from the Crocodile arc (more on him soon)…Bon Clay. Charismatic and funny, he was as close as nice as a villain back then and here, he becomes pretty much Luffy’s right hand person as hearing about Luffy wanting to save Ace, unlike the other two he genuinely wants to help Luffy achieve that which begins a strange but rather touching friendship between the two which is actually what keeps Luffy going later as we shall see…
Bon Clay is also a far better fighter with his transforming skill than the others so the two work well together and we learn that Bon Clay is here because he wanted to find a legendary transvestite named Ivankov who is rumoured to be here – the four eventually team up as the warden Magellan who ate a Venom-Venom fruit (self explanatory what it is) is ready to kill Luffy as they get into level 4…
It leads to some fighting through guards with intermissions from the Warlords (even Shanks gets a mention) into the first true challenge for Luffy when Magellan confronts him. As his body is entirely poison, one touch can pretty much kill him. Despite Bon Clay’s warnings he fights as Bon Clay regrets not helping him whilst the other two try to escape (not helped by one of the jailers Hannyabal being a running gag wanting to get promoted at Magellan’s expense) – it leads to Luffy going into second Gear and striking him but also getting poisoned, and eventually seemingly defeated as he is imprisoned whilst he slowly dies. However Bon Clay has disguised him as Hannyabal to try and get him out of there, with the only possible chance is via Ivankov’s devil fruit powers. He has apparently ‘vanished’ but Luffy and Bon Clay escape to try and find him – and despite being near death Luffy still has the power of Haki to stop enemies…but as he passed out a mysterious stranger rescues and they wake up in a rather party atmosphere…
This is level 5.5 – a paradise area where Ivankov is king…or queen depending. Ivankov’s abilities basically mean (s)he can transmit hormones into other people, whether to change from male or female or increase their factors in their body. (S)he does this with Luffy thanks to Bon Clay’s begging, but it is still a very slim chance he will survive bar an incredible will (also mentioned is that this takes 10 years off Luffy’s lifespan) and will last 2 days…when Ace is due to be executed in 16 hours….
Ivan mentioned there is another level hidden where most of the really dangerous criminal are – including Ace, Crocodile, and a former warden named Shiryu (noted for later) – Bon Clay realising the time is critical goes to will Luffy (Or Strawboy/Straw-chan as he calls him)…this actually works despite his exhaustion and Luffy thanks to a ton of food actually recovers in less than a day (and Ivan revealing (s)he knew about Luffy being Dragon’s son as (s)he worked with him…ooh, the plot thickens) so with Ivan in tow with Ace’s execution well on time, where they bump into another old foe of the past…Crocodile. Needless to say Luffy isn’t really happy to see him however Crocodile offers him a way to get to Ace with his powers. To say this is teeth clenched treatment isn’t an understatement but Ivan convinces Luffy that because it is worth it (and Ivan has blackmail material in case Crocodile steps out of line) – Jimbei also is let go as he wants to stop the war so with this new group coming out, another problem also visits in Blackbeard – which leads to them deciding to release Shiryu to face him…and he kills the guards that released him immediately showcasing WHY he was imprisoned in the first place (and he lets Blackbeard go as well) – this sets up another problem despite the combined power of Luffy, Crocodile and Jimbei – the clock is ticking….
So like a lot of long running shounen shows both past and present, there is an obvious problem that this arc has – it is clearly adding more and dragging it out as much as possible. Now granted, this isn’t filler and all of this was in the manga, but it moved at a far more fluid pace – here, they’ve added extra enemies and such and lengthen the conversations and whilst you can argue that it increases the story regarding the war that Whitebeard and the Navy will soon have (the build up is clear) the show adds more elements (by the end was not expecting Blackbeard appearing but just adds more chaos) to the point it can get slightly confusing was it not for the fact that the actual story is simple – Luffy needs to rescue Ace and the Navy are trying to stop him as no one has ever escaped Impel Down – combined with Whitebeard wanting to save Ace as well there is going to be a clash building up – it’s just getting to the clash.
It’s funny because there is no filler arc in this (well there is a 4 episode flashback story which kind of is but was spurred on by a comment made in the proper arc) but it feels like it at times – combined with the huge cast of characters both past and present – there is a LOT to still take in despite the simple plot. Combined with no other Straw Pirates, fans of those characters are going to suffer for a bit…
…that said, this arc is still enjoyable because the return of old favourites and some fun new characters do make this worthwhile. Bon Clay in particular I was so happy to see back, because not only is he a ton of fun, he was easily the most likeable of the villains in the Vivi arc, to the point it was obvious he could have easily turned into a good guy and joined the Straw Hats. So here, he kind of is by being Luffy’s best friend – the emotions of him friending Straw-boy as he calls him and then getting deeper into the friendship when he gets poisoned to the point of collapse is quite touching and a near tear jerking moment. Buggy and Mr. 3’s running comedy of ‘we’ll ditch Luffy’ and then just always ending with him for the most part is quite fun as they are out of Luffy/Bon Clay’s league in terms of power but their abilities are still quite useful so you aren’t sure whether they are going to be a help or a hindrance. The idea of Crocodile teaming with Luffy is intriguing and the new character Jimbei looks awesome so it is going to be fun how they go with this…
There is a lot of action, the fight between Luffy/Magelan is very intense, the character of Ivan is easily my favourite of the group (combined with the connection (s)he was part of Dragon’s crew) and there is definitely strong build up. Just feels like it is going to take a while before the pay off happens…
One Piece continues albeit a bit slower through Impel Down as Luffy tries to rescue his brother. He suffers a lot but thanks to old friends and new friends he is getting through it. The return of a lot of previous players helps along especially for those who miss the Straw Hats – Bon Clay in particular helps this arc TREMENDOUSLY – and whilst it isn’t a full drag, you just hope the payoff is soon as the point still seems a fair time off…
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, Play Doctor With Chopper, Cooking With Sanji
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: August 20th, 2018
Running Time: 600 minutes
Video Encoding: PAL
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.