What They Say:
The Foxy Pirates challenge Luffy’s crew in the New World, but the fun and games go belly-up when the Navy’s most brilliant tactician steps in. Before the Straw Hats even know what hit them, they wind up on the island of Nebulandia—an infamous death trap for Devil Fruit users. Luffy must team up with his Davy Back nemesis for a harrowing rescue mission when Zoro, Sanji, and some Foxy Pirates are held hostage!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The special is designed for TV so it’s not stretching itself too much in the Japanese side while the English mix bumps up the volume level a touch and adds a bit more impact in some of the scenes. Largely, this feels like most of the TV series episodes where there’s some good directionality at times and it’s giving a nod toward the theatrical level but not trying to get there due to other constraints. What we do get has a solid presentation to it with placement and depth as needed and it has a clean and clear feeling that makes it enjoyable to listen to, especially with the score and the theme songs.
Originally airing in 2015, this TV special is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Being a single special, it only uses the one Blu-ray disc (and one DVD as well) with the same general team behind the TV series from Toei Animation. We don’t get a lot of One Piece in HD on home video so it’s definitely welcome to see this TV material done up in this way as the colors are strong, there’s a lot of detail to it, and a good sense of design that gives it some nice pop. The show has some very fluid sequence where the animation is ramped up a bit but it is, for the most part, the usual TV animation, though some of it was reanimated material from the past in order to get it all on the same page visually. It’s pretty good looking and makes me wish more of the series was available in this form.
The packaging is pretty solid as we get a standard sized Blu-ray case with an o-card that replicates the case artwork itself. The front cover uses the key visual from the time that has our core cast along the bottom full of smiles while the villains du jour are aligned behind them, but set in front of a misty kind of background that doesn’t show anything. It also ties together well with the red stripe along the top that highlights the BD/DVD of it all. The back cover goes for a white background approach with the summary being short and large of font size along the left. There are some oversized visuals to the right and all done since there’s nothing to the release beyond the show itself. The technical grid does break down both formats cleanly and accurately. No show related inserts are included with the release but we do get a tall version of the front cover that spaces things a little differently and with more visible.
The menu design for this release is a nice change of pace with a bit of animation to it as we get clips from the special playing with the ominous music going on along with it. It features a range of elements, especially of the arena, but it has a good feeling with a lot of blue that ties well to the navigation strip along the bottom that is a bright blue with choppy waves along the top. The selections are standard as there’s nothing here to this release beyond the special and some trailers so it’s quick and easy to work with both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback. The main thing is that the logo covers a lot of space simply because of how lengthy it is with the full title but that’s easy to ignore since there’s so much activity to it and it all looks pretty colorful and fun.
There’s only one extra for this release with a video interview piece featuring Ian Sinclair and Michael Johnson. Clocking in at eleven minutes, it has them talking about their time in the special by playing Brook and Vice Admiral Komei respectively, which is fun just for learning that Johnson previously played Captain Jerk in the series.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the Episode of Sabo episode out a few months before this one hit, One Piece had a couple of decent specials in 2015. Not that this one is a big and enjoyable piece that factors heavily into the overall continuity of the property, but it delivered on something that I wanted from a side story like this in two ways. First, it wasn’t just recap wrapped in some new material to bridge it all together. The other is that it gave us the main group of Straw Hats together, having fun, smiling, and on an adventure together. So many arcs break the cast up into different groups for dozens of episodes, and often with some characters not in an arc for a couple of years at all, that something like this hits that sweet spot in just bringing together everyone.
The opening works to reinforce the group that we get to spend time with as at Marine HQ we get the big screen showing off all nine of the Straw Hats and that they’re going up the most-wanted list pretty well. The reactions of the Navy men to some of the crew are amusing and it shows how some of the rank and file just aren’t paying much mind to some of the goofier elements. Hell, Usopp in his Sogeking getup looks a lot more threatening and serious than the poster artwork that we get for Sanji. It works nicely to remind us of where things stand on the Navy side and later nods to other Naval elements as well. Bringing these bits up here and segueing us onto the Sunny is an easy little maneuver and the end result is good as the group, enjoying some leisure travel time with drinking, eating, and getting some sun amid some games, brings them close to a new island where they’re being signaled.
The view of lots and lots of women on the shore with a shipwreck has the guys ready to go but they’re held back initially by Nami and Robin who are a bit less trusting of all of this. And for good reason as when they get there things go south with some fun that involves a food eating contest that takes down the team way too easily. What we discover is that the man running things on this Mushroom Island isn’t really the Foxy Pirates who bring themselves out into the open after some trickery but rather Dojaku and Komei, with Komei being an undercover Marine Vice Admiral. They’ve used the Foxy Pirates to their own advantage and suffered through some real distaste in doing so for so long that getting it all out into the open is a big plus for them.
The whole thing turns into a kind of hunt of sorts as Komei and Dojaku capture a selection of those that fell to the trap and abscond with them which has Luffy and the rest giving chase – and working alongside the Foxy Pirates to do so as some of them got caught up in it too. After all, pirates be pirates and a Naval man has to do his duty. There’s just a lot of back and forth on it and it has a level of fun that works in a light kind of way because there are zero stakes here. It’s just enjoyable watching this crowd going at it with everything, seeing them working together with the Foxy Pirates and all that. The only weird thing that comes from it is that there’s a plant on this island that works like the sea prism rocks or whatever they’re called that interferes with the Devil Fruit powers. Here, it robs the users of their powers when it comes through in a few different forms and it just feels like an easy cheat to add a little extra drama to things. That said, I did quite enjoy watching as Luffy struggled with his stretching ability as he no longer had control over it, weakening and shrinking back into normal non-stretched form.
The low stakes nature of this and lack of impact in the grand scheme may frustrate some but it’s exactly what I needed in the here and now – though I can’t remember how I felt back in 2015. Just having the group at large together on the Sunny made me smile a lot at the start, seeing them eat, play games, hanging out and all, and then shifting to a decent little chase/fight piece on an island kept it humming right along. It’s easy to not really care because you know what kind of arc this is but it was just fun enough to keep me interested and I liked the little quirks as a kind of offbeat piece that we’ll never hear about again. It’s not going to light up your shelf but I’m glad we’re getting more of these specials and the kind of weirdness that they can be.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: June 18th, 2019
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 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.