One Piece Season 1 Part 4 (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The legend of Gold Roger is finally revealed as well as his own demise!

What They Say
After using his Gum Gum Axe to bring down the house on Arlong's reign of terror, Luffy and his crew get some big news. A brawl with the marines has officially landed Monkey and Zoro on the wanted list! News travels fast, and it's not long before Red Haired Shanks is celebrating his old friend's new status as a genuine pirate. But not everyone shares his fondness for the Straw Hats. There is an armada of angry adversaries in hot pursuit as Luffy and his crew set sail for Logue Town - the final resting place of the legendary Gold Roger.

Contains episodes 40-53.

The Review!
Audio:
For this viewing session, we listened to English dub.  The audio was crisp and clear.  We did not experience any distortions or dropouts.  Again, the English cast continues to impress as the saga continues.  All of my memories of the long forgotten 4Kids dub is now buried in my furthest recesses of my brain.  With this being my fourth collection review, I am finding that the musical scores within the episodes is fantastic in that they really help set the mood for scenes that they accompany.  The only drawback on the audio is the occasional over-the-top swearing that occurs.  Sometimes it feels a little to forced and unnatural.

Video:
Originally airing in 1999, the transfer for One Piece 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 10 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.  Not the prettiest, but it will definitely capture your attention.

Packaging:
The box for this One Piece collection continues to follow the path set by its predecessors.  As with the other collections, this set features two thinpack DVD cases.  The cardboard box that houses them is arranged in a rustic looking wood design with the One Piece logo prominently displayed on each side.  The front of this collection features Zoro and Tashigi with their swords locked while Captain Smoker glares at them from over his shoulder.  Of course a mischievous looking Luffy appears in the foreground of this image with a huge grin on his face.  The back side provides a brief description of the series along with the technical specifications and a few screen shots.  The two thinpack DVD cases feature the separate pictures of Zoro and Tashigi and Captain Smoker. The inside jackets for each of the DVD cases reveal a map background.  The DVD itself is creatively designed as if it were a compass setting on the map. 
  
Menu:
The menu system for One Piece is rather simple, but effective.  The menu background uses the same rustic wood design that is used for the DVD cases and box.  The main menu features the same picture of the character that is shown on the front of the thinpack DVD case.  The left side of the main menu features a vertical menu selection.  The menu appears on an old piece of parchment.  Your standard episode and setup menus are all found here as well as a great looping musical score for each menu.  The music loops appropriately and does not abruptly end, which is a nice touch. The menus are easy to access and transition smoothly without any problem.

As with other the collections preceding this one, the marathon mode feature allows you to view all the episodes without having to watch the episode introduction, preview for the next episode, and the closing credits.  This is a nice touch that is great for marathoning, but I’m sure many true One Piece fans will want to watch the intro and closing.  Of course, you can play each episode in its entirety by selecting play all or going into the individual episode list.

Again the staff commentary for this collection is a bit tricky to find as it is not placed in an obvious location on the main.  To find the staff commentary, you must go to the individual episode listing where you will find it placed under episode 44.

Extras:
The extras included in the collection are found on the second disc.  The extras include the textless songs for the series and a handful if the latest FUNimation trailers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers). 
In the last collection we left the Luffy in a dire situation where his body was pinned underwater by a huge rock.  The only reason he's alive is because of Nojiko and Genzo.  Sanji and Zoro are pretty much are barely hanging on while Usopp looks on from a safe distance.  This is definitely the worst of situations for the Straw Hat crew.  The gang, with the aid of their friends, comes together to eventually help Luffy knock of the despicable Arlong.  Luffy’s rage that he takes out on Arlong is off the chain as he pretty much destroys all of Arlong Park.  The Arlong arc comes to a satisfying conclusion as Nami is able to reconcile with the villagers as she informs them of her decision to travel with Luffy et al.  Johnny and Yosaku go their separate ways, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of them.  As the Straw Hat’s depart Cocoyashi Village, we learn that Captain Nezumi’s report to the Marines has resulted in Luffy’s first bounty of 30 million berries. 

As with the previous collections, it’s time for a transition to a new story arc.  And as with most One Piece transitions, it’s gonna be an all out slap stick filler that proves to be one of the best.  Episodes 46 and 47 focus on Captain Buggy, the pirate that Luffy totally thumped way back in the first collection.  And it just so happens that Buggy is missing several parts.  This resulted in a “Chibi” version of Buggy that is quite hilarious.  The story that ensued in these two episodes really cracked me up as Buggy is trying to follow the path of the Straw Hats.  Buggy even comes across a mysterious island with a guy trapped in a treasure chest that I’m sure many of you will remember.  Buggy’s “super flashy raft” was destroyed by a giant crab.  Eventually Buggy, the rest of his missing body parts, and his crew are united with the aid of yet another foe of Luffy’s, namely Alvida.  Boy has she changed!  What really sealed the deal for me on these episodes was the Voltron-esque combining sequence of Buggy’s body parts as they “flashily” join together to make him whole again.  These two episodes are almost worth watching again for the slap stick humor alone! 

Now begins the Loguetown arc, which is the final story arc in the East Blue Saga.  Loguetown is the last place to take on supplies before hitting the Grand Line.  Not only that, but it's also the place where Gold Roger, former King of the Pirates, was both born and executed.  Upon docking, the crew quickly spreads out, which is business as usual when stopping at a new destination.  One would think that maybe they should stick together…  Each crew member has their own agenda as Sanji looks for food, Usopp hits the novelty shops, Nami heads for the clothing shops, and Zoro looks for a new sword.  Luffy sets out to dig up more information about Gold Roger and to find the platform where he was executed.   When everyone goes their own way, trouble and mischief is just around the corner.
 
Trouble takes it own form as Captain Smoker sets out to collect the bounty on Luffy.  Smoker is a tough Marine Captain who seems to have his own agenda that is a bit hazy.  Smoker possesses the powers of the cursed fruit known as the Plume-Plume Fruit.  Smoker has a very distinctive trait of smoking two cigars at once, as well as having many cigars on hand strapped to his jacket.  He also has the kanji for '"justice'" (正義, Seigi) written on his back.  Smoker’s sense of justice is not quite clear, but I would venture to guess that it is his own personal brand.  Smoker prides himself in keeping Loguetown free from pirates and he’s not about to let Luffy escape.

Sanji and Zoro seem to have a knack of running into their own kind of trouble or distractions.  Zoro runs into Ensign Tashigi, who is very loyal to Smoker and bears a striking resemblance to Zoro’s deceased friend Kuina.  She can handle her Katana like none other.  Sanji ends up in a cooking contest that pits him against Carmen, a cook that was once a rival to Chef Zeff.

Captain Smoker is slowly closing in on Luffy as the rest of the crew is focused on their distractions.  The final spice to add to the mix is Buggy’s Band of Pirates bouncing into town.  This culminates in a showdown at the Loguetown square where the execution platform is located.  Things get really crazy here as Buggy and Smoker zero in on Luffy.  As one would expect, the Straw Hat crew shows up to aid Luffy in escaping both Smoker and Buggy.  The escape is not a simple one, however, in that a mysterious storm brews up and a enigmatic person known as Dragon allows them to escape and head towards the Grand Line.

Summary:
This season ending collection was an action packed; slapstick set that is probably one of the best so far.  One Piece continues to get better and better the longer it goes on.  Its staying power is obvious as there are nearly 400 episodes that span across 11 seasons. There is so much going on that it will keep the most attention deficit viewer entertained.  The introduction of new foes and the resurfacing of some old rivals foreshadow some intense plot development that I am anxiously awaiting.  If you haven’t picked up One Piece, you owe it to yourself to get started watching it now as this ship is going to start picking up speed in what I’m sure will be some great anime to come.  Go pick up this collection along with previous three.  I guarantee you will be hooked on this series! 

Features
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Staff Commentary, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Review Equipment

Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080i



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 49.98
Running time: 300
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: One Piece