You may think entering the Grand Line is bizarre, just wait and see what lies on the other side.
What They Say
The Straw Hats are headed for the treacherous Grand Line in search of a genuine pirate adventure! But before their journey begins, they discover a strange little girl with a fleet of angry Marines hot on her trail. The merry pirates are badly outnumbered and the canon balls are getting dangerously close, but Monkey B. Luffy never deserts a mate in need. Even when it means crossing paths with angry dragons, a giant whale, and a slicing, dicing whirlwind of a bounty hunter. Risking their live on the high seas is just part of the fun for a crew in search of the Legendary One Piece!
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. The musical scores within the episodes are 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 too forced and unnatural.
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.
The box for this One Piece collection continues to follow the path set by its predecessors. However, there are a few subtle differences in that the there is a new border on the front and back. The background coloring is not as dark as the season one collection as it uses a lighter shade of grey, 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, Usopp, Luffy, Nami, and Sanji all on the deck of the Going Merry. Of course, Luffy is perched right at his favorite spot on the bow’s goat-like figurehead. The back side provides a brief description of the series along with the technical specifications and a few screen shots. The front side of the first DVD thinpack features Sanji, Nami, and Luffy while the other features Zoro and Usopp. The inside jackets for each of the DVD cases reveal a map background with the Going Merry in the middle. The DVD artwork depicts the four cardinal directions, like a compass, but looks more like pieces of rigging and sail fabric.
The second thinpack has a misprint in that it indicates that episode 60 is on it. Episode 60 is found on the first DVD and is not on the second. Ooops…
The menu system for One Piece is rather simple, but effective. The menu background uses the same design that is used for the DVD cases and box. The main menu features a portion of the artwork found on the thinpacks/box front. This time Luffy gets the spotlight on the menu artwork. The right 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 61.
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).
It’s always hard to start a new season, better yet a story, on the same level of level of intensity as the previous. At the end of Season 1, we last saw the Straw Hats leaving Loguetown, heading towards the Grand Line. Supposedly, Captain Smoker and Buggy were pursuing them and not too far behind. That last episode left me with the impression that there was going to be a battle, or at least some conflict at sea with Smoker, Buggy, and the Straw Hats. Disappointingly, this was not the case for how Season 2 starts out. Also, what follows is a bit of reprieve from the content based on Eiichir┼ Oda’s manga.
The first half the collection focuses on a short story arc (also known as the Apis Arc or Warship Island arc) involving a girl named Apis. She is found by the Straw Hats out in the middle of the sea in a row boat, Apis was held prisoner by the Marines until she managed to escape during a storm. Sympathizing with her plight, Luffy agrees to take the girl home to Warship Island. Here, they discover that she knows the location of living, breathing Millennium Dragon. Supposedly, an immortality potion can be made from their bones. Commander Nelson and Erik the Whirlwind will stop at nothing to get some.
The story arc is compelling, but very light in character development. The real focus of this story arc is on Apis’ relationship with Grandpa Ryu. Ryu is very old and his wish is to return to Lost Island before he dies. You can’t help feeling emotional as Apis comes to terms with Ryu’s ultimate fate. How could the Straw Hat crew not want to help an innocent girl from the clutches of the Marines who wish to exploit her relationship with Ryu? The showdown with the Marines and the butt kicking they get makes it all the more satisfying.
After aiding Apis and Ryu, the Straw Hats head back towards the Grand Line. Two episodes known as the Laboon arc are the first in the great Baroque Works saga. The entrance to the Grand Line is a crazy island known as Reverse Mountain. To cross it means defying all laws of physics, conventional navigation, etc. Don’t try to figure this out, just accept it as another crazy aspect of One Piece. The Going Merry follows a river that runs, impossibly, up the side of a Reverse Mountain and then goes down the other side to end up in the mouth of a whale, just like Jonah. This isn't any normal whale however; it's Laboon a giant whale with a very interesting past.
While inside Laboon, the Straw Hats meet up with Crocus, Laboon’s caretaker, who tells the plight of Laboon. There also happens to be two mysterious characters plodding around inside Laboon as well, they are Mr. 9 and Miss Wednesday. Luffy decides to pick a fight with Laboon which humorously ends in a tie and a Straw Hat symbol is painted on Laboon’s head. Luffy and Laboon plan to have a rematch when Luffy comes back.
These two episodes reveal a lot about what the Straw Hats will need to know and prepare for as they enter the Grand Line. Crocus explains to the Straw Hat crew how a regular compass will not work past Reverse Mountain. He also states that they need a Log Pose as it will point to Raftel, the final destination and location of the One Piece.
Mr. 9 and Miss Wednesday, spying on the group from afar, are knocked into the ocean by some mysterious looking creatures known as The Unluckies. Here, it is revealed that Mr 9. and Miss Wednesday’s were trying to kill Laboon. Cast into the open sea, they beg the Straw Hats to take them to, Whiskey Peak, their hometown. With great difficulty, the crew finally makes it to Whiskey Peak where the crew receives a warm, and unexpected welcome. The welcome is really due to the town being a part of Baroque Works, a secret criminal organization. As this collection comes to a close we find that Zoro has picked up on Baroque Works’ operations while the rest of the crew is completely oblivious. This puts Zoro at odds with Luffy in a very bad way. We also learn about the true identities of Mr. 9 and Miss Wednesday, which I will leave for the next collection’s discussion as they will play a huge role in the Whiskey Peak story arc.
One Piece never fails to entertain. The show airs for over 40 weeks a year in Japan. Creating an animated show of that frequency is a very grueling task for animators. It often results in corners being cut when it comes to animation. You are going to see a lot of stills, camera panning, and zooming. Quite bit of repeated footage from previous episodes is played at the beginning of every episode. Expect many of them to take nearly three minutes. When the story is as good as One Piece, it’s sometimes easy to overlook those annoyances when watching it in its entirety is so much fun.
Season two of One Piece starts is compiled of three story arcs with the first taking up most of the collection. The first arc, not being part of the manga content is entertaining and somewhat engaging. The remaining story arcs introduce you to the Baroque Works saga. This collection is a little light in substance than the previous collections. Don’t let that fool you as the best is yet to come as the Baroque Works saga is just getting started.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Staff Commentary
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080i