One Piece Season 2 Part 5 (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

All of the actors are on stage and the curtain is drawn, let the fighting commence!

What They Say

The Straw Hats crossed a desert to defend the kingdom of Alabasta, but the real adventure is about to begin! Crocodile and his army of assassins set their sights on King Cobra's empire, Luffy and his mates get locked in the clink, and a regal imposter leads Vivi's people towards a bloody uprising. Lucky for Luffy, Sanji and Chopper are still on the loose, and they've got a plan to spring their captain from the jaws of ravenous reptiles!

While Princess Vivi struggles with the most difficult decision of her life, Monkey D. Luffy takes on the dastardly Crocodile in a deadly desert showdown!

Contains episodes 104-116.

The Review!

Audio
For this viewing session, we listened to English dub.  The English 5.1 track is solid with no distortions or dropouts.  A few more curse words in this collection as the tension between parties intensifies.
 
Video
The Alabasta Arc originally aired in 2001.  As with the previous collections this 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.  This especially holds true for the new characters inserted in this collection.  The cursed fruits make for some of the wackiest of characters.  Chopper is especially interesting as he has three different modes of transformation and you get to see even more variations in this collection.
 
Packaging
The box for this One Piece collection continues to follow the path set by the previous second season collections.  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 Vivi, Luffy and Crocodile.  Luffy has his rage face going on and is a bit worse-for-wear as Crocodile has that gleaming grin and massive hook hanging over Luffy’s head.  As usual, the backside of the box features 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 Luffy while the second features Vivi and Crocodile..  The thinpack images are nothing more than cropped images from the collection case.  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.  
 
Menu
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.  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 114. 
 
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.
 
Sonny Strait, Jason Grundy, and Wendy Powell host the commentary.  Wendy does the voice of Miss Merry Christmas while Sonny does the voice of Usopp.  Sonny is lots of fun to listen to as he brings in lots of humor.  Not a huge fan of listening to commentaries, I actually like listening to the commentaries when Sonny is involved. 
 
The commentary opens up with a flavorful nod to the web series Homestar Runner.  Jason Grundy did a pretty good job imitating Strong Bad while Sonny Strait did an improvisation of Homestar. If you haven’t checked out the series then I highly encourage you to check it out a www.homestarrunner.com 
 
The commentary focuses on the challenges of doing the voice for each actor’s respective character.  The crew brings up a bunch of laughs as they talk about Usopp’s Wack-a-Mole segement and the 5-ton hammer.  Jason Grundy talks about the challenges of being ADR director and the fun he had.  He also had to balance things with the Japanese version and the movie that was dubbed this past year.
 
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).  
Can you believe it? We are almost three quarters of the way through the Alabasta arc. Things are picking up full steam as the inevitable showdown between Luffy and Crocodile are just few episodes away.  
 
The last collection concluded with all of the Baroque Works agents meeting up at Spider’s Café where they are about to administer Crocodile’s plan for taking over Alabasta.   Meanwhile, the Straw Hats learn that the Rebel Army has moved out of Yuba and headed to Katorea.  Kohza, the Rebel Army leader is determined to attack the King Cobra right at the royal palace.
 
The last collection contained quite a bit of filler as compared to this collection of episodes.  The Straw Hat crew has been wandering around the desert and perspective on what needs to be done is all but a mirage.  It all culminates in a fist fight between Luffy and Vivi.  Their fight is so spirited that Luffy socks Vivi right in the jaw!  Vivi is so caught up in the suffering of her people that she fails to see that more loss of life may be needed in order to rid her country of Crocodile and Baroque Works.  Crocodile must be stopped, and the most logical place to find him is in one of the most thriving towns in the Alabasta kingdom, Rainbase.  Rainbase is a gambling Mecca and is home to Crocodile’s main headquarters. 
 
As the Straw Hats make their way to Rainbase, Crocodile learns that the Straw Hats are still alive when Mr 3, who the crew encountered back in Little Garden, shows up at Spider’s Café meeting.  Crocodile soon discovers that he was fooled by Sanji.  Back in Little Garden, Sanji imitated the voice of Mr. 3 over the snail phone and assured Corcodile that the Straw Hats were all but finished. 
 
The simple plan to stop Crocodile becomes more complicated as Luffy and Usopp run into Commander Smoker in the city of Rainbase.  Luffy’s run-ins with Smoker are the best.  It always ends up in some type of goofy happenstance meeting where Smoker is moping about his predicaments while Luffy is sitting next to him.   
 
On the run from both Marines and Baroque Works Millions, all of the Straw Hats but Sanji, Chopper, and Vivi are captured.  Luffy’s blundering also allows Crocodile to haul in Smoker as well.   Smoker, sulking and powerless to escape, sits in the same cell as Luffy and the gang while Crocodile plays with ideas of how he is going to get rid of them. Things couldn’t work out any better for Crocodile and the Baroque Works gang.  They now have almost all of the Straw Hat crew and have successfully succeeded in capturing King Cobra.  
 
Fortunately, Chopper and Sanji come up with a way to free the rest of the crew along with Smoker.  The Straw Hats, after escaping Rain Dinners, must make their way to Alabasta’s capitol, Alubarna where the Rebels have begun their attempt to seize King Cobra’s palace. Crocodile, however, manages to catch up to Luffy.  This culminates in the first official fight between Luffy and Crocdile which is a “no holds barred” rough and tumble fight that leaves Luffy left for dead.  Miss All-Sunday shows up to lend aid to a nearly dead Luffy, but what is her motive?
 
The rest of the Straw Hats make it to Alubarna where they split up to confront the Baroque Works agents.  Thus begins the multi-monologued fights!  Sanji takes on Mr.2 while Zoro and Nami are pitted against Mr.1 and Miss Doublefinger.  The next fight is the best of the collection as we see Usopp and Chopper fighting Mr.4 and Miss Merry Christmas.  Lots of screaming and crying fun ensue with this one as Chopper and Usopp are pushed beyond their limits.  And, nothing is more fun than watching Usopp play whack-a-mole with his 5 Ton Hammer.  This fight will leave you wanting to say “5 tons” over and over with a childish grin!
 
Summary:
The fifth voyage of the second season kicks into high gear with plenty of One Piece craziness as the plot resumes in a fast paced tempo.  Lots of fights, lots of comic relief feel just right with the plot of the story.  In typical One Piece, fashion you are going to definitely be ready for the next collection as there are plenty of cliff hangers as the credits for episode 116 begin to roll.  If you haven’t read the manga or have watched the movie, then you are going to be as anxious as I am for the next collection.  How this story will end is still anyone’s guess.  I am sure it won’t be anything less than contagiously entertaining.  
 
 
Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Staff Commentary, Textless Songs

Review Equipment

Samsung  UN46B6000VF 120Hz  LED HDTV, Samsung HT-WS1R/XAA  2.1 Channel Soundbar Speaker System with Wireless Subwoofer, and Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p



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: 320
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: One Piece