One Piece Season 1 Part 2 (of 2) (Mania.com)

By:Bryce Coulter
Review Date: Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The hidden treasure in this collection is the English voice cast.

hat They Say
Letter of Marque

The saga continues… As the Straw Hat pirates find themselves in a battle between good and evil, between right and wrong, the gratitude of those involved lands Luffy with a new crewmate and a ship of his own – The Going Merry!  Ready for action and adventure, the fearless buccaneers set sail…  In the search of a cook?  But as a misplaced cannonball leads to a sea-fairing stand-off, the Straw Hats might have ordered more than they can stomach…  the good news:  The Going Merry’s found a cook!  The bad news:  He has no intention of joining the crew!

The Review!
Audio:
For this viewing session, we listened to English dub. Being familiar with the 4Kids version of One Piece, I really wanted to see if the new cast and crew held up to the standard of the Japanese crew. Slowly, but surly, I am beginning to embrace the English dub crew.  I have just about forgotten the old 4Kids cast and am really enjoying the efforts put in by this great cast of voice actors. You can tell that they are giving One Piece the attention that was neglected by 4Kids.  The audio was crisp and clear. We did not experience any distortions or dropouts.

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:
Using the same overall design as the First Voyage collection, the packaging for this collection has the same look and feel.  The cardboard box that houses the DVD cases is arranged in a rustic looking wood design with the One Piece logo prominently displayed on each side.  The front side of the case features Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji while the back side features a summary of the episodes for the collection.  Zoro is featured on the back side along with a few screen shots from the series.  The technical specifications a featured along the bottom edge of the cover.  The two DVD’s in the case feature Zoro and Sanji respectively.  Their images are the same as what is displayed on the front of the DVD case.  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 placed upon the map.  Overall, the designs are attractive, yet simple.

Menu:
As with the First Voyage collection, the DVD menus for this collection follow the same format.  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 menus feature a picture of a character to the left side of standard vertical menu layout. 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.

A new feature found in this collection is the marathon mode, which 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.

Extras:
Episode 17 has the hidden commentary, that must be accessed from within the episodes menu, with Luci Christian (Nami) and Sonny Strait (Usopp)  Lots of fun here with Sonny having to talk about screaming all the time while voicing Usopp.  Both actors share their experiences in working to obtain their roles and the benefits of working on a long series such as One Piece.  They also share their appreciation for the fan support in the new dub of the series.  It is also revealed that the Japanese creator of One Piece is very involved in the new dub.  The actors also share some insight on how challenging and fun it is to try to mimic the Japanese voice actors.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers). 
In the next piece of One Piece… we find Luffy and the gang still duking it out with Kuro and the Black Cat Pirates.  The East Blue Saga is well underway…

You gotta love the Meowban brothers and their zany cat-like attacks.  Even Captain Kuro’s infamous Pussy Foot maneuver causes one to laugh.  As with any shonen anime, we get lots of monologing here.  It wouldn’t be One Piece if it wasn’t, but sometimes it’s just a tid bit too long.  Disc 1 really hones in on Usopp, the cowardly pirate, who brings lots of comic relief to the series.  However, Usopp’s cowardice culminates into a courageous act to save his island and Kaya from the clutches of Kuro.  Of course, Kuro is ultimately defeated by Luffy while Jango is taken down with the assistance of Zoro and Usopp. 

Usopp can be down right annoying at times.  Usopp, in a way, is a tragic character.  His father leaves to become a pirate with Red Haired Shanks and his mom dies when Usopp was very young.  The townspeople ignore his cries for attention.  The only people who really care about him are his three compadres, the Usopp Pirates, and Kaya.  Usopp’s tragic background is what causes him to find an inner strength to move past his fear and face Jango and Kuro.  Ultimately, this is what helps him earn a spot as a member of the Straw Hat pirates. 

Usopp isn’t the only one who overcomes fear and adversity.  The invasion of the island and Kuro’s deception has also caused Kaya to find new direction and to move past her chronic illness.  Kaya even goes as far as helping the Straw Hats by giving them a ship, The Going Merry, which was designed by Merry, Kaya’s butler.  One can’t help thinking of Merry as the goat face on the front of the ship looks like him. Upon defeating Kuro, Jango, and the Black Cat pirates, Luffy and the gang continue their journey towards the Grand Line.  As they head off, Kaya, confronts the feelings that she has for Usopp as she listens to Merry’s story about Usopp’s past.  One has to wonder if Usopp and Kaya will ever be reunited at some point as he obviously has some feelings for her.  Will Usopp ever find his father?  Time will only tell…

As the crew heads toward the Grand Line, they come across the legendary Treasure Island.  This island has some very strange inhabitants.  This episode brings some a filler reprieve before the Sanji/Don Krieg arc and Zoro backstory whirlwind.  This episode brings about a fun romp with a man trapped in a treasure chest or better yet, a scrub brush…

Episode 20 kicks off a high seas, tsunami-like story arc that progress onward to the end of the second disc.  There is so much going on that it could make you just a bit seasick.  Nonetheless, it’s all good fun.  Here, we are introduced to Johnny and Yosaku, Sanji, Patty and the Baratie cooks, Chef (Red Leg) Zeff, Lieutenant Iron Fist Fullbody, Ghin and Commodore Don Krieg.  The plot is rather easy to follow and doesn’t allow you to get caught up in the character details.  Enough information is revealed about each character that you can get a sense of their worth.

Plenty of backstory is inserted into the last disc’s episodes as you will become more familiar with what makes Zoro and Sanji tick.  Zoro has a bit of tragic background as his plight to become the best swordsman in the world is revealed.  The significance of his three-sword style bears symbolism to the promise he made to Kuina, the daughter of his sensei.  Johnny and Yosaku, are pirate hunters who learned from the same dojo as Zoro.  They have a short-lived reunion as the Baratie story arc kicks in.

The Sea Restaurant Baratie is a famous dining restaurant that is run by Red Leg Zeff, a former pirate.  Chef Zeff is better known for his cooking abilities as he is a retired pirate captain who once sailed the Grand Line.  The Straw Hat pirates travel to the restaurant not without incident as they run into Lieutenant Iron Fist Fullbody.  Fullbody is not concerned about them as much as he is trying to impress his date, who he is taking to eat at Baratie.  A scuffle of sorts between the Marines captain and the Straw Hats results in cannon fire, thus damaging Chef Zef’s room.  Luffy is the scapegoat for the damages and thus begins the Baratie rampage.

Iron Fist is so enamored with his hot date that he proceeds to try to impress her with his knowledge of fine wine and cuisine.  His knowledge of wine is bested by Sanji, who is acting as a waiter.  Iron Fist’s antics don’t go unnoticed by the restaurant guests as he realizes that he is being laughed at.  A scuffle breaks out with Sanji beating Iron Fist to a pulp.  Iron Fist sneaks out of the restaurant as one of his officers announces that a prisoner has escaped.

Ghin is a henchman for Don Krieg of the Pirate Armada.  Don Krieg is the most powerful pirate in the East Blue.  Krieg had a fleet of 50 ships and over 5,000 pirates.  Ghin is starving to death and staggers into the Baratie asking for food.  Nobody will serve him except for Sanji, who can’t ignore someone who is starving to death as Sanji’s backstory will soon reveal why.

Ghin explains his predicament and what happened to the Pirate Armada as they sailed the Grand Line.  As dangerous as he Grand Line may be, nothing compares to the destruction that they endured by Hawk-Eye Mihawk.  Hawk-Eye managed to destroy the entire armada with exception to Don Krieg’s flagship.  As one would suspect, Ghin brings Don Krieg and what’s left of his crew to the Baratie.  Near death, Krieg is reduced to nothing but a beggar.  That soon changes as his true nature returns after being served a good meal by Sanji.  Sanji’s weakness for helping bad people has once again created another problem.  As annoying as it might be to watch, the backstory of why he does this makes for a perfect explanation that comes at the end of this collection.  Sanji and Zeff’s relationship goes beyond the roles of boss and apprentice.

With batteries recharged, Krieg attempts to take the Baratie as his own ship.  However, this is short lived as Hawk-Eye Mihawk shows up.  Everyone is fear stricken as Hawk-Eye’s coffin shaped raft pulls up along side Don Krieg’s ship.  Zoro is faced with a decision as he is now face-to-face with the world’s greatest swordsman.  To defend his honor and promise, Zoro immediately challenges Hawk-Eye to a duel.  Hawk-Eye’s French musketeer swashbuckling makes mincemeat of Zoro.  Hawk-Eye leaves Zoro with a devastating blow to the chest, but does not kill him.  Hawk-Eye feeling fulfilled with the thrill of the hunt decides to leave the situation at Baratie to chance.  Another duel between Zoro and Hawk-Eye will definitely occur in the future.
 
With Hawk-Eye out of the way, or distracted, Don Krieg and his crew attack Luffy, Sanji, and Baratie cooks.  As the battle ensues, Nami sneaks off with The Going Merry.  Usopp, Johnny, Yosaku, and a badly injured Zoro, leave chase to find Nami while Luffy helps Sanji protect the Baratie from Don Krieg and strange character known as the Invincible Pearl.  Can Sanji, Zeff, and Luff hold off Don Krieg?  Climb aboard and find out!

In Summary:
The second voyage of season one is cannonball blast of action that will leave your head whirling as fast as Kuro’s Pussy Foot maneuver.  The pace of the story will blast you out of the water like Don Krieg’s guns.  The cursing, still a bit over-the-top, will make you laugh and sometimes wince.  Moreover, One Piece is a great tale of high-seas fun that will leave you wanting more! Strongly recommended!!

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Track

Review Equipment
Hitachi 62VS69 62" UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 49.98
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: One Piece