Screaming aside, this collection continues entertain as the suspense builds for the fight between Luffy and Eneru.
What They Say:
Tales of a lost land of gold lured Luffy and his crew to the mysterious realm of Skypiea, but their dreams of untold riches quickly turned to nightmares thanks to the menacing minions of a devious deity!
One by one, the stalwart Straw Hats are separated from their mates and forced to participate in a deadly contest where survival is the name of the game. Poisonous pythons of prolific size, Shandorian warriors with bazookas that burn, prize-fighting pooches that pack a mean punch, and balloon-shaped bad guys with a score to settle are just a few of the horrors which haunt this once-peaceful land! Ruled by Eneru - a fiend who fights with the power of thunder and lightning - the city of clouds becomes a twisting trail of terrible tribulations for these pirates in the hands of an angry god!
Contains episodes 170-182.
For this viewing session, we listened to English dub. The English 5.1 track is solid with no distortions or dropouts. On par with the other releases, this is a solid sound track that predominately uses the forward sound stage. As mentioned in previous collections, the English dub cast brings a lot of fun and depth to this great series.
The Skypeia arc originally aired in early 2003. 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 7 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 transfer is as good as it can possibly be.
Following the previous collection’s boxart design, the positioning of the collection title as it is featured at the bottom while the main focus of the artwork is positioned at the top. The artwork featured on the front depicts Eneru in all of his glory. He has his mouth wide open as if he is laughing, which is very characteristic of him as you see this often throughout the collection. Nami is on her knees in with a panicked look will an angry Luffy in full sprint. The image collage here really captures the feeling that you are left with at the conclusion of this collection of episodes. As usual, the backside of the box features a description of the series along with the technical specifications and a few screen shots. The thinpack case design features a canvas textured background with the Straw Hat pirate logo as was done in the previous collection. Beneath the logo is the words “Luffy’s Pirates”. The inside jackets for each of the DVD cases reveal the same logo and text placed onto wooden planked background. The DVD artwork also changed with an image of The Going Merry prominently featured. Overall, this is a decent design with a welcome set of changes that refresh the packaging.
Nothing has really changed with the menu system for this collection. The menu design 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 larger image of The Going Merry that is found on the back side of the cardboard slipcover. The right side of the main menu features a vertical menu selection. 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 menu. To find the staff commentary, you must go to the individual episode listing where you will find it placed under episode 171.
The extras included in the collection are found on the second disc. The extras include the textless songs for the series and a handful of the latest FUNimation trailers.
Mike McFarlan and Sonny Strait serve us up with some recaps of what it’s like to start recording at around episode 141 and then return to the beginning to record the dub from the beginning. Sonny also talks about the comics that he has created, which is something I didn’t know about him. There is nothing said that really hasn’t been said before about the dub process. While it’s nice to get a commentary, most of the commentaries are pretty much the same fare.
At this point in the series, it would be nice to have some more extras beyond commentaries. Perhaps some character sketches or even some summaries of the previous story arcs would be a nice touch.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
When we last left our heroes, we saw the typical three ring circus with the crew briefly reuniting before separating again. This series begins with our gang once again dispersed throughout the island with their bumbling captain trapped inside of what he thinks is a cave, but is actually a giant snake.
I can’t help but liken this collection to the previous as the story tends to drag onward with an anticipation of the penultimate fight between Luffy and Eneru. Lots of fights help bringing about a level of suspense as we get to see Chopper, Zoro, and Robin in action. The fights that take place do provide some much needed screen time for the three as they have been a bit left out in the story arc thus far. Conveniently, the writers put Sanji and Luffy into hospice as they receive a beating by Eneru. This means that they are virtually nonexistent in this collection of episodes. So, no whining from Usopp about having to fight the Shandorians, sky island animals, or Eneru and his priests. That also means you will not get any gushing over Ponis, Nami, and Robin by Sanji.
Some of the big highlights of this collection surround Zoro as it seems like he is fighting just about everyone. He takes on Braham, which proves to be an interesting matchup. Braham manages to rough up Zoro pretty good, nailing him with a gunshot wound to the leg. Nevertheless, Zoro keeps on fighting as he takes on Ohm at the upper yard and ultimately Eneru.
Chopper meets up with the priest Gedatsu. This fight is about as silly as the fighting with the priest Satroi. Gedatsu is pretty dumb and Chopper manages to defeat him, but just barely. Chopper is gaining confidence in his fighting abilities and we get to see a fair amount of his different forms while he uses the rumble ball. His narrow defeat of Gedatsu leaves him pretty banged up. He has no chance of getting past Ohm.
Ohm, next to Eneru is probably the most powerful of the priests, and he pretty much has his way as our heroes get to the Upper Yard by climbing Giant Jack. Speaking of Giant Jack, I can’t help but laughing every time I see it as you know it is a play on the fable Jack and the Beanstalk. The random craziness and over the top action is what makes One Piece such a joy to watch even when the story tends to drag or has low spots. If this were any other series, I might not be as forgiving. The associations that you make with the main cast and even the supporting roles tend suck you in. As annoying as Luffy can be, you just can’t help but pull for him as he always comes through. He is very akin to another famously ‘irresponsible’ captain who always comes through.
With the positives come the negatives as this story arc feels pretty predictable. Everything starts to builds towards the penultimate showdown between Luffy and Eneru. At times it felt like Eneru exhibited some of the same character traits as Crocodile. Perhaps it is his way of laughing or the way that he grins. For some reason I sensed a likeness to Crocodile even though they are two different villains. Unlike Crocodile, Eneru is narcissistic and wants to destroy Skypeia as he makes his so-called ascension. In comparison, Crocodile is more intelligent and cunning to Eneru’s simple power and thinking. This is all the more evident in the Survival Game that he uses to pit the Shandorians, the Straw Hats, and quite possibly the Skypeians into a fight that will doom them all.
In the midst of all the turmoil we learn a bit more about more about the lost city of Shandora as Robin discovers more ruins. She comes across another Poneglyph that looks exactly like the one that she found in the ruins of Alabasta. I’m sure there is more to come to this as it provides her with a clue about where the second one is located.
As this collection closes, the dust finally clears with nearly everyone knocked out for the count. Eneru’s plan is well on its way. Even the Sky Knight cannot thwart him. Knowing her lack of fighting skills, Nami chooses to accompany Eneru to his ship. This makes you wonder if she is trying to play him, is waiting to be rescued or is as cowardly as Usopp. Just in time, Luffy finally breaks free from the cave (the snake) and makes his way to Eneru’s ship The Ark, Maxim. Thus, the big fight commences! And, like the Baroque Works saga, we’ll have to wait for the next collection to see how it ends!
The plot is for this story becomes pretty clear as we know that Eneru is a crazed maniacal monster who has no qualms about destroying anything and everything to get what he wants. While it is easy to get lost in all of the fun and crazy antics, it can be a bit hard to identify with the supporting characters. Specifically, the plight of the Shandorians and the Skypeians is brushed over with a very light stroke. I didn’t really get their connections to the plot until the fight with Eneru, Wiper, Zoro, Gendu, and Robin. It all started to come together for me when Ponis makes her plea to the Skypeians to rally against Eneru. Faults and all, it’s hard to really ding this show because I love it so much. I can’t wait for the next collection.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary Track
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
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