What They Say:
Luffy and his mates encounter the sinister scallywag Don Krieg, master chef Sanji joins the crew, and the ferocious fishman Arlong’s cruel betrayal of Nami the navigator leaves the rubber-man seeing red! But that’s not all: a bodacious brawl with some mean-spirited marines lands Luffy and Zoro on the most wanted list, officially cementing their status as pirates!
With an armada of angry adversaries in hot pursuit, the Straw Hats set sail for Logue Town, the final resting place of the legendary Gold Roger.
Contains episodes 27-53.
The audio presentation for One Piece is a solid work though the favoring goes to the English language track. The series comes with its original Japanese mix in stereo which is good and has a solid feeling throughout it, though it never really extends itself all that much as it uses the forward soundstage. The English mix gets the 5.1 bump to it and that adds with the volume being louder in general and some occasional bigger moments thrown to the rear channels. It’s a decent mix to be sure, but it’s working with simple source material so it can only go so far. It makes up for it by being a bit brasher and outgoing. Both mixes work well and are free of problems like dropouts and distortions, leaving us with a pair of clean and clear mixes.
Originally airing throughout 2001, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. The collection brings the two previous sets together into one so there are no differences in the authoring. We get four discs that gives us episodes in a seven/six/seven/seven format that covers a range of material. The transfer has the same problems as before in that it has a fair amount of detail and a certain sketchy nature to it that lets it look raw and unpolished, as the show should, but it also comes across with a lot of cross coloration. That and the general line noise you get in various panning sequences gives the show a look that isn’t that great, but is fairly reflective of the material itself and the time in which it was released.
The packaging for this release puts the four discs inside a standard sized clear keepcase with all the discs on the hinges inside rather than on the interior of the case itself. The front cover is given over to the second member of the Straw Hats to join with Zoro looking positively serious in a grinning sort of way that works for him. With the pirate flag logo behind him, there’s a lot of black space that works very well in drawing the eyes to the character as he hauls out two of his swords while the third is in its scabbard. It’s not a hugely detailed piece but it feels just right for him. The back cover is well laid out as well with the left side done all in black with it being about the text and logo, showing the summary for the volume and a neat logo for the episode count. The right side of it gives us another action pose for Zoro set against the Going Merry. The reverse side of the cover is kept simple and classy with the four discs getting the episode numbers and titles broken down so you can find everything easily.
The menu design for this release is simple but good with what it does as it uses the pirate style old wood ship kind of background as its main piece in which we get the menu selections along the right while the left side rotates various characters into it depending on the disc. The menus have never been flashy but they set the mood right, often with characters that are key to that particular disc, and have been quick and easy to utilize while also offering a marathon play feature. The menus are straightforward though they don’t use any of the players’ language presets and default to English language with sign/song subtitles.
The extras are pretty meager here unless you’re a dub fan and want to listen to the cast, in which case you have to hunt through the episode selection menus to find the commentaries that were made at the time. Beyond that, we get the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the second collection of One Piece episodes, the series brings to a close the storylines involving events in the East Blue. But that’s not until the very last minute of the last episode here. Prior to that, it’s all East Blue fun as the Straw Hat crew continues to come together. Much of what defines the first fifty episodes of One Piece is just that, bringing the crew together as Luffy goes after what he needs. Not important things like a doctor or anything, but a chef is at the top of his list. You’d almost think that he’d be looking for a jester next as well just to make sure he’s constantly entertained as well as constantly fed.
While the first set brought us Luffy himself and introduced both Zoro and Usopp, it also started in on Sanji and his work on the Baratie restaurant ship. That makes the first few episodes here as we get the final resolution to that fight as Luffy goes up against Don Krieg and does his best to convince Sanji that it’s time to move on. What’s welcome is that while Sanji’s torn about it, Luffy doesn’t pressure him. It’s everyone else on the Baratie that sets up the situation so that he’ll want to get going and experience the world. The small time he’s known Luffy has been pretty dramatic and busy, but there’s also a feeling that it’s right as well. Sanji’s keen on seeing the world and looking for his mythical All Blue so he can experience so many different types of sea creatures that can be cooked and eaten.
What heavily defines this set though is what happens afterward as we get back to the island of Cocoyashi where Nami comes from. She’s managed to make some good friends of Luffy and the gang and Luffy really wants her as his navigator. But things on Cocoyashi have turned to the worse since she left as the pirate Arlong has crushed the people even more and has reworked the deal the two of them had made, causing her to be back at square one in essence. Over a fairly length set of episodes, we see her struggles with it and a look at her past that really makes it clear what kind of horrors everyone went through when Arlong arrived there. It’s pretty good material overall, showing how she and her adoptive sister grew up in such hard situations but made the best of it until their adoptive mother gave her life to protect them.
While it initially focuses on Zoro and Usopp’s adventures there, which are comical to say the least, it gets a lot busier when Luffy literally crashes his ship onto the island and right across Zoro no less. Luffy’s presence brings everything to a head and that has him going up against Arlong himself as well as a few of his other minions. Arlong’s a pretty fun villain for the most part for the first villains that the cast faces since he’s very strong and has some neat little quirks he can use for attacks, but it’s largely that he’s been a dominating part of the Cocoyashi life for eight years and has really brought everyone down. The eventual fight has some really fun moments to it, especially when Luffy gets stuck in the water and they find a creative way to keep him alive while trying to rescue him, but the crux of it comes down to watching Nami make her choices when it comes to Arlong and truly charting her own path. She’s got her monetary greed side, but there are are some good looks at what else it is that drives her.
What proved to be the most real fun for me here though was when the group as a whole heads to Loguetown as they get closer to being ready to head into the Grand Line. The island city is the last place before the Line and it’s probably one of the safest as well because of the Navy presence on there, especially with Smoker being the one seemingly in charge. There’s a lot of plain silliness to be had here as they go about experiencing the life before heading out as Zoro gets some new swords, Luffy eats a lot and Sanji ogles the ladies. Luffy’s big thing though is seeing where Roger died years ago after being executed here, since it’s a famous spot.
When I originally watched this set, I enjoyed parts of it but got very frustrated with the last arc because it brought in a character I hated from the beginning with Captain Buggy. He’s looking for his dose of revenge on Luffy for his body getting sent to the four winds before and he’s closer to it here. After watching much, much later episodes of the series in which Buggy doesn’t exactly redeem himself but turns into a far more interesting character, revisiting this set was a bit easier in this regard since I know his path a bit more. He’s a bit more likable here because of it and it’s easy to get into his level of frustration when it comes to Luffy and the Straw Hats.
It took quite a lot of time for me to warm up to One Piece as these original sets just weren’t my cup of tea. But with the later seasons that I kept watching and going ahead to the simulcasts, One Piece did finally get me as a die hard fan of it all. It’s a bit hard at times to see the shape of things to come here, and some of these events are dragged out a bit more than they need to be, but that’s part of how the show operates. It covers a lot of ground here though as it brings the core Straw Hats crew together that will define it in the next arc, though they’ll be adding more as they go on as well. There’s a lot to like here as we see Luffy bringing his diverse crew together and the motivations that get them out there with him, not only in general but in their goal to cross intothe Grand Line. It takes awhile to get to this point, some fifty-three episodes overall, but it’s the prologue to a truly grand adventure.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Commentary Tracks
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: September 27th, 2011
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70″ LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.