I have to admit that half way through FUNimation's latest
One Piece Collection, Season Four, Voyage Four, I decided
that the show had run
its course. It's not that I wasn't
enjoying the show, it was still good, but the show no longer grabbed my
interest and held it in a vise-like grip.
Then I popped in the second disc and the show became incredibly
once again. So much so that when the
final episode ended, on a cliff-hanger, naturally, I let out a little
scream. I can't wait for the next
As we left our merry band of pirates, they had reached Water
Seven, an island that is famed throughout the Grand Line for its ship
repairmen. They were hoping to get the
Going Merry repaired, but after having their loot stolen by a local
Franky, and his crew they get some even worse news:
the shipwrights say that they can't fix the
Merry as her keel is too heavily damaged and she's liable to sink at
time. On top of that Robin disappears
and appears to have joined up with the government forces to frame the
Hats in an assassination attempt on the local mayor.
Oh, and Usopp quit the crew once he heard
that they were going to give up on their ship.
As this set opens, things look pretty desperate. The
mayor is under heavy guard, but since he
has something that Robin and the rest of the mysterious government
as CP9 want, Luffy figures that they should break in and wait for Robin
up. They want to know just what the heck
is going on. With Sanji off somewhere and
Usopp gone, they're not at the crew isn't at their fighting peak... and
need to be if they hope to take on CP9.
If that isn't bad enough, there's a very violent storm
that's about to hit and everyone in Water Seven is ordered indoors. Usopp is busy attempting to fix the Going
Merry when he's kidnapped by Franky, who wants revenge on Luffy, and
still thinks that the Straw Hats tried to kill their beloved mayor.
The first half was good but seemed a little worn. The
Straw Hats are facing impossible odds,
and will have to pull together to make it through.
Yeah, we've seen that before. The
plot was fine, but the fun energy that's
the series hallmark seemed to have gone down a couple of notched.
Then, against all odds, the show gets back in the grove with
some nice twists and the background story on Franky, something that I
think they'd bother to explore. That
tale fleshes him out and makes him more than just another thug and the
that Robin has, which is revealed eventually, while not a total
unfolded in such a way as to make it very engaging too.
The show picks up speed as the second disc
progresses culminating in a solid cliffhanger that will have fans
the days until the next set is released.
This set contains the next 11 episodes (242-252) on two
DVDs, each in its own thinpak case. The
two cases are held in a nice slipcase.
This set offers the original Japanese track in stereo as
well as an English dub in either stereo or 5.1. While the 5.1 dub was
during the battle scenes, I preferred the original language track. The
just seemed to fit characters better and made for a more enjoyable
experience. The English voice actors did do a good job however and
like watching in English shouldn't be disappointed.
The full frame video looked pretty good overall. The colors
were bright and solid and the blacks were nice and inky. The image was
generally sharp too. The only real problem was a more than average
aliasing. Diagonal lines are often jagged and when the camera pans
scene, fine lines tend to shimmer a bit. There's also a bit of cross
colorization, but it wasn't distracting.
As with the other volumes, there's a "Marathon
Play" option, which lets you watch the show without the opening and
closing credits. That's really cool and
something that all shows should offer.
There are commentary tracks to two episodes, but they don't
excite me. There is, however, a pair of
extras that I did enjoy: interviews with
the voice actors. These segments, going
under the title On the Boat, had some solid information about the
how they see their roles, and they were interesting.
This time around we're treated to talks with
Brina Palencia (Chopper) and Eric Vale (Sanji).
They're hosted by ADR Director Mike McFarland and he asks them
auditioning process, their favorite moments, and how they think their
has changed over the course of the show.
They're worth watching. There are
also clean animations and a series of trailers.
I thought the program had jumped the shark for a minute, but
that wasn't the case. After an average
first half, the show comes roaring back with a vengeance.
Just as fun, exciting, and enjoyable as ever,
fans of the show will want to pick this set up.