FUNimation keeps chugging away with their One Piece collections. The latest release, Season Four, Voyage Two, has a lot going on: The conclusion of one adventure, two mini-sagas in their entirety, and the very start of the next big storyline. The show hasn't lost any of its energy or wacky sense of humor even though the set takes us up to episode 229.
I'll skip the basic recap, if you're not sure who Luffy and his companions are, check out my reviews of the earlier sets.
When we last left Monkey D. Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates, Luffy was battling Foxy, the Silver Fox aboard the other pirate's ship in a Davy Back Fight. This form of battle involves wagering crew members and Luffy has already lost Chopper and Robin so he goes all-in and wagers the rest of his crew against Foxy's. Being a habitual cheater however, the pirate with slow-slow powers has no intention of loosing, no matter. Okay, so on one watching really thinks Luffy is going to lose his entire crew, but what is he going to do if he wins hundreds of pirates?
After that story is wrapped up the Going Merry follows Nami's log pose to the next island in the Grand Line. They arrive at night and decide to spend the evening on the ship and explore the island in the morning, but something strange happens. While Robin stays up all night reading, the others wake up in the morning without any memories. The last things that they remember happened years ago, before they joined the Straw Hats. They have no idea where they are, why they're on a ship, or even who the other members of the team are. To make matters worse, Nami and Zorro decide to go solo and head for the island. How can they get their memories back when they don't even know that they're missing?
The next mini-saga has the return of a recent foe, Foxy. He's upset at what happened during his last run in with Luffy and has vowed revenge. But first he needs the Straw Hat's help in getting his ship back!
If that's not enough, the final episode in the collection starts off the next arc, the journey to the island Water 7 and their search of someone who can repair the Going Merry, who is a little worse for wear.
This collection was really good. While it's nice to be immersed in the grand stories that last for tens of episodes, these short and sweet tales are give viewers a nice break. The crew has an adventure, bests a baddie, and then moves on. It gets the show chugging along and presents more of Luffy's world, which is always nice.
The show hasn't lost any of its outrageous humor, wacky action, or off-the-wall creativity. There are a lot of interesting characters introduced in this set, including an incredibly laid back, some would say lazy, guy who has eaten a devil fruit. He's not the easy target that the crew thinks though. It turns out he's one of the Marine's strongest fighters: Marine High Admiral Aokiji.
This set contains the next 11 episodes (218-229) 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 nice during the battle scenes, I preferred the original language track. The voices just seemed to fit characters better and made for a more enjoyable viewing experience. The English voice actors did do a good job however and people who 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 amount of aliasing. Diagonal lines are often jagged and when the camera pans across a scene, fine lines tend to shimmer a bit. There's also a bit of cross colorization, but it wasn't distracting.
Like the other volumes in this series, that the bonus items were meager. There's a "Marathon Play" option, which lets you watch the show without the opening and closing credits, which is really cool. I wish more anime would offer something like this. Unfortunately the only other bonus items are clean animations, a commentary track on an episode, and a series of trailers.
This show is still firing on all cylinders. Creative, silly, exciting, and just plain fun, fans of the rubber boy Monkey D. Luffy will have a great time with this set. Highly Recommended.