After some generally light and minor adventures, the Straw Hat Pirates find themselves in several difficult positions in One Piece Season Four, Voyage Three. While they have made it to Water Seven to get their ship repaired, the events on the island cause a lot of internal strife, causing not one, but two members to quit. Add an attack by the local ruffians and a lynch mob going after the rest of the crew, and Luffy and his mates are in quite a bit of trouble. It's another exciting and fun installment of One Piece.
At the end of the last collection, the Going Merry has reached Water Seven, an island that is famed throughout the Grand Line for its ship repairmen. Luffy, Usopp, and Nami take the booty that they've acquired along the way to cash it in, and then they go in search of someone to repair their ship. Meanwhile Chopper and Robin scamper off to find a bookstore while Zoro sleeps and Sanji looks for some fresh, local produce.
Things go well for Luffy at first. Their hoard of gold is worth a large fortune, more than enough to fix a ship, and they make contact with the best ship yard in Water Seven, the Galley La Company. Things go downhill from there however. [Spoilers ahead] After taking a look at the Going Merry, the shipwrights say that they can't fix her: the keel is too heavily damaged and she's liable to sink at any time. Equally important, Usopp has a run in with the local toughs, the Franky Family and they steal all of the money that they received for their loot. On top of that, Robin meets a mysterious person and goes off with him, and the rest of the crew can't find her.
Continuing the downward spiral, Usopp refuses to accept that the Going Merry is finished. If they're going to abandon her, he's going to abandon them. He storms out in a huff and then challenges Luffy to a fight: the winner gets to keep the Going Merry.
What's more, the Franky Family is gunning for the Luffy and his crew; they have quite a bounty on their heads after all. When the mayor of Water Seven is shot in the back everyone suspects the Straw Hat Pirates too, that's just the sort of thing a pirate would do, and the entire city is looking for them. Things are looking awfully black for Monkey D. Luffy in this collection.
This set was a bit darker than the previous couple of collections, and that's not a bad thing. The show is still pushing the boundaries, at least a bit, and these turn of events served to rekindle my interest. Not that I had ever soured on the show, but I found myself zipping through this collection with fewer breaks than I had in the recent past and I was much more engaged. There were some plot twists that surprised me a bit, and while it's too soon to say whether any of the changes will be permanent, it does stir things up a bit.
This set also introduces a lot of new characters, all of whom are wacky, zany, or just plain hilarious. The fact that the new people are oddballs won't come as a surprise to long time fans. I especially liked Franky, a rapping cybrog who gets his energy from beer, and Iceberg, the mayor of Water Seven who acts like a pouty child.
This set contains the next 12 episodes (230-241) 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.
The show gets a bit more serious (as serious as One Piece ever gets) in this collection and that makes it even more interesting than before. With some nice twists and a great collection of new, off the wall characters, fans of the show will want to pick this up. Highly Recommended.