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One Piece: Collection Five

FUNimation // Unrated // March 13, 2012
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted March 20, 2012 | E-mail the Author


http-equiv="content-type">
One Piece Collection 5 Review


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align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
Background of One Piece:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">One Piecestyle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> first
began as a serialized manga
series in 1997. It debuted in Weekly Shonen Jump in August
1997. 
The Japanese pop-culture phenomenon was created by the author and
illustrator
Eiichiro Oda. The manga has sold more copies than any other manga
series ever
with over 250 million copies having been sold since initial
publication. The
manga has yet to end and has received over 60 published volumes. It has
continued to receive critical acclaim and enthusiastic recognition from
its
always-expanding fan-base.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
(also) massively popular anime series
is still ongoing and has aired over 500 produced episodes. It is
amongst the
longest running series of all time -- in anime form or otherwise. The
show
premiered in Japan in October 1999. In North America the series was
released by
4Kids Entertainment originally and was heavily criticized for having a
poor dub
and for edits considered as significant cuts (sometimes entire episodes
went
missing). Funimation saved the show for North America, produced an
excellent
dub, and has continued to present One Piece in its uncut,
original form
as it is presented here and on all One Piece Collection DVD
box-sets.


align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
Series and
Characters:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">One Piecestyle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> follows
the adventures of Monkey D.
Luffy and his crew of pirates. He is joined by Roronoa Zoro, Nami,
Usopp, Chopper
and Sanji. The beginning of the series takes some time to build as the
characters
are introduced over a nicely paced span of episodes and stories. There
are some
other characters that join the crew over the course of the show, which
will be
noted in this section of future One Piece Collection reviews
when the
characters are later introduced.


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The main
character is Luffy. As the series
begins he is a 17 year old kooky-wacky kid with a heart of gold and a
head of
emotions. He looks at almost every scenario with total optimism and is
unwavering in his belief that things can work out in the end. As a
young boy he
ate a Gum Gum "Devil" Fruit by accident that gave him special powers.
The main
power he gained was a rubber body. He can bend, stretch, and seem
rubber-like
(he is rubber!) in a way that no one else can. Essentially,
Luffy is the
most flexible person in the entire world (at least in terms of
the
characters introduced on the show so far).  Luffy was once saved
by the
pirate Shanks, who Luffy seemed to view as a hero and father figure.
Luffy
decided then that he is to become the "King of the Pirates!" as the
legendary
Gold Rogers pirate was once called. It has less to do with stealing
treasure or
amassing wealth as it does with sailing the seas and experiencing the
world with
friends. Unlike most of the pirates depicted on One Piece,
there is
little doubt that Luffy has a pure heart and is not attempting to hurt
anyone
or gain from the loss of others. Luffy is a character that is unafraid
of
fighting for what's right and this is an endearing quality that has no
doubt
played a significant part in his long-term popularity. He usually
thinks with
his emotions more than his brain-power though, and when he does use his
brain
(i.e. "I have an IDEA!") catastrophe can sometimes ensue. Some viewers
of the
series might consider him an idiot (other characters on the show have
expressed
this sentiment as well) but he has things in the right place where they
count
the most: heart, spirit, and soul. Luffy is easily one of the most
endearing,
comical, and fun characters in anime history.


align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Trivia
Note:
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> He is
also dubbed
the "Straw Hat" pirate as he always fondly wears an old straw hat
throughout
the series. He might also have the largest appetite in any anime, which
is
certainly saying something.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Roronoa
Zoro is one of the most physically
strong additions to Luffy's crew. He used to work as a bounty hunter
before he
met Luffy. Zoro has magnificent skills with swords and he has a dream
of
becoming the greatest swordsman in the entire world. He somewhat
reluctantly
joined the crew at first but he quickly becomes a huge asset and
friend. One of
his sword techniques requires the use of three blades: one in each hand
and
another held using his mouth. While those who don't know him seem to
fear Zoro,
he is actually a kind of funny guy who takes more naps than anyone else
in the
crew (even when compared to Luffy). Zoro is probably the most
"kick-ass" type
of character within the entire One Piece anime.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Usopp is
many things to different people.
He gained a reputation as being a "liar", which is true but not exactly
telling
of his character. Usopp is a storyteller more than anything else. He
seems to
encourage laughter and happiness in others. It is fascinating to me how
he is
such a brave and courageous man at times and also a definite coward
when
something has too much scare-factor for him to face. Most of the time,
he pulls
through in the end anyway. While some viewers might be inclined to
refer to him
as a primarily "comic relief" character, there is a lot of sides to
Usopp that
make him stand out. His dream seems to be to become a strong,
confident, and
talented sea-adventurer.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Nami is
the Navigator.  She helps to
make sure that the crew heads in the right direction at all times. She
also has
a dream (clearly a recurring theme of the series with each character)
to map
out the entire world. Nami is also known as a thief because unlike some
of the
other pirates of the crew she actually enjoys finding and taking
treasures.
Ironically, Nami claims to despise all pirates in the early episodes of
One
Piece
until she officially joins Team Luffy. Nami is undoubtedly
the
smartest member of the entire crew and she is able to use her wit and
intelligence to help everyone out of some of the strangest and most
dire
situations on the show.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Sanji
might be the most compassionate of
the central characters. He is the cook for Luffy's crew and he never
hesitates
to serve food to those in need of a meal. Early in his life, Sanji
experienced
what it was like to suffer from hunger firsthand and this dramatically
impacted
his attitude towards others experiencing hunger. He can seem to be the
most
level-headed of the team at times but then also the most over-tempered
as well.
If someone rubs Sanji the wrong way he never takes the matter too
lightly.
Besides having the occasional anger-management issue there is no
question that
he's a genuinely nice character who receives enjoyment from cooking,
flirting
with women, and helping others out in a pickle (the pun was absolutely
intended). Sanji's goal is to find the All Blue, which connects
each
area of the ocean.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">A wacky,
well-spirited, and adventurous
doctor named Tony Tony Chopper joins the group during the previous style="">One Piece Collection. Chopper is a
reindeer with a blue nose. He ate a Human Human Fruit that gave him the
ability
to speak and act in a human manner. Chopper hasn't been entirely the
same ever
since. He can walk, talk, and act as goofy as all the rest of the merry
pirates
on this show. There are multiple forms that this character can take:
the form
of a normal reindeer, a reindeer with the qualities of a young human
boy, and a
monstrous gigantic reindeer with the power of a body-builder man. This
makes
the character the most interesting addition to the series in a while,
and it
was nice to see his relevance to the crew become a part of the ongoing
plot.
Team Luffy needed a doctor and he was a perfect match.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Technically,
there is a new character that seems to join Luffy's
crew by the end of
the fifth One Piece Collection
(herein reviewed) but it would equally seem to be a major spoiler to
try and
elaborate to readers for now. Let's put it this way: It's a character
many
viewers will not expect to join the crew. It's a character that will
have some
people questioning their motives (based on previous moments of the
series).
Viewers should see these concluding episodes of the Alabasta storyline style="">first because of how the character fits
into the overarching storyline included on this set, and I'll introduce
a
character as joining the crew next time... a character that you may or
may not
be wondering about. Capiche?


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">For
anyone who has experienced the joys of
watching One Piece there is no question as to why the series
has been
such a massively huge hit in Japan and around the world. It starts with
the
characters as the most essential element but it extends far beyond
that. There
are many high quality production and storytelling aspects to this
series, all
of which helps it to stand out distinctively from a crowded anime
scene. The
art stands apart all on its own as one of the best production elements.
The
character designs are distinctive and memorable: not only for the
central
leading characters but for the majority of the supporting players as
well. The
unique art style crafted by One Piece manga artist Eiichiro Oda
has been
faithfully translated as the main animation style of the series. This
will no
doubt please both longtime fans and newcomers who should be able to
easily see
the wondrous qualities in abundance.  There is a silly and comical
tone to
the art that ultimately helps to make it easier to absorb the many
varying
aspects of the ongoing story.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
central direction for the entire series
is done by Kônosuke Uda. Uda doesn't have that huge of a list of
directorial
credits to his name prior to his work on One Piece (perhaps his
most
significant previous directing job was for Sailor Moon S - the
third and
best season). Yet there can be no mistaking the massive undertaking and
leadership taken on with the One Piece craftsmanship at his
helm. The
series has a near perfect blend of story, action, comedy, drama,
adventure, and
more. Oda contributed significantly to this success story through
having
crafted the characters, artwork styles, and overall genre styling's
with his
manga creation but anime general Uda uses that magic to craft even more
unique magic with this increasingly well-made series.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
pacing is surprisingly consistent and
enjoyable. The story rarely seems to have what usually becomes known as
a high
episode count of "filler" episodes typically found in any series that
runs as
long as this show has by this point. While the story occasionally veers
towards
telling side-plotlines that might seem designed as filler to some
members of
the audience there is also an undercurrent of smart and finely-tuned
scripting
that makes it almost impossible to not find some new and entertaining
aspect
during these moments. Ultimately, the storytelling is so vibrant, full
of life,
and exciting most of the time that it seems illogical to complain about
an
aspect that isn't disappointing at all. One Piece has altered
my concept
of the filler episode by bringing enjoyment to those episodes as well.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">There is
a trifecta of One Piece
elements that seem worth discussing together. The music used on the
show is
excellent and definitely adds another layer to the energy and thrill of
each
episode. The comedy is jubilant and silly so that the primary goal of
the
storytellers was most likely to bring genuine smiles to the audience.
Lastly,
the themes and message behind the series prove to be meaningful. This
trifecta
exists because of the occasionally repetitive nature of these
reoccurring
aspects. This comment is not meant as a negative criticism, but is
instead
primarily an observation. The humor often relies upon a re-used joke
that
proved successful in an earlier episode, and while the show is smart to
continue adding original elements on a frequent basis it seems to
understand
how certain elements can be reused in different circumstances to some
degree.
The music draws heavily upon a core group of musical themes that seem
to
emphasis different emotions that are the focus of a given scene. This
offers
viewers a welcoming blend of familiarity while also establishing some
consistency at the core.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
essential message of One Piece:
To follow your dreams. It's the best message a show or film can give
towards
audiences and it is something that is handled with a level of grace
that is
uncommon. When audiences are also given a thematic backdrop which
suggests it
is important to bring some kindness to others and to remember to keep
friends
close to the heart it becomes vibrantly clear that One Piece is
far more
than one of the best series on television: it is a show which wears its
beautiful heart directly on its sleeve. One Piece deserves to
be seen by
anyone in the world who considers themselves an anime fan on any level.
It is not
to be
overlooked!          


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align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
Collection (Set
5, Episodes 104-130):


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">If
you've been
following the One Piece Collection's
Funimation has been consistent in releasing then you might have a
certain
expectation for this collection: more awesome goodness with the Straw
Hat
pirates. You'd be absolutely correct. The series is every bit as
entertaining
as always and it remains one of the few long-term anime series to be
worth the
huge time investment. Some may be inclined to shy away from giving this
series
a fair chance because of how lengthy it is, but that would equate to
missing
out on one of the best and most potent anime series around. Collection
5
contains some of the best
episodes in the series to date and concludes the Alabasta storyline
that began
in Collection 3.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Luffy
and co. had
to help Princess Vivi save her kingdom and its people from the
diabolical
Crocodile: a mastermind leader in control of a group of assassins named
by their
numbered rank. Crocodile was the top dog and all he seemed to ever want
was
total chaos, destruction, and despair. It goes without saying (but I'll
do so anyway) that Luffy wouldn't stand for
this and brought it upon himself that the Straw Hat Pirates would stop
at
nothing to make sure Crocodile is defeated, that Vivi is kept safe, and
that
the people of her kingdom would be able to find peace. The path to that
peace
is consumed by an all-out war between kingdoms and the many lost lives
of
ordinary citizens. Even with attempts made by the crew to prevent this
from
happening it seems Crocodile is on his way to victory.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
storyline
takes on many turns along the way and finally reaches the destination
point we
were all waiting for: the final confrontation between Luffy and
Crocodile. It
does take some time to reach this point but the journey taken is well
worth the
wait. The epic showdown conclusion to the arc is visually impressive
and emotionally
resonant. The payoff is exquisite and it's hard to imagine any of One
Piece's
fans walking away with their heads held low in disappointment.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">There
were a few
elements that seemed out of line with the general high quality of the
series during
this set though. It was irritating that almost every "bad-guy" faced
within
this run of episodes seemed to have Devil Fruit Powers and with little
or no
attempts being made to offer viewers some sense of how this contributes
anything to the storytelling. There's nothing wrong with having a
character be
given some kind of special ability but did it seriously have to style="">always be a Devil Fruit Power? Earlier
in the series run it was suggested that these fruits were rare and few
had
them.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">I wasn't
surprised to see some of the character's Luffy faced have Devil Fruit
Powers
but having almost every new enemy have some of them seemed to be an
easy way to
explain abilities that appeared during the show without having to offer
any
sensible explanations that didn't involve this apparent McGuffin
routine. I had
originally hoped to find out more information on these mystic,
incredibly rare
and highly sought after powers, but now I expect to see every new
opponent Luffy
faces have some kind of power attained in a similar way. It did detract
mildly
from my overall enjoyment.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">One Piecestyle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> uses
flashbacks
from previous episodes to highlight important scenes and moments and
these are
generally presented through a unique character perspective that makes
them
easier to digest and appreciate. The episodes on One
Piece: Collection 5
are sometimes flashback/clip-show heavy,
sometimes so much so that it became annoyingly repetitious. It became
increasingly apparent that the episodes were using more clips than
usual to
help space out the course of showing us new animation and story
development during
the middle-end portions occurring during the lengthy Alabasta storyline
run.
Before the conclusion can satisfy fans viewers have to sit through
clip-show-esque
moments almost randomly inserted into episodes. It became incredibly
annoying
when clips were inserted into the episodes that had been new material
only
earlier... in the same episode! I noticed this on a couple of occasions
and it definitely
bugged me.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The style="">Collection 5 set's entire focus is on
wrapping up the current story arc and there isn't time for side-stories
this go
around. If you were anticipating some side-moments to balance out the
intensity
found in the Alabasta episodes it's not exactly easy to find such
moments this
time (especially in comparison to earlier releases with higher
goofiness quotients,
not that this aspect is entirely missing from these episodes). style=""> There is more action found in the near-final
episodes of the Alabasta arc than in any other One Piece
saga to this point in the series run. Sometimes the action
seemed to be repetitive in nature but the moments where it worked
exceedingly
well balanced things out (such as the dueling style conclusions to
individual
fights between some of Crocodile's assassins and Nami, Zorro, and
Usopp/Chopper).
I must admit to not being as huge of a fan of multi-episode battle arcs
being
highlighted on One Piece (the humor and character development draws me
in more)
but it seems worth noting that those hoping to experience some
well-done fight
sequences are going to find plenty of them within Collection
5
- even if it takes slogging through a few that are
overlong.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Generally
speaking, I found that the Alabasta storyline was too lengthy for my
own anime
taste but it is also epic in scope and style. Fans will be pleased with
the
resolution and overall high-quality journey taken. One
Piece
continues to be one of the best shows ever made - a surefire
anime hit with good reason - and few relatively minor quibbles won't
alienate
the fans from what are pure cotton-candy textured confections of
televised joy.
Each episode is a treat to experience. That sense of excitement is
rare,
indeed.  One Piece remains
the best long-term commitment to an anime series and
the journey is one that is absolutely
worth taking. Don't hesitate to start at the beginning, purchase style="">each and every one of the Funimation
Collection releases, and dig in for a
great time.


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The DVD:style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">  


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center; line-height: normal;"
align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Note:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">One
Piece
style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">
arrives on DVD from Funimation in a Collection box-set format that
combines two
of the previously released "Voyage" sets into one. The PQ and AQ are no
different from the earlier releases. Funimation hasn't even altered the
menu
design for these DVD collections.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Video:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
picture quality is pretty decent
looking for a series that was started in the late 1990's. Funimation
has done a
solid job of representing the series on DVD. There is some aliasing and
the
image is a tad softer than more recent productions on occasion but the
series
also comes equipped with colors that pop and shine beautifully and the
image
is free from annoying compression because each disc contains no more
than seven
episodes each.  These early episodes from One Piece are in
pretty
good shape and the release should please fans looking for decent
picture
quality. Funimation has released One Piece in the original
broadcast
aspect ratio 4:3 full frame.     


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Audio:


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The good
news is that the 5.1 Dolby Digital
surround sound option for the English language dub is an excellent
choice for
fans. The surrounds have been actively used to create an enveloping
experience with
good use of sound effects and enough room for the score to add an extra
element
of suspense, fun, and intrigue. The voice cast for the Funimation dub
is superb
and a definite step up over what 4Kids attempted poorly
many years ago. Anyone who has seen One Piece
through Funimation should be familiar with their dub version! In
preserving the
original Japanese stereo track the series can also be appreciated with
the
original language audio. English subtitles are provided for the
Japanese
dub.  Either option is worthwhile. I had a slight preference for
the more
robust sounding surround sound choice accompanying the English dub.
Both
options feature clean and easy to understand dialogue.


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center; line-height: normal;"
align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Extras:style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">



style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
selection of bonus materials is limited
on each Funimation One Piece Collection DVD release. Funimation
included
select staff commentary, text-less songs, and trailers
promoting other anime series released by the studio.


style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Commentarystyle="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";"> with
staff members
is included on the following episode of Collection 5


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; text-align: center; line-height: normal;"
align="center">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Episode
119: Secret of Powerful Swordplay! Ability to
Cut Steel and the Rhythm Things Have!


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style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Final
Thoughts:

style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">The
Alabasta storyline has finally been
resolved! One Piece has been on a
huge journey with the Alabasta story arc. It was almost beginning to
feel as
though this story would never reach a destination point. While the
final run of
episodes included on Collection 5 are
uniformly excellent there is a certain sense of the series extending
itself a
bit too much this time around. Every
time it seemed to be a bit closer to ending on a high note the series
creatives
seemed determined to try and up the proverbial ante a bit more and keep
things
going.


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">This was
frustrating because the story never seemed to need unnecessary
extension. This particular saga lasted a bit too long. The overall
effect of the story was still exceedingly stellar with a conclusion
that was
appreciated and satisfactory. Fans will want to make sure to catch the
conclusion to the epic Alabasta storyline. Even when it occasionally
stumbles, One Piece remains one of the most
entertaining anime series around; it seems capable of always delivering
to fans
memorable characters, delightful goofiness, solid action-sequences, and
emotionally-involving storylines. It's the one ongoing anime series to
top.


style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; line-height: normal;">style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif";">Highly
Recommended.
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Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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