One Piece: Season Four, Voyage One
FUNimation // Unrated // $39.98 // August 7, 2012
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 20, 2012
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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Graphical Version
The Series:
Wow, it's been a long wait.  FUNimation released the last collection of new One Piece episodes over a year ago.  Before that they were churning out sets of new shows every few months so I feared that they decided against licensing more episodes.  Happily that wasn't the case as One Piece Season Four Voyage One is now available.  This set finishes off the previous story arc and then sends the Straw Hat pirates to face another pirate crew in a Davy Back Fight.  Just as irreverent and off the wall as ever, this set was worth the wait.
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.
It was kind of strange, but the last set ended one episode short of completing a story line.  This collection starts off with Luffy and his crew escaping from an escape-proof Marine fortress where they were briefly held.  After that exciting conclusion it is off to the next adventure:  Foxy the Silver Fox and the Davy Back Fight. 
The Straw Hats continue sailing the Grand Line and things are as strange, and dangerous, as ever.  First they encounter a pirate ship with a horrible crew.  The other ship is just drifting aimlessly and the crew doesn't seem to know what to do.  The Going Merry doesn't have time it investigate however, because a giant wave crops up, which destroys the other ship and pushes the Straw Hats to a new island.
On this new land everything is extremely long.  The trees are tall, the animals are long, and even the fruit are elongated.  While exploring they discover a man on very tall stilts, and of course Luffy knocks him down.  The man is Tonjit, and he's been stuck on those stilts for years.  He fashioned them himself but once he was up on them, he couldn't get down.  Grateful for his rescue, Tonjit explains about the island they're on, his people, and the local geology. 
They don't have long to hang out with Tonjit though, as the Foxy Pirate crew with their captain Foxy the Silver Fox attack.  This large pirate crew isn't into hacking and slashing and pillaging.  Instead of battling they challenge Luffy to a Davy Back Fight.  It's a series of contests where the two pirate crews compete... the stakes are pretty high though.  The winner gets to select any member of the other team and they have to join the opposite crew.  That's what happened to the strange ship the Going Merry encountered. They lost all of their officers to Foxy.
Dashing where angles fear to tread, Luffy agrees to a three round match.  The first challenge seems simple enough, a race around the island in boats that the various three man teams make themselves out of barrels.  The race goes well, until the Straw Hats learn that cheating isn't only allowed, it's encouraged. 
The second event is a version of soccer, except one of the players on each team in the ball.  The Davy Back Fight end with the pirate version of roller derby, of all things.   
The appeal of One Piece is the bizarre, funny, and outlandish situations that the heroes find themselves facing every episode and this set delivers that fully.  Starting with the way they escape from the Marine base to the odd island and the Foxy Crew's insane crew and oddball powers, this collection will have One Piece fans on cloud nine.
It should be noted that there is a licensing problem with the credits on this set.  The original closing credits for episodes 207-230 are not available so others have been substituted.  In addition, the opening and ending songs not dubbed.  Honestly, I'd like to be outraged at this but I'm not.  To start with, the dubbing of the songs is a non-issue for me.  I enjoy the original language versions more.  As for the non-original endings, I usually skip those after watching them once, and while I can see where fans would feel cheated, if obtaining the rights would mean raising the price, I'm all for substituting something else.
The DVD:

This set contains the next 12 episodes (206-217) 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.
Note:  Episodes 207 and up were originally broadcast with a 16:9 aspect ratio.  In Japan episodes 207-229 were only released on DVD with a cropped full frame image.  I assume that Toei only offered FUNimation the full frame versions.  I would have enjoyed this in widescreen, but since it wasn't released that way in Japan I knew the odds were stacked against getting a US release with the OAR.
Like the other volumes in this series, I was a little disappointed that the bonus items were so 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 and a series of trailers.
Final Thoughts:

A pirate that can slow down time, an inflatable octopus, giants, pirate roller derby and a guy who walked on stilts for a decade.  What more could you want?   Still as entertaining as ever, this set is a must-buy.  Highly Recommended.

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