As Tom and I recently discussed in the Vice Pit, I am a ONE PIECE n00b. Before now, I had only partial knowledge of the show that I'd absorbed from friends, and had never seen an episode in its entirety (well, I had also seen the amazi-bad US rap theme song but we're not counting that, right?).
So you can imagine my surprise when I fired up this DVD and got thrown into the mix of three epic battles, a kidnapping and a foot chase. When it's moving, ONE PIECE is a helluva ride. I'm going to give you the straight dope on this collection but, since I am new to the show, there's going to be some (hopefully) hilarious gaps in knowledge....
HERE WE GO, HERE WE GO, HERE WE GO!!!
It seems that a mysterious organization called CP9 has captured Nico Robin and disabled her powers. Their leader (who is totally the WWE wrestler, Mankind) drags Robin through a series of undersea tunnels while his black-suited minions deal with the Straw Hat Pirates. And by minions, I mean people with random and ludicrous powers, such as the ability to infinitely lather yourself... or being a giraffe.
There are some amazingly epic fights in
this collection. I surmise that this is one of the cyborg Franky's
big debut battles, and he squares off against a zipper-mouthed,
martial arts Humpty Dumpty. Tony Tony Chopper, meanwhile, has to
contend with a Kabuki performer with a giant mop of pink hair he can
control. Zoro and
Usopp the mysterious Sniper King are running around
elsewhere, handcuffed together and pursued by a werewolf and a
weregiraffe. Sanji, unfortunately, has been turned into some kind of
Fisher-Price weeble and it's up to Nami to fight off Mankind's
secretary, who has power over bubbles.
Or at least, that's what starts to happen. Episodes tend to focus on one fight at a time, and when it reaches a crucial cliffhanger focus will jump to another one, or perhaps collide with another fight.
This set also contains a pair of holiday specials, which I think are recaps (or retellings?) of long-past storylines, recast in feudal Japan. I only think they're recaps because they feature Buggy the Clown as the villain, who is the only other ONE PIECE villain I really know of. They might also be my favorite part.
Now, there were a lot of things that make this a bit inaccessible to a new viewer like myself...
I found the categories of superpowers very confusing to be thrown into, and I also needed to be reminded of several other rules - - like how Devil Fruit powered people are incapable of swimming. But at the same time, it doesn't matter! The show blows through plot points at such a blistering pace, you barely have time to wonder about the deeper intricacies and/or inconsistencies of the world. You just accept it and are wowed by the next spectacle of gooftacular violence.
Unfortunately, it's not all awesome fights and silly jokes. It's pretty evident that ONE PIECE has the weekly shonen show problem of "catching up to the manga too quickly," so things can get pretty drawn out (mostly thanks to elongated stare downs). This includes the opener which - - while a miniature story with a charm all it's own - - does get old fast, particularly when they repeat Gold Roger's death speech at the end. There're a lot of overlap between episodes, as well, but thankfully the discs come with a marathon mode that helps mitigate some of these problems.
And honestly? I was having a ton of fun even while noticing these things. That's how awesome this show is.
There's just so much to enjoy. The sense of humor is omnipresent, even during fights of life and death. There are things that just constantly crack me up - -stuff like a pigeon that always wears a necktie. Or the fact that Zoro uses Sniper King as a sword and yet is also too dumb to know that he's Usopp. Or that in the feudal Japan holiday special, Chopper isn't around because he's helping Santa's reindeer.
Oh, and I want to hug every one of Chopper's forms. This includes the 30 foot tall monster man which does, in fact, make an appearance in this set.
So if you're thinking about getting into this show... this might actually be the way to jump in.
The water's just fine! YA YO YA YOOOOOOOO! YO HO!
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix.