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Coming To Terms With ONE PIECE Season 4 - - DVD/Blu-Ray Review

"Marathoning" Season 4's "Voyage One" box set gave me a better understanding of this ridiculous show's appeal.

As has been brought up on numerous occasions here… I’ve never really gotten into any of the “Big Three” franchises currently reigning over all anime and manga. Maybe it’s timing, maybe it’s context, but I haven’t felt much compulsion, nor pressure, to give BLEACH, NARUTO and, of course, ONE PIECE more than the occasional cursory sampling. Perhaps it’s just a contrarian reflex to turn away from anything that the majority’s telling me I have to watch. The lengths of these shows - - with several hundred episodes per title - - are also undeniably daunting,

(And yes, I’m aware that I’d probably level as many complaints about sophistication and filler at my fondly-remembered DBZ if I encountered it at this same age.)

I am the “shogun,” now, of course, and my new powers allow me to take one of the many ONE PIECE box sets that come to my mailbox and finally sit down with the show for a longer stretch - - specifically from Episode #204 to Episode #212. That’s half of the advertised “voyage,” basically.

Skipping ahead of, oh say… 70 hours of information, introductions and assorted set-up left me without much sense of position or context as I plopped into the start of this set. It’s not like the picaresque travails of the Straw Hat Pirates are particularly hard to get the gist of, of course; but with no recaps offered as a courtesy to the inexpert, this set is still pretty culpable for inaccessibility. I wouldn’t fault it for that, certainly - - but it’s not quite the paragon of approachability that vocal, superhero-criticizing otaku make it out to be.

This arc picks up on the tail end of a stand-off between the ever-elastic Monkey D. Luffy’s crew and some goofily-villainous marines. After a daring, and absurdist, escape wherein the good guys repurpose an octopus into a hot air balloon, the gang evades trouble only momentarily before a tide of giant Sea Monkeys throws them into the clutches of the Foxy Pirates.

Invoking the same sort of Rules of Engagement that must have led to all those bouts of “parlay” in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, the Foxy Pirates challenge the Straw Hats to some “Davy Back” games which will result in the exchange and/or acquisition of crew members. Bizarre high-speed boat races on the high seas ensue, ending with the tragic loss of the adorable furry creature, Tony Tony Chopper, to these dastardly scoundrels.

That’s my sense of what happened, anyway. Admittedly, this is probably less of a review than an account of me just trying to understand this phenomenon without sounding like a stick in the mud.

When I watched the pilot episode, however long ago, my observation was that ONE PIECE seemed like a head-bustin’ vision of PETER PAN - - a story to show what would happen if the Boy Who Never Grew Up got Mr. Fantastic’s powers and started clubbing the tar out of Captain Hook’s crew. Checking back in at this point, I’d have to append that description. As it’s gone on, the series has also shown what would happen if that brawnier, rubberier Pan’s went on to kick ass in SpongeBob SquarePants’ undersea neighborhood. Despite packaging with an veritable ocean of difference surrounding it, ONE PIECE very much has a whimsical surrealism that’s of the same sugary cereal flavor as that Nick Toon.

I mean, c’mon - - the leader of the Foxy Pirates doubles for Count Chocula!

Cereal’s actually pretty pertinent to this discussion, believe it or not. The stuff was on my mind a lot as I watched - - my body seemingly conditioned to associate this sort of programming with an idle Saturday morning. And realizing that actually unlocked the secret of the show’s appeal for me...

(HINT: It gets back to the daunting episode counts mentioned earlier.)

See, “marathoning” is a concept that gets brought up a lot more often in anime fandom. Watching this, I got a better understanding of why. What initially seemed corny and stiffly-animated grew more quaintly diverting with each successive episode. I couldn’t phrase it better than the friend who was watching it with me did (he was on hand like an AA surrogate). He said, “I don’t know if this is any good, but I kind of have to keep watching. I need to find out what the Foxy’s evil plan is!”

When evaluated by the individual episode, ONE PIECE doesn’t seem to possess much magic. But there’s some intangible X-Factor that manifests in long form - - a craft for serialized storytelling hooks or a disarming safeness in the aggregate, perhaps- - and compels you to keep watching.

Don't ask me to quantify it in more precise terms than that. I still don't fully understand it, myself. All I have, now, is a better understanding of how one could just find the hours zipping away whilst joining Monkey and his pals on their adventures.

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk

Destinyheroknighton Aug. 9, 2012 at 9:13 p.m.

Huh, I never notice that Foxy look like Count Chocula. Now, that you say it, I can't unsee it. Anyway, I can't wait to get Season 4 in the mail. I want to know how FUNimation do Afro Luffy

sickVisionz moderator on Aug. 10, 2012 at 6:25 a.m.

I've tried but I just can't get into One Piece. The story and characters aren't better or worse than most other shonen series but the god awful animation for the first 300+ episodes is a major turn off and it's packed to the brim with the stuff I hate about Naruto like constant talks on the power of friendship and nakama. I saw Naruto first and early in my anime life so I can put up with it there, but in any other show it's a major turn-off unless I get the feeling that there will be well animated fights coming up soon that will function as a reward for sitting through all the crap that I hate.

Lurkeroon Aug. 10, 2012 at 9:02 a.m.

@sickVisionz said:

I've tried but I just can't get into One Piece. The story and characters aren't better or worse than most other shonen series but the god awful animation for the first 300+ episodes is a major turn off and it's packed to the brim with the stuff I hate about Naruto like constant talks on the power of friendship and nakama. I saw Naruto first and early in my anime life so I can put up with it there, but in any other show it's a major turn-off unless I get the feeling that there will be well animated fights coming up soon that will function as a reward for sitting through all the crap that I hate.

This is exactly how I feel. I still watched Bleach and Naruto despite the constant talk of friendship and and other cliches because I figured some cool fights would soon show up. It helped that I could skim through the streaming episodes.

One Piece stopped being cool for me after the CP9 arc, but I kept watching up until the war. Oda managed to make a war about super-powered pirates very boring and I dropped the series after that.

ShadowKnight508 moderator on Aug. 10, 2012 at 11:24 a.m.

To fully enjoy One Piece, you have to accept the fact that it drags it's feet along story/plot-wise at several points, feels somewhat repetitive at times, requires that you open your mind to accept some of the wild character designs/types, goes overboard on the whole idea of friendship (looking at you, Luffy), and that the quality of the animation is rough until over 300 episodes in (from the Romance Dawn Arc in Episode One until the Strawhats finish the Thriller Bark Arc). I will admit, there were times that I just about gave up on the show (most notably during the Baroque Works Saga: Alabasta Arc, Grand Line Saga: Skypiea Arc, Grand Line Saga: Thriller Bark Arc, and Grand Line Saga: Impel Down Arc), but I stuck through it because I knew that it would get better down the road.

Just reaching the Marineford Arc felt like a major achievement, having stuck through all of the events and the slow points that the series had scattered within the progression of the story. I also got tired of the fact that basically nothing was being shown of the scattered crew members while Luffy was being involved at Impel Down and Marineford, since the series had taken focus on him at that time.

In conclusion, this series is not for everyone. Some who start it will ultimately never finish it, and that is perfectly understandable. Perhaps it is the massive episode count (557 or so episodes as of now) that turns people off of it, knowing that it will take well over 100 hours just to make a sizable dent in that number. But if you can endure, you should be able to enjoy the fruits of the show when it finally reaches some of it's best points in the story.

Destinyheroknighton Aug. 10, 2012 at 11:48 a.m.

@ShadowKnight508:

To fully enjoy One Piece, you have to accept the fact that it drags it's feet along story/plot-wise at several points

Well, that mostly happen in the anime (since they normally use a half of a chapter for a episode), that why I pretty much skip like 300 episodes and catch up with the current episodes (since I already read it in the manga)

Now I just getting the DVDs to hear the English voice actors

RoninAutomaton is online on Aug. 10, 2012 at 11:52 a.m.

I like to think of the Straw Hats like the crew of Baron Münchhausen, and that the series is one fantastical tale after another.

ShadowKnight508 moderator on Aug. 10, 2012 at 12:10 p.m.

@Destinyheroknight: Great point, DestinyHeroKnight. Skipping most of the series up to where the animation/story improves after 300+ episodes does have it's advantages (not investing hundreds of hours into every episode). But then again, people who skip do miss some of what makes the series so great.

You may have skipped, but I stuck with it and endured every episode from the Baratie Arc until Fish-Man Island Arc. Well over 200 hours invested into the series, and I don't regret one minute. Sure it bogged down at times, but in the end, it was worth it (this coming from someone who has only read parts of Impel Down, Marineford, and the reunion of the crew after the timeskip of the One Piece manga that was in my old Shonen Jump subscription).

The Stegmanon Aug. 11, 2012 at 9:27 p.m.
I actually just started watching One Piece about a month ago and believe it or not, today I JUST reached this arc, I've kind of been skipping around though, to be honest, the show just isn't blowing me away, I know it has a very large fanbase but truth be told the constant "wacky anime freak out'' moments can become tedious at times, especially the ones involving Usopp, and even the non filler arcs still have a filler arc feel to them, also not a huge fan of the animation either. I actually skipped the whole  Foxy Pirate arc after watching the first few episodes cause it just seemed ridiculous and went right to the end where Aokiji was introduced.  Hopefully the anime picks up for me because right now, I really, really don't see what the big deal about it is, how is this the highest selling manga in Japan??
EganTheVile1on Aug. 12, 2012 at 3:57 a.m.

This certainly is suggestive

PenguinDuston Aug. 12, 2012 at 7:53 a.m.

I marathoned it originally back when I saw it the first time not counting my introduction to the show via 4Kids. I didn't skip any episodes back then but a few months ago, I rewatched it all from episode 1 to 525. That time I did skip over the The Warship Island Arc (the one with the kid and the dragons) and the Ocean's Dream Arc (the dreaming memory thief one) since they're really unnecessary. I skipped the "Boss Luffy" stories (One Piece in feudal Japan) but I like them an would like to check them out again at a later date. I don't think I could watch this series in any manner other than marathoning it. As Tom eluded, the charm of One Piece is how it entices you to watch just one more. I love the show and when I do watch it, I clear out a day to just spend catching up. I know I won't be satisfied unless I know how this next adventure ends.

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A teenage boy named Monkey D. Luffy goes on a journey to find the fabled One Piece and become Pirate King, building a crew of merry mischief-makers as he goes.

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