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ONE PIECE: SEASON FOUR, VOYAGE TWO - - DVD REVIEW

Yarrr! There be filler beneath the surface of the sea! -

When you’ve taken a couple hundred episodes off from watching a series, a little confusion is more than justified. However, my current state of ONE PIECE bewilderment has nothing to do with the knotted plot that comes after some 200+ episodes of consistently-silly, cartoon action. The question I feel the aching desire to ask anyone who will listen (read: you, the reader) is this: Why in the world would FUNimation start a box set just in time to catch the final two episodes of a thirteen episode arc?

(If you’re expecting a pithy answer, look elsewhere - - I honestly have no idea why they did it, but they did).

For whatever reason, this latest box set jumps straight into the action, opening with episode 218, “Full-Blast Slow-Slow Onslaught Vs. Invulnerable Luffy!” Without being too presumptuous, I imagine that viewers who have made it this far into the show will, by now, be well familiarized with the idea of a multi-episode battle, and this is one of those.

While I am not a regular ONE PIECE watcher, per se, I cut my teeth on month-long DRAGON BALL Z power charge-ups (just as many of my then-adolescent, TV-owning peers did). Apparently, things haven’t changed much since then.

Dropping his trademark straw hat in favor of a big bouncy ‘fro, Luffy stands and trades punches with Foxy the Silver Fox (head Fox of the Foxy Pirates...fox fox fox), a character who would be more than welcome in a future incarnation of Mike Tyson’s EXTRA-RIDICULOUS PIRATE PUNCH-OUT (if only that game existed). At stake is each man’s pirate crew, whose servitude have been wagered on the outcome of this match. Guess who wins. (SPOILER: It’s Luffy, and he does so, graciously).

Before I render my opinion on ONE PIECE, let's have some faux-philosophizing and presuming...

I have no idea who is in dire need of a review of twelve, seemingly-random ONE PIECE episodes which originally aired in Japan in January of ‘05. While presented in a lovely cardboard sleeve, this is a purchase best fit for a collector or seasoned fan, not a curious dabbler or anime taste-tester. While I find this series to be generally approachable and good fun for a surprisingly wide demographic, this set (Season Four, Voyage Two) is just about the most confusing place to begin that I can think of.

My confusion is actually more profound than I’ve let on.

Once Luffy has wiped the floor with Foxy, the characters move on to a short filler arc called "Ocean’s Dream." Though you’d never guess from the presentation of this particular DVD box set, the "Ocean’s Dream" arc is actually the perfect intro to ONE PIECE for new viewers.

After Luffy’s crew awakens one morning to find all of their memories erased by a maleficent sealion, they have to figure out their own story, complete with re-drawn flashbacks from classic past episodes. The fact that the set doesn’t lead with this arc, but instead hides it behind the completely disembodied conclusion of some other long-running battle, is mind-blowingly stupid.

“We do twelve episodes per DVD set. These are the next twelve episodes,” some producer must have coldly intoned.

“But boss... it would make more sense if we-”

“Twelve episodes per DVD set. These. Are. The. Next. Twelve.”

But like I said - - if you’re buying this, you probably already know the story behind the Straw Hats.

Whether you already know what’s going on or not, enough can never (ever) be said about the character designs of Eiichiro Oda and the crew who brings them to life in ONE PIECE. Some 200+ episodes in and the look of the show, as it appears in this box set, is long since fully-formed, presenting a unique visual aesthetic that leaves its former self in the dust.

As someone who spends a good deal of time staring at conventional animation with origins in both Asia and the US, ONE PIECE jumps out so immediately (and refreshingly) as to have an almost shocking effect. It’s rare that something so popular and mainstream is also so original and distinct. Not every series gets so many hundreds of episodes to refine its style, but not every series that does get that chance really takes it.

It’s been a long time since I bothered to put time into ONE PIECE. While I might not be ready to sit down for a five hundred and seventy episode marathon just yet, a dozen episodes here and there are certainly not a terrible thing. And if you’re looking to finally get into the show for the first time, this is actually a good place to start. Sort of. Just don’t worry too much about what’s happening for an hour or so - - it’ll all make (some) sense soon enough.

Alexei Bochenek is a lifelong tech nerd and film buff based in Los Angeles. He writes for various online publications and edits the Los Angeles events website LALookout.com. Follow his Twitter: @alexeigb.

Om1kronon Oct. 26, 2012 at 10:47 p.m.

The problem with the Box sets and why i just went to a website and watched them there (and now they're all available on HULU) or you can watch them on the comfort of your couch with hulu plus if you have a PS3 or Xbox and the required services. Sans some commercial interruption which will delay your marathon-ing experience.

They do 12 episodes per dvd but they will have like 4-6 voyages or something retarded to a season... Viz actually haz bulk volumes on amazon which are better for your buck. all unedited and uncut It seems volume 8 is the furthest they are which leads up to season six.

I was kind of in the same wtf boat as you when I tried renting these from netflix to initially get into the show and all of the dvd's came to me out of order... I would gladly purchase everything I've watched non legally, and legally so far to add to my library. I fucking love this show, even if there is filler I can never really tell.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Oct. 27, 2012 at 2:40 a.m.

Yeah, I figured the Ocean's Dream Arc would be helpful to you, Tom. It would fill in some of the gaps for someone with little experience in the series. I do wonder if the Aokiji fight happens in this box set. Those events were suppose to follow directly after Luffy's fight with Foxy.

When you reach the Aokiji fight, you wont be seeing any more filler arcs for a LONG while. next is the Water Seven and Enies Lobby arcs. The more epic of seasons in the series.

@Om1kron said:

Viz actually haz bulk volumes on amazon which are better for your buck. all unedited and uncut It seems volume 8 is the furthest they are which leads up to season six.

VIZ edited the Skypiea Arc to rename Eneru from God to "Kami", and I don't believe they ever even explain what that means. Though, I will say that ONE PIECE is one of their least edited series.

Om1kronon Oct. 27, 2012 at 2:50 a.m.

@FoxxFireArt said:

@Om1kron said:

Viz actually haz bulk volumes on amazon which are better for your buck. all unedited and uncut It seems volume 8 is the furthest they are which leads up to season six.

VIZ edited the Skypiea Arc to rename Eneru from God to "Kami", and I don't believe they ever even explain what that means. Though, I will say that ONE PIECE is one of their least edited series.

If it's just a name change I don't really see the big deal there, they or most companies try to avoid religious stuff so people don't get offended and crap. America is a weird country, not sure if you follow video games but a a bunch of muslim's just got in activisions buttholes about an arabic quote on a painting hanging in a bathroom (who even notices crap like this). How are we as american's supposed to assume someone is going to get wound up over that. Same thing with that edited cross in full metal alchemist. I'm sure the Christians and Catholics would've had a field day with that. And exposing stuff like that to children no less.

I know most japanese names are supposed to have meaning or such, and maybe that's your gripe with the kami name, but a name is just a name sometimes.

FoxxFireArt moderator on Oct. 27, 2012 at 3:29 a.m.

@Om1kron:

You made the claim that they don't edit. They do, and never explain it. FUNimation didn't make that change on the DVDs. Censorship is still censorship no matter how little.

In the Japanese version of the Skypiea arc, they call Eneru literally "Goddo". It's the job title of the leader of Skypiea, and the entire island has a heaven theme. Someone who was so extreme to be offended by that wouldn't be reading manga to begin with.

Om1kronon Oct. 27, 2012 at 3:35 a.m.

@FoxxFireArt said:

@Om1kron:

You made the claim that they don't edit.

No it says in the amazon product description that the box volumes I linked are uncut, and un-edited. I never claimed or vouched for the authenticity of their translations. I know you're extremely passionate about the subject but please take time to thoroughly understand my initial response before going full militant on me or other users. I gave you an example of why the censorship is there and they most likely have to follow some kind of fcc guideline which is pointless to even research to give some relieve to you and others as to why the man is holding your american distributed anime down. ;)

Product Description

The Straw Hats go from sailing on a cloud to being surrounded by Marines in this unedited twenty-seven episode collection of awesome! Lightning bolts rain from the heavens and innocent citizens run for cover as Luffy and Eneru go toe to toe to determine the fate of Skypiea. The heinous holy man has Angel Island by the throat, and Nami and Luffy must risk their lives in a desperate attempt to chase away his looming cloud of death! When the final bell rings, the Straw Hats find themselves plummeting toward the Marine stronghold of Navarone! This impenetrable island is surrounded by stone walls, and the only hope for escape is a daring dash into the freedom of the deep blue sea. The sailing certainly won't be smooth, and it'll take all hands on deck to survive this scrape!
FoxxFireArt moderator on Oct. 27, 2012 at 4:06 a.m.

@Om1kron:

Viz actually haz bulk volumes on amazon which are better for your buck. all unedited and uncut It seems volume 8 is the furthest they are which leads up to season six.

VIZ doesn't produce the anime. They produce the manga only. FUNimation releases the anime. I thought you were talking about the VIZ Big volumes they release.

Mezmeroon Oct. 29, 2012 at 8:59 a.m.

Geez I come back months later and Tom finally starts dabbling in One Piece and Casshern? Well I'm always happy when like minded adults enjoy the stuff that's genuinely good. I feel like a broken record whenever I say that this is quite possibly the greatest cartoon of all time (notice I didn't say anime). I definitely recommend people not to spoil themselves on the manga chapters and just stick with the pace of the TV show instead. Nothing beats the lush colors, the amazing voice acting, and simply epic music score of this production.

I'm kind of surprised a comic aficionado as yourself didn't notice the similarities between Foxy and the Green Goblin. Just like Gobby, Foxy fights with weapons, traps, and trickery and even rides a conspicuous glider with his face on it at one point. I think Osborn could invent a slowing ray if he wanted. One of my favorite things about this cartoon is that no 2 antagonists fight exactly the same. In a lot of ways this world has a lot more common with the entire continuities of either Marvel or DC than any other manga series. Sure the main characters are criminals and outlaws but all the super powers and martial arts are concepts you've seen before.

The Ocean's Dream filler was decent I thought despite how obviously it dragged the pacing. The concept of the crew suddenly being strangers is cool and this is one of the only times you see how exactly Luffy ended up in that barrel from the first episode. I have the first 4 of these "voyage" box sets but I think I'll stick to the more condensed collections that they've been putting out for now. I must say I like the box art on these collections a lot more than the newer ones but it's a real raw deal for consumers. See you in another 8 months.

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