Anime: One Piece (Collection 14)
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Retail Price: $34.98
One Piece is a long running (and that’s an understatement) anime series with massive success in both Japan and the U.S. The anime is centered around Monkey D Luffy, a young man on the quest to become the coveted “Pirate King” by searching for a treasure known as One Piece with the assistance of his crew/comrades. As a child, Luffy developed an ability to turn his body into rubber after eating a supernatural fruit known as the Gum-Gum fruit (one of multiple “devil fruits” from the realm of One Piece. If the concept of the anime sounds a bit on the confusing or ridiculous side – that’s definitely because it truly is. My only previous association to the series was random chapters while reading Shonen Jump as a child, or the occasional glimpse on television from time to time, so this was a very different learning opportunity going into an anime series that has been airing for years. One of the benefits of One Piece itself is that any episode really feels like a jumping on point, and regardless of how long you watch it – you can easily determine the mood of the series with ease. Of course, the repetitious quest could feel drawn out for viewers (admittedly, me) but for others, I can understand the enjoyment carefree viewings that One Piece provides.
This arc of the series contains episodes from the concluding half of season nine, and the beginning to middle of season ten (longer than most television or anime series). Things begin heated with an ongoing fight between the beloved character Fire Fist Ace and the primary antagonist of the series – Blackbeard. A large scale battle ensues between the two opposing threats that decimates an island from their high stakes war. The series transitions to a cooler setting (no cheesy pun intended) when the Straw Hat crew arrives to freezing waters with bounty hunters remove something precious to the Straw Hats – their all important flag (which you know won’t be solved until they take bake what’s theirs. Things continue to get progressively complicated after coming across a rather lively skeleton (who clearly doesn’t care that he’s an oxymoron.) When Luffy decides to welcome the newest addition, his crew appears less than enthused about this undead man walking.
There are many similarities to other anime series in One Piece, and whether or not it’s intentional remains to be unknown. For example, a pair of (semi) villains or troublemakers pop-up at random intervals for a fight with almost a parody entrance, similarly to the popular villains of the long running and infamous series Pokémon (Jessie and James of Team Rocket.) Some of the settings and background elements of the series seem like nods to Dragon Ball Z, another long running series that has earned its spot as one of the most widely known action series. Where I can understand for certain anime fans, speaking for myself -- One Piece doesn’t quite capture that same level of enjoyment as the classics, but that doesn’t diminish the extreme love that One Piece receives. I will say that the arcs were divided nicely for this collection, giving you various stories that have just enough time to experience what is to be expected of the ongoing series.
Another pro for One Piece is the wide variety of characters to discover. There are more action centric characters who participate in the battles of the anime, or there are the smaller and sometimes charming creatures that are there to support the key players of the Straw Hats. One character in particular has always stood out to me in One Piece is Zoro. While most other characters come off strong in one way or another, his seems to be more subdued and collected. In this arc he isn’t as integrated as I would have hoped, but his addition to One Piece is what captures my attention (like his random scenes of wandering off and drinking.) Just when his character becomes a part of a major storyline towards the ending, it ends abruptly mid-arc, leaving me wondering what will happen when the arc concludes. Ace was another character who I enjoy from what is shown, but similarly to Zoro, his presence isn’t as major as I had hoped.
In terms of overall quality, there are both positives and negatives to this range of episodes in One Piece. Though sometimes too bizarre for my liking, the animation does have strong moments in the midst of action like Luffy’s rivalry with two body building twins, or the environmental animation. Character designs are probably one of my least favorite attributes to One Piece, however the characters I actually did enjoy were more positive representations of what the anime series offers (Christopher R. Sabat, Travis Willingham) The FUNimation English dub brings the occasional comedic timing as a mostly enjoyable dub of One Piece. I think that bundling these episodes in particular was actually a smarter decision, giving fans of the series enough episodes to surpass a one day binge watch, and can enjoy the multiple arcs over a longer period of time.
Overall Score: 6.7/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-Zoro is the best character in the anime, and easily considered an anibae. Yeah, I mixed “anime” with “bae” so sue me.
-While One Piece creates a mostly goofy tone, there are quality moments that tap into something more.
-For being a protagonist, Luffy is probably one of my least favorites from design, to personality.
-Today’s mainstream ongoing series don’t live up to the hype of certain 90’s/early ‘00s anime, but it’s nice to see a series can still withstand longevity.