Anime: One Piece (Collection 15)
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Retail Price: $34.98
The widely popular anime series One Piece has been known to take bizarre and interesting routes in the storytelling method of the long running anime series (736 episodes to be exact.) The series tells the story of Monkey D. Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates seeking out a treasure sure to change their lives, often taking turns and providing a plethora of other characters, adventures and random mayhem to keep the plot as an ongoing anime. This particular collection (the 15th edition) includes episodes 349-372, focusing more on the conclusion of the “Thriller Bark” arc of One Piece, and a battle that includes a face off against a unified zombie army. Much like other continuing series, these stretched out arcs provide more than enough time to elaborate on feuds with an allotted amount of episodes to depict a progressing story that extends the general runtime of most animes.
In collection 15 of One Piece, you will find that Luffy may have bitten off more than he can chew after overestimating the abilities of his foe(s.) The central figure has participated in a battle with the strangely shaped Gecko Moria, hastily making a decision that complicates matters when he loses his shadow as a consequence (in addition to Sanji and Zoro.) The three begin an attempt to reclaim what they’ve lost which is proven to be a largely important blockade and the grand stakes being an untimely death. Of course there happens to be an opportunity to capitalize on (courtesy of Brook) but nothing comes without a cost so yet another curveball give the Straw Hats plenty of obstacles to overcome in this particular arc. The primary characters are given plenty of their own side plots that tie in with the overarching elements, so you can expect that zany sporadic storytelling that One Piece often uses.
Zoro is probably the character I’m most drawn to in One Piece, so I must give credit where it’s due for giving his character some independence to explore. A rivalry with an undead enemy reminds us of his warrior dedication and one of the more interesting plot moments of One Piece. Brook surprises me as a sometimes untrustworthy comedic relief, however I’ve come to realize that One Piece doesn’t ever hit those major strides of seriousness - so a character can’t ever be strictly intense. The undead/zombie inclusion to this arc does create a different energy from some of the other One Piece arcs, making this selection of episodes an improvement over a few prior sagas. Of all the foes I’ve seen in the anime (which isn’t all of them by any means) the zombies each had an interesting personality distinction to surpass a majority of the Straw Hats.
As I mentioned, One Piece is surely known for its comedy, which has waivered in the past in my opinion. What I found for this collection was that they found a few fun ways to interject with humor, such as the faint and faceless spirits in swarms that could remove the seriousness with a simple movement. There are moments that will resonate with the fans of the series and a few scenes that those who aren’t could potentially enjoy too. One could conclude that this arc in general would be a nice point to jump back in for anyone who could be behind, though the series is designed to allow new and old fans an introduction to One Piece. The shadow themes come back to add trouble to the main characters - especially Luffy - when his becomes a threat against everyone. It’s explained very straightforward from the beginning, so it makes the plot as simplistically blunt as possible.
The animation stays consistent with the previous quality of One Piece (which is a long time to maintain) though the villains were visual standouts. Some of them included part animal attributes, or taking the shape of an unusually dark Candy Land looking foe. These type of characters are the primary chance for the series to take new designs, so for the zombie plot it was a step in the right direction. Brook is another character who I’m glad sticks around because he’s interesting in both development and his peculiar designs. The voice cast was on par with what we’ve come to expect with my only real gripes being the strained tones that the undead characters were supposed to make - adding a more childlike English production (which is sensible for the series anyways.) I would definitely say this is a fun arc to watch for One Piece fans with enough things going on to catch your attention somehow, but it’s still not a prime example of anything necessarily game changing. One Piece Collection 15 is definitely one for the hardcore One Piece fans!
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
-Hooray for any Zoro stories they are willing to provide!
-Nice undead-touch to the pirate anime series.
-Brook scenes have made me a fan of the layered skeleton man and his quirks.