Big Ambitions, Massive Heart, Great Fun
ONENEO | Buffalo, NY | 07/08/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the inherent problems with attempting professional reviews is that you're forced to keep up with the times. Sometimes I'm forced to jump fairly late into an established franchise in effort to get reviews published while they're still pertinent. This was the case of One Piece: Season 2, First Voyage. Released on June 30th, this is actually the fifty-fourth through sixty-sixth episode of the series and it just so happens to be my first experience!
The twelve episodes contained span a pair of discs packaged within two thin packs (inside a nicely artistic cardboard outer slip sleeve). Coming in at a runtime of 320 minutes, the show wears a conservative TV 13 rating. There is no real rough language, nudity, sexual situations, and what little violence does occur is quite cartoony.
Language options are typical sub & dub meaning the choice of original Japanese dialog, English dubbed voice track, and the option of English subtitles under either.
Special features are limited to textless songs and a crop of Funimation trailers on the second disc.
I have to just come out with it- this is really a fantastic show! I apologize to fans if it sounds like I'm surprised to say this, but in a way, I am. I've had mixed emotions about many of the shonen titles that the world seems to be amazed with (Dragon Ball Z, Bleach, Law of Ueki and so on). So naturally the fact that One Piece is marketed as a massive shonen saga coupled to my having decided to finally give it a try at episode 54, the formula was looking pretty bleak. However, even after considering all of the strikes against it going in, I found Season 2, First Voyage to be an engaging adventure right from the get go, filled with a bubbly, likeable cast and some pretty slick visuals.
Speaking of, the visual style of One Piece is nothing if not unique. Imagine simple but colorful backgrounds with intentionally washed out lead character models. The pallet may look pale after viewing any one of a hundred more colorfully intense anime titles but the look of the show is easy to get used to and before long actually becomes comfortably addicting. In fact the entire feel successfully mimics the theme of the wickedly cool treasure maps that adorn the interior of each of the two thin packs.
For those wondering what's unique about this installment, our young band of pirates finds themselves on a mission toward the Grand Line only to encounter a strange little shipwrecked girl being heavily pursued by the fleet of marines (8th division). Before long their paths lead to high jinks on the high seas involving a senile dragon, a yellow frog that's bigger than a house, and a mercenary who looks an awful lot like someone out of a Dr. Suess book.
If I were to attempt to isolate a single factor that makes this show something special I would perhaps site its sense of humor. The show is funny and not just over-the-top slapstick funny either. Rather, the dialog that stems from the character interaction is authentic and genuinely witty. This is one of few shows that I can recommend the English dub track over the usually superior Japanese vocal work. Not that the Japanese audio does anything to detract from the experience, it's just that the Funimation talent nailed their character roles so spectacularly that missing it would be a shame. There were several moments where the obscenely obese Commodore had me laughing out loud (a real rarity among shonen titles or anime in general for that matter).
Additionally, while the characters do have some super-human abilities (stretchy bodies, lightening legs, and undullable blades), the show is really more of an adventure than it is a never-ending fighting tournament.
Audio work is really well done and ranks among composer Kouhei Tanaka's better pieces. The powerful swings in tempo match the bravado of the onscreen action and in case you've been living under a rock, pirate swashbuckling is pretty darn action packed.
In all I would strongly recommend giving One Piece a good once over if you found any entertainment in movies like Pirates of the Caribbean or The Goonies or simply enjoy great characters, swift adventure, and a good laugh."
Jack Brimstone | Phoenix, Az | 09/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thank funimation for releaseing Season 2. Being the season that was virtually ignored by 4kids for what reasons they had. this box set also corrects a major plothole in the series set by 4kids with the Laboon arc. Overall it was really enjoyable to see these episodes for the first time with a english dub."
Entering the Grand Line!
Tony Belding | Hamilton, TX United States | 07/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This series, brought to us in "uncut and unedited" form by Funimation, has been consistently excellent. They've really gotten into the groove, in terms of cranking these things out. This 2-disc set is the fifth in the series and brings us into Season 2. Finally our pirate gang makes it to the fabled Grand Line! To my surprised, more than half the episodes are ones I'd never seen before -- they'd been completely skipped over in the wretched 4kidz version shown on Cartoon Network.
Even better, this set ends on one of my favorite battles from the series: the first encounter with Baroque Works. It's a chaotic fracas with mistaken identities, bizarre characters, fratricide and squabbling, loyalty and sacrifice, idiocy and opportunism, and plenty of collateral damage."
The Adventure Continues
K. Crump | 07/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The uncut adventure continues as Luffy and crew finally enter the grand line, alot of good episodes here as the encounter baroque works and the giant whale, as well as meet the princess of Alibaster. Looking forward to the next set!"