A Supernatural detective anime series
As is the case with each and every one of my One Piece reviews, I have to open by confessing a certain unwavering approval-factor of this series right off the bat. For a property with the word "shonen" right there in its title, the show is surprisingly devoid of the usual formulaic clichés that bog down most entries into the genre. Rather than endless fighting in some mystical tournament, One Piece has absolutely mastered the art of giving fighting fans what they want and blending it with a nice adventure-driven plot with unique (and likable) characters to boot. Suffice to say, I was hooked immediately.
That said, Season Two, Fifth Voyage contains episodes 104-116 of the ongoing saga across two discs. The packaging, as has been the case with all of the Region 1 releases thus far, consists of two thin packs within an attractive cardboard outer slipcase. Runtime comes in at 320 minutes and the show wears an appropriate if not slightly conservative TV 14 rating (due to a steady dose of cartoony violence rather than inappropriate language, nudity, or gore).
Language options are standard sub & dub, which means the viewer has the choice of the original Japanese dialog track (stereo) or an English dub (Dolby Digital 5.1) and the option of running English subtitles with either.
Special features consist of textless songs, Funimation trailers, and marathon play option (turns each disc into one continuous episode), and an English staff commentary over one episode (note: this last one is not located in the Special Features section but rather in the episode selection. It is very easy to miss!)
So let me begin writing about the story with a revelation I had in listening to the staff commentary even before taking aim at this particular story-chunk itself. Since One Piece is still running in Japan with no projected end, fans such as myself who thought the crew’s having landed upon the Island of Alabasta signified the beginning of the end of the ongoing voyage were downright wrong.
This story arc follows the exploits of the Strawhats as they continue to traverse the sandy isle of Alabasta just as the vile Crocodile and his minions begin to make their bid for control over King Cobra’s Empire. Using a really convincing impressionist/ ballerina, Croc manages to get Princess Vivi’s people fired up enough to where a violent uprising begins to take root.
Worse still, the crew finds themselves locked away in a prison cell while all of this madness unfolds and the grand finale comes in the form of an out-of-character enraged Luffy takes on Crocodile in an epic battle of fisticuffs across the desert sands.
While fans of the show aren’t going to want to hear this, I have suspected a gradual “slowing” of the plot pacing for some time now; a theory only further confirmed by the fact that the tale intends not to conclude until further notice. That said, this particular collection of episodes manages to accomplish some lofty plot points despite the fact that the pace’s sublime slow-down is felt throughout.
In all though, One Piece is certainly different enough from most ongoing shonen serials out there that it warrants consideration for its ability to combine grand adventure with the battle elements. I can’t say that this has been the best chapter of the saga thus far but it flows along with purpose and a bit of resolve by the conclusion.
What did you think of this review?