I have to confess a certain approval-factor of the One Piece universe 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. I was hooked immediately.
That said, Season Two, Second Voyage contains episodes 67-78 of the ongoing saga across two discs. The packaging, as has been the case with 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 episode 67 (note: this last one is not located in the Special Features section but rather in the episode selection. It is very easy to miss!)
The One Piece Season Two Second Voyage basically consists of two story arcs: The first of which involves the rescue and attempted return of a vital princess (Vivi) to her home land (and the ensuing pursuit) and the second involves a prehistoric island which just so happens to be home to a pair of dueling ancient giants. I take that back, there are in fact three story arcs. The third takes place amidst the other two as a sort of spin-off story devoted entirely to the crew's buddy Coby.
In all honesty, I cannot say that this has been my preferred section of the overall prose but this portion of the grander tale does entertain (including the introduction to the mysterious character Robin who plays a much larger role later on). I suppose my own disappointment comes from the fact that there isn't a whole lot of oceanic pirating to report nor are our infamous crew's special powers utilized to quite the degree of awesomeness that fans have grown to expect.
Of course this isn't to say that there aren't a steady stream of near-invincible baddies to dispatch, damsels in distress to rescue, or blissful ignorance displayed by the good captain, Monkey D. Luffy, the story just seems to jaunt off on several sidetracks along the way.
Worse still is that this set really ends on a cliffhanger which may or may not be considered a good thing to those of us forced to wait patiently for the next installment to arrive!
Fans of the show will continue to enjoy the unique, washed-out visual style that has become One Piece's staple over time. The sound work is spot on in both language options with the English dub working just about as well in every aspect as the original Japanese track.
At times it's almost hard to believe that it has been exactly a decade since this collection debuted on Japanese airwaves. While advances in animation process and technology are undisputable, the charm that made One Piece a gem then is undoubtedly still present now.
In all a must-own collection for those of us who have been taking the voyage thus far (even if it isn't the best mini story arc per se'). The special features are quite nice and the packaging maintains the excellent look and feel of its predecessors. My only complaint comes in the form of the ending of episode 78 as its inconclusive nature has me anxiously awaiting the next One Piece release.
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