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Holy Smoker! Robin Comes to "One Piece"!

Here we are again, with another offering from FUNimation to help you, the dear consumer, increase your collection of official One Piece action. Second Season: Seventh Voyage pushes One Piece’s US DVD release closer to the big 150-episode marker. Peanuts in relation to the whole ongoing series, but a tasty number for any DVD shelf.

For those who have the memory retention and animation awareness of an impatient goldfish in a very tight goldfish bowl, this is the epic story of the aspiring King of the Pirates, Monkey D Luffy, and his band of merry Straw-Hats, as they voyage across the seas searching for the fabled One Piece. This box set embarks directly after the epic multi-episode Alabasta arc, and the Straw-Hats have gained a new crew member: Crocodile’s mysterious and formerly evil henchman, Nico Robin. So after such a huge, tense, violent and pretty damn magnificent storyline in Alabasta , where does One Piece go from here?

Well, to make this a little more interesting, I thought I’d take a different slant with this review. I have managed to get my whole immediate family hooked on One Piece. We’re talking three generations who have now watched all the episodes I have so far reviewed for toonzone. So I thought a more colourful approach to this latest box-set would be to offer up opinions from my closest blood. After devouring the Alabasta arc, what did Clan James think of Second Season: Seventh Voyage?

I’ll start with my own perspective:

This collection of episodes is very different from the Alabasta arc, and intentionally so. One Piece has always been a master of flow. Like a ship on the seas, it knows when to change course and head in new directions. After a good thirty-odd episodes of fairly serious civil war shenanigans, the show steers towards a collection of light-hearted character episodes and a couple of fairly light story arcs. This is indeed most welcome after the intensity and ferocity of Alabasta—not that the repercussions of those events are quickly forgotten. The seas may be calmer, their foes not as mammoth as Crocodile, but the crew are all too aware that they are now more hunted and feared than ever.

Despite the growing infamy of the crew, these stories do not deal directly with their wanted status but remind the viewer that the show hasn’t forgotten the repercussions of Alabasta. Instead the story looks inward at the crew themselves. The box set thereby starts with a collection of tales looking back at what makes our heroes who they are. Chopper, Zoro, Nami and Sanji all get one-off tales, each quite charming in its content. Following these character stories we have two simple episodic tales. Neither has much gravity, or that much action really, but they are as always enjoyable. The second story in particular has a strong mix of humour and clever story-writing, with a wonderful twist in the end. What makes this box set particularly attractive is that this final story resolves on the set’s final episode, so this package is very attractive as a one-off purchase; there are no major cliffhangers forcing you to buy the next installment. (Though you will anyhow, as you won’t be able to help yourself).

But for me, what makes this box set special is the reintroduction of Nico Robin. The character doesn’t fail to deliver a fresh and pleasurable new dynamic to the crew, but her integration doesn’t feel rushed, and this box set gently eases her into the Straw-Hats’ hearts—and the audiences’, too. It’s of a piece with the set as a whole; this is One Piece without the stress, and goes to prove that not every adventure needs to end with Luffy’s fists pounding some deserving face.

As for the disks themselves, as humdrum as it is say, if you’ve bought any One Piece box sets, you’ll know the score. One commentary for a selected episode, a marathon feature which cuts off the credits, and a nicely presented box. The features aren’t amazing, but you buy One Piece for the quality of the show in its uncut glory. Once again, the FUNimation crew do a great job, particularly the voice artists who give the show more sparkle than the original Japanese cast. The commentary on this set features Colleen Clinkenbeard and friends, and as usual it is enjoyably, lively and very informal.

But if you don’t trust in my opinion, how about my family’s?

Sister Smoker: I enjoyed the singular character stories in contrast to the Crocodile arc. This box set gave more opportunities for the characters to develop new quirks and further establish some running jokes. (Zoro’s absolutely no sense of direction is becoming very funny.) I liked how Robin became part of the crew subtly, while the other characters have little bits of their background developed, mostly involving some kind of discipline or strength of mind. There are some sweet, non-saccharine moments that are nicely played. Oh, and the new end credit music is incredibly catchy and wormed into my brain at an unconscious level!

Ma Crocodile: I’ve enjoyed the character development in this box set, both as individuals and as their relationship go within the group. I particularly enjoyed Luffy on this set: his charisma continues to grow! Watching makes you feel part of the adventure, and this set has some fascinating adversaries! The adventures continue to grow more fascinating and gripping!

Grandnanny Arlong: I enjoyed this box set very much, especially the sequences where Luffy was the main character in the later ones! I love his Luffy’s voice—makes me feel very happy! I enjoyed Chopper’s story at the beginning—it was very moving.

So there we have it: Boring as it is to say, another great, great box set, just for totally different reasons from the last. A set of fun, light hearted adventures and back stories to a growing pirate team that continues to get more interesting by the episode! Will they ever find the One Piece? With adventures such as these, I bloody well hope not!

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