One Piece Collection 13 (Episodes 300-324) (Cert 12)
4 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 566 minutes approx
It would appear that 13 really is an unlucky number for fans of One Piece as the release of this latest volume was originally due out in February of this year but was continually delayed. It is nine months later and almost a year since the release of volume 12, and we are finally ready to resume with the current story.
For the benefit of anyone who needs a reminder (and who can blame you?) we are still in the midst of the long running Water Seven story arc, although you’ll be pleased to learn it is getting much closer to the conclusion. Aside from a few filler episodes – most of which appear near the end of the run – the mode is strictly business, with a view of completing this adventure.
Time is running out for Nico Robin she is at the mercy of CP9 leader Chief Spandam who has taken her to the Tower of Law in Enies Lobby. The Straw Hats and their latest ally the cyborg Franky have to defeat the Devil Fruit users of CP9 to collect the five keys, only one of which will unlock Robin’s handcuffs.
As we pick up the action, Zoro, Franky and Luffy have their hands full while Sanji, Ussop (under the guise of the Sogeking), Nami and Chopper otherwise detained on other parts of the island, trying to reach the tower to make their rescue bid for Robin’s safety. Meanwhile the Galley La Company, the Franky Family, kooky train operator Kokoro, her granddaughter Chimney and her pet whatever-it-is Gonbe are lending their support to the Straw Hats in taking care of other distractions.
In his frustration at being thwarted, Spandam calls for the Buster Call, a Navy assault that sanctions the complete destruction of a community or even an entire island if the inhabitants are perceived as a threat to their regime. Even the Straw Hats can’t be a match for an entire navy fleet of Battleships, can they?
The answer is rather obvious but it is how they get there and at what cost that keeps us glued to the screen and supporting the series – that and the incredible and apparent bottomless pit of ideas and consistent storytelling of creator Eiichiro Oda. The usual mix of action, comedy and zany silliness is on hand here and while this is a case of reinventing the wheel, Oda has a rare and uncanny knack of making it feel so fresh.
Essentially the set is split into two halves while bringing the Water Seven arc to a close. The first half concerns the ongoing battle to save Robin and the confrontation with the Navy as the Buster Call looks set to destroy Enies Lobby. Similar to the likes of Dragonball Z and Naruto, the individual and group punch-ups span a few episodes but there are plenty of welcome distractions to prevent ennui setting in.
The second half deals with the aftermath of the Buster Call, and brings with it some flashback storytelling from Franky by way of fleshing out his character a little more, as well as a couple of surprise revelations about our nominal hero Monkey D. Luffy. True to form, these are manifest in the most unexpected manner and treated with the usual One Piece irreverence, meaning lots of guilty laughs from this peculiar set-up.
It is whilst in this “comedown” mood that a few filler episodes are afforded some air time, all built around the current scenario so they blend in smoothly enough without disrupting the continuity of the canon material. They may be single shot deals and focus on a particular member of the Straw Hats but they are well written and share the same style and spirit of Oda’s work.
What is nice about this extended epilogue is that it is clearly not designed to eke out the Water Seven arc beyond its usefulness and helps bring the story to a logical and emotional conclusions. The usual form would be for the Straw Hats to accomplish their mission then take off again – this way we get to witness them reflecting on their latest adventure, and how they have affected and been affected by the local of Enies Lobby.
Elsewhere it could be argued that the major theme of this set is surprises as it seems nary a moment goes by when something revelatory punctuating a major scene. Nothing will be given away here but suffice to say, not all of them concern the Straw Hats and they certainly will engender a range of reactions from audiences as they do the cast.
Anyone who has kept track of the One Piece films as they have been released in the UK will know that the crew get not just a new member but a new ship. This isn’t an incidental matter, forming the foundation of the final episodes, demonstrating another strength to Oda’s writing, in how he makes every major development feel important and worthwhile.
One slight presentation issue that requires attention is the with the credits. For some reason the opening credits are 2 ½ minutes long (apparently merged with the end credits) before a brief recap of the show’s central premise then a longer recap of the previous episode. All told, the first five minutes of each chapter is therefore skippable, which does make it seem like we are being short changed.
But the show and its characters are so endearing and immensely entertaining that all is forgiven and we fall right back into that comfortable groove and into the heart of the action without missing a beat.
It has been a long time coming and some revision of the plot will be in order but it doesn’t take long for viewers to become reacclimatised to the story and the One Piece magic that has capture our hearts over the past three years here in the UK.
Here’s hoping part 14 isn’t another year away…
English Language 5.1 Surround
Japanese Language Stereo
Episode 300 Commentary
Episode 301 Commentary
Textless Opening – “Crazy Rainbow”
One Piece In The Booth with Brina Palencia
Episode 317 Commentary
Episode 319 Commentary
Textless Opening – “Crazy Rainbow”
One Piece In The Booth with Coleen Clinkenbeard
Rating – ****
Man In Black