Anime Reporter sets out once more to the world of One Piece for the next thrilling instalment of the anime adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s manga masterpiece.
The plot follows neatly from the previous instalment (reviewed here: http://animereporter.com/2014/02/22/onepiece03/ ) and sees Luffy and crew desperately trying to reach a doctor as ship navigator Nami has fallen prey to a mysterious illness. Following an abrupt battle with the ravenous captain Wapol and his pirate army, the crew find themselves at the icy Drum Island. Their only course of action is then to carry an unconscious Nami up treacherous snow-laden mountains to find the island’s lone doctor; Kureha a spry and youthful 139 year-old doctor or witch, depending on whom you ask. Along the way lie many threats and enemies and Luffy must fight against the clock while Nami’s condition worsens with each moment. Though reaching the doctor does not mean that danger has passed. Kureha is a devout doctor, though she and her reindeer companion chopper are not remotely above charging extortionate prices from those they treat. Much of the early episodes revolve around the attempt to keep Nami safe, while also learning more about the island and its inhabitants. As more of Chopper’s history and character are revealed, it isn’t long before Luffy decides that the anthropomorphically-challenged reindeer will be the latest addition to the Going Merry. After no small amount of convincing, Chopper sets sail with the crew and a fully recovered Nami. This takes the plot as far as the end of season three of the series and the first section of this collection.
Following their time on Drum Island, the crew continues their journey to aid Princess Vivi in rescuing her land from the cruel Crocodile. Upon arrival in the nation of Alabasta, Vivi’s home and a desert nation undergoing an unprecedented drought, they soon meet a new figure, one Portgas D. Ace, Luffy’s older brother. A powerful, fire-wielding warrior and honourable pirate who cares greatly for his younger brother, Portgas briefly accompanies the Straw Hat Pirates in his own quest to track down Blackbeard, a fearsome pirate who murdered one of Ace’s crewmates. Meanwhile, the Straw Hats find themselves facing new foes as they trek across a vast desert to reach their foe. The Alabasta episodes are a nice change of pace, having much of the action taking place in the desert, avoiding the common feature of ship-to-ship battles and plunging the characters into unfamiliar territory.
The remainder of the collection sets the scene for the battles to save Alabasta and restore peace to the nation and its people. The real focus of the series, as always, remains in its characters. Within these episodes, Tony Tony Chopper (voiced by Naruto’s Konohamaru; Ikue Otani in Japanese and Brina Palencia from Soul Eater in English) in particular is singled out for significant character development and back-story, creating a likeable and relatable character in little time. Originally an ordinary reindeer, Chopper ate the Human Human Devil’s Fruit, transforming him into a bizarre mixture of the two. His natural abilities allow him to turn into three different forms between human and reindeer, while his medical expertise led to his creation of the Rumble Ball, a drug which allows him to access a further four transformations, making him a versatile and unpredictable fighter. Chopper’s personality is initially rooted in mistrust and resentment towards humans, whom he sees as cruel reminders of his past betrayals and loneliness. As his past is revealed through Kureha’s storytelling, it becomes clearer that he is a kind-hearted and trusting soul, something which endears him to Luffy quickly when Luffy’s own caring nature is revealed. As the series develops, Chopper is shown to be incredibly gullible, often being taken in by Usopp’s lies and boasts instantly.
The other new character to the series; Ace (voiced by Toshio Furukawa, Dragon Ball Z’s Picollo in Japanese and Bleach’s Travis Willingham in English), has a likeable and well-balanced nature despite his ferocity and power in battle. He is calm and soft spoken and contrasts his brother’s hot-headed nature immediately. Ace’s powers stem from the Fire Fire Fruit and allow him mastery of flames. Like Luffy, he seems to be able to shrug off great deals of damage without concern and he shares his brother’s adoration of food.
This collection is a sterling example of the strength of storytelling within the series. Action and humour abound, but without taking the place of narrative and plot points are developed patiently and effectively. The animation, similar to that of the last collection, is recognisable as being over a decade old, but not for a second does that detract from the entertainment and quality of the series. Battles and powers are portrayed smoothly and to great effect, while characters are rendered with the appropriate levels of emotion of comic exaggeration without exception. The voice acting is excellent in both languages, though it can feel a little shrill and exaggerated at times in Japanese. In particular, both voice actors for the character of Ace are to be commended for their balanced and enjoyable portrayals of the character. Characters are fleshed out nicely, transitioning from exaggerated comic pieces to emotional and driven personalities with ease. Battles are fast-paced and, though abundant, feel organic to the plot. Without a doubt, this collection is a great compliment to the series and all fans of Collections 01 to 03 shouldn’t hesitate for a moment in continuing the saga.
One Piece Collection 04 is available on DVD from Manga Entertainment.
For more information, check out
Official Twitter (Manga UK): https://twitter.com/MangaUK
Official One Piece Site: http://www.viz.com/one-piece
Official One Piece Anime Site: http://www.onepieceofficial.com/
Official One Piece Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/onepieceofficial
89%- One of the Greats!
It’s easy to see why this series consistently remains critically acclaimed and loved worldwide. Not to be missed.