Anime DVD Review: One Piece Collection Nine

One Piece Collection Nine packages the One Piece Season Four Voyage One and One Piece Season Four Voyage Two releases together. Between the two sets, there are 24 episodes included. Episodes can be watched with either the English dub or with the Japanese audio with English subtitles. It should also be noted that in addition to watching episodes or using the “Play All” option, there is also a marathon feature, which allows you to watch all the episodes on a disc back-to-back without interruption. In the marathon feature, the opening credits only plays once, there are no next episode previews, and the ending credits are not included. Additionally, it should be mentioned that starting with Episode 207, the episodes in the set are in a widescreen format, because this was the first episode of the series to be formatted in 16:9 widescreen.

One Piece Collection Nine
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: April 15, 2014

The first episode in the first half of this set sees Luffy and the Straw Hats making their escape from the marine fortress after Johnathan believes he has them in “checkmate.” But after they escape, Jonathan gives them praise because their arrival helped to boost the morale of his men.

A new story arc begins with Episode 207, when the group reaches Long Ring Long Land and find that it’s inhabited by elongated versions of regular animals. Here, they meet a man named Tonjit and his horse, Shelly. But the fun times they have on the island are short lived due to the arrival of the Foxy Pirates. Foxy, the captain of the pirates, challenges Luffy to a Davy Back Fight, which is a contest of pirates where the stakes are the members of the crew. As you’d expect, Luffy is stupid enough to not only accept the challenge, he also agrees to do the maximum number of contests.

Over the next six episodes, the Straw Hats and the Foxy Pirates compete in some rather ridiculous contests which Foxy tries to rig with his Devil Fruit powers or by having his men as referees that overlook the Foxy Pirates’ blatant cheating. The Straw Hats manage to overcome the cheating and win two of the contests, and it looks like everything will be fine. But when Foxy challenges Luffy to another three contests, Luffy stupidly accepts. The final three episodes in the first half of the set begin the second set of three challenges.

The Davy Back Fight arc includes the humor and “over the top” feel that viewers have come to associate with the One Piece franchise. The best moment in this arc during the first half of this set is seeing Luffy putting on an afro wig for his boxing match against Foxy. It’s a visual that’s going to stick with me for an incredibly long time because it’s going to be so memorable.

As a viewer, though, I was getting a little frustrated after a while with all the cheating that Foxy and his crew were doing. They obviously needed to do this in order to create tension and to have a conflict in the storyline, but it was still frustrating. And I can’t forget to mention that I, like Nami and the other members of Luffy’s crew, wanted to throttle him for accepting the Davy Back Fight not just once, but twice.

And I felt so bad for Chopper, because he was taken by the Foxy Pirates not once, but twice, during this arc. Whenever I saw him crying because he was taken away from the Straw Hats, I wanted to reach through my television screen and give him a hug.

The first two episodes in the second half of the set conclude the story arc of the Davy Back Fight between the Straw Hats and the Foxy Pirates. Fortunately, all that was left was the final fight between Luffy and Foxy. Of course, it’s obvious that Luffy had to win in order for the series to continue. But I thought it was awesome, although not entirely surprising, that after Luffy takes Foxy’s crew, that he turns around and orders them to leave. But by this point, Foxy, Hamburg, and Porche have left in a small boat, so the remaining crew members take Foxy’s old ship and try to catch up to him in order to rejoin his crew.

Right at the end of this arc, something rather nice and unexpected happens for Tonjit, the man the Straw Hats met on Long Ring Long Island. To be honest, this surprise was probably one of the best things about this story arc. I’m sorry, but I found Foxy to be annoying and I was glad to see him go away.

The next five episodes in the set turn out to be part of a “filler” arc that sees most of the Straw Hats losing their memory after they anchor off an island. The only member to still have her memory is Robin, which she quickly deduces is due to staying awake all night while the others slept. This arc sees the crew having to find a way to regain their memories and to find out who was responsible for taking their memories in the first place.

Overall, I have to say that I didn’t enjoy this filler arc. While the idea of most of the crew losing their memory is an interesting premise to work with, the way it was executed just didn’t work for me. My worst issue came with the ending, though. Why would the Straw Hats know who took their memories after they were restored but not any of the villagers on the island? I know the idea was to use this to have a humorous scene, but I just couldn’t get past the lack of logic or explanation for that phenomenon.

But then, Foxy, Hamburg, and Porche return when the Straw Hats encounter their small boat during a storm. The Straw Hats rescue them and help them reunite with the Sexy Foxy ship. But when they get on the ship, they discover it’s being captained by someone else. Foxy declares a Davy Back Fight to regain his ship and crew. Foxy quickly wins, but then Foxy betrays them. In the end, Luffy and Nami work together to take down Foxy and return to their own ship.

When I saw Foxy return, I nearly groaned because I’d hoped that we were rid of him. Fortunately, he didn’t stick around as long this time. After watching this, I discovered that Foxy’s return was added filler, and it certainly felt like it. Unfortunately, it meant that most of the episodes in the second half of this set weren’t very strong and made this primarily feel like a painful viewing experience.

At least the final three episodes in the set are worth watching. The Straw Hats meet Marine High Admiral Aokiji. He appears to be rather lazy, but we learn that he and Nico Robin know each other. He has pursued her in the past since she has a bounty on her head. He keeps claiming he isn’t going to turn Nico or Luffy in, and he also works with the Straw Hats when they discover people who have been shipwrecked on the island.

But it turns out Aokiji has eaten a Devil Fruit and has the power to turn things into ice. He freezes Robin, but the other crew members get her and thaw her out. Luffy fights with Aokiji, but it’s harder than he bargained for due to Aokiji’s ability. At first, the freezing ability seems kind of creepy, but then I quickly realized that it fits in with the various other Devil Fruit abilities that we’ve seen in the series up to this point.

The very last episode sees the Going Merry narrowly miss being hit by a sea train, and the Straw Hats meet an old woman and her granddaughter at a nearby train station. While they’re there, they receive a map of Water Seven, the next location that Nami’s Log Pose is directing them to. Admittedly, not very much happens in this final episode, since it’s setting the stage for the next story arc. From things that were said in some of the episodes in this set, it looks like Luffy and the Straw Hats will be looking for a shipwright while they’re at Water Seven. From what I see, it appears the next set will focus heavily on canon material from the manga, so that makes me interested in wanting to continue watching these DVD sets to see what happens. Lord knows the episodes on it can’t be anywhere near as bad as most of what appeared on here!

The bonus features are what I’ve come to expect from these releases: staff commentary, textless songs, and trailers. The commentary can be found on the first and third discs of the set, while the remaining bonus features are on second and fourth discs.

If you’re a One Piece fan who wants to own the series on home video, but don’t want to spend the time and money to track down each individual set that’s been released, these Collection sets are a good way to go.

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