Anime DVD Review: One Piece Collection 18

One Piece Collection 18 packages the One Piece Season Seven Voyage Four and One Piece Season Seven Voyage Five 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 play once, there are no next episode previews.

One Piece Collection 18
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: February 14, 2017

This set begins with Garp visiting Ace at Impel Down and letting him know that Luffy now knows their parentage. Ace makes it clear that he doesn’t acknowledge his father and that he views Whitebeard as his father. Meanwhile, Boa Hancock makes it to Impel Down and manages to sneak Luffy into the prison. Hancock’s power to turn people to stone comes in handy and allows Luffy to get away undetected by the wardens.

During the first four episodes in the set, Luffy encounters Buggy the Clown, who has escaped from his cell. They make a pact to work together, and Buggy reveals his past association with Ace. The two of them start working their way through the various levels of Impel Down. Even though Buggy tries to find ways to break this pact, since we already know from the past that he’s not a stand up person, he finds himself stuck with Luffy due to circumstances beyond his control. On one of the levels, they encounter Mr. 3, who offers to help them get to the next level of the prison. Right at the end of these four episodes, Sengoku recalls a man who escaped from Impel Down 20 years ago, by the name of Golden Lion Shiki.

Sengoku’s recollection leads into the next four episodes, which serve as a prologue for the film, One Piece: Strong World. Basically, Golden Lion Shiki is making a move right before the events of the film, by offering to make the Amigo Pirates the 51st crew under his command if they fulfill a request. If you couldn’t figure out form the name, the Amigo Pirates dress like members of a mariachi band and have maracas as part of their logo. After a fight with a large beetle, the Straw Hats who hail from the East Blue find themselves on an island with people and places that resemble where they came from. While they’re there, the Amigo Pirates attack, and it’s up to the Straw Hats to defend the people living on the island. Since I haven’t seen One Piece: Strong World, I really can’t comment too much on these episodes. All I know is that while these episodes are important for the film, I was a little frustrated that this was interrupting such an important storyline for One Piece.

The remaining episodes in this set focus on Luffy and his attempt to rescue Ace before his execution. In addition to Buggy the Clown and Mr. 3, he also comes across and frees Mr. 2 (aka Bon Clay). Unlike the other two, Mr. 2 genuinely wants to help Luffy after becoming friends at the end of the Alabasta arc. It was an interesting experience to watch Luffy working alongside some characters we haven’t seen in a while. One thing I found interesting with Bon Clay is the fact that at this point in the series, he’s outright calling himself a queer… which is something that was dance around (pardon the pun) in the Alabasta arc. But this acknowledgement of being queer is important for a plot point later on.

At one point, Luffy is up against Magellan, the warden of Impel Down who ate Venom Venom Fruit, which gives him poisonous breath. Because Luffy goes rushing headlong into the fight, he absorbs quite a bit of poison and isn’t expected to live. Bon Clay saves Luffy, and searches for a prisoner named Emporio Ivankov, who is known for miracles. As fate would have it, the two of them are rescued after being attacked by Army Wolves, by someone associated with Ivankov.

Ivankov has established Level 5.5, a secret area of the prison that is basically a “crossdresser’s paradise.” Ivankov is a crossdresser, and the character’s outfit really gave off some Rocky Horror Picture Show vibes, especially the outfit worn by the character Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the film. I also thought that Ivankov’s face looked as if it could have been modeled after Tim Curry. This wasn’t a turn I had expected One Piece to take, but I didn’t mind it, either. Ivankov has eaten the Horm-Horm Fruit, which gives the ability to manipulate people’s hormones for various reasons. This power helps to cure Luffy from the effects of the poison. But through Luffy’s own willpower, he made it through the treatment faster than expected.

After learning that Luffy is the son of Monkey D. Dragon, Ivankov agrees to help Luffy’s quest to free Ace. We learn that Ivankov was one of Dragon’s commanders in the revolutionary army. Unfortunately, Luffy and the others arrive too late… Ace has already been taken out of Impel Down. They also find themselves trapped in the lowest level… but find an ally in Crocodile, who is also in this level. Fortunately, Ivankov has some blackmail he can hold over Crocodile in order to keep him in line. They also make an ally out of Jimbei, a former Warlord of the Sea, who had been imprisoned with Ace. As chaos ensues in Impel Down, Blackbeard makes an appearance that only adds to the chaos. This set ends in the middle of the fights and chaos that are taking place in Impel Down.

Even though we hardly ever leave Impel Down during the episodes in this set, a lot happens here. The story gets rather intense, especially once Luffy and Bon Clay are saved by Ivankov. Ivankov is an intense character in and of himself, and at times, he almost makes Luffy seem rather tame. There were times in the episodes in this set where I felt bad for Luffy, especially when he makes it to the lowest level, only to discover that Ace has already been taken away. This set ends in such a way where, if you’ve invested yourself in this arc, you want to continue in order to find out what’s going to happen next.

When it comes to bonus features, the first disc has a commentary for Episode 425, “The Strongest Man in the Prison! Poison Man Magellan Appears.” Disc Two includes a feature called “Chopper Plays Doctor,” which Brina Palencia, the English dub actor for Tony Tony Chopper, uses the Operation board game to cure her follow voice actors’ “ailments.” She reads a card with the voice actor’s name and the ailment, and there’s a shot of the voice actor with their “ailment.” Overall, Brina did OK  with the game, but her last one, the Charley Horse, drove her nuts. This was an OK bonus feature, and was definitely better than the “A Day in the Life of ZZZZoro” feature that appeared on the previous set. There’s also commentary on Episode 432, “The Unleashed Swan! A Reunion with Bon Clay.” This disc also includes textless versions of two opening themes: “Share The World” and “Kaze Wo Sagashite.” And there’s also trailers for other releases from FUNimation Entertainment.

Disc three contains commentary for Episode 434, “All Forces Have Gathered! The Battle of Level 4. The Burning Heat Hell.” The final disc in the set includes the bonus featrure, “Cooking With Sanji.” Eric Vale, the English voice for Sanji, does a cooking segment for a Thai dish that runs for about 20 minutes. For the three voice actor segments of this variety, where the voice actor is doing something that their character is doing (Christopher Sabat, Brina Palencia, and Eric Vale), this one has been the best at this point. There is also commentary on Episode 442, “Ace’s Convoy Begins, Battle on the Lowest Floor, Level 6!” There’s also a textless version for the opening theme, “Kaze Wo Sagashite,” as well as trailers for other FUNimation Entertainment releases.

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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