Anime DVD Review: One Piece Collection 21

One Piece Collection 21 packages together the One Piece Season Eight Voyage Four and One Piece Season Eight Voyage Five releases together. Between the two sets, there are 24 episodes included. It should be noted that Episode 492, which was a crossover between One Piece and Toriko, is not included in either this set or on One Piece Collection 21. It’s one of the few episodes of the series that FUNimation Entertainment does not have the rights to.

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 21
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: December 5, 2017

The first two discs in the set make up a long flashback arc of Luffy’s childhood and growing up with Ace, beginning from when Luffy is first brought by Garp to live with the mountain bandit Curly Dadan and her henchmen. Garp had already brought Ace to them as a baby to look after and has decided that they should watch over his grandson as well. Luffy wants to become friends with Ace, but Ace wants nothing to do with him for a while. This is such a change from how close we saw Luffy and Ace were during the series. This arc also introduces Sabo, a boy of noble birth who has run away from home and lives among the junkyard at Gray Terminal. He’s friends with Ace, and the two of them are stealing treasure to save up for their own pirate ship.

Over the course of this flashback arc, we see Ace warming up to Luffy, and how the three boys form a brotherhood with one another. This flashback also shows just how incorrigible the nobles are, and you understand why Sabo ran away from home. We see tragedy befall Sabo when a Celestial Dragon shoots the fishing boat that he was aboard, although unknown to Ace or Luffy, Sabo isn’t dead. The end of this flashback shows both when Ace heads out and sea and when Luffy heads out three years later.

While it might seem like this type of a flashback is filler, it really isn’t when you think about it. Right before this flashback, Luffy has learned that Ace died and he’s taking it hard. This flashback could very well be Luffy remembering Ace and the things going through his mind as he’s trying to process his grief. I also appreciated this flashback because it introduces Sabo, a name that Ace mentioned as he was dying in Luffy’s arms.

The second half of the set sees Luffy deciding what we wants to do, and how he gets a message across to his crewmates about the change in plans. It’s a crazy stunt that he pulls, but it’s effective and gets the attention of the media. Considering how widespread his crew is at this point in time, getting a special tattoo on his arm and getting his picture taken by the press by pulling a crazy stunt was the most effective way for Luffy to reach the others.

With these episodes, it becomes apparent that what I thought was filler episodes (what was happening to the rest of the crew while Luffy was trying to rescue Ace) is actually canon material. This is especially made clear with the episodes in the final disc of the set, because these episodes explain what these characters are going to be doing during the two years that they wait to reunite with Luffy. The final episode of the set also shows the audience the type of training that Luffy will be undergoing with Rayleigh over the next two years. From the preview that’s at the end of the final episode of this set, the next set is going to open with the timeskip.

Overall, I found Collection 21 to be an important release for the series. The episodes included here give the audience backstory on Luffy and Ace’s past, as well as preparing the audience for the timeskip that is about to happen.

The first disc includes a commentary on Episode 495, “I Won’t Run! Ace’s Desperate Rescue Operation!” The second disc has a bonus feature titled, “Inside Look: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” This roughly 14-and-a-half minute feature has Mike McFarland, Joel McDonald, as well as two other people associated with FUNimation Entertainment, and they talk about how Ace’s death affects Luffy and the overall story of One Piece. They also talk about their own reactions to this pivotal moment in the series. This disc also includes commentary on Episode 503, “Take Good Care of Him! A Letter From the Brother!,” as well as a textless version of the opening theme, “Fight Together,” and trailers for other releases from FUNimation Entertainment.

The third disc includes a commentary for Episode 506, “Straw Hats in Shock! The Bad News Has Reached Them!” The final disc in the set includes a bonus feature titled, “One Piece Outtakes: Part 1.” This nearly 11-minute feature has outtakes from some of the dubbing sessions for the various characters. Most include mistakes voice actors made, although some just seem to have been done as jokes. I’ve seen various “outtake” special features on anime DVD releases over the years, and this is probably one of the better ones. Most of the others I’ve seen come across as fake and scripted. Most of these, at least, feel like legitimate outtakes. This disc also includes commentary on Episode 515, “I Will Get Much, Much Stronger! Zoro’s Pledge to His Captain!,” as well as another textless version of the opening theme, “Fight Together,” and trailers for other releases from FUNimation Entertainment.

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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