Anime Blu-ray/DVD Combo Review: One Piece Collection 26

One Piece Collection 26 is the first Blu-ray/DVD combo release for the One Piece collection sets. The set packages together One Piece Season Ten Voyage Four and One Piece Season Eleven Voyage One. This set includes four DVDs and two Blu-ray discs, because only One Piece Season Eleven Voyage One was released as a Blu-ray/DVD combo. Future One Piece collection sets should include four DVDs and four Blu-ray Discs. Between the two sets, there are 27 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 26
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: June 15, 2021

The first 11 episodes of the set continue the Punk Hazard arc. During these episodes, there is of course an epic fight between Luffy and Caesar Clown. But there’s also an important battle that takes place between Smoker and Vergo. But Trafalgar Law plays an important role in the battle between Smoker and Vergo, and he also destroys the SAD that Caesar was manufacturing to make SMILE (an artificial Zoan Devil fruit). This is an important plot point, because Doflamingo, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, depends on both SAD and SMILE. While Law had made the alliance with Luffy and the Straw Hats to go after one of the Four Emperors, targeting Doflamingo in this way is one of the steps toward the goal… since Doflamingo has a deal with the Emperor, who uses SMILE to build up an army with Zoan Devil fruit powers.

Luffy ends up giving Caesar a powerful punch that sends him flying out of his laboratory, which gives everyone the opportunity to work at escaping from the lab while trying to avoid the poisonous gas. Even though Luffy kicked Caesar’s butt, that’s not the end of this story. Doflamingo sends a couple of his people (Buffalo and Baby 5) to Punk Hazard to try to rescue Caesar and bring him back to Dressrosa, since he’s the only one who knows how to make SAD. This time, Franky gets the spotlight as he goes up against Doflamingo’s minions.

When all is said and done, the children who were rescued from Caesar’s lab are sent with the Navy to be reunited with their families. There’s quite an impactful scene here, because many of the Navy members are trying to hide the Straw Hats from the children and trying to indoctrinate them into believing pirates are bad. The children are traumatized by this, and Tashigi eventually intervenes… although I thought she should have reacted sooner to what her men were doing. Kin’emon and his son accompany the Straw Hats, since they’re all headed to the same place.

Law and the Straw Hats capture Caesar, and Law uses a transponder snail to send his demands to Doflamingo… Doflamingo can have Caesar back if he resigns from the Seven Warlords of the Sea. Unfortunately, before we can see what Doflamingo decides to do, the series cuts away to three episodes that are obviously not part of the “canon” storyline from the manga. Caesar is kidnapped by a man named Breed, who has eaten the Pet-Pet Fruit. This gives him the ability to throw a slime that forms a collar around the target’s neck… and Breed is able to control anyone who is wearing one of his collars. While it was kind of neat to see Luffy and Chopper being reunited with the Dugong that became Luffy’s disciple during the Alabasta arc, these three episodes didn’t truly add anything to the story. The only important part happened right at the end of the third episode of this section, when it’s revealed in the newspaper that Doflamingo has resigned from the Seven Warlords.

We then move on to the final 13 episodes of the disc, which are the first 13 episodes of the Dressrosa arc. When Law makes contact with Doflamingo again, Luffy grabs the transponder snail and threatens Doflamingo… who calmly responds that he has something that Luffy wants. It turns out that Doflamingo has acquired the Flame-Flame Fruit, which was the Devil Fruit that Ace ate to gain his Devil Fruit power. It’s being offered as a prize in a big fight at the coliseum, and Luffy (who is in disguise) joins in the fight under the name “Lucy.” Franky is originally with Luffy, but leaves the coliseum after running into a talking toy soldier, who says he has a mission to destroy the SMILE factory and rescue the workers being held prisoner there.

During these episodes, the other Straw Hats are separated. Zoro chases after something that has stolen one of his swords. Sanji is distracted by a beautiful girl named Violet and has an adventure with her. Robin, Usopp, and Law go on a mission to take Caesar Clown to Green Bit, where they’re supposed to hand Caesar over to Doflamingo. Robin and Usopp have an encounter with a group of fairies near the end of these episodes, and their storyline is just getting going there when the set ends. Nami, Chopper, Brook, and Momonosuke (Kin’emon’s son) are on the Thousand Sunny, while Kin’emon is trying to find one of his samurai companions.

A lot of time is spent on the fight at the coliseum, where new characters are introduced, such as Rebecca (a female gladiator) and Cavendish (a “beautiful boy” pirate who is rather stuck up). However, we also see the return of Bellamy, a man who had made fun of Luffy back in Mock Town when he heard that the Straw Hats were trying to get to the Sky Island. It was kind of interesting to see Bellamy reappear after all this time, but dang… he really got huge since we had last seen him.

Personally, I thought the Dressrosa arc was off to a good start on this set, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen next to the various characters in this arc. Although, I have to admit that with just how split up the characters are right now, I’m trying to keep up with several storylines that are taking place at the same time. And since quite a bit of time focuses on the story in the coliseum, it can make it a little harder to remember where the other storylines are at when the focus returns onto them.

When it comes to bonus features, the first DVD in the set doesn’t include any. The second DVD in the set has a roughly six-and-a-half minute feature about dubbing the Punk Hazard arc. It’s hosted by Josellie Rios, the audience development strategist at FUNimation. She talks with Colleen Clinkenbeard (the English voice for Luffy) and Brina Palencia (the English voice for Chopper). They talk about what it’s like to return to dubbing One Piece after being away from the property for a while, and they also talk about how their characters have evolved over the two-year timeskip. I thought this was a nice feature. There’s also a textless version of the opening song, “Hands Up!” included as well.

The third DVD in this set (as well as the first Blu-ray Disc) do not have any bonus features included. The fourth DVD doesn’t include any bonus features, but the second Blu-ray disc does. It includes “FunimationCon 2020 One Piece Panel – Part 1,” which runs for about 17-and-a-half minutes. The panel is hosted by Josellie Rios (who hosted the Punk Hazard dubbing feature on the second DVD), and includes appearances by Colleen Clinkenbeard (English voice for Luffy), Brina Palencia (English voice for Chopper), Stephanie Young (English voice for Robin), Jerry Jewell (English voice for Caesar Clown), and Chris Ryan (English voice for Kin’emon). Josellie asks various questions of the panelists about One Piece. Since this was done online with something like Zoom, it can be a little jarring at times if someone’s audio was acting up while they were talking. There were also a couple of instances where there was an obvious cut made to the footage (the most glaring is seeing Colleen grabbing a cup, and then there’s a sudden “jump cut” and the cup is nowhere in sight). This wasn’t a bad bonus feature at all, considering what they had to work with at the time One Piece Season Eleven Voyage One was being authored. The COVID pandemic definitely made some of the usual bonus features that appear in these sets basically impossible to do, so FUNimation tried to do the best they could to provide something as a bonus feature. There’s also a textless version of the opening song, “Wake Up!”

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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