One Piece: Episode of East Blue is a television special for the One Piece anime that aired on Japanese television on August 26, 2017.

One Piece: Episode of East Blue
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: September 24, 2019

The special is set at the point where Luffy, Zoro, Nami, Usopp, and Sanji are aboard the Going Merry and are about to head into the Grand Line. Sanji grabs a barrel, and each member puts their foot on the barrel as they share their dream. The special is made up of five “episodes,” and each episode focuses on the backstory for one of the characters. In between each “episode,” we return to the scene with the barrel, and the character who will be focused on next shares their dream before the special launches into their backstory.

It’s interesting to note that depictions of events in “Episode of Luffy,” “Episode of Sanji,” and “Episode of Nami” are changed in order to more closely align with Oda’s presentation of them in the original manga source material. It should also be noted that “Episode of Luffy” shows how Luffy got the scar under his eye, which had been completely cut from the anime series’ telling of Luffy’s backstory.

While the special wasn’t choppy going between the various characters’ backstories, there were edits made “Episode of Zoro,” “Episode of Sanji,” and “Episode of Nami” that made them feel slightly choppy because of some events that were cut. But even with those edits, One Piece: Episode of East Blue feels nowhere near as choppy as the One Piece: The Desert Princess and the Pirates Adventures in Alabasta anime film that tried to distill the Alabasta arc down into a movie-length story.

After I watched One Piece: Episode of East Blue, I got the impression that the director went into this special with the intention of trying to depict the characters’ backstories in a way that are more faithful to Oda’s intent and vision than the anime series. By making this choice, it also makes this special more interesting to viewers who know the anime series’ telling of these stories. Because of these changes, it’s also clear that most, if not all, of the special was reanimated. With the re-done animation and the changes made to align closer with the manga, it helps to make this special not feel quite like it’s simply a “rehash” of what viewers of the series had already seen.

The Blu-ray included in this release has 1080p High Definition 16:9 (HD Native) video. The audio includes Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD: Japanese 2.0. The DVD included in the release has two audio options: English 5.1 Surround and Japanese Stereo.

When it comes to bonus features, there is only one, and it appears on the Blu-ray in this set. It’s a documentary put together by FUNimation Entertainment to celebrate the 20th anniversary of One Piece. The documentary runs for almost an hour, and it includes interviews with the English cast and FUNimation crew talking about One Piece, how they became involved with One Piece, and other topics that relate to One Piece. While the interview subjects make it clear that they are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the franchise, some of them fudge with or hem and haw their way around whether or not their involvement was for the entire 20 years. While it’s mentioned that another company once held the North American rights for the series, and some of the voice actors talk about the reactions around FUNimation when it was announced that the company had gotten the rights for One Piece, there were some interview subjects who tried to make it appear that FUNimation had had the rights for the property for more than the 12 years the company would have had them at the time the interviews were done. But outside of that, though, it’s actually a well-done documentary.

This Blu-ray/DVD combo release is the only way to acquire the One Piece: Episode of East Blue anime special in North America, and I would recommend it to fans who want to add this special to their anime home video library.

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