Anime Review: One Piece Collection 15 (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 28.01.2017

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One Piece Collection 15 (UK Rating: 12)

Despite this being the first anime box set of One Piece to be reviewed here by Cubed3, the team is well acquainted with the series, having watched the anime for over 15 years and read the manga for years before that. Despite being one of the greatest series Japan has ever produced, it hasn't always received a product to do it the justice it deserves in the West. The awful 4Kids release is best left forgotten, for instance. Thankfully, since Funimation acquired the licence, it has been putting out regular releases of the series loyal to its roots. This latest collection comes courtesy of Manga Entertainment and continues the Thriller Bark storyline, covering from episode 349 to episode 372.

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The Thriller Bark arc is well loved with good reason, combining the One Piece world with Halloween/Burton-esque elements of monsters, ghosts, zombies, and more, delivering a fantastic story. This is jumping into that story midway, though, so it is expected that viewers have read the manga or know the series. The previous collection concluded with the Strawhats struggling against the minions of the Shichibukai Gekko Moriah. Their three strongest - Luffy, Zoro and Sanji - have all been captured by Moriah, Franky, and Robin, and are in similar straits, while the weakest members of the party are stuck hidden in plain sight, stuffed inside a giant living teddy bear, Kumacy. The Strawhat pirates have an ace in the hole against the relentless undead, though - the latest addition to their crew and an undead of their own, the Gentleman Skeleton, Humming Swordsman Brook. Brook has been stuck on Thriller Bark for some time and gives the Strawhats insider info on their enemies and how to defeat them. Gekko Moriah has the ability to cut the shadow from a person and attach it to another, transferring the power and abilities from one person to another. Moriah has built himself an army of the undead by having his subordinate Dr. Hogback craft incredibly powerful corpse warriors and then, by combining stolen powers of the shadows and digging up the corpses of great warriors, compound their strength.

Just imagine the powers of Luffy, Zoro and Sanji, placed inside the bodies of undying monstrous zombies that have been modified with the muscles of wild beasts. That nightmare situation soon becomes the reality in these episodes as all three lost their shadows and are used to strengthen Moriah's crew, with Luffy's shadow being used to revitalise the corpse of a legendary monster of its time, a giant named Oars who shook the world. Now he's back with Luffy's strength added to his own, not to mention Luffy's personality… Those aren't the only enemies to deal with, either, since Moriah also has the "Mysterious Three" at his beck and call. The previously mentioned Dr. Hogback is the first, along with the Ghost Princess Perona, and Absalom a modified human who ate the clear-clear fruit and can turn himself invisible. Absalon also has an obsession with a certain hot red-headed navigator. The Strawhat's strongest aren't the only ones trying to recover their shadows, as their latest Nakama is, too. Brook is hunting the zombie who holds his shadow, but since Moriah attached it to a legendary samurai warrior, he has little chance of recovering his shadow.

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The addition of Brook to the crew is fantastic. He's a great addition of more comic relief to the crew, with his skull jokes and timely inappropriate questions for the ladies. Like every other Nakama, he has the required heartfelt and touching back-story, too, one that already ties into the past of the show. It's worth experiencing first-hand, but he has someone waiting for him to return to the entrance of the grand line. Those who don't remember the Strawhats' earlier meeting with Brook's lost Nakama have a flashback episode to fill in the blanks. Many of the new characters introduced in this collection are particularly good: the lazy Shichibukai Moriah who relies on his subordinates to make him more powerful, the pervy Absalom, the negative ghost princess Perona, and Oars, in particular, is great. This gargantuan monster with immense destructive power wanders around acting like a heavily drunk version of Luffy. It makes for tons of genuinely big laugh out loud moments; for example, as he lifts a building-sized chunk of stone above his head and the Strawhats are panicking, they are about to be crushed, only for him to use it like a hat and go stomping off on an adventure, or accidentally flooding Thriller Bark as he fancies having a bit of a swim and causes huge tidal waves as he does so.

Like the rest of Funi's releases, this collection comes with dual audio, and while the English dub is a world apart from the horrendous 4Kids dub of the past, it still cannot hold a candle to the spectacular performances of the Japanese cast. There is always a decent mix of extra features on these collections and this is no exception. There are commentary tracks with the series' ADR Director, Mike MacFarland, and various members of the cast. There is also a pair of behind the scenes features entitled "One Piece in the Booth," which give a behind the scenes look into the production of the show. The first is with long time ADR Director, Mike MacFarland and Zoro's voice actor Christopher Sabat, and then the second is with Mike's stand-in, Joel Macdonald, along with lead writer, Clint Bickham and Sanji voice actor Eric Vale. It's interesting to see what exactly goes into the creation of the episodes, although it's hard to watch Clint… he randomly seems to be taking credit for the writing itself instead of just his translation - he thinks an awful lot of himself. It's balanced out, at least, by the highly likeable Eric Vale and Chris Sabat. One of the best, and yet simplest, features is the "Marathon Feature," a way of playing through all of the episodes without having to watch the opening and ending or the recap of every episode. It's a feature all series collections should employ.

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Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
The king of today's Shonen again shows off why it deserves its crown. This fantastic One Piece arc is filled with everything that makes the series so special - dynamic action, real laugh out loud moments, truly touching moments, all combined together into a spectacular package. There are only nine episodes remaining in the Thriller Bark arc, and the superb Sabaody Archipelago arc. Hopefully, Manga Entertainment will get them to UK shores soon.

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