Anime Review: One Piece Collection 17

By Drew Hurley 06.07.2018

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One Piece Collection 17 (UK Rating: 12)

It's been some time since the undisputed king of shonen returned to the West but, finally, the Strawhats are back and they are bringing a big change to the world. This is the golden age of One Piece, coming off of the divisive Thriller Bark arc; this arc - Sabaody Archipelago - and what comes after, is widely regarded as the very best of One Piece, comparable only with arcs like Water 7. This latest collection contains episodes 397-421, comes courtesy of Manga Entertainment, and is out now.

The previous collection ended with a heck of a closing moment - a Celestial Dragon punch as Luffy knocked one of the untouchable elite of the world flying. His friend kidnapped and about to be sold into slavery, his other new friend shot. Too many slimy smug comments from Saint Charlos and Luffy has declared war on the world government. This simple act of violence brings about the biggest change in One Piece history. The Celestial Dragons can call in one of the three legendary admirals, and they decide Luffy's disrespect deserves exactly that. Suddenly the archipelago is rocked by a huge war between some of the most powerful pirates of the generation fighting against the unimaginably powerful admiral Sakazuki, the head of the science division Sentomaru, a Shichibukai, and an army of marines.

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This part of the story introduces so many new huge characters that become absolutely essential to the future of One Piece, including fan favourites from The Worst Generation, and they get a real chance to rampage and show off their stuff here. Trafalgar Law, Admiral Kizaru, and Golden Roger's first mate Rayleigh all have their first appearances here.

The collection covers the entire remainder of the Sabaody arc and delivers an unbelievably conclusion that left the manga readers aghast when it first launched and for those new viewers who have managed to avoid spoilers to this point, it deserves to be experienced without spoilers. The following arc is also wrapped up in this collection, although mentioning what happens there would spoil Sabaody! Suffice it to say another Shichibukai makes her first appearance as the Pirate Empress Hancock takes centre stage in this arc. One Piece does Themyscira.

Toei gets a lot of flak for the quality of the One Piece anime; sometimes rightly so, but considering the insane timescales and the crazy working hours, it's a superb production. There is some cheap looking moments here and there with age-old animation tricks used to make the most out of the challenge, but there is also some great looking moments that really stand out. On the audio front, One Piece has long had some of the big voice acting and audio production. Composer Kohei Tanaka has long produced outstanding tracks that really can emphasise the emotion on-screen and this is continued here. That being said, the English dub should be utterly ignored; just pretend it doesn't exist.

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Onto the bonus features of this collection; there is a marathon play feature, but it doesn't really work. It cuts out the next episode preview along with the opening and ending themes, but it leaves in the episode recap. Worst yet, chapter skip doesn't work here, either, instead jumping through some of the episode. Poor design. There are the usual Funimation episode commentaries, which are always hit and miss based on which of the regulars will try far too hard to be funny. Then there are the usual trailers, a textless opening of "Share the World," twice for some reason… and then there are the featurettes. First up is a featurette called, "A Day in the life of Zorrrro," with the always charming Christopher Sabbat. Watch this. He's a wonderful man. Then, conversely, there's a 20-minute behind the scenes featurette on the production of the dub, entitled "In the booth with Sonny Strait." This is something that hardcore fans will find it hard to sit through, and casual fans will be misinformed by. Skip this.

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
Bafflingly, One Piece has never garnered the widespread appeal of its contemporaries in the West, which is an absolute travesty. This is far and above the very best shonen has to offer and this arc manages to show why; phenomenally fun, yet also managing to land absolute gut-punch emotional moments. One Piece Collection 17 constantly delivers new characters that all manage to be memorable. This collection contains one of the most important moments of the whole series and is building to something even more special with the upcoming Impel Down and Marineford arcs. Hopefully, Manga UK won't make the fans wait so long for the next one.

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