Anime Review: One Piece Collection 21

By Drew Hurley 08.11.2020

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One Piece Collection 21 (UK Rating: 12)

One Piece fans in the UK constantly have to put up with being treated as an afterthought. Before this collection, the last one to hit the UK was way back over a year ago in January 2019, where fans were treated to the most epic moment in the series history, as Marineford reached its epic climax. Now, at long last, the series is finally reaching British shores once again, just after a huge cinema release of the latest film, One Piece: Stampede. Coming courtesy of Manga Entertainment, One Piece is back! Available from March 16th.  

With the conclusion to Marineford, Oda-sensei took the opportunity of the natural conclusion to spend a little time looking back. This new arc explores the childhood of Luffy via a flashback. Picking up shortly after what had previously been seen at the start of the anime, Luffy has just received his Straw Hat from Shanks, and Garp is none too happy with him over it. He drags the kid off to the mountains to keep him away from any pirates instead, leaving him with a group of Mountain Bandits led by an imposing chungus of a woman in Curly Dadan. Luffy isn't the first kid to be dropped at her doorstep by Garp. As Luffy is soon introduced to the first child left in her care: the son of Gol D. Roger, Ace.  

Ace is 10 years old at this point, and Luffy instantly starts following the older kid around, desperately trying to befriend him. Ace has no interest in a new friend and tries to deter Luffy, as a normal kid would - by attempting to literally murder him. Pushing him off mountaintops, dropping gargantuan trees on him, leading him to valleys filled with wolves.  

Anyone who knows Luffy knows this is nothing to the little rubber boy, who continues his pursuit of this new friend without a care. It takes three months for him to actually keep up with Ace, and when he does, he manages to make it to the end of the forest. Here, he finds a surprise, a place known as Grey Terminal. This is where the refuse of society in this land, both physical and living, ends up. Ace may have no intention of befriending this new little, bratty kid, but he already got a friend here at the terminal. A kid called Sabo. While Ace and Sabo are initially dismissive of Luffy - even debating killing him off at first! Eventually, the trio becomes inseparable, with the first few episodes dedicated to the development of this brotherhood.  

Sabo and Ace have the same dream as Luffy, to head off and become a pirate, and the three work together, gathering money to fund their dream. This tale is expanded with some filler here in the anime, compared to the original manga. Giving the kids more time to show off their developing bonds, including adding an anime original character, an old ex-Pirate Captain named Naguri who once battled against Roger. Naguri helps to mentor the kids in their quest to kill the giant Tiger of the forest.  

Regardless of this departure for some extra development, the story ends the same way, with a Celestial Dragon visiting the Goa Kingdom, and a reason Sabo isn't mentioned again until this point in the story. The corruption of the nobles, and the Dragons showing a country rotten to the core. This arc makes up the first two disks of the collection, as the final episode on disk 2 wraps up, the story returns to Luffy and Jinbei on Amazon Lily. Here, the fallout of Ace's death is glimpsed. Garp returning to Windmill village. Shanks undertaking burial duties for both Ace and Whitebeard. As Luffy is falling apart, as the doubt and guilt threaten to overtake him, he remembers he still has something. His crew.  

That crew is the focus of the following episodes, giving a glimpse where each of the Strawhats ended up after their confrontation with Bartholemew Kuma. Zoro found himself alongside Perona on an island known as the Muggy Kingdom, where the weapon-wielding local baboons are determined to carve him to pieces. There's a much bigger threat on this island, as a man from Zoro's past happens to have made his home there. Next up is Chopper, who finds himself in the Birdie Kingdom. Here, primitive natives fight against gargantuan birds over a towering tree. The Natives needing the herbs that grow there to treat an epidemic which is burning through their people. Chopper's ability to speak with animals along with his medical abilities gives him the perfect shot at helping both sides.  

Nami finds herself in the Sky Island of Weatheria where the wizardly inhabitants have made a science of utilising the weather. Usopp has found himself in, what seems to be, a paradise of food. An island filled with decadent cuisine, where he has gorged himself into a chonky boy. However, these Bowin islands are actually alive, a huge venus flytrap like the great Sarlacc that devours those foolish enough to enter. Sanji is embracing his feminine side upon Kamabakka kingdom amongst the other Okana. On the snowy wastelands of Tequila Wolf, Robin is first captured by the marines, before being saved by the Revolutionary Army. Franky is on a similarly icy island. Surrounded by mechanical animals and the old labs of legendary Marine scientist Dr. Vegapunk. Finally, Brook is being worshipped as Satan by some death cultists on the island of Hungaria, taking the time to compose some new songs.  

When the News Coo delivers the outcome of the War of the Best and Ace's passing to each Straw Hat, they each begin planning their way of returning to their Captain and Nakama. They've all agreed to meet up in three days, but when Rayleigh arrives at Amazon Lily, he explains to Luffy that this may not be the best plan - and soon each of the Strawhats is making the most of their new temporary homes, making themselves stronger for the New World that lies ahead. The pairings seen for each of the Straw Hats are fantastic, giving some wonderful and funny dynamics to play with, whether it be seeing how Sanji bounces of Iva, or Zoro deals with Perona. The remainder of the collection is dedicated to this, and closes on the perfect cliff-hanger to what comes next.  

Being a Funimation release, there are the usual bonus features. There are two commentary tracks from the English staff, a short video of outtakes, trailers, and the textless opening video. Finally, there's a featurette entitled 'Shot Heard Around the World,' where some random Funimation staff along with Mike McFarland, talk about the death of Ace, and the conclusion of the War of the Best. This release contains the English dub, and for that very reason, there may be fewer and fewer of these releases in the future, or potentially a release without the English dub. As of this week, 920 episodes of One Piece have aired in Japan, but only 570-ish of those have actually been dubbed. So, unless Funimation ramps up production, these sort of huge delays between releases are going to continue. 

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
A reminder why One Piece is the greatest Shonen out there. Coming off the back of the greatest arc in the series history, the stories here are significantly less exciting in comparison, but are still utterly engaging. The tale of the brothers finally giving weight and meaning to the bond Luffy held with him, not to mention showing how Luffy's crew have become his new family. The stage is set for the new world, with the Strawhats and everyone related to them setting sail to the New World.

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