Starring: Mayumi Tanaka, Colleen Clinkenbeard, Kazuya Nakai, Christopher R. Sabat, Akemi Okamura, Luci Christian, Kappei Yamaguchi, Sonny Strait, Hiroaki Hirata, Eric Vale
Running Time: 650 minutes
These releases certainly come thick and fast, but it’s an output most should be happy with. After all, ONE PIECE isn’t a show you merely dip into every now and again. It’s a show that becomes an addiction, and like all drugs it can leave you wandering the streets begging for your next hit. This is something that could be said for many of the long running anime shows such as DRAGON BALL Z, BLEACH, and NARUTO, but it has to be said that ONE PIECE has that little something over those other popular, and often entertaining shows. Variety is the key to ONE PIECE, as it goes way beyond setting up a series of never ending fights. It has adventure, with each tale (so far) being something completely different.
This fourth collection brings us to one of the best story arcs yet. The Straw Hat Pirates take a detour to a land of snow and ice where I run into a talking, blue-nosed deer. It sounds ridiculous, and it uses that absurdity for good humour. What’s a bit more surprising is just how powerful the entire arc is. Chopper, our deer companion, is introduced as a new member of the team, but first we learn all about his tragic history. It’s handled with a level of maturity not always present in such shows, and it also manages to obscure its own silliness. Chopper is a delightful addition, and reinforces the creative fantasy elements. We’re also given bears you have to nod to as they pass, as well as carnivorous rabbits that give Monty Python a run for their money. The rabbits especially play in nicely to the dark comedic tone, as they bound at Sanjay and Luffy with the pair apparently oblivious to the attempted assaults.
The second arc follows Vivi’s return to her homeland. Here we meet a number of incredible characters, including Luffy’s older brother. Characters really are one of the factors of ONE PIECE’s success. Whereas BLEACH and NARUTO are filled with very similar characters, with most of them being warriors of some kind, ONE PIECE makes sure that every character is distinctive in their look, powers, abilities, and characteristics. They are easily recognisable, thanks to the beautiful designs, but you can also define them in words quite easily. It prevents the show from becoming stale, and makes sure that people have a purpose within the story.
Still amazing with its sketch style artwork, the fourth instalment of the ongoing franchise seems to show off at times. By jumping from a snow covered land to a harsh desert, the variety resonates through every aspect of the show. It should also be commended on its fair treatment of all characters, most notably the female characters. ONE PIECE avoids having them as merely sex objects, by giving Nami and Vivi plenty of scenes together where they clearly get along and have important discussions. They don’t bicker and bitch for either conflict or comedy, and they are not used as simple romantic conquests for the men. Funnier, more moving, and generally keeping its high level of quality, any show that introduces a talking animal character and comes up smelling like roses is surely a winner.