ANIME & MANGA - Review
11:00 - 3rd July 2014, by NEO Staff

One Piece Collection 6

The Straw Hat Pirates are under way once again, fresh from their adventures in Alabasta, and now accompanied by their slightly sinister new passenger Nico Robin.

Of the filler episodes in this set, by far the strongest are the ones that focus on a single member of Luffy's pirate gang, weaving character development with the easy camaraderie of the crew and the knowingly silly plots; a stand-out moment being the pirates' encounter with an undersea-faring salesman who attempts to trick the crew into spending their hard-plundered cash on his wares.

Nevertheless, after a while these enjoyable yet inconsequential filler episodes can grow a little repetitious, and most viewers will likely be eager to move onto the main draw of the series, which in this collection is the crew's new adventure to Skypiea, an island in an airborne ocean above the treacherous waves of the Grand Line.

A danger for a long-running adventure such as this one is keeping the audience interested, especially after a high-stakes arc, like the previous collection's events, which saw the characters facing their toughest fights yet. Rather than attempting to push the envelope further still, this collection manages to hold your attention by changing pace and taking the characters' motivations back to basics. This time, they aren't battling a secret order of assassins or saving a nation - their voyage to reach Skypiea is all about the simple joys of exploration, and of course, obscene amounts of treasure. Basically, all the things you'd want from a swashbuckling life on the seas!

One of the most refreshing things about One Piece is the way in which it manages to subvert a lot of the typical tropes that can cause a seasoned anime viewer's eyes to glaze over - for example, angst levels are at an all-time low here, as the story refuses to take itself too seriously (or - for that matter - seriously in any way at all.).

Another factor that sets it apart is the action. The fighting sequences in some shows can often devolve into two characters facing off and monologuing about their respective fighting techniques. But the combat in One Piece tends towards being short, visceral, and to the point, making the most of the animated format in a way that some studios occasionally forget to do when creating a manga adaptation. Speaking of which, the animation and art direction are as bouncy and fun to watch as you'd hope for - the picturesque watercolour-style backgrounds in particular being a treat to behold. Though the colour palette used can leave certain scenes looking a little flat compared to Eiichiro Oda's scruffy yet dynamic linework in the manga, when the episodes are on top-form, the bold, uber-stylised character designs and frenetic animation breathe new life into these well-loved characters.

In terms of language options, while the English-language voice actors do a perfectly good job capturing the essence of the characters for the dub, there is something about the show - whether it's the fast-paced dialogue or its unique sense of humour - that seems to lend itself better to being watched in the subtitled version.

Overall, these episodes may hit a few bum notes now and again, but you won't finish the last disc feeling short-changed. This season has the feeling of a fresh new start about it, a brand-new chapter in the Straw Hat Pirates' ceaseless adventure. And although there isn't much in the way of climactic battles or major narrative shifts in this collection, there's certainly no shortage of thrills, fights, and laughs to be had along the way.

This bright and boisterous new set of episodes is everything viewers will want from the series. It's exciting, enthusiastic and above all, entertaining!
SCORE: 4/5
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