As a huge fan of the series and recently returning from fan heaven, Japan; visiting One Piece restaurants, theme parks and entire shops dedicated to One Piece merchandise, I can say the only thing better than One Piece is more One Piece. Madman have released the next set for this epic journey on DVD with One Piece Uncut Collection 36.
Monkey D. Luffy is the pirate who will become king of pirates and in this collection we follow his progress infiltrating the impregnatable prison of Impel Down to save his brother Ace from the executioner’s block. Here he faces his hardest challenges yet and with Luffy’s uncanny luck and sheer determination we are shown a truly epic and panicle point in the series.
Luffy is always surrounded by a vast array of interesting and in depth characters. As this collection kicks off we are better introduced to some of the workings of the Impel Down, its Warden, Magellan, and his subordinates, Vice Warden Hannyabal and Sadie. Impel Down is truly a miserable place for its inhabitants and despite this Luffy pushes on to work his way into the bowels of this dreadful place.
This collection continues to visit some of Luffy’s previous endeavors with a few more old enemy faces making an appearance, as to their importance in this Arc, I’m sure it will later be revealed. I had always wondered what ever become of Luffy’s defeated enemies and so this Arc explains this unanswered question of what happened to them. It is an enjoyable aspect to the collection that really has you reminiscing on Luffy’s many wild adventures to date.
While this collection is being carried by old faces, in typical One Piece style it also introduces new characters, that always bring both bizarre and entertaining tones to the series, also managing to have a third dimension making them interesting and engaging characters.
Buggy and Mr. 3 have teamed up to escape Impel Down but inevitably continue to get caught up in Luffy’s antics. These two characters while providing some comic relief to scenarios also seem to point out the hopeless ness of Luffy’s endeavor and situation. Neither, of course, achieve dampening Luffy or Bon Clay’s spirits but they do provide an interesting contrast to the heroes of the collection.
Of all the enemies Luffy has faced Magellanis his toughest opponent yet. Luffy really reaches his limits in this collection. His spirit and resolve are truly tested. Luffy indeed goes through some of the most intense experiences in the series so far. Emotionally he is a desperate state to save his brother with almost no regard for anything else but this end goal. I found this part to be emotional and engaging and while still filled with some amusement it really focusses on relationships and sacrifice.
The whole theme is one of strong bonds and friendship. The incredible sacrifices made and devotion to bonds created and displayed in this series are heartwarming. You can feel Luffy’s and Bon Clay’s determination every step of the way. Bon Clay Goes through his own emotional journey and once again really warms the heart as in his failings as a friend to Luffy only turns him around to make his resolve all the more intense to be there for Luffy in the end.
Visually the same art style is continued and despite its simplistic nature does a fantastic job of capturing the tones and ideas portrayed. The music compliments this well and really intensifies a scene or lightens the mood as intended.
This is my first experience with the English version of the series. I will mention I have watched the entire series in Japanese and so trying the English version was a unique experience. I can appreciate when someone is accustomed to one version they will always likely prefer it. So I can say with some bias I prefer the Japanese version of the series.
I feel the Japanese voice actors do bring across a more mature atmosphere. Though the English voice actors did go through Japanese approval the voices chosen somehow seem to have an appeal to a younger audience despite being generally the same dialogue and story. Luffy’s voice in particular reminds me strongly of 10-year-old sounding Ash Ketchum’s voice from the Pokemon anime series. For the picky viewers, like myself, Japanese is an option. Those who have watched the series only in English up-to-date likely won’t find this an issue. Regardless of language this collection is fantastic and I would recommend it either way.
The impel Down Arc continues to impress and provide some unique story and characters that have both been visited before and new ones that create new and interesting twists that continue to surprise. One Piece Uncut Collection 36 is a truly amazing continuation to the epic collection.
Running Time: 29 MIN (per Episode)
Genre: Anime, Fantasy, Action
Director: Gorō Taniguchi
Producer: Tetsuo Daitoku, Hidekazu Terakawa