Review by: Edward Zacharias
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 320 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
Welcome to the Grand Line … the strangest place in the world.
In the first season of One Piece, Monkey D. Luffy has swore to become the greatest pirate and in order to do that he decided to follow in the footsteps of the best and head to the Grand Line in search of the “One Piece.” The journey has been a long one and Luffy recruits new crewmates willing to help him achieve his goal as they get even closer to the Grand Line. Now, in the First Voyage of Season Two, the series places the Going Merry and its determined crew on a course beyond the Grand Line itself.
First Voyage of Season Two covers episodes 54-66 as a little girl named Apis makes a daring escape from the clutches of the Marines who have taken her from her island village. You see, Apis is the one clue to finding the elixir of immortality or, as it’s really called, Dragonite. So you can imagine how badly the fleet’s Commodore wants her back so badly. Yet, having escaped on a dinghy only to be found by the Straw Hats.
While, at first, Apis is afraid of the pirates she comes to realize that these guys aren’t so bad. They even promise to take her back home to her home village on Battleship Island . Meanwhile, the Marines go after them only to lose them in the Calm Belt … a spot in the sea where nothing moves and the sea life is dangerous. Thankfully, Apis’ quick thinking gets them out of it and on to her island where we discover the little girl’s secret. You see, Apis has been hiding and feeding an elderly dragon she calls Grandpa Ryo. The dragon, as Apis’ grandfather mentions, belongs to the Lost Island where a dragon’s nest will heal the senile dragon.
While Sanji and Zolo don’t agree on doing another free job, Luffy drags them along taking the dragon to his home island. Unfortunately, the Marines are still after them and the Commodore sends a mercenary who calls himself Eric the Whirlwind. As Eric tracks them down, the Straw Hats find an isolated island that is hidden by an invisible barrier only to discover the real location of the Lost Island was a lot closer than they thought. Battles are fought between the Marine fleets and the Going Merry but the real fight comes when Zolo takes on Eric who reveals he has Devil Fruit abilities.
The Dragon’s Nest story arc goes on a bit too long but at least it has a very satisfying conclusion and one that leads to an action-packed finale and tragedy. Having made a new friend in Apis and her fellow island inhabitants, it is off to the Grand Line again. Seeing as Battleship Island wasn’t far from where they meant to travel in the first place, they discover that the entrance to the Grand Line is actually a surreal water staircase that will lead them up a channel and down another. When they do break through they find a giant black whale waiting at the bottom that swallows the ship.
Ok, so this isn’t the best welcome to the Grand Line but as Luffy attempts to save his friends from the inside of the scarred whale (that has doors and corridors) he realizes that there are two very unfriendly people inside as well. It is here that we meet Mister Nine and the lovely Miss Wednesday who are trying to kill the whale to feed their village. Their unusual names mean something to Zolo, he points it out to his friends but it isn’t until the ship escapes the whale’s belly and heads out to the port village of Whiskey Peak that Zolo actually confronts them.
The people in Whiskey Peak, while offering a warm welcome, reveal themselves to be something else entirely as Zolo faces off against them. He calls them Baroque Works, a group of mercenaries-for-hire that tried to hire him but when two new members of Baroque Works shows up to confront the leader about a royal from the kingdom of Alabasta hiding within the ranks of Baroque Works. It’ll come as a big surprise who this royal is and, in the end, Nami is the one who accepts the job of taking said royal back to Alabasta. Those who know the manga knows the Alabasta story arc is one of the more exciting ones in the series and is what will make us look forward to the Second Voyage.
Season Two’s First Voyage of One Piece is an adventure that’s off to a good start but while the first few episodes seem to drag a story arc a bit too long you will love the rest of the episodes that set up what will be a memorable, action-packed season. The Grand Line certainly is an unusual place and, thusly, makes for interesting story lines that will have you enjoying the later episodes and have you waiting for the next few episodes with much anticipation.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Luffy and his Straw Hat crew come even closer to the Grand Line when a detour takes them to an island where a little girl protects a secret that could lead to an elixir of immortality. As they battle to protect the secret, they make new enemies within the Marines. Then, at the Grand Line itself, the Straw Hats accept a new assignment that will lead them down a dangerous path.
VIDEO QUALITY: A
The animation is still very true to Eiichiro Oda’s art and you just have to love the interesting scenery that the Grand Line has to offer.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting for the English dub is still one of my favorite ways of watching this show, although the original Japanese voices really come off brilliantly in this first half of the season. Once again, the music is amazing on this show and you have to love the theme songs.
Once again the season box set comes with the Marathon Play feature, a few trailers and the clean opening and closing theme songs. Thankfully, they also includes a commentary track for Episode 60 with ADR Director Jason Grundy and voice actors Brittany Karbowski (Apis) and Sonny Strait (Usopp).
The First Voyage of Season Two of One Piece brings the Straw Hat pirates to a new territory that opens up even more interesting story arcs that continues to make this such a fun series. While a tad on the lengthy side, the first story arc does have plenty of exciting moments but it’s the later episodes that will have you glad you’re a One Piece fan.