Setting the perfect balance of comedy, action and plot development in the last batch of its episodes, One Piece: Season Four, Voyage Five manages to be one of the strongest sets of this season, keeping fans enticed and clamoring for more. After the events of the last boxed set, Nico Nico Robin has been taken away from Water 7, in order to rescue the Straw Hats and keep her friends safe. As the Puffing Tom has taken off, Sanji, Usopp and Franky have snuck aboard the train, to try and bring Robin back. Back at Water 7, the rest of the Straw Hats crew manage to find one of the Puffing Tom prototypes, Rocket Man and make it functional, in order to catch up to the rest of the crew to ensure that Robin isn’t thrown into Enies Lobby, the World Government’s super prison. Full of some great moments with both our heroes and villains, this set of One Piece still exemplifies how good of a series this is and would leave any fan drooling for more.
This set makes it a point to keep the pace going with some solid action for the first few episodes and then trails off to give us some solid plot development later on. The fights that take place on the train are extremely entertaining, with Sanji fighting a guy who practices ramen kenpo, to Franky fighting a guy using his ridiculous cyborg body parts to emphasize the creativity and energy that goes into the show. Even at tense moments, the show has always managed to find ways to crack a joke and run with it, no matter how silly or stupid. While no other show would be able to get away with this, One Piece contains a charm like no other shonen show in existence and uses these goofy quirks to its advantage at any given moment. By the end of the set, we slowly begin to see the scope of what fate lies ahead for our characters, but also the interesting background of Nico Nico Robin. Up until this point, we’ve only had glimpses of when she’s endured in her past, but it finally begins to unfold at the end of this set. We’ll have to wait until season five begins, but what we get of her history here is truly heartbreaking, in typical One Piece style.
The extras have been increasing on each of the sets in season four and this set matches the last one, with two commentaries, interviews with the voice cast, textless intros and outros and a batch of trailers. While I don’t listen to the dub that Funimation puts out consistently, the “On the Boat” segments that they’ve been doing are a hell of a fun and shows some incredible insight to how the voice actors feel about their roles and the process of bringing One Piece to life in English. I can honestly say that after seeing these segments, I’ve gone back and forth a lot more to the dub, even though I traditionally watch the series in Japanese, to just see how the performances are.
So far, season four of One Piece has been an incredible ride, full of some great character moments, emotional depth and a fantastic storyline, that has managed to make the series much richer than it has before. If you haven’t been watching the series at all, or if you’ve been on the fence about it, because its too long or weird looking, do yourself a favor and just start watching it, because its easily one of the best anime shows to come out of Japan, period. Highly Recommended!