Monday, January 6, 2014

One Piece Season Five Voyage Three Review

Title: One Piece Season 5 Voyage Three

Genre: Action, Comedy

Publisher: Toei Animation (JP), Funimation (US)

Original Creator: Eiichiro Oda

Director: Konosuke Uda

Producer: Suzuki Yoshihiro

Series Composition: Hirohiko Uesaka, Junki Takegami

Music Composer: Kouhei Tanaka

Original Release Date: October 15, 2013

You know it's actually hard to believe that Enies Lobby is almost over (thirty plus episodes seems so short in retrospect); we have but a mere 13 episodes between us and the end (there's a short after party arc, but who cares about that). Going back to the voyage at hand, though: This is definitely one of the more exciting ones with all the fighting and running around characters do. Though I have a few quibbles with the Voyage, overall, I enjoyed most of(darn you, filler) a great deal and can't wait to get started on the last one.

Voyage Three picks up whereleft off, throwing us right into the middle of several fights. The first major one to finish up is Franky's fight against Fukuro. We then switch to Zoro and Usopp who are still trying to simply defend themselves against Jabra and Kaku. Chopper is the next person to wrap up his fight, finishing off Kumadori, although afterwards he turns into a bit of a problem since he had to use a third Rumble Ball. Nami is the next to finish up, successfully managing to snatch victory from the hands of defeat and beat Kalifa.Sanji is the last person we see complete a fight, and he defeats Jabra utilizing a new technique (Diable Jambe). Usopp, unfortunately, doesn't have an individual fight, but he has a number of great moments in the next Voyage to make up for it.Zoro, who is finally detached from Usopp (Sogeking), is at the climax of his fight by the time the Voyage is over. As for Luffy, he finally starts his main fight with Lucci, although it's mostly one sided at this point and consists of him being thrown into walls and crates. As for Robin, her situation has become increasingly dire as she is, by the end of the Voyage, crossing the bridge that will take her beyond the Gates of Justice. In addition to Robin's situation, the Straw Hats also have to deal with the impending Buster Call that was accidentally summoned by everyone's favorite character, Spandam.

I, for one, appreciated how quickly most of the fights ended because it kept them from getting boring, and I found myself more engaged in the shorter, individual fights versus Luffy's current face-off with Lucci, which already feels like it's dragging a bit. Out of the ones that started and ended, my favorite is probably Chopper's because it is one he would have most definitely lost and been killed in had he not pushed himself past his limit. Chopper's transformation into a literal monster was a really neat choice because it again, just as the last voyages have, showed that he is willing to put everything on the line in order to save Robin. He wasn't bothered by the fact that he would have been killed by Kumadori (the risk of dying is practically an occupational hazard); he's bothered by the fact that if he died, Robin might not be saved. This idea pops up again briefly when Luffy turns down Franky's offer to help out with the fight against Lucci, demanding Franky instead focus on stopping Robin because that's the important part (besides the fact Luffy already promised himself that he would beat Lucci up by himself). I also really liked Nami's fight because it's one of the "smarter" ones. Unlike the others, Nami doesn't have the brute strength to beat her opponents into submission, so she usually relies on brain rather than brawn in her fights which is nice. Though I'll admit that I scoffed a bit at some of the techniques she used and expected Kalifa to put up more of a fight, the mirage idea was pretty clever and the fight itself was, in general, really satisfying to watch because of Nami's strategy.

Though Usopp doesn't get a chance to shine in his own fight and even has to be rescued by Sanji, I have to say, seeing the recurrence of his insecurity regarding his abilities-since he often sees himself as the weak link in the group-has done a lot to make me appreciate not only Usopp more, but also the amount of teamwork that the Straw Hats's actually perform. It's not an obvious form of teamwork, but they do take over for each other when one of them is obviously in over his head because they each recognize that everyone has different strengths, which is something Usopp, especially, has had to come to terms over the last two arcs.

Now, a quick word on the filler before I continue. Though Enies Lobby is a great arc, it has some pretty iffy filler. First we had the stuff from the last Voyage, and now we have two random filler episodes that come after one of Voyage Three's most exciting scenes, completely ruining the flow and any tension that the episode had built up regarding Chopper's transformation. Truth be told, when I first watched the arc, I watched the filler before the arc itself so that I could skip it later on. This time around, though, I skipped the episodes (291 and 292) completely. To sum them up, they take place in an alternate universe that resembles feudal Japan and involve characters we all know and love (mostly) in new roles (Luffy is a detective, Nami owns a food store of some sort, etc). They're not terrible episodes, per say, but they come at a really bad time. I actually found them sort of entertaining since seeing everyone in new roles was kind of fun and, if I'm not mistaken, Vivi and her dad make an appearance which was kind of nice. That said, skip these episodes. Don't ruin the flow of the main story for the sake of watching the show in order; no one really cares about filler anyway. If you really want to see what they're like, watch them after the arc is over and in place of the next arc (Ice Hunter Arc) which is an insult considering it comes after Enies Lobby.

As for other things I didn't care too much for, as I mentioned before, I'm already kind of bored with Luffy's fight. I know it's good that it started now and we've only been getting some brief looks at its progress off and on over the course of the last couple of episodes, but boy is it moving slowly. Watching Luffy get hurled into crates becomes really tiresome after a while, and I wish he would realize that Gatling Gun isn't really working. That said, I can't be too hard on his fight since it's, admittedly, one of my favorite fights once he actually gets serious. I'm also getting real tired of Spandam. At this point, all the annoying CP9 members have been taken care of, so he's really all that's left in terms of characters I really don't care for. Though I'm happy to see Robin actually trying to run away from him now, his physical and verbal abuse is getting really old. We all know Robin's the better person, the one that actually has a heart; do we really need to keep having Spandam kick her and shout things at her to keep proving to us the irony of him having so much control in the Government when he's a moronic, despicable person? To put it simply, I really can't wait until (SPOILER FOR NEXT VOYAGE) Robin snaps his spine (SPOILER END).

Animation-wise, it's pretty consistent, just about keeping with the style of the last couple of voyages. The fight scenes aren't spectacular but they're still fun to watch and everyone's funny faces look okay. Beyond that, the most I can say, is: it's One Piece. You come for the story and characters, not the animation. Sound-wise, it's mostly the same score that the majority of fans will recognize which isn't a bad thing necessarily because I've come to be kind of fond of it and the mood that it sets.

As I said before, I found Voyage Three to be pretty entertaining. Though it had it's fair share of fights, it also had a lot of more dramatic moments like the entire scene with Robin and Spandam talking over the Intercom. This voyage also ramps up the suspense in terms of Robin's situation as the chances to save her start narrowing drastically with the Gates of Justice open and her presence on the bridge connecting the Enies Lobby to the horrors beyond it. If you've kept up with One Piece so far, just keep on chugging; the next voyage is going to be great, I promise.

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