Review: One Piece - Collection 1 / Cert: 15 / Director: Kenosuke Uda / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Colleen Clinkenbeard, Christopher R. Sabat, Luci Christian, Leah Clark / Release Date: May 27th
Apparently, this pirate show and the long-running manga it is based on are huge in Japan, but whether it has the wherewithal to make Jolly Rogers of us Brits is another matter. The hero is a character named Luffy, who has ambitions to be King of the Pirates. In order to do this, he must find a legendary treasure, the One Piece, which is said to reside in the Grand Line, an uncharted region from which few ships return. Only trouble is, he doesn't have a crew yet – or a boat larger than a dinghy. Or a parrot even. So what gives him his unshakable self-belief?
Well, stupidity first off. But he's also eaten something called a Devil Fruit, and this has endowed him with a Reed Richards-style super-strong elastic quality, making him invulnerable to bullets, clubs and even cannon balls. So off he goes, island-hopping in his dinghy, and eventually he manages to recruit Zoro, the greatest swordsman in the world but only just slightly smarter than Luffy; Usopp, who's a dead eye with a slingshot; and Nami, a thief and the only one with any brains. Along the way, he encounters various colourful personages such as a lion tamer, a swordsman on a monocycle, a hypnotist who walks backwards and a guy who has been squashed inside a treasure chest for twenty years.
It's all amiably silly and fine in small doses, but after an hour or so, the brash colours, cheap-and-cheerful animation and noisy characters (always howling with laughter, blubbering with tears or drop-kicking each other in the jaw) are likely to give you one helluva migraine. Luffy is particularly headache inducing – a pin-eyed pirate dude with a crazed grin, like Tom Sawyer on speed, with a touch of Pinocchio and Popeye thrown in for good measure. Although sweet in his way, he's not someone you'd want to share a long voyage with.
The other problem is that, for all it's slapstick energy, One Piece is actually rather slow. Much like Luffy himself, individual storylines are stretched out beyond the point that nature intended and scenes heavily padded with meaningless ranting and trading of insults. By halfway through disc 3, Luffy still has only three crew members and he's only just begun to hunt for treasure. Too simple and repetitive for most adults, One Piece isn't much good for younger viewers either – it's way too violent and the last thing you would want is for your kids to start behaving like its maniacal main characters. Still, if you enjoyed the sunny, nautical ambience and knockabout humour of Studio Ghibli's Porco Rosso, then this might be worth dropping anchor for.
Extras: Commentaries / Clean opening and closing credits