One Piece Collection 11 covers episodes 253 – 275, half of which finishes off the Water 7 arc started in the previous ensemble.
After the moribund events, the climax is far from fulfilling, with The Straw Hat Pirates racing after the secretive CP9 and willing captive Robin in a prototype fly-by-night sea train. Meanwhile, Franky, Usopp and Sanji (who make a great team, incidentally) go from carriage to carriage, knocking off the small fry and taking out periodically tough baddies, as if it were a dungeon crawler. Episodes here dwell on events longer than they ought to, with the gap between filler and functionality widening. Sanji’s fight against rival chef and nut job Ramen Kempo, who, like his name suggests, fights with noodles, is spread over three episodes when even one was pushing it. Usopp dons the Sniper King façade with an infectious theme song and rapturous gags, to side-step his recent departure from the Straw Hats. Luffy, meanwhile, encounters various adversaries and obstacles along the tracks but their rescue mission won’t be deterred.
Episode 264 sees the start of the Enies Lobby arc, centred on the titular night-less island with its impressive and physics defying geography. It might be a contentious point as to whether the arc is a separate entity or an extension of Water 7; in whatever case, both fall under the same umbrella saga and make for one of the series’ utmost periods. It continues the same trend of evocative and moody storytelling, but is much more action orientated than Water 7, leaving little breathing room in the persistent barrage of fight sequences. It’s an arc that sees all the Straw Hats getting stronger and honing their abilities. There’s really only one way to test them out, and the proof is in the punches.
Together with the Franky Family, the pirates’ battle through the island’s various defences, and its rinse and repeat until the collection closer. The final episode offers a revealing and unlikely look into Robin’s fraught past, leaving, like its predecessor, the arc unfinished. While you might feel cheated, the cliff hanger and choice of quality dubs will have you shelling out for the next instalment anyway. Fans, however, already know the best is yet to come, with the latter half of the arc boasting plenty of pivotal moments.
Special Features: Opening animation / Closing animation / Audio commentaries / Behind the scenes featurette
ONE PIECE COLLETION 11 / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: KONOSUKE UDA / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: AKEMI OKAMURA, HIROAKI HIRATA, IKUE OHTANI, KAPPEI YAMAGUCHI / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 10TH