Anime Review: One Piece Season Three: Fifth Voyage
Gretchen is an anime junkie who spends far too much time reading manga and searching for that elusive new favorite series. She lives with her cat, and raises tomato trees.View all articles by Gretchen Lee
Having survived the drop from the sky to the Blue Sea, the Strawhats don't have long to savor the joys of still being alive. If hurling to their watery deaths with a failed octopus balloon doesn't kill them, landing in the middle of the Eighth-branch Marine base, Navarone, just might. A pirate ship making a spectacularly messy landing in the harbor causes quite the kerfluffle among the Marines, and Luffy and the others will be hard-pressed to stay a step ahead of the wily base commander, Jonathan.
One Piece is a great series. Definitely one of the best shonen series out there. It is not, however, known for quality filler-arcs. Magical dragons and squinty-eyed guys with weird ice cream hair come to mind. But the G-8 arc…isn't bad. It's not bad at all. It's actually…pretty good. The arc isn't finished out on this set of dvds, but the ten episodes here tell a well-rounded, interesting story with lots of twists that never gets too out-there or convoluted. It's like most of One Piece: straightforward and well-paced.
Setting and characterization really make this arc work. It may seem excessive for the first fifteen minutes of an episode to not even show the Strawhats, but that time is wisely used to establish the characters who live at the base, and to show a glimpse into Marine life that the audience doesn't usually get to see. Right from the start, the Marines of Navarone are shown as human beings, not Bad Guys. This makes for a pretty interesting conflict between the Marines and the Strawhats. Sympathetic opponents can be awfully compelling, and Jonathan, who is fair, honest, collected, and way too cunning for his own good makes a great foe for Luffy, who's as subtle as a brick. Part of the fun of this arc is watching the battle between Jonathan's wits and Luffy's instinct.
The G-8 arc definitely has it moments. Things get a little preachy here and there, especially in the case of a particularly timid character, but on the whole, it sticks to the humor and action we've come to expect. And the humor works very well. There's a time and a place for everything, and one should never be too hasty to discount a well-placed fart joke. Just sayin'. There are some really great scenes peppered throughout the arc, making for some very entertaining quality time in front of the TV.
It's a long wait between Skypeia and Water-7, but the G-8 arc is a surprisingly delightful time-killer. G-8 certainly bests the magic dragon arc for filler quality. For the casual viewer, it could easily be skipped without missing anything. But just for the sake of the one filler arc that's actually pretty decent, it's worth watching. If you're already buying the series, it's worth it to go ahead and pick it up.
Details: Runtime 250 minutes, contains episodes 196-205 on two dvds. Extras include clean opening and closing, trailers, and episode 196 commentary.