Up, up and Away!
While this looks at first like just the next release in the mega-popular goofy pirate anime “One Piece,” this box set Season Three, First Voyage is actually sort of a graduation event. The original licenser 4Kids Entertainment had taken a butcher knife to the series, chopping down 143 episodes into 104 episodes, cutting out anything that wasn’t “kid friendly” like replacing Sanji’s ever-present cigarettes with lollipops and even going so far as to re-color a black pirate a nice off-tan. Funimation has spent considerable time and effort re-dubbing/subtitling the series in an uncut release, but it is only with this boxset starting with episode 144 that they are hitting fresh territory.
Originally broadcast in 2003-2004, “Season Three, First Voyage” (actually Season Six by Japanese numbering. Not sure why that was done.) covers thirteen episodes, #144-156 and two story arcs. There episodes are split between two DVDs each packed in its own slim case.
The first story starts off at the moment of the end of One Piece: Season Two, Seventh Voyage, when a ship comes plummeting from the sky and narrowly avoids crushing the Going Merry. That is clearly the signal for a new adventure, even more so when the Log Pose begins pointing straight to the sky. There are rumors of islands in the sky, but most people dismiss these as fairy tales. Monkey D. Luffy is not about to let common sense get in his way, so if the Log Pose is pointing up then up they must go. Oh, and of course a giant monkey arrives to salvage the fallen ship, so it is business as usual in the “One Piece” world.
One the quest for a way into the Sky Islands, Monkey and crew head to a near-by town where they encounter Bellamy the Hyena and his crew and a massive pirate named Marshall D. Teach (whose name should be a clue to anyone who knows famous pirates) and of course manage to get themselves into some fights. Meanwhile, a clue leads them to treasure-hunter Montblanc Cricket, the descendent of the legendary Norland the Liar who first described the Sky Islands hundreds of years ago. And more giant monkeys of course.
All of this is just lead-up to the main event (very good lead-up though!) for when the Going Merry rides the water-spout up into the mythical land of Skypiea, where dread foes and strange Gods await time.
“Season Three, First Voyage” is the launching point (pun intended!) for the Skypiea story arc that will take up the next few box sets from Funimation. “Season Two, Seventh Voyage” was a bit of a break after the Alabasta story arc with a lot of filler, but with this release the Going Merry crew is gearing up for another major adventure. Quite a few important future events are set into motion here. The pirate Whitebeard appears in the flesh for the first time, and new-comer Blackbeard enters the game chosing Monkey D. Luffy at his ten-million berry bounty as his first target. Dials also show up for the first time, a technology that will become more important as the series progresses.