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One Piece Collection 10 [Episodes 230-252]

As AFA's favourite Shonen Jump series reaches its 10th Boxset release, the crew of the Going Merry have arrived in the exciting new location of the floating city of Water Seven. Something like a cross between Venice and New York, this new destination at first seems like it's going to be a pleasant enough stop-off for the Straw Hat Pirates. Famous for its ship-wrights it also seems like it's going to be the perfect place for the Merry to get her much needed repairs.

Unsurprisingly, things don't go exactly to plan (where would the be fun in that?) when the crew receives some shocking news about their trusty ship. Which is only the beginning of their troubles, as friendships are tested, and worst of all the crew get caught up in a shadowy conspiracy.

One Piece feels like it moves along at quite a clip, so as always a lot of ground is covered in these episodes. Water Seven is a great new location that looks fantastic on screen (you'll be wishing you could book your next holiday there.. at least at first). It brings with it a raft of new characters. They're typically colourful creations, with some wonderfully outlandish designs and larger-than-life characters, who suit the cartoonish world of One Piece perfectly. What other show could get away with a Russell Brand lookalike who talks through a pigeon?

The tight schedule (and budget) of a Shonen Jump series that runs every week means that the animation can be inconsistent. So, as with previous volumes, there are places that it can look a bit wonky, or characters off-model. There are even occasional sequences where camera movement and voice acting are used to try and cover up the lack of actual animation. In reality, these are standard issues with long-running TV anime and go with the territory. And with One Piece's sense of fun and brilliantly cartoony design aesthetic, it never threatens to dampen your enjoyment.

The action here is outrageous as ever, and just as enjoyable. It's more Loony Tunes than Dragon Ball Z, but is just as exciting as it's Shonen Jump Stablemates.

On the more dramatic side, however, this volume also has much to offer. The conspiracy that the crew get caught up in later provides some brilliantly unexpected twists, as One Piece goes a bit  James Bond-y with the introduction of a secretive spy agency.

Most crucial of all for long-term fans, the events of this volume create some big tensions between the crew-members themselves. The future of their friendship- and the future of the crew itself hangs in the balance, and although you know it's ultimately going to turn out all right, it can't help but have you on the edge of your seat.

As outright daft as One Piece often is, one of the reasons it works so well is that it actually makes you care about its characters. Fans feel genuinely invested in the characters' friendships, so it makes this plotline all the more effective. And it's not even just the main characters either. Somehow One Piece often manages to make you care about characters you've really only just met. No mean feat for a show about a rubber pirate.

All in all collection 10 is another hugely enjoyable set of episodes that are a must see for any One Piece junky.

ONE PIECE collection 10 is now available on DVD from MANGA ENTERTAINMENT in the UK and FUNIMATION in the US.

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