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One Piece Collection 20 [Episodes 469-491]

All-out war has broken out between the Navy and Pirates. Luffy (still separated from his crew), the White Beard Pirates, and a motley assortment of allies and former enemies lead an assault on the Marineford base to try and rescue Luffy's brother, Ace. But can they save him from the chopping block before it's too late?

One Piece: Collection 20 features episodes 469- 491, which were originally aired between October of 2010 and March of the following year.

Now, this is more like it. After a distinctly mixed past few volumes, One Piece really began to pick up steam again with the beginning of the rescue arc in the latter stages of the previous volume. That step up in quality is carried through into this volume which starts at in top gear and never really lets up.

This latest batch of episodes is pretty much wall-to-wall action. Unlike other recent volumes, which have put the action on hold to catch up with the dispersed members of the crew, this is dedicated entirely to the current arc and is all the better for that. That doesn't mean that Nami, Zorro and the rest of the crew aren't missed- but with new and returning characters there's more than enough going on here to keep you entertained.

Aside from a few flashbacks- which in true One Piece style, are used to give events extra emotional heft- we barely even leave the battlefield. There are lashings of over-the-top action set-pieces, with various characters getting to take the spotlight throughout the volume.

It's not just action for the sake of it, either, as throughout the battle, there's plenty of character development and dramatic revelations. The familial bond between Luffy and Ace has been well portrayed and it makes sure that we are invested in how this turns out. And it's not always as you might expect.

With so much to love, it's a shame that One Piece consistently disappoints with its animation quality. Whether its budget constraints, time pressures or something else that's to blame, it rarely above adequate here- and sometimes much less.

What makes it doubly disappointing is that One Piece is full of dynamic shots with fantastic composition that come straight out of the manga's fantastic artwork. In this volume in particular, there are many shots that brilliantly convey a sense of epic scale, or emphasise the incredible odds the characters are up against. It's just that the artwork itself lets it down and can't match this ambition.

Still, it's a testament to the quality of the series itself that this doesn't detract too much from the expereince. This is One Piece back up at the top of its game. Entertaining action, plenty of heart and even in a dramatic section of the series such as this, plenty of laughs. This latest volume reminds us why, with the series set to celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, One Piece is still the king of the pirates.

FORMAT: DVD/ Streaming  FROM:  🇬🇧 Manga Entertainment/  🇺🇸Funimation RATING 12 RUNNING TIME : 22 Episodes 

IN A NUTSHELL: An action-packed, emotionally effective volume that never lets up.