It comes as no surprise to any Otaku that anime has found itself a nice cozy spot in the internet sunbeam, to stretch out, expand and stream. When sites like Crunchyroll started streaming subtitled anime for people, it was only a matter of time before the TV networks sidled up and pushed their way into the sunbeam to catch some rays of their own.
By now you have all heard about Hulu, with its catchy celebrity alien ads and such, but you may not know that Hulu also streams anime. They actually have a nice collection of programs, including a few new shows such as Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Some of the shows can be watched in 480p, and give you a choice to either A: Watch the show with three short 15 to 30 second commercials interspersed or B: watch a long three minute commercial (Where you can use that time to make a sandwich or use the toilet. Why would you actually sit there and watch a three minute commercial?) prior to starting your episode with no interruptions during the viewing. Some programs even give you the option of watching it either subbed or dubbed depending on your preference.
So kick off this inaugural (and hopefully reoccurring) article, I chose a show I was extremely happy to see on the site, One Piece.
My history with One Piece goes back a few years, when I first read a copy of Shonen Jump #1 that I had picked up from my local comic shop. The quirky character designs and art style really caught my eye, and the story, about a rag tag band of misfit pirates, each with their own special abilities, in search for a legendary treasure, was simply fun. When I found out it was already an anime in Japan, I begged a friend to download it for me (since I was a poor college student with a dial up internet connection) so I could watch it. I spent the whole summer watching and re-watching the first 50 episodes he gave me. Soon after, it was announced One Piece would be brought stateside. I was giddy with glee and plopped down to watch the first episode the day it aired, and afterward promptly felt like I was going to hurl my lunch all over the screen. Yes, it was the dreaded “4kids” dub… Despite the sick feeling inside me, I told myself “Surely, it wasn’t so bad.” So I watched another episode… then another… hoping it would at least bear some semblance to the show I loved. Eventually I gave up, my love of the show floating almost dead in the water, butchered and bleeding profusely. I thought all hope was lost… But in 2007, the show was thrown a life preserver. Funimation had rescued the license for the series and were planning to release it with a new dub and uncut. Finally, had my wishes been answered?
Yes, yes they had. While this version isn’t perfect, it is miles upon miles better than the “4kids” travesty. Characters are allowed to swear and smoke, bleed when injured or even die… all of which were removed in the previous dub. The English voices are good, with most of the characters sounding great and well acted. I’ve yet to find one that I thought seemed out of character. The script stays true to the original Japanese, and retains much of the humor (I can’t help but snicker every time Luffy says he is a “rubber man.”). Also, I thank you Funimation for removing that terrible pirate rap opening theme. If I never hear that again it will be to soon. That said, I’m not crazy about the English version of “We Are.” Actually I didn’t much care for the Japanese version either… so maybe that’s not much of a complaint. The main issue with the One Piece anime is it suffers from Dragonball Z syndrome. This includes a lot of fighting, certain animation sequences repeating themselves multiple times (not to mention the recap at the beginning of each episode is such a waste of time if you are watching episodes back to back) and the story sometimes feels like it takes forever to get anywhere from episode to episode before something actually happens or anything is resolved. Luckily, One Piece overcomes this obstacle with it’s fun cast. The show has one of the best ensemble of characters ever and they are the main reason this show is so popular. Also, it’s a long show, 10 seasons and 429 episodes so far, so if you like to watch a show from beginning to end I hope you have a lot of time on your hands.
Hulu currently provides One Piece in both dub and sub in case my above praise isn’t enough for you to give the dub a try. Either way it’s free (for now), so you have nothing to lose if you like adventure, action and comedy on the high seas. You can’t do much better than this.
ONE PIECE GRADES
Story – A-
Funimation English Dub – B+
Animation – B-
Music – C
Overall – B+