“My doctor gave me six months to live but when I couldn’t pay the bill, he gave me six months more.” – Walter Matthau.
The Baroque Works storyline continues in this collection of One Piece, a collection which has a big advantage over the last edition. This is because in this selection of episodes we finally meet one of most loved characters in the series. It is here we first encounter the blue-nosed reindeer Tony Tony Chopper.
There are two main stories in Collection 4. In the first, the Straw Hat Pirates sail to an island in order to find a doctor to cure their sick navigator Nami who has a life-threatening illness. They enter the wintry Drum Kingdom, where they learn that all the doctors except one have been evicted, and the one who is around is 139-year-old woman that many people claim is a witch, who is accompanied by a blue-nosed reindeer in a pink top hat. Monkey D. Luffy and his crew not only have to battle the elements, there is also the local wildlife and the vile Wapol, the newly returned king, who has Devil Fruit powers himself.
Later on the crew arrive in Princess Vivi’s kingdom of Alabasta, where they plan to stop the head of Baroque Works, Crocodile, from taking over the country. While they are visiting this desert land, Monkey encounters a welcome arrival – his older brother Portgas D. Ace, who is also a pirate with Devil Fruit powers (in his case, the ability to control fire). The pirates make a journey across the desert in order to come up with a scheme to save Vivi’s homeland.
This edition of One Piece is a big improvement over the last one, primarily due to the arrival of Chopper. The medical animal with the powers of a human has always been a popular character with many fans, so to be able to welcome to him into the anime version of the series is a joy.
The comedy in these episodes is a bonus too. For example, in the Chopper storyline there is a sequence in which Luffy and Sanji try to take Nami to the doctor which involves having to climb a huge mountain. While doing so they encounter huge man-eating rabbits which they have to defeat. This is a funny sequence, although this partly due to the fact that while you are watching these killer rabbits, the only thing in your head is the Monty Python team shouting “Run away! Run away!”
As you go into the latter episodes, you do come across a fair amount of filler which gets tiresome. But the final episode in the collection does seem to get the plot going again as we move into what is arguably the meat of the Baroque Works story.