The ninth One Piece Collection kicks off with a single episode which brings to a close the Straw Hat Pirates’ attempts to escape from the G-8 marine base at Naverone. While it wraps up our heroes recent escapades nicely, this solitary episode feels somewhat out of place in this set and would have been much better positioned at the end of the previous volume. With that in mind, One Piece Collection 9 doesn’t really get underway in earnest until the second episode, which begins to introduce us to some of the cornucopia of new faces that appear throughout this set.
A large chunk of this multitude of new faces is made up of Foxy and his colourful pirate crew. Foxy is an underhanded and somewhat vain pirate captain whose trademark Devil Fruit power causes no end of trouble for his enemies. We are first introduced to Foxy and his crew when they challenge Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates to a Davy Back Fight, so named after the legendary Davy Jones. A Davy Back Fight is a game or series of games between pirate crews where the prizes at stake can include the losing crews’ flag or even a member of the losers' crew. Some of the games on show here prove to be good fun for the most part, the pinnacle of which is a frantic battle between Luffy and Foxy, but others long outstay their welcome. The same could be said of Foxy and his crew - while good fun in small doses you will be wishing to see the back of them long before the end of this collection. Especially after they turn up again a little later in the collection.
In-between the Foxy sessions we find an intriguing short story about a memory stealer, although at times the loss of memories feels like little more than an excuse to roll out a glut of flashbacks. That aside, the build-up proves quite enjoyable, although the climax turns out to be a little rushed and something of a disappointment by comparison. However, this collection really gets going with the introduction of Admiral Aokiji, an extremely powerful marine and a cool customer in more ways that one. Aokiji knows of Nico Robin’s past and considers her a threat to the World Government; can Luffy and company protect Robin from her marine pursuer or will they all end up on ice? Ultimately the Straw Hat Pirates are delivered to the city island of Water 7 while in search of a shipwright to fix the ailing Going Merry, ending this collection with the Straw Hats poised ready for more adventures in Water 7 in the next collection.
All in all, One Piece Collection 9 provides something of a mixed bag. The Foxy Pirates long outstay their welcome, while by comparison the excitement of the Straw Hats’ first meeting with a Marine Admiral is over in the blink of an eye. The good episodes are some of the best we have seen for some time in One Piece, while the bad will have you checking the Internet wanting to find out how much you can get away with skipping whilst still being able to follow the story.