The latest anime film in the One Piece franchise, One Piece Film: Gold, will be making its way to theaters in North America next week, and publisher Funimation Entertainment gave us an early look at Toei Animation’s action packed film.
A brief rundown of One Piece, just in case you aren’t familiar with the series. One Piece is a long-running (over 700 episodes) anime series produced by Toei Animation, based on the manga by Eiichiro Oda. The anime is published in North America by Funimation Entertainment, while the manga is available from Viz Media.
The story of the series, follows Monkey D. Luffy, a young man with a body made of rubber, thanks to a Devil Fruit, who sets out on a journey to become the King of the Pirates. To fulfill this dream, Luffy begins forming a crew of unique individuals, including a skilled swordsman named Zoro, a thief named Nami, a chef named Sanji, the sniper Usopp, a doctor named Chopper, an archeologist named Robin, Franky, the shipwright, and a skeleton/musician named Brook.
While Luffy does continue to push the idea that he will become King of the Pirates throughout the film, One Piece Film: Gold takes a detour from the Straw Hat’s journey, as the broke crew heads to Gran Tesoro, a floating city free from any government’s rule, full of entertainment. A gambler’s paradise, Gran Tesoro and its king, Tesoro, welcome the Straw Hats to the city, and things seem to be going incredibly well for the crew early on.
Too well in fact, as the group soon finds themselves being played for fools, and caught in a dangerous game, when the city is revealed to be not as much fun as it initially seemed. When one of their own is captured, and their life threatened, the rest of the crew scrambles to find a way to save them, by taking some even bigger gambles, in a city that rewards the most skilled of cheaters.
The film is very much an independent experience from the TV series, and one of the better things about it, is that you don’t have to watch every single episode of the anime, to really enjoy it. The story starts off with a bit of fun, and as it progresses, things get slightly darker, before moving on to plenty of action, with great battles with enemies that offer plenty of unique challenges for Luffy and his crew.
A little more backstory for Nami was also included, in the form of Carina, a fellow thief whose history with Nami provides a little more personal interaction for the character. While there was never really deep character development, it showed a bit of how Nami has come to trust her allies, which was a nice touch.
Visually, it should not be any surprise that the overall quality of the film is higher, as OVAs and film versions of anime series, tend to be higher quality. While I wasn’t a fan of the use of CGI, the rest of the animation was highly detailed, and smooth, especially the fight sequences, of which there were plenty. Gran Tesoro is a city of gold and entertainment, and the city itself is depicted beautifully throughout, while you also get some truly unique costumes from the crew.
The screener of the film that was provided, was on DVD, and included the English dub version. Personally, I have never really been a fan of either of One Piece’s voice casts. There was just something about a few of the characters that I could never enjoy, the same as I feel with Naruto. With that said however, many of you are already familiar with the series, given how popular it has been over the years, so I’m sure you already know what to expect from the dub.
I’m not sure how likely I would be to watch One Piece Film: Gold again. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I would be tempted to watch the entire series after, and that could take me years to finish. The film offered plenty of great battles, and although the pacing felt a bit rushed at times, many of the characters get to shine, even if only for a brief moment. Without being too familiar with the series, the film is something that is easy for new fans to watch, and get a feel for the characters, while enjoying a story separate from its main arc. It can be difficult to provide an experience like that, when you have a show that has run for so long, but this film manages to pull it off.
If you enjoy series like Dragon Ball Z and Fairy Tail, or if you are just anxious to see more of the One Piece crew, then One Piece Film: Gold is well worth looking in to. For those of you interested in seeing the film in theaters, it is expected to be available in select theaters across North America, from Jan 10-17, 2017. You can find times and participating theaters, by visiting the film’s website.
(A screener of the film on DVD, was provided by Funimation Entertainment, along with a package that included a deck of cards, a poster, and a Straw Hat logo yellow ball that lights up.)