One Piece: the Movie
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of .... well, oden, but let's not dwell on fine detail. I got a couple of letters of complaint for calling the TV version of this show dumb fun, and the word doesn't fit that well. It's not stupid, it's just that it has so much fun both with character, comedy and pillaging the whole pirate genre that I think you're meant to just go with the flow and enjoy.
It's certainly not a show that demands huge and intricate plots. The life of a pirate, in practice, seems to be an awful lot of bumming around the ocean. Along the way getting in fights with other pirates, gaining and losing mounds of treasure and finding hidden secrets on mysterious lost islands. And, in fact, this show does a sterling job of getting stuck in on doing all three at once. And, along the way, tells a story of two friends and the heart of a pirate.
Though you'll have to be very attentive to see it...because the one piece gang are so surreal and entertaining as to be quite a distraction. Lufy, the slacker hero, who's going to be the pirate king because it sounds like fun. A deadly swordsman, a clever coward and an even more clever female thief. Each entertaining in themselves and even better as a group. And, when the action starts, it also turns out that they're a pretty rough and capable bunch. They'd probably be even more deadly if they could just take things seriously.
The bad things first. At 50 something minutes it's not really that long for a movie. And a great deal of that is taken up with the characters `doing their thing'. As such it is no surprise that the story is not the deepest and most original thing you've ever seen, though it does have some nice touches. Then again, considering this was a pretty dodgy translation, it may even have more nice touches than I ended up getting. I don't think I missed too much though, the essence of one piece seems firmly focused on pace and fun.
Standing in the teams way is another team of pirates seeking to get to the gold first. A huge and deadly pirate chief with a terrible power but precious little in the way of brains. And his deadly sword wielding henchmen. Following the one piece tradition the rest of the crew are much less powerful and spend almost as much time being comedy relief as villainous pirates. And, almost inevitably, it is a race to find the hidden treasure and then a fight to see who will keep it.
But it's a really hard movie to review. It's not that nothing happens, the pace of the movie is actually rather fast. It's not that it is not good, there's some interesting events and character moments. If anything it's that it feels a bit artificial, as if no one is taking it too seriously, not even the writers. I remember enjoying it, but I can't remember why...nor do I even have a really good recollection of what happened. Either my brain was running at idle (happens more than I like) or it just sort of drifted across my attention and was gone.
Certainly some of the physical action is good fun, and the fight (in the one piece tradition) is varied and entertaining. Lufy is a man made of rubber (which is not at all explained in the movie) and this makes for some interesting moves on his part. Backed up with some solid energy effects and quite smooth motion it works well.
The animation itself is, hm, not that impressive. The TV series felt as if it had retained the feel and appearance of the manga characters, and as a result they look a bit flat and abstracted, as if they were animated drawings. Which ends up meaning that the movie must also hold to this model of how the characters look. Then again the budget, while it allows for a small number of flashy effects, doesn't seem to have been particularly immense. As a result the movie is somewhat stylised, fun to watch, but not impressive in terms of the animation presented. The voices are good, sounded like the ones from the TV series, and the music was catchy, energetic and familiar.
There aren't a whole lot of reviews for the series itself and, at the moment, there are none for the movie from my regular sources.