One Piece Movie Collection 7-9
3 Discs (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Total Running time: 286 minutes approx.
Once again we need to thank Manga Entertainment for coming up trumps with given the UK anime community another global exclusive with this latest three disc set of One Piece movies, unavailable in a subtitled form anywhere else in the world!
We’re almost up to date with the films now with this release – film number ten, Strong World, was released earlier this year – with films eleven and twelve surely due to arrive on our shores soon. But for now, here are films seven, eight and nine to enjoy.
Mega Mecha Soldier of Karakuri Castle – Running time: 91 minutes approx.
Having salvaged a treasure chest from a damaged ship, the Straw Hats are disappointed to find it contains a little old lady instead of material riches. Before they can throw her back out to sea, the old lady begs the Straw Hats to take her home to Mecha Island, where she will reward them with a rare treasure. Upon arrival the crew hear a fisherman sing a song about a Golden Crown which they learn is the fabled treasure but no-one has been able to decipher the lyrics, including the old lady’s son Ratchet, the island’s leader. Naturally the crew take on the challenge but what they discover is a real shock, although someone may have already known about it
It’s standard fare story wise with the group happening upon a megalomaniac with world domination in his eyes but is superbly animated and fluidly directed by Kōnosuke Uda. The only minor quibble would be that the CGI creatures, while rendered in fine detail, clashes quite clumsily with the 2D animation which should be a lot smoother even for a 2006 release. The mecha aspect allows for some interesting Steampunk touches to give this film its something close to its own identity.
The crew get up to their usual hijinks, with the only real question being why Sanji is portrayed here as more of a hopeless romantic, going giddy over Robin and Nami in practically every frame as opposed to the odd comic aside. This film also strays from the previous formula of focusing on just one character, giving everyone a chance to shine.
A fun and energetic romp with some impressive visuals although a somewhat by the numbers affair.
Episode of Alabasta: The Pirates And The Princess Of The Desert – Running time: 86 minutes approx.
This story will be already familiar to loyal Piecers as it is a condensed recap of the central happenings of the popular Alabasta arc, which was originally covered in volumes three to five. As it currently stands this is the first of two films in which an existing story has been adapted for the feature length treatment instead of an original story, although in essence it is a mere snap shot of this epic tale and thus loses much of its impact.
The end result is a sprint through just one part of the multi-layered story arc featuring the villainous Baroque Works group. This particular thread sees the Straw Hats team with Princess Livi Nefetari to save the land of Alabasta from the evil warlord Crocodile, founder of Baroque Works. Anyone coming to this film fresh will need to have the summary explained as it is never expanded upon beyond some brief first act exposition; in fact even if you have seen it before, you will be confuddled by this jumbled presentation. The object of this film is pretty much to cram all of the key action scenes into one 86 minute chunk and story be damned.
Aside from the incoherence of the rushed narrative there is a continuity conflict as this story took place before current Straw Hats member Nico Robin became part of the group, for here she was still a Baroque Works assassin named Miss All Sunday. If the films are being watched as a stand alone introduction for new fans this unexplained happening is likely to cause some confusion.
Ultimately all this film offers is a better animated, widescreen summary of an involved story arc with little in the way of new additional footage, but the damage has already been done by the redacted presentation.
Episode of Chopper + The Miracle Winter Cherry Blossom – Running time: 108 minutes approx.
In the same vein as the previous film this is another retelling of an existing arc, this time the Drum Island arc (first seen in volume four) in reindeer Tony Tony Chopper is introduced to us, again in redacted form.
However there are some notable differences: first, with the original arc only being twelve episodes long, very little vital material has been excised, thus it works much better as a standalone feature than the last film. Secondly to fit in with the series continuity of the time of the film’s releases in 2008, Straw Hat members Nico Robin and Franky (neither arrived until after this arc) both replace Vivi here, while the second ship, the Thousand Sunny, supplants the Going Merry.
Show creator Eiichiro Oda also added a new character just for this film, Mushul the older brother of the lead antagonist Wapol, the ruler of Drum Island who fled after Blackbeard attacked their land. With Mushul (“Mushurru” in the subs) by his side, Wapol returns to reclaim the kingdom leading to a showdown between the Straw Hats and Chopper. The bulk of the film deals with Chopper’s past and while it is nothing new the presence of Mushul provides us with a different path to the conclusion.
Presentation wise, the widescreen and smoother animation are an improvement, slightly marred by the character designs. It would appear that director Junji Shimizu was trying to replicate the style of Mamoru Hosoda in his One Piece film Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island, but instead renders the cast in a rather flat and sloppy looking manner. Thankfully the main artwork and the central flashback portion are considerably better looking.
A mixed bag of a release with one original film and two that don’t really offer anything new but I’m sure this will be easily forgiven by the loyal fans and the whole set is good value for money anyway.
English Language 2.0 (Disc 2 only)
Japanese Language 2.0
Rating – ***
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