One Piece: Stampede (Cert 12)

1 Disc Blu-ray/2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray Ltd Edition Steelbook (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 102 minutes approx.

Avast me hearties! We set sail once again for another rip roaring madcap theatrical adventure with the crew of the Thousand Sunny, the Straw Hats. But this is no ordinary big screen outing as it was specially conceived to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the anime adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s perennial manga creation.

Our heroes arrive at Delta Island for a huge social gathering called Pirate Fest, organised by Buena Festa, which is attended by every pirate crew sailing the seas. The big talk of the event is the special treasure hunt, with the being the long thought lost treasure belonging to the legendary Pirate King Gold D. Roger, the fabled One Piece.

Naturally, participation is universal, with Monkey D. Luffy the favourite to win it all. The pirates are sent to a floating island atop the vertical Knock Up Stream, but upon arriving at the island, the pirates are confronted by the dangerous Douglas Bullet, a giant pirate said to have inherited the immense power of the Pirate King, capable of wiping everyone out with ease – except his presence is no accident as people soon discover.

The 14th feature length spin-off from the long running One Piece series is everything a fan of the franchise could want whilst also serving as an all-in celebratory blow out. Oda’s manga is still running to this day and the anime is hurtling towards its 1000 episode landmark, neither showing signs of slowing down any time soon. This it is incredible that Oda still has plenty of ideas left in him and can even create a side story as he does with Stampede.

In all fairness, the story is purely functional, riffing on so many of the canon plots told over the past two decades but with a sprawling universe like the one Oda has created for One Piece, sometimes that is all you need. Perhaps the biggest task was to include so many faces from across the show’s entire run to bring back, deciding who to showcase and who to limit to a cameo role.

For the absolute hardcore fan or those with a photographic memory, this will make the enjoyment of Stampede a little more magical and fun, while the rest of us will struggle to remember who half the faces are. Bearing in mind this was made in 2019, a number of the returning characters have yet to appear in the episodes currently released in the UK, leaving us more perplexed as to who we’ve forgotten and who we haven’t seen yet, not helped by their appearances are largely cut from the same cloth so to speak.

Regarding those we do know, the first familiar face seen is Buggy The Clown, as one of the many pirates hoping to claim the treasure for himself. Others with prominent roles include the marine Smoker, pirate Crocodile, and serpentine warlord Boa Hancock who still has a crush on Luffy. For the most part, many other crop up for a brief moment either as part of the treasure hunt or for the huge climactic battle, so keep your eyes peeled but try not to be distracted by the faces we haven’t seen yet.

One of these is a chap called Trafalgar Law, and apparent ally of the Straw Hats. He stumbles upon the Thousand Sunny having discovered the reason Douglas Bullet was on the floating island, having overheard Festa discussing a pernicious plan. In true Straw Hats fashion, Luffy sends Robin, Sanji, Chopper, and Brook to find out more of what Festa is planning, while he and Zoro race to the island, leaving Usopp, Nami, and Franky on the ship.

Meanwhile, the monstrous Bullet proves too much for a unified effort of the Luffy and the pirates even with the use of their abilities, the problem exacerbated when Bullet reveals he too is a Devil Fruit eater, which he has yet to awaken! When he does, he transforms into a fiery, almost impervious Godzilla-like beast far bigger than his normal size and far more terrifying. It will take a serious concerted joint effort of everyone’s powers and strikes to bring him down, but with another threat on the way, can it be done?

Since the UK releases have only just passed the 500 episode mark, there have been a lot of aesthetic changes between then and the release of this film concerning the Straw Hats. Luffy now has a jacket instead of his trademark waistcoat, Nami has long hair, Sanji also has a shaggier hairstyle and facial hair, whilst Franky has lost his quiff and is more metal than before. Zoro has new attire too, and Robin seems to have mellowed out a lot.

Another significant change is in the abilities our heroes wield, especially Luffy who seems to have acquired a Super Saiyan type mode that turns him into something akin to a war machine version of himself. Presumably this will be covered in future episodes of the TV series and not a frivolous invention for this film, which isn’t canon but should be, given the central conceit of the plot is the eponymous treasure Luffy has been searching for.

Given this is a theatrical release, the production values are significantly superior to the TV series and even the better looking films, in line with the magnitude behind its existence. The use of CGI offers a wider scope of movement in the action sequences with plenty of cinematic camera shots for that immersive POV rush of adrenaline for the viewer, but is rather jarring against the 2D renderings when used for Bullet’s monster form.

With Stampede being a celebration party for One Piece, it is too self-referential to be a jumping on point for newcomers, though it is impossible not to have fun with Luffy and co. under any circumstances. Even though many cameos won’t yet be known to UK fans, there are plenty of surprises (and a spoiler) to make this a worthy watch!

 

Extras:

Japanese Language Dolby TrueHD 2.0

English Language Dolby TrueHD 5.1

English Subtitles

Behind The Scenes With The Voice Cast

 

Rating – *** ½   

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