With long running shonen series like One Piece come many theatrical films that capitalize on the popularity of the franchise. Many of these films are simple adventures that tell small self-contained stories that focus on fan service, but do nothing too outgoing. Then you have One Piece: Strong World, a film that goes above and beyond all other anime features to become one of the greats.
Taking place sometime after Brook joins the straw hats, Strong World kicks off when east blue is being attacked by an unknown foe and Luffy decides to abandon his adventure in order to save his homeland. It’s not before long that a man who had ties to Gol D. Rodger shows up and causes the crew a whole lot of trouble, sending them off on another crazy adventure full of action and emotion.
Knowing how basic most anime movie plots are, I wasn’t expecting the story of Strong World to rival anything seen in the show, but the movie surprised me. The film was written by the creator of One Piece Eiichiro Oda (the first time he’s ever written a One Piece film), and he manages captures the fun and adventurous spirit that the series is known for perfectly in his writing.
The story moves at a fast pace that never lingers on boredom. The characters are introduced quickly and the enemy’s motives are established during the first act, giving plenty of time for the actual character driven story to play out. The entire film feels like a giant story arc that was somehow compressed into a fast paced two hour epic while managing to keep in all the important bits to make it a fulfilling experience.
While some characters don’t get as much screen time as others (Franky only says about 7 lines), the entire cast of whacky characters manage to show off what they can do without overstaying their welcome.
Eiichiro’s involvement means that his wonderful creativity is in full force. The entire film takes place on floating islands in the sky that have been lifted up by the devil fruit user Shiki and is home to a wide range of crazy genetically altered animals that all fight for dominance.
The land itself is home to a strange evolved human tribe that have shredding wings on their arms, and the warlords who rule over it all are a bunch of zany characters who do their best to convince everyone a gorilla is Shiki’s grandmother. It’s barking mad and I loved every second of it.
His involvement also means that everything makes sense in the universe. There’s no memory wipe to make characters forget and there’s no ignoring of the source material. Characters make refrences to events that have happened in previous arcs while commenting that islands in the sky is just like Skypiea. Having the film connect and relate to the series makes it easier to picture the characters you know and love really being there reacting to the situation.
One Piece Strong World is a phenomenal film. It’s by far one of the best shonen action films out there, and could maybe be one of the best anime films around. While the English dub is painful to listen to, the Japanese audio is included in the English dub with good subtitles. If you’re a fan of One Piece than this movie will please you to no end, and if you’re new to One Piece or have never heard of it I still highly recommend this movie as one of the most entertaining anime films of all time.
+ Expands on the source material and does it justice
+ Excellent writing and character development
+ The fights are some of the best in anime film history
– English dub is horrible
– Not everyone gets the same amount of screen time
Thanks to Manga UK for supplying a review copy