Anime Reporter takes a look at a true triple threat now, One Piece movie Collection 02, made up of One Piece films 4-6. As these films are all available as part of a collection, I’ll be giving my individual take on each film, but the final verdict will reflect all three films together.
All three films come in Japanese with English subtitles.
One Piece Film 04: the Adventure of Dead End
Unlike the One Piece film, Strong World, which I recently reviewed, this Collection is in the perfect place for fans who are keeping pace with the Manga UK DVD releases of the One Piece series. As the first movie of the collection, The Adventure of Dead End, starts off, Tony Tony Chopper and Nico Robin are on board and the main references to the series are the names Arlong and Crocodile, which should date the film pretty well.
Things begin as you might expect, with the Strawhat crew dodging marines and generally having a great time being pirates. The only snag in an otherwise fine evening when they make dock is that they’re dangerously low on funds. Naturally, Nami spies an opportunity to make a profit and before they know it, Luffy and crew are signed up for the biggest, roughest, anything-goes race that the Grand Line has to offer.
Notable among the characters are a skilled bounty hunter with a serious axe to grind and General Gusparday, an intimidating ex-marine with an impressive bounty and a well-earned reputation for cruelty and brutality.
Naturally, being a race whose contestants are pirates of the Grand Line, there’s a fair amount of fighting and a wonderful variety of crews and ships to behold.
However, this movie isn’t to be confused for a pirate themed feature-length equivalent of Wacky Races. Things are soon revealed to be a lot more complicated than they seemed at first and, as is so often the case, it’s soon up to Luffy to make a stand.
This film is an imaginative outing for the Strawhats with some novel antagonists and supporting characters thrown into the mix. A worthy venture in its own right.
One Piece Film 05: The Cursed Holy Sword
The fifth One Piece film takes place primarily on a single island, where legend speaks of a curse brought about every one hundred years alongside a blood red moon… and treasure, of course. Needless to say, the Strawhat pirates are intrigued by the legend and decide to stick around for a wee bit in search of the treasure, a fabled jewelled sword, said to grant tremendous power to its wielder.
The plot takes a couple of twists along the way, mainly with Zoro falling in with a bad crowd, actually bringing him into conflict with his own shipmates and Luffy and Usopp finding themselves lost in a booby-trap laden underground labyrinth.
Aside from this, things are pretty straight forward. The majority of bad guys are interchangeable marines and a few token brutes while the inhabitants of the island are fairly stereotypical kind natives, with the attractive, if bland, young priestess serving as the spokesperson and token non-canon newfound friend.
While the plot isn’t terrifically innovative, indeed it could have been as much a Naruto or Pokémon movie as a One Piece specific event, it is deep enough to intrigue and the action is plentiful and intense.
The main focus of the movie is on Zoro and Luffy, with Zoro carrying most of the plot on his shoulders and Luffy carrying the brunt of the humour and obligatory final showdown. The other crewmates are given fairly superficial roles, though it’s nice to see some significant use made of Nico Robin’s impressive Devil Fruit power. The animation is nicely stepped up from the previous film, with brighter colours, much more fluid movement and some overall very well utilised special effects.
Also included on the DVD for Cursed Holy Sword is a five minute short film The Pirate Baseball King which sees Luffy and crew in a heavy duty baseball game against the merman Arlong and his pirates. The short feature is a lighter companion for the overall more intense film.
All in all, The Cursed Holy Sword is an action-heavy which feels interesting if not particularly innovative. There’s some nice back story provided for Zoro’s character, but if you’re not a fan of the triple threat swordsman, you might find your attention drifting during this one.
One Piece film 06: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island
And now for something entirely, utterly, remarkably different. From the very beginning, the third and final instalment of the collection feels alien to its predecessors.
The animation style is radically different and in fact seems very flat at the beginning. Characters lose much of their rounded, cartoonish features in favour of a more angled, toned down style. While this may seem a little off-putting at first, it becomes quite fitting for the otherworldly tone of the film and viewers shouldn’t let themselves be put off from watching what may well be the most powerful film of the collection, hardly surprising, given that it’s directed by none other than Mamoru Hosada (of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Wolf Children acclaim).
Luffy and crew find themselves more than a little intrigued by a flyer for Omatsuri Island, a luxury resort offering great facilities for all pirates to enjoy. With minimal hesitation they take off towards the island and the promise of spas, fine dining and beautiful women. Upon arrival, the crew is issued with a challenge by Baron Omatsuri, the Trial of Hell. True to form the majority of the crew see no reason to take up an unnecessary challenge, though of course Luffy wins them over. What follows are some truly bizarre, carnival style antics, testing the crew’s skills without ever really feeling like there’s anything much at stake.
This is why the inevitable sense of tension and paranoia that this film creates are truly masterful. Without laying it on too thick the film creates a feeling of foreboding and fear that don’t seem at home in the One Piece universe. The crew are slowly turned against each other while hidden strangers try to warn Luffy of the island’s true nature, until it is far too late for him to take notice.
While the characters are all present and well represented (far more so than in the other films of the collection), much of the humour associated with One Piece is lost in this film. One of the series’ other trademarks takes the fore with heartbreaking sincerity; Luffy’s devotion to his nakama. ‘Nakama’ is a Japanese word often used in One Piece and the meaning is somewhere between “friend” and “companion” though with a stronger connotation of loyalty and devotion.
All the way through the series we get to see that nothing turns Luffy from a loveable clown to a rage-fuelled warrior quicker than to place his nakama in danger. Here, this idea is taken much, much further. Luffy and his crew are pushed to breaking point and there is a sense of loss and pain unlike any other One Piece excursion.
The word “dark” seemed appropriate to describe aspects of Movies 4 and 5 until I watched this one and now the word feels utterly inadequate to describe Movie 6.
This film may not be considered entertaining by many viewers but it is undoubtedly a powerful and moving film and a must see for anyone who has ever found themselves moved by Luffy’s devotion to his crew and his nakama in the series.
Ultimately, Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island is a tribute to loss and isolation and the effect that it can have on the human soul. More than just an animated pirate adventure, it is a meaningful, if disturbing, piece of cinema in its own right.
Well, well, well, this is a tough one to sum up as a collection, from the action heavy, anything-goes race to the legendary cursed sword of prophecy to a tragic tale of loneliness and loss. While each of these films is very different to its fellows, they are each excellent examples of the One Piece universe. The Adventure of Dead End represents the adventurous, imaginative scale of the series and, in particular of the Grand Line. The Cursed Holy Sword gives us the action and heroics of the series with a nice dose of characterisation and humour thrown in. Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island remind us of just how moving and meaningful this silly little series can be when it sets its mind to it and reminds us that, at its core, One Piece is a story of friendship and loyalty above all else.
One Piece Movie Collection 02 is currently available on DVD from Manga Entertainment UK. For more information, check out the Manga UK website and of course, stick around Anime Reporter for more reviews and updates.
Final Scores are calculated on an average across the three films.
84% – “Gripping!” – One Piece Movie Collection 02 offers three wildly different films, each representing a different aspect of what makes this series so phenomenal. As a whole, this collection may have a darker tone than One Piece fans are used to but this collection should serve as a welcome addition to any fan’s anime stash.