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ONE PIECE: STRONG WORLD -- Blu-Ray Review

A fun and emotionally-powerful romp... but is it too sleek for ONE PIECE?

We ought to think of a better label for feature-length shonen adventures like this. ‘OVA’ doesn’t apply, obviously, because STRONG WORLD didn’t go straight to video. It did, in fact, have a proper and successful theatrical run. Calling it a ‘movie’ doesn’t really fit either, though. Like an OVA, it really ain’t targeted at anybody who isn’t a fan versed in the show.

Make no mistake, this is not an easy entry point into the ONE PIECE universe. It’s an extra-sized episode - - or a condensed arc, if you prefer - - with a noticeably higher animation budget. If you don’t already know Luffy, Zoro, Chopper, Franky, Robin or and the rest of the Straw Hats, don’t expect any obliging introduction here. If you are one of the converted, though, then getting preached to by STRONG WORLD is quite fun.

The focus ostensibly falls onto Nami for this outing. After she impresses the dread pirate Shiki by more-or-less sniffing out an approaching thunderstorm, the gravity-manipulating villain demands she join her crew… or else! As you’d expect, she chooses “or else,” so Shiki makes the deal a bit harder to refuse - - dropping the Straw Hats down to the treacherous islands floating beneath his ship.

One island is inhabited with scores of wacky-but-dangerous wild animals (the titular Strong World? That’s never made clear) and the other is populated with a society of oppressed harpies. The former are just as delightfully ridiculous as anything popping out of series creator Eiichiro Oda’s imagination. And the latter have that right cocktail of good-natured lowliness you've come to expect from innocent bystanders in a ONE PIECE arc, so it’s almost physically impossible not sympathize with them.

Needless to say, the Straw Hats fight their way up through the islands to rescue Nami. Along the way, their resolve is repeatedly shaken: first by Shiki’s outrageously mighty gravity powers, then by a message he forces Nami to record where she disowns the Straw Hats. The apparent betrayal really breaks Luffy’s heart: swelling up a moving emotional arc that’s as close to jilted love as a stubbornly-platonic relationship allows for. Somehow, it all culminates with the Straw Hats storming Shiki’s palace in matching black suits (seeming to fulfill a long-held desire of Oda’s to do a yakuza story, perhaps).

On the one hand, this ‘deluxe special’ offers a ONE PIECE experience that’s refreshingly free of the filler and deliberate pacing that are necessary evils with a weekly schedule. At two hours, the pacing is brisk, skipping over scenes the show would've typically just languished over (though, I’m still not 100% clear on how we got to the flick’s signature dapper men pose-down).

On the other hand, it’s hard not to see the inclusion of the entire Straw Hat crew as rather… vestigial to the show, at times. Part of the charm of an ongoing serial is that, no matter how big the cast gets, everybody eventually gets time to shine. So, even if your expectations are properly gauged, you can’t help but wonder if some Straw Hats wind up being glorified extras; or if this whole thing would’ve benefited from focusing on the plights of just half the crew members in its tight run-time.

Flipping the trade-off, once again, STRONG WORLD might also be a rare case where the added sheen of feature-quality animation actually works against the overall product. While the show’s quality of rendering can swing drastically from season to season, it’s hit the right groove of rendering lately, and the contrast of style in this flick just never sits right. It’s too clean. It’s too sleek. It’s missing that manic quality in the show, where it seems like the hands of the animators can just barely keep up with the pace of imagination being unfurled. Here, it’s clear that they’ve all had a long time to mediate on every frame and the effect just… doesn’t feel like ONE PIECE at times.

Anyway, these are definitional quibbles.

As said earlier, if you’re already into ONE PIECE, STRONG WORLD is going to give you everything you’d want from a feature. Shiki and his ridiculous Jamaican accent are a hoot, the chaste love affair between Luffy and Nami really does pack an emotional wallop, and the yakuza showdown we jump to is a certified crowd-pleaser. No fan's going to walk from this, unsatisfied.

About the Author

Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk
Hypeathonon Nov. 26, 2013 at 12:24 a.m.

Make no mistake, this is not an easy entry point into the ONE PIECE universe. It’s an extra-sized episode - - or a condensed arc, if you prefer - - with a noticeably higher animation budget. If you don’t already know Luffy, Zoro, Chopper, Franky, Robin or and the rest of the Straw Hats, don’t expect any obliging introduction here.

Actually I've been hearing stories from the Unofficial One Piece Podcast regarding how some people haven't seen One Piece prior to seeing this movie and yet enjoyed it regardless. Whether it was friends of the podcast hosts or the whoever they talked to that saw the movie for the first time at the Anime Weekend Atlanta screening, some people got hooked.

Donwunon Nov. 26, 2013 at 6:46 a.m.

I had quite a bit of fun with this movie and can actually agree that the super smoothness of the hq animation can give OP a different feel, however it's nice to see this cinematic feel every once in a while with an anime series ya really enjoy

sickVisionz moderator on Nov. 26, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.

I've always wanted to watch this. The animation is supposed to be godly at times.

Jinbeifan1on Nov. 26, 2013 at 1:44 p.m.

NO! LUFFY AND NAMI DO NOT HAVE A LOVE AFFAIR!!! Even if the anime writers would like to make it that way

JiCion Nov. 28, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.

My major gripe is simple:

NAMI STILL GETS SCREWED... FOR THE UPTENTH TIME!!!

Seriously, she gets captured AGAIN by the main villain. She escapes but gets captured right away. Seriously, she's probably the worst character in the entire series because Oda keeps making her the weakest link of the crew.

Even with the 2-year time skip, she STILL the weakest link. God, what's with Nami anyway? Yes, she's not the strongest of the crew, but what's so precious about her? The compass she's wearing? Her talent as a cartographer or navigator? No, nothing, there's nothing about her that would point to a real key member to the crew. Ok, just to put you in perspective, the last duel she had was with Kalifa back in the Enies Lobby/CP-9 arc. I thought she would have take on by herself one of the key members of Hody's fishman crew, but Brook had to save her. Pa-the-tic...

Y'know what would be be nice? if Nami would have become as skilled in combat and stealth as other characters. The time skip should have given her time to improve her skills with her staff, like self-taught Bo-jutsu and Jo-jutsu, in addition of training her skills as a burglar. Just imagine the sneak attacks she could do with that. Dude, Usopp and Chopper got stronger than Nami after the time skip, and they're the ones would feel like they wouldn't self-train themselves.

Nami should be the spy of the crew, not the damsel in distress...

takashichea moderator on Nov. 30, 2013 at 9:13 p.m.

It's on my watch list. Despite that I'm not caught up to One Piece (since I only got into back in 2012), I probably enjoy the movie.

Destinyheroknighton Nov. 30, 2013 at 10:50 p.m.

I enjoy the movie and no Luffy and Nami isn't a couple. Did wish Nami wasn't kidnapped, I would love to see her in the yakuza scene

@JiCi:

I to have the same gripes about Nami and Robin but.....

They not useless to the crew, they just fight less. Also Franky and Brook was in the same boat pre-time skip.

Nami is the navigator, it have been shown time and time again, without her the crew will die at sea. That why Arlong and Shiki wanted her, because it a good skill to have on the Grand Line and the New World. The Straw Hats wouldn't made it to Fishman Island without her knowledge about the water currents. Her two year training was about knowledge, not about building muscles or making super drugs.

Also the spy of the crew is Robin

Dig Deeper into One Piece Film: Strong World

The 10th One Piece film, due out in December 2009. A pirate from the age of Gold Roger has revealed himself to rise once more, and that pirate is Shiki. Shiki kidnaps Nami, and Luffy wont let her go.

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