One Piece: Strong World
Directed by Munehisa Sakai
Voice work by Mayumi Tanaka, Akemi Okamura, Naoto Takenaka
Review by Jordan
For a blissful period of time, every morning before primary school I would sit, thoroughly entertained and enthralled by the epic adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates in One Piece, the anime translation of Eiichiro Oda’s beloved manga that has since become the highest selling of all time. Emitting a rare, unbridled sense of pure fun and adventure, One Piece transported me to an exciting other-world in those dreadful moments where the thought of enduring an entire school day were normally setting in.
That is until, in a shocking twist of fate and with no prior warning, it stopped.
Then it started again, but rather than commencing where we were unceremoniously made to part with Luffy, Nami, Ussop, Zoro, Sanji and co, it was the very first episode that again aired, and a sinking feeling informed me that I may never know what would become of these wonderful characters in this colourful world…
That is until the end of 2012; and since then I have devoted an abnormal and quite astonishing amount of time to viewing each and every one of the 630 episodes so far televised, sailing on the Grand Line aboard the Going Merry encountering dastardly enemies, unfathomably treacherous scenarios and uncountable moments of touching drama and lovely humour. Just writing about it makes me smile. And with all these episodes now accounted for, I decided that my fourth (and most recent) movie experience (after the self-titled first feature which premiered in March 2000, The Cursed Holy Sword, 2004, and The Desert Princess and the Pirates: Adventures in Alabasta, 2007) would be the first overseen by Eiichiro Oda himself: Strong World.
After 20 years in hiding since escaping the infamous prison Impel Down, the legendary pirate and old nemesis of the Pirate King Gol D. Roger, Shiki the Golden Lion, has returned with an evil plot that could see Luffy’s homeland East Blue suffer complete destruction and devastation. To make matters worse, Shiki has also kidnapped one of the Straw Hat crew’s founding members: the expert navigator (and frequent object of Sanji’s affection) Nami, and from his kingdom in the sky is inflicting endless pain on the lands native inhabitants. With the Straw Hat’s scattered abroad this vast, treacherous domain, can they reunite in time to rescue Nami and save East Blue? You’ll have to watch and find out…
Utterly charming, action packed and filled with wonderful environments, Strong World is a strong contender for the best One Piece movie so far, and a real treat for long-time fans of the series, as well as an entertaining adventure for those not already familiar with this timeless phenomenon. Being limited to just shy of 2 hours to convey a largely new arc (some arcs in the series last well over 100 episodes) does mean that the trademark one-on-one Shonen Jump fight scenes are very brief and not terribly emotional, but the larger picture here detailing the lengths these “nakama” will go to in order to save one of the own as well as innocent people that aren’t able to defend themselves is truly what is of importance, and this is the reason Oda’s tale is just so damn addictive. The comradery these characters share is unequalled by any other team in fictional history, so scenes such as when Nami breaks down in tears after being raced to safety by Chopper and Ussop, or when Luffy being captain is unable to prevent an early, moral shattering defeat tug at the heartstrings and draw complete, unwavering attention.
I should also mention the great one-liners of skeleton musician Brook, that never cease to make me chuckle despite their predictability.
To conclude: while One Piece: Strong World may not compare to the nigh-perfect series on which it is based, it exists as an imaginative, moving and exhilarating work of escapism that can satisfy the inner primary school kid in all of us.
4 talkative mimes out of 5