One Piece Film: Strong World DVD review

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One Piece, Naruto, Bleach. Alongside many other popular anime titles, those are the big three that will always stand out and stand on top. They’re also the three that I’ve never seen an episode of (ready to be shot). Whether it be because I don’t have enough interest, not enough time, or just not enough motivation to start episode one of however many hundred, I just never felt like I was missing out on too much. However, I fear that for a long time I could have been very, very wrong. One Piece Film: Strong World – I believe you may have just shown me that I have, in fact, been missing out on a hell of a lot. I was aware of basic pieces of information here and there, some character names and associations, but obviously I never really knew about One Piece as a whole. So forgive me if this review comes across a little ignorant or with holes in the knowledge. It was my first taste of One Piece and I have a strong feeling that it won’t be my last. If I could sum this film up before going into any more detail, all I can say is that it really was a slap in the face. A slap in the face that said “WHY HAS IT TAKEN THIS LONG FOR YOU TO GIVE THIS A CHANCE?”. Lesson learned. Moving on.

So, the film really is exactly what it says on the tin. ‘Strong World’ literally refers to the island inhabited by extremely strong and aggressive animals within which the story takes place. The basic gist of the plot is that Nami, a member of the Straw Hats pirate crew, is abducted by the big, bad and often hilariously stupid, Shiki. Shiki holds Nami captive on his floating island airship which is just one part of his impressive archipelago in the sky. Of course, the rest of the team subsequently disperse into smaller groups in order to search the various islands and retrieve Nami as well as being determined to protect the East Blue from Shiki’s plans. Along the way the team experience everything from run down villages to colossal animal/insect hybrids (which reminded me a lot of the recent Hunter x Hunter chimera ant arc, so I was rather pleased). And obviously there was a good helping of strategy, action and battles along the way.

Screenshot (157)To say the least, One Piece Film: Strong World delivered a hell of a lot of variety. I was particularly surprised by how much I loved the animation and art style. In terms of the scenery, it was impeccable. The detailing in everything from dense forests to the wide landscapes of floating islands definitely gave my eyes enough to feast on. When it came to the characters themselves, the style had always been something that had really put me off of trying the anime in the first place. To put it simply, I’m fussy. I’m much more in favour of the ‘pretty’ characters with more detailed and appealing features. Luffy’s bright, wide grin and black dotted eyes just didn’t match up to my preferred standards of something like Attack on Titan’s Eren and his constantly glittering eyes of all colour variations. But I digress. If anything, I found that the more simplistic style worked absolutely perfectly when presenting and expressing the characters. Though some things were a little too out there for me, such as initially seeing Luffy expand into a huge balloon and then completely shrink to a fraction of his former size. Then again, it quickly grew on me. It was easy to understand that this was a key selling point of this franchise and all I could do was embrace it for how truly strange it all was. The initial ten minute introduction really was a whirlwind. For a newcomer, there was a lot to take in. But it was this fast paced flurry of new faces and personalities that instantly drew me in. I kind of wanted to rewind the whole first section and watch it over and over again. I was thrown into a world that I was genuinely excited to see more of, and not to mention the music, which had me bopping my head with a smile too.

Screenshot (161)When it comes down to what the Strong World film actually is, who the characters are and the way it all fits together as a story, I can’t really fault it. Although I was originally worried that I was about to watch two hours of a classic Super Mario Bros. game, with the whole ‘princess has been taken – save her’ deal going on, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was proven wrong. The characters and scenes they were in really were engaging in all different lights. But the biggest highlight of all had to be the comedy. Although occasionally a little on the try-hard side, but not extensively overwhelming, there were a lot of comedic moments; one liners and skit scenes that were like mini sketches in themselves. Particularly Shiki and his two idiot sidekicks, which was like watching a triplet version of Dumb and Dumber sometimes, but gets my thumbs up.

Screenshot (162)The characters in general really made the film. I’ve always believed that with the right variety and use of characters, any plot can be both watchable and enjoyable, so personally they are always an important factor. The Straw Hats were like a misfit bunch of all things wacky and wonderful. I mean, a disco styled skeleton and Chopper the tiny blue-nosed reindeer, I was confused as much as I was delighted. But it was believable. As strange as it was, the connection and interactions between all the characters almost made it easy to overlook the ridiculous appearances. I even came close to shedding a pathetic tear at the end as it was revealed that Nami had requested ‘save me’ in a desperate whisper. It was easy to relate and become submerged in the journey. There was a great sense of reward at the end, seeing everybody back together.

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Without coming across as too cliché or one-sided about the film, One Piece Film: Strong World really was enjoyable. Considering it’s left me eager to actually start the original anime now, it’s safe to say that this is one for the good books. It was a film that took a very conventional and typical theme and used all of the tools available to show off and make it something more. Although a bit erratic and hard to follow at times, I’ll write that off as being part of the fact that I’m a newbie to the entire concept. But the bottom line is, at just short of two hours long, what have you got to lose? It’s well worth a go and could give any Disney feature film a run for its money.

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