Anime movies are a tricky breed; sometimes, they are highly enjoyable and expand the mythos of a series but, more often than not, they’re full of ridiculous filler and fail to truly capture the essence of the source material. Nevertheless, I was very excited to check out One Piece: Strong World, a film that actually connects to the central continuity of the series and was overseen by Eiichiro Oda himself. With that in mind, let’s take a look at Strong World!
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment
Luffy and his crew continue their adventure on the Grand Line when, out of the blue, they come into contact with Shiki the Golden Lion, a powerful pirate who stood against the Pirate King Gol D. Roger himself. Difficult weather, however, has proven a problem for Shiki, and he’s seeking a navigator to help him avoid storms. Upon seeing Nami display her skills as a navigator, Shiki kidnaps the young woman and flees to his complex of floating islands. Can the Straw Hats rescue their friend and prevent Shiki from unleashing an army of violent animals upon an unsuspecting populous?
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, Strong World displays the highest quality work of any One Piece related property. The animation is downright beautiful, and looks gorgeous especially when viewed as a Blu-Ray. The fight scenes make great use of this improved quality, pushing the series’ wild fights to their limits and providing fans with some truly engaging battle scenes. Furthermore, the design work, especially for the exotic animals on Shiki’s island, are amazing, while Shiki himself looks stunning.
The voice acting in Strong World is top notch, as I’ve come to expect from Funimation’s cast. The voice actors of recurring characters have become quite comfortable with their roles over the years, but have continued to improve their performances. This movie saw the introduction of Ian Sinclair as the English voice of Brook the skeletal musician; I quite liked Sinclair’s performance, which combined refinement and hilarity to accurrately portray Brook’s shifting demeanor. Scott McNeil, the English voice of Shiki, definitely stole the show for me; the pseudo-Jamaican accent he chose for Shiki allowed the character to stand out, and McNeil’s voice work made the character feel truly imposing and menacing.
Strong World’s story was quite good as well, tying in with some of the established series lore including Gol D. Roger’s past and the Marine prison of Impel Down. Still, I felt the movie had problems with pacing: the opening felt especially slow, hampered by haphazard scenes of seemingly random fights which did little for the story’s exposition. This issue resolves about a quarter of the way into the film, but there are still a number of extraneous moments thrown into the movie that seemed to slow things down and break up the pacing. I feel this movie’s run time may have been a bit long, and cutting these moments would’ve done wonders for its pacing.
Overall, One Piece: Strong World is a highly enjoyable film, and one of the best anime films I’ve ever seen. It’s not without flaws, but fans of the series will have a lot of fun watching this movie. Shiki alone ranks as a great reason to watch the movie, since his character is interesting and ties directly into the main manga and anime. If you’re a One Piece fan, check out Strong World!
-excellent voice acting, especially from Scott McNeil
-enjoyable story line that broadens the world of One Piece
-opening is a little slow
-fair number of extraneous scenes
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