Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Jan 15th 2014
One Piece Movie 10: Strong World
The Straw Hats are going on their merry way when suddenly a flying pirate ship darkens the sky above them. It is captained by none other than Shiki the Lion, a man with the power of a demon fruit, and he has goals to take over East Blue, where Nami, Usopp, Zoro, and Sanji all hail from. Impressed by Nami's weather skill, Shiki steals her away to help further his plans, and you can bet that the Straw Hats won't stand for that! The crew travels to the floating island Shiki calls his fortress to both rescue their friend and to put a stop to Shiki's machinations once and for all.
Strong World, the latest in a long line of One Piece films, has the distinction of coming from the pen of mangaka Eiichiro Oda himself. While this doesn't give us a story that fits comfortably into the basic storyline (although it doesn't feel totally random either), it certainly makes this a fun movie that stays true to the characters and the general feel of the pirate epic, and really, no one can come up with weird laughs or monsters quite like Oda. He's particularly on his game with that last one – while some aspects of Strong World are lacking visually – some of the monsters mimic stop-motion animation (also known as claymation) in their movements and distance shots are clearly below par – the same cannot be said for the creatures' appearances. From the crazy grinning bunny-wolf to Billy, the peaducken (that's peacock/turkey/duck to you) who has electrical powers, these are inventive animals who never get old. They also all survive, for those who are worried; post-credits images show all of our animal pals alive and well, despite what earlier scenes may have led us to believe.
The story of Strong World takes place sometime between Thriller Bark and New World. The crew is complete up through Brook, old character designs are used, and the ship is the Thousand Sunny. The Straw Hats are sailing along when Nami mentions that islands in East Blue are getting attacked with some regularity. Since most of the original crew hails from there, there's a lot of concern, particularly from Nami about her sister Nojiko. As they discuss going to check it out, a floating pirate ship passes above them. In the midst of being fascinated, Nami senses a major storm brewing and warns the flying ship's captain. He just happens to be notorious bad pirate Shiki the Lion, a man who once cut off his own legs to escape prison. Shiki is so impressed with Nami's skills that he kidnaps her and spirits her away to his floating island empire. As anyone who knows Luffy will guess, this does not sit well, and the Straw Hats immediately set out to effect a rescue.
Much of this film is really a very typical One Piece adventure – massive beasts to fight, a villain with a horrible, destructive plot, and the overall theme of friends sticking together. Shiki not only has plans for the rest of the world, but he is also oppressing the native islanders whose lands he sent to the sky with his demon fruit powers, and thanks to his charisma, he is on the verge of recruiting an impressive amount of pirates to help him. Luffy, whose sense of what “piracy” is has always been a little suspect, sets out to stop him as part of reclaiming Nami, and we get to see all of the Straw Hats use their special skills...except the navigator. While she is hardly the damsel in distress we might at first assume, she also doesn't use her special staff or much of her fighting prowess at all, which is a bit of a disappointment. On the other hand, her wits are in full effect, and out-thinking the bad guy has always been more of Nami's forte.
This film has the honor of introducing Brook, the ship's musician, to dub audiences, as the TV series has not yet reached Thriller Bark. He is voiced in English by Ian Sinclair, who does a very good job with the loopy skeleton, and the special extra feature on the blu-ray is basically a video about how excited Funimation was to introduce Brook. There is an interview with Sinclair, as well as a decent amount of cosplayer footage where Brook fans talk about why they like him. It isn't the most interesting extra, but it is so gleeful that it's hard to fault them for including it.
The rest of the dub cast remains the same as for the TV series, so however you tend to prefer your One Piece voices there will hold true here as well. The only off note for me is Colleen Clinkenbeard's Luffy, who sounds very strained. Shiki has been given a pseudo-Caribbean accent in the English version, which is a little off-putting, although when one listens to the Japanese track, it is fairly easy to see why the decision was made. Other notable sounds are the usual strange varieties of laughs and one character's fart shoes, which are guaranteed to send kids into fits of giggles.
With a couple of cameos of Nojiko, a strange sort of honor behind Shiki's madness, and lush backgrounds, Strong World holds its own as a stand alone One Piece story. Even at almost two hours it doesn't feel long, and while it probably isn't a good introduction to the franchise, established or casual fans should find plenty to enjoy in this brand new adventure of everyone's favorite rubber pirate.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B-
Art : B+
Music : B
+ Feels like it could slip right in to the main continuity, Nami's no damsel in distress. Brook's dub voice fits, interesting animals.
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