- One Piece
Monkey D. Luffy is a teenage boy out to find the legendary treasure known
as One Piece and become the King of Pirates. He is also unique in that he has
eaten the fruit of the gum-gum tree - Luffy is literally made of rubber, and
is able to perform feats of physical skill which would otherwise be
impossible. With his intrepid and eccentric crew, he goes off seeking the
Grand Line, where this treasure is supposedly hidden.
This does not stop them from seeking other treasures along the way, as well
as tangling with other pirate crews also en route to the Grand Line. In this
feature, Luffy and his crew rescue the wannabe pirate Tobio from the clutches
of the fearsome El Drago, and are led on a goose chase that just might lead
them to the Golden Island treasure of the famous pirate Woonan.
Right now, it seems as if pirates are on the brain. There's the new Pirates
of the Caribbean movie, and "Talk Like a Pirate Day", and even
Veggietales references to pirates. Pirates, like ninja, are in.
So it's refreshing to watch a pirate show without so much as an "Arr,
matey" in the script. While One Piece is definitely a show about pirates
(and the children who want to grow up to become pirates), it's also a very
original and highly charming romp that owes more to Popeye the Sailor Man than
the current trends of cutthroats in brogue.
Still, the archetypes are here, with the swashbuckling swordsmen and
cannon-studded galleons that we've grown accustomed to in the genre, but
there's constant anachronisms like a floating oden bar, and Zoro's bizarre
skills with katana, that are unmistakably Japanese. It's all very outlandish
and overblown and, well, cartoony, but that's what makes it so fun.
The strength of this movie (as in the series) is by far the characters.
Luffy is likably goofy, an idealist with the pistol arm to back up his dreams
and the presence of mind to know when to use it. He's loyal, brave, and if
he's a bit undersized, it just means that his enemies will fall just that much
further -- though if he can make an erstwhile enemy into a loyal friend, he's
that much happier. His optimistic attitude is infectious, and you can't help
but think that there simply *has* to be a little of Popeye's strength and
quirky humor in Luffy's ancestry.
And that's just *one* character. Luffy's pirate crew is extremely likable
(from the expert swordsman Zoro and the master thief Nami to the ambiguously
useful Ussop, whose nose would make Cyrano cringe). Granted, these characters
work best for the folk who have seen the series and are familliar with their
The movie-storyline guest characters aren't quite as rich - Tobio falls
into the little-boy-wannabe-pirate template much like Coby in the early part
of the TV series (or you could argue, Luffy himself once upon a time). He's
stubborn and wants to be a pirate, but really doesn't have the talent or heart
or even the slightest idea of how to do it. By the end, he realizes
what path he must take in life, thanks to Luffy and his gang.
Today's antagonist, El Drago, turns out to be another of those "I ate
a Devil Fruit" guys, and while he's pretty one-dimensional, his
sword-wielding henchman (predictably, Zoro's opponent) is actually rather
interesting despite being largely silent.
Which brings us to the plot, which is your typical treasure island goose
chase, and not entirely original in concept and theme, but very entertaining
in execution. While the "surprises" are really only going to
surprise younger children, it's still fun watching these characters go through
the motions - like any good hero's journey, this franchise isn't really about
the destination, but how the characters get there.
Technically speaking, the animation is very glossy and this show just looks
great. Granted, it's a kid's show, so the backgrounds and designs are a bit
more simplistic than the norm, but considering the audience, this movie is
definitely not going to disappoint any of its intended viewers based on its
visuals. The music seemed fine to me, though I've always liked the music of
the One Piece franchise.
Overall, a drily written review isn't going to do you any good in knowing
what this show is really like. It's goofy, it's silly, it's adventurous, and
it's fun, and while this first movie is best for fans of the TV series, it's
good enough to pique the interest of newer fans who haven't read a single page
of Shonen Jump.