ANIME & MANGA - Review
14:15 - 6th March 2015, by David West

One Piece: Movie 8

Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates race across the desert to try to stop the outbreak of a civil war in the Kingdom Of Alabasta, where crew member Vivi’s father Cobra is the king. Unfortunately, the criminal known as Crocodile has a plot to rain chaos and destruction down upon the unlucky residents of Alabasta.

The eighth One Piece movie is a very condensed version of the Alabasta story arc from the manga and TV series, and therein lies the problem. The original Alabasta story was told over eight volumes in the manga and 39 episodes of the anime. While the TV series includes various tangents and subplots, the movie has to fit 900-plus minutes of material into a feature film length. As a result, the film feels rushed and the storytelling is disjointed. The screenplay by Hirohiko Uesaka charges through major plot points in such desperate haste that there is no time at all for character development. The Straw Hat Pirates have showcase fights against Crocodile’s henchmen and henchwomen, but there isn’t even an opportunity to introduce the names of most of these characters, never mind any chance to explain their fighting abilities or discover their personalities. This shortcoming extends beyond the lackeys to the villain of the hour himself, Crocodile. He has two big fights against Luffy, but again there simply isn’t time to explore where he came from and what he wants in any detail. A hero is only as good as their nemesis, and while Crocodile is undeniably tough, he needs more screen time to become memorable. And the script simply skips over the question of how Luffy survives their first scrap, charging desperately on to the finish line.

Fans of Nico Robin will enjoy her introduction to the One Piece chronology here as she makes her debut grafting for Crocodile’s nefarious Baroque Works organisation against the Straw Hat Pirates. So that’s a plus. The English dub is on the shrill side in this outing, but that may be a reflection of the fact that the movie concentrates on the loudest, most frantic scenes from the tale. Colleen Clinkenbeard shrieks her way through the big fights, and it’s less harsh on the ears to listen to Mayumi Tanaka in the Japanese version instead. The animation is good and a little cleaner than the standard fare of the regular series. There is smoothly blended use of CGI for sweeping overhead shots of Alubarna, the capital of Alabasta, while the characters retain their loose limbed fluidity from the manga.

The fight scenes are big on destruction with Luffy and Crocodile bouncing each other off the walls, floor and ceiling. The film is often fairly violent – characters are battered, stabbed, and blown up. Luffy spends a good chunk of the film splattered with his own blood, so it’s probably not ideal bedtime viewing for the younger kids. There are also quite a few gags about Nami’s generous breasts – and voluptuous bust lines are ubiquitous for the female characters. Classy.

For fans who have seen the original episodes or read the manga, The Pirates And The Princess Of The Desert will work perfectly well as a sort of Greatest Hits re-run of the story. But for those unfamiliar with the material, this movie will likely only leave them confused. Bottom line, this is far from Luffy’s best movie outing.
SCORE: 2/5
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