It’s time to look at my first ever One Piece film! I got to see this one in theaters the other day and it feels good to finally join the One Piece community. I’ve seen around 3-400 episodes of the anime and am caught with the manga plus I’ve played several of the games, but checking out a movie seals the deal. Now I just need to work on getting back to One Piece Z, which shouldn’t be too hard. I forgot that it has a DVD release. Gold is definitely a fun film and one that is certainly amplified in the theater. While it is certainly not ready to compete with Naruto or DBZ, it’s a film that stays consistent with the high energy nature of One Piece throughout.
Luffy and the gang finished beating up Doflamingo in what was an incredibly difficult situation so they figured it was time to relax a little. The crew heads to Gran Tesoro, the fictional equivalent of Las Vegas. The entire country lies on a boat which is owned by Tesoro and he puts on a big show for the rest of the world. Beneath the luxery hotels and gambling sites, the place has a dark underside. Luffy and friends manage to gamble away all of their winnings as they underestimated Baccarat’s luck abilities. They try to fight their way out, but Zoro is captured. The crew must now recognize him and stop Tesoro’s plot before it’s too late. Raw strength won’t win the day this time so the Strawhats have to get to action with some stealth.
For a minute there, I actually thought that the film was going to be subbed because of the Japanese credits with no translation. I’m not saying that this would have been a bad thing since I’ve seen many films subbed and it’s always fun, but the Dub really does make a difference. It’s night and day comparing the two versions and it’s fun to hear all of the old voices since I’m still watching One Piece every week on Toonami. The film starts off nice and strong with a quick fight scene as the full crew of the Strawhats get to use their signature attacks against a group of overconfident pirates. I’m always game for an opening action scene and moreover, I think all films should have a start like that. You need to do something that grabs people’s attention and nothing does that better than a fight. The animators also had fun experimenting with the animation during this phase.
Most of the Strawhats didn’t get to do all that much so I’ll quickly gloss over the least important members here. Tony Tony Chopper’s bounty is still significantly lower than the rest and he isn’t all that strong anymore, but he has heart. He helps the team get past some lasers and the whole crew does help in some challenge or another, but that’s about the extent of it for him. Brook also doesn’t do much, but he does have his hardcore moment in the intro where he takes out three pirates. He even borrows the legendary saying “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” as he one shots them. It’s a shame that Brook can’t keep this up forever as he would actually be a great character if not for one trope. Luckily, that one is not present in the film so as far as this movie is concerned, Brook is actually a good character. Sanji’s mostly just around as well and he doesn’t even get his own 1 on 1 fight during the climax. He looks pretty bad for most of the film when it comes to power, but gts to show up some of the guards.
Usopp is pivotal in stopping one of the last villains so that was a good way for him to wrap things up. I expected him to play things up a little more while at Gran Tesoro, but I guess it wasn’t worth the risk. Robin questions things as per usual and is a little more sharp than the others, but with a Captain like Luffy, this ultimately doesn’t help stop the crew from doing whatever they want. Franky’s role isn’t quite as big as the main three, but he helps a lot on the spying part. I’m wondering why he didn’t use his Robot Mode until the end, but maybe it wouldn’t have helped that much anyway given who they were fighting.
Zoro’s role is smaller than the other two since he is captured for most of the film. I wasn’t really disappointed with how he looked though as his battle plan was sound and he did a good job of stopping Dice in the end. The fight was a little closer than you’d expect and I do miss the days when he was portrayed to be around equal to Luffy, but those days are long gone. I still think he was a better character before Impel Down, but in this film he acted a lot like his old self and ended up being the best character in the film.
Nami plays a rather large role here as well. She was pretty misleading when she said that Carina betrayed her in the past, but ultimately we found out the truth by the end. She’s still a good thief as always and she does get her chance to fight in this movie. As the brains behind the Strawhat crew, she’s definitely a member who will always be needed on the team. She’s a charismatic character and her banter with Carina was solid.
Finally, Luffy is the leader of the gang and he is very determined as always. He can’t usually back up his tough talk here as he spends most of the film getting beat up and tricked by the villains, but at least it never deters him. He makes a lot of good speeches by the end and he is certainly the heavy hitter of the team. While he’s certainly no Goku, Luffy’s a good main character. His comic relief moments can sometimes be a bit much as he doesn’t take their plight seriously enough, but he fights when necessary.
Tesoro is the main villain of the film. His gold abilities make him a very deadly adversary and he is very confident from start to finish. This is his world after all and he is used to getting everything that he wants. He gets a sob story by the end and it is pretty drastic. It makes you wonder why he never used his newfound riches to get revenge or see what happened to his friend. Usually, the flashback would have ended with that kind of moment as Tesoro takes out the villains before becoming the villain, but not this time. Of course, Tesoro ended up going off the deep end and becoming a big villain himself so it went just about full circle. It’s hard to sympathize with him when he has made a paradise island for the same villains who stole his friend though. It makes the whole thing rather sketchy.
Baccarat’s the public face of the villains as she scouts out the opponents and uses her luck abilities to ensure that they fall into Tesoro’s trap. His plans wouldn’t work quite as smoothly without her. She’s a good villain and her luck powers are certainly convenient for combat. It’s the kind of power that can be tough to deal with, but luckily Usopp was on the case. She probably wishes that she had toyed with the heroes a little less and gone straight for the win.
Dice was a good villain because of his abilities and how powerful he was, but his personality wasn’t that great. He enjoyed fighting in the wrong way and that gimmick was a little distracting from how good he would have been otherwise. I didn’t expect him to be as physically strong as he was and he was certainly the most intimidating member of the villains. It’s safe to say that only Sanji, Luffy, and Zoro could hope to defeat this guy.
Tanaka’s not as much of a fighter and he prefers to do recon and give intel to Tesoro. He leaves the actual combat to the others, but his ability to phase through things does allow him to fight when necessary. It’s hard to get a bead on the guy because of how quick he is. He held his own well enough and rounded out Tesoro’s trio.
Carina is one of the main heroines in this film and she spends a lot of it switching from side to side. You never know who she will be helping out as she may not even suspect herself. She’s not really a fighter unfortunately, but she has survived for quite a while on the island so she certainly has a talent for living and being sneaky. You can’t help but feel that her task would have been doomed from the start though. There’s no way she could possibly steal a bunch of gold and get away with it on such a big island where Tesoro sees all. She may have been a little too confident there, but she’s a nice addition to the cast and even helped Nami out back in the day. Whether Nami wants to see the truth or not, she would have been in quite the pickle without Carina.
The film also gives us some quick guest star appearances from CP0’s Lucci and Sabo. They show up as a little treat to the fans and get into a quick skirmish, but nothing really comes out of it. I honestly wouldn’t have minded if they just had Sabo win that fight since I think he should certainly have the edge, but maybe Lucci is stronger than I thought. Either way, the situation won’t make the government look all that good, but when are they ever all that heroic in One Piece? It was also cool to see the Magma guy as I can definitely see him being one of the final bosses in the One Piece manga as well. The scenes may not lead to much and you’ll know this beforehand, but they’re still pretty hype.
The main positive of the film is its incredibly high budget. It’s certainly some of the best One Piece animation that you’ll see. The first fight scene gets very flashy as the camera moves around a lot and everyone uses exaggerated attacks. The rest hold up as well with nice effects and consistently good animation. I think the animation will continue to hold up well for quite some time and this is the kind of animation that I’d expect from a 2016 film. Forget CGI, Flash, Stop Motion, Lego, Live Action, and any other techniques you can think of. Classic anime style graphics are all you need. There really wasn’t much of an epic soundtrack to be found here, but the tunes weren’t bad either.
Film Gold is also just fun from start to finish. There’s always something happening and the pacing is nice and quick. It’s the kind of film where you can just sit back and enjoy the show. It does its best to be a complete story filled with a lot of side characters and hintings at their past and then the main plot. There’s no time to fully get into these other character backstories, but I wouldn’t have wanted the film to do that anyway.
That being said, there are some things that keep this from being a great film. For one thing, while there is a lot of action, I wouldn’t say that there are a lot of fight scenes. We’ve got the fight at the beginning and then that’s basically it until the very end when the Strawhats take on the main 4. The final fights are naturally a lot of fun and Luffy’s as well as Zoro’s are played seriously. The group against Baccarat’s was more of a comedy fight, but it was enjoyable as well. The climax was mostly solid on that end.
I did have one main problem with it though and that’s the fact that Luffy’s fight is mainly against Tesoro in his giant form. As a result, it becomes a battle of giant fighters so there isn’t much moving or hand to hand action. Luffy even uses Gear 4 and that’s more of the same since he basically becomes the Hulk. I still think that form was a big mistake as Gear 2 is still the most impressive by far. Even when you see Luffy moving in Gear 4, you’ll wonder how nobody just swats him out of the sky.
This film can also be a little on the fanservicey side at time. Since this takes place in part 2 of One Piece, Nami and Robin are always in a swimsuit and while the film gives them new attire for the Casino part, it’s not much of an improvement for Robin. Nami’s new costume is okay though. Since this is a parody of Las Vegas, you shouldn’t expect the attire to be much different for all of the other characters who show up. Carina also has to use this to her advantage to distract some guards. It’s not all that egregious, but still rather noticeable. Even the racing scene can’t avoid it as the camera angles decide to get a little tricky.
I also think that Film: Gold is one of those titles that probably wouldn’t hold up quite as well in a rewatch. Similar to Battle of Gods which got a 9 immediately after watching it, but dropped to a 7 afterwards, I think Gold would have a bit of a drop as well. Part of what makes it so grand and special isn’t just the animation, but the sound effects as well. They were all quite loud in the theaters and you could really feel all of the impacts. It’s hard to get the same effect at home unless you have a really good sound system. It’ll be a little more noticeable when you’re in the wait between fight scenes.
One plot in particular that will drag on is Luffy’s adventure through the gold sandy wasteland. Nothing really happens there for a little while. I also didn’t care much for the cafe plot as Luffy and friends just watch as someone is beaten up for a while. It’s unfortunately something that the cast is consistent with doing, but most main characters wouldn’t just sit back and watch this go down. It’s probably one of the reasons why the cast has always lagged back a little. They aren’t heroes as they’re just pirates who happen to save the day and it becomes readily apparent at times like this. With the government also being corrupt, it’s rough for the every day citizens. I did say that the pacing was pretty good though and these plots don’t take too long but are the most uneventful parts of the film. I also have to point out that Nami’s big plan at the end of the film doesn’t make too much sense. It revolves around a ton of little events that had to happen just right in order for the plan to work and there was no way that the team could have prepared for such an eventuality.
Finally, I have to say that the Strawhats just looked very weak. They talk a good game a lot of the time and even make some of the right moves, but it doesn’t matter if they’re just going to get overwhelmed. Zoro, Sanji, and Luffy put up such a terrible fight against Tesoro. I don’t think that they should have lost so easily. Zoro I can understand since he was already turning into gold, but Luffy and Sanji had no such excuse. They were simply outsped and that’s just hard to believe since they are so fast by this point. This guy isn’t exactly Doflamingo, they should be able to handle him. I do like his ability to manipulate gold though, I always liked elemental type powers like that.
Overall, One Piece Film Gold was a fun film. It’s basically a summer blockbuster film and is certainly a technical masterpiece. It may have had its share of issues, but I could easily watch it again. It was really close to scoring that 8, but just missed it. There’s a lot of action and excitement throughout plus I’m always up for a good anime film. It’s a good way to be introduced to the One Piece films and I’m sure that big fans will enjoy the movie even more. One Piece as a franchise has always been below the other big titles for me as the humor and characters just never caught up to the others. As such, it makes sense that the film would have the same problems for me. One thing that would help the other One Piece films would be to have a better final fight and to ignore Gear 4 and mostly just focus on 2. Nevertheless, I’d say that it’s one of the best films in 2016 as a 7 for anime can still take on a 9 for live action. If you haven’t checked this film out yet, then I’d definitely recommend that you do. Now I just have to wait and see how this compares to other upcoming films like Sword Art Online and Yugioh. I am assuming that the other two will likely win, but it could end up being a close fight with Sword Art Online. You can never tell with that series.