The titular treasure of One Piece remains as elusive as ever, even as we approach the 20th anniversary of Eiichiro Oda’s smash-hit series. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been plenty of treasure worth hoarding along the way, and that goes way more than doubly so for the latest feature film, One Piece Film Gold. We covered the Japanese theatrical release back when it first debuted, and now it’s time to hop aboard once more as Film Gold fast approaches domestic waters.
Film Gold doesn’t waste any time getting to the heart of its adventure: A sprawling, Las Vegas strip-style ship that’s so big it’s technically its own sovereign nation. This glittering gold beauty is known as Gran Tesoro, and it lives up to its promise of gold, gold, GOLD. From the windows to the walls, this floating city is gloriously gilded, and visitors have the luxury of gambling their days and nights away without having to worry about traditional laws. That means Gran Tesoro is a hot spot for the world’s most notorious millionaires, pirates, and Marines looking for a little pocket-loading downtime.
Of course, that also means that Luffy and the rest of the gang have Gran Tesoro firmly in their sights, and their bulging eyes say it all as they sail right into the middle of a boisterous musical number. The big boss of the ship, Tesoro, is hogging the spotlight as they approach, and it takes roughly one minute for their arrival to turn into a full-on pirate brawl against another vessel of newcomers. The opening action sequence is emblematic of everything that makes One Piece movies so much fun to watch. Everyone from our rubber-bodied hero to Brook gets their own brief, beautifully-animated action spotlight, letting newcomers in on what they’re all about while the fans get properly serviced.
After the introductions are made, the Straw Hats get to formally meet Tesoro and his entourage. At a glance this all seems on the up and up, and the crew is even given a hefty sum of money to gamble away however they please. Naturally, everything here is Vegas in the key of One Piece; high stakes games take on the form of turtle-powered car races, colossal, head-hammering games of dice, and other over-the-top takes on traditional games. To sweeten the pot, once Luffy manages to hit a hot streak he gets the opportunity to multiply his winnings astronomically… but isn’t this all too good to be true? If you seriously had to ask that question then you got duped just as badly as our heroes, and what follows is 90 minutes of gum-gum-blasting, escaping, and the type of high-flying heist work that would have Lupin himself on the edge of his seat.
Director Hiroaki Miyamoto doesn’t have a ton of credits to his name, but he definitely knows his One Piece. In addition to serving as assistant director on the highly-praised sixth movie—the Mamoru Hosoda-helmed One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island—he directed the Dream 9 Toriko & One Piece & Dragon Ball Z Chō Collaboration Special!! and a few hundred episodes of the TV anime. His animated One Piece sensibility mixes perfectly with the contributions from creator Eiichiro Oda and a fast-moving script by Tsutomu Kuroiwa (Gantz:O, One Piece: Heart of Gold special).
One Piece Film Gold is an exceptional entry in the series’ ever-growing lineup of features. It’s surprisingly tight considering it clocks in at around two hours, which is pretty substantial for any animated movie. One Piece is a great series, but it can be a little exhausting following the manga’s arcs on a weekly basis. How long did we spend in Dressrosa, for instance? Two years? Longer? The nice thing about One Piece Film Gold and the other top-tier One Piece movies (read: the ones that don’t just condense arcs) is they pack a good deal of the punch of a full saga in a fraction of the time. I don’t know that the caper in Gran Tesoro would warrant its own two- to three-hundred chapter storyline in Oda’s comics, but it makes for one hell of an entertaining One Piece movie.
Funimation is bringing One Piece Film Gold to theaters in English-dubbed form for a limited time from January 10-17. You can see if it’s playing in your area and purchase advance tickets on the official website.
©Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, Toei Animation
©Eiichiro Oda/”2016 One Piece” production committee