My first exposure to One Piece was the film, One Piece Film: Strong World I fell in love with the characters, they were such an awesome cast and crew that had terrific chemistry with one another. The film itself was one of the better anime movies I've seen in a while, packed with a unique plot, solid development, over the top quality action, and just overall extremely fun. So does One Piece: Film Z live up to the same standards?
First off, I have to say that this is a screener copy, so the final product may not be the same. If I get the chance, I will review the final retail product.
The straw hats are back! As we open the film, we get a ten minute sequence introducing us to our lead villain, "Black Arm" Zephyr (voiced by Jeremy Schwartz,pronounced Zed for you anime purists), a former naval commander that is the leader of the Neo-Marines that has a mechanical arm that cancels out Devil Fruit Powers. Along with his subordinates Bins (Matthew Mercer) and Ain (Lauren Landa), go to Firs Island to steal something called Dyna Stones, essentially weapons of mass destruction. As they leave, they commence an assault on Borsalino (voiced by Ray Hurd), Zephyrs former student, and the naval army in an all out battle that ends with Zephyr detonating one of the dyna stones in a last ditch effort to kill them all, he's knocked unconscious into the water and his subordinates have to retreat.
Cut to our heroes who are enjoying their peace by having a party... Luffy (Colleen Clinkenbeard) is putting on a show by shapeshifting, Zoro(Chris Sabat) and Chopper (Brina Palencia) are busy getting drunk, Sanji (Eric Vale) is hitting up on Nami (Luci Christian) as she sunbathes, Franky (Patrick Seitz) is rocking out to Brook (Ian Sinclair) and his singing, while Usopp (Sonny Strait) ruins said party by inadvertently spraying pesticide all over the Sunny.
Out of the corner of his eye, Luffy spots a man, Zephyr, limp in the water and decides to pull him out. Luffy becomes intrigued by him when he loses all of his powers as he grabbed onto his arm. Due to this, Luffy orders Chopper to fix him up.
After coming to, Zephyr and Luffy begin to talk about what happened to him, Zephyr explains to Luffy that his arm was specially constructed to counter the Devil Fruit powers. In the meantime, Bins and Ain attack the Sunny, attempting to rescue their boss, while Luffy reveals to Zephyr that he and his crew are pirates, which sends Zephyr into a rage due to his family being murdered by them. After beating Luffy nearly to death, Zephyr soon explains his plan, he wants to use the dyna stones to seek vengeance on all of those he felt wronged him. Luffy makes a vow to stop him at all costs.
+ The dub is exceptional. Jeremy Schwartz, a new comer to anime, is fantastic as Z. He is easily the standout performance. Ian Sinclair once again delivers as Brook, Clinkenbeard is great as Luffy (although it's still hard for me to get used to that raspy pitch in her voice.) Eric Vale and Luci Christian are two of the best Voice Actors working today, and they deliver great work as usual. It's just an all around amazing cast.
+ The fight scenes are fantastic.
+ Great ending.
+ The villain ends up getting some last minute development that was welcome, albeit a bit late.
- There feels like there is a lot of filler just to pad the run time, 10 minutes alone is dedicated to just walking around, talking about clothes, and hanging out in a hot spring. Occasionally there will be a minute where the film flashes to Zephyr beating up a huge quantity of marines, so as we don't forget he's apart of the film. It all feels kind of lazy.
- Generic through and through... the motive of the villain, the villain himself (up until the end), the plot, everything is your run of the mill story.
- Patrick Seitz at Sakura-Con 2014. A 19 minute segment focusing on the con life of a voice actor.
- 8 short in theater commercials that amass to maybe 2 and a half minutes in total.
- A 2 minute Japanese promo video.
- U.S. trailer for the dub.
- Trailers for other FUNimation titles like Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Toriko, Fairy Tail, Baka & Test, Steins;Gate, A Certain Magical Index II, and One Piece.
One Piece: Film Z is a solid film. No where near the quality of Strong World but still a good entry. The usual charming cast of characters, a somewhat decent villain, fantastic dub, and the excellent action carry this film. For the hardcore One Piece fans, it's recommended.