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One Piece Film: Z UK Anime DVD Review

10 min read

One Piece Film Z UK CoverA very good stand alone One Piece movie which wouldn’t look out of place in canon – just UK watchers, massive spoilers…

What They Say:
Destroy All Pirates! Said to be comparable to the Ancient Weapons of old, the Marines’ trump card, the ‘Dyna Stones’, have suddenly been stolen by a group of renegade vigilantes. The terrifyingly powerful man responsible, former Marine Admiral ‘Z’, now stands in the path of Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates. Can the Straw Hats defeat ‘Z’; and his crew, or will the New World meet its end at the hands of this mad man?

The Review:
Audio:
Like a lot of movie releases, One Piece Film Z has 5.1 Dolby Surround in both English and Japanese, as well as duel stereo, regular stereo and mono options. The set up is default to 5.1 English and there were no problems with the audio sync with the visuals throughout the film. The quality is pretty good in both languages though surprisingly the Japanese 5.1 seems to hold up better than the English (I usually find it is the other way round) in terms of volume and quality as had to adjust the sound a bit with the English dub. No slowdown or out of synching with the subtitles, the quality is overall very good and can be manual adjusting from the actual movie itself if you actually want a standard stereo audio track, as well as from the options menu. And considering how fast the movie goes and the amount of foley involved (especially during the end battle sequences) the standard has to be high and I never noticed anything majorly problematic throughout.

Video:
Set on a 16:9 – 1.78:1 format, on a full screen release – One Piece Film Z is absolutely stunning. The traditional Oda style art work is given a full makeover and flows through fantastically, with great movement and interchanging between the art, animation and CGI throughout so fluidly it is hard to tell which is which at times. There are no problems with transition between visual and audio, no rough animation when the show is paused and it comes through fantastically on a HD screen. This one is a joy to watch and the transition is incredibly smooth that it definitely feels like you are watching it at a cinema.

Menu:
The main menu is a bit unique as we have a shot of all of the One Piece Crew showcased and the menu flitters from back to foreground showcasing the characters giving it a bold effect – it definitely gives it a more unique look compared to your standard menus. When selecting a sub menu, it fades and is replaced with a new screen (of either the main villains or just Luffy) – the selections are Play Film, Scenes and Set Up. The scene selection like most movie releases is easier to navigate compared to a series release, with 12 scenes to choose if you have to stop the movie at any point. No problems with selection from the main menu or from the movie itself.

Extras:
There are no extras with this release.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
UK One Piece movies are a bit of a problem. Not that they are bad at all – in fact considering like most shounen jump movies they are non canon to the original manga, One Piece seems to do the better ones that make you think it is part of the canon, and this one is no exception.

The major problem is that the movies are so far ahead of the actual series release that there are huge spoilers – I mean, not only are two characters in this movie that haven’t even been seen in the up to date UK release, but this is the first movie released in the UK that is taken place after the time skip in the manga. For me, this isn’t as bad as I am a fan of the manga so am up to date and aware of the time skip looks and powers the Straw Hats get. For those who are just following the UK release of the anime? Not so good…

So whilst I’m sure those interested in the movie are familiar with the manga up to date, please be warned there are major spoilers regarding the new characters at least.

The movie starts off with a bang…literally. The marines are getting attacked on an island by a mysterious warrior named Z, who has an entourage of followers, including his two other main fighters, Ain (a young swordswoman with a unique Devil Fruit Power that can make things younger) and Binz (a man who can make plants/vines grow out of any grassy surface and bend them to his will). At this point, we are not sure if Z is a pirate, or something else, it isn’t made clear but he is attacking the navy whilst Kizaru, one of the three admirals (not yet introduced in the UK release) uses his light powers to stop him, however his goal is still successful as he manages to take some items called Dyna Stones – which are bombs that explode when they react to oxygen. He gets away due to this but is sent flying into the ocean…where he comes across the Straw Hats. At first, he seems friendly enough to the crew when Chopper heals him, but once he learns they are pirates, he starts kicking the stuffing out of them. He is able to hold off Luffy, Sanji and Zolo, whilst Ain de-ages Nami, Chopper, Robin and somehow Brook as well, and Binz is able to hold off Franky and Usopp. The fact Z attacks both the navy and pirates seem to showcase a weird middle ground, especially when he learns Luffy is the grandson of Garp. The Straw Hats manage to escape, whilst the navy is searching for Z to recollect the Dyna Stones, as they believe Z is looking to use them to destroy the end points of the world, which according to myth, would eliminate all life…

The Straw Hats come across an island where pirates have been attacked by Z, so they are getting the best equipment to deal with him and his army. They split up to look for information, but Luffy finds an old enemy Aokoji, who has turned out has actually left the Marines after losing a battle to Akainu (again, this has not been covered in the UK DVD release as of yet) – through Aokiji and also back at the navy Garp, we learned of Z’s history. His real name is Zephyr, a former naval admiral and leader who was a huge believer of justice. However, when his son and wife was killed by a pirate, and later that same pirate was forgiven for his crimes and became a warlord, combined with him becoming an instructor for marines and losing an arm after being attacked by a pirate with Devil Fruit powers, he acquired an arm weapon with Sea Stone abilities to deal with Devil Fruit users, but also waged war against the Marines for its corrupt nature, hence his ideology of cleansing the world, and other marines and followers who followed his ideals joined him, and thus created the Neo Marines.

The story told, it leads to the big confrontation between The Neo Marines, the Marines and the Straw Hats as Z has already taken out 2 of the World Ends and one to go so on the third End Point, the Straw Hats have to battle the Neo Marines, and Luffy faces Z one more time.

And that is pretty much it.

First of all, the animation is gorgeous. The Oda style artwork is still in affect but is very well flowing using animation, CGI and superb colour, it is definitely movie quality.

The villain is also superb – they managed in just under 2 hours to fully detail his motives, his story and his philosophies whether you agree with them or not. He feels betrayed by the ‘good guys’ whilst still hating the ‘bad guys’ hence his justice is against both systems. He has followers who believe in him and follow his ideals to the letter, leading to some good fight sequences and the showcases of their powers, whilst Z is simply a badass with a powered metal arm designed to crush and destroy anyone, or drain Devil Fruits users, so even the strongest fighters may have trouble against him. He is a wise veteran, knows a lot of tricks, and knows when to flee if it is problematic. And of course, the final part after his fight with Luffy is actually surprisingly sad especially as he was simply created for this movie, hence why you could easily see this as being part of the canon (hell, the movie does a bit where you see all the generals and marines he trained apparently, who include guys like Smoker so you could easily see it as part of the story).

Our Straw Hats get plenty of fun moments as well – the confrontation when Aokiji reappears is amusing as he was always the most laid back of the Marines Luffy had to face, and here being neutral (he gets a moment with Z as well which showcases their past well) brings good plot to the story, whilst the comedy comes with Chopper and Nami in particular having to get used to their younger bodies, whilst Robin adapts much better (as she is 18, Nami is just 9, Chopper is a baby reindeer and Brook…hasn’t changed at all because he is a skeleton…) as they search for information. The strange thing is, the movie is really all about Z – the Straw Hats feel much more underused in this movie, as a lot of the back-story told by Garp and Aokiji means the Straw Hats are listening more than doing. They do fight Z three times and the Z/Luffy confrontations are always good, though there are some loopholes (if Nami and others can go back to normal age after Ain is defeated, does that mean if she is ever unconscious they would revert, and anything she has de-aged in general like the plants in her fight with Zolo? Seems a bit strange…) – it is movie logic and doesn’t detract too much from the fights (and again, because some moves the guys didn’t have in the UK release like Sanji’s Sky Walk, it is a bit spoilerish).

The one major problem I have with the movie sadly is the ending. It leads to the usual fight between Luffy and the antagonist, and it actually seems set up for some good resolution for Z. Then out of nowhere the navy and Kizaru ready to finish off everyone – Z stays behind to let the Straw Hats and his Neo Marines to escape. This could easily lead to some touching moments between the Neo Marines and even Luffy respecting Z…but it literally ends there. There are some tears with Ain, but we don’t see what happens – we presume he has been killed and…that is it. There is the slight hint that because we don’t see the fight that Z could have lived in case he returns for future movies, but the fact the ending is so abrupt with the Straw Hats leaving, with no real words about Z which is especially infuriating as he was a legitimate good antagonist, it really stands out in this movie which bumps it down a bit.

There are a lot of small moments in it though which are great for One Piece fans – seeing Coby and Helmeppo for example during Garps’ talk was a surprise (again, bit spoilerish) and the fact Zephyr has trained a lot of well known marines in his life does indicate he may return – however the movie does seem to state he has been killed without outright saying it, hence why the ending felt very rushed. The fights are very flowing, the animation is great, and the plot/story for a non-canon movie is one of the better ones in Shounen Jump movies. If it wasn’t for how quick that ending was, it would have gotten a higher mark, but as it is, it is still a good movie up until that point, and one that is a feast for the eyes.

Summary:
One Piece Film Z surprisingly under-utilises the Straw Hats in favour for some good back-story and plot about the antagonist, which is quite rare in these one off movies, which is why for most of the movie I was heavily invested and despite the obvious outcome, it did feel there was no general villain. Combined with the animation and fight sequences, this is so close to a top movie for the Shounen Jump selection. Sadly, the rushed ending downplays it a bit but it is still well recommended as a good mix of comedy, story, plot and action make this a treat for One Piece fans. Just hope you have caught up with the manga…

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: May 25th, 2015
MSRP: £19.99
Running Time: 108 minutes

Review Equipment:
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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