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One Piece Movie 08: The Desert Princess and the Pirates: Adventures in Alabasta Anime DVD Review

5 min read

Once upon a time, there was a great pirate. His name was Gold Roger. He had conquered every single treasure that existed. His last words before his execution have inspired pirates everywhere.

What They Say
The island kingdom of Alabasta is about to erupt in civil war – a war engineered by Crocodile, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, and his criminal organization Baroque Works. Monkey D. Luffy, his Straw Hat pirates and Princess Vivi race to the island, where the strongest warriors of Baroque Works wait to stop them. Can Vivi and her friends stop an entire war? And how can Luffy fight Crocodile, when Crocodile can turn into sand?

The Review:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in English so as to compare it against the previous English dub cast from 4Kids. We also sampled some of the Japanese soundtrack to make additional comparisons. Overall, both soundtracks sounded great. There were neither any dropouts nor any distortions. I can for once say that the One Piece English voice actors for Funimation did a great job of portraying the Japanese cast. After watching so much of the 4Kids version, it was a bit difficult to get used to the changes with Sanji’s lack of a Brooklyn accent and Zoro’s tougher talk. The rest of the cast sound somewhat similar to the English voice cast that 4Kids used. Nevertheless, it is a very welcome change that will suit One Piece well in all future releases.

Originally released in Japanese theaters on March 3, 2007, the transfer for this film is presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The animation is very fluid and vibrant. We noticed very little, if any, cross coloration or aliasing. The CG aspects of the movie are a welcome addition and add a whole new realm that has not been seen in any American releases. It works well but has some fuzziness on very rare occasions. This is evident with the scenes involving sandstorms and the like.

One Piece comes in a single disc case that features the Straw Hat Pirates wearing the garb that they donned for the Alabasta story arc. Luffy is holding a fearful Princess Vivi while the shadow of the vile Crocodile appears in the background. Of course, the mysterious Nico Robin is by Crocodile’s side. The One Piece logo is affixed to the top of the front cover along with the movie title, featured on an old scroll. The back cover of the case depicts a tough looking Luffy and a sinisterly smiling Crocodile. A brief synopsis of the movie is featured here as well as a few clips from the movie.

The menu design for this release is very basic, clean, and simple to navigate. The theme music from the movie loops in the background. The transitions between the menu options are simple and the music loops in an appropriate manner. The navigation buttons along the bottom provide quick access to each of the features. The menu options are easy to use and had quick response times. Overall, the disc menu is functionally sound, but not impressive.

There are no extras with this release, which is disappointing. One would think that Funimation would add content about the Alabasta story arc, which is nearly 39 episodes long in the anime. Since this is their first official release for One Piece, it would be nice to help fans or new fans get up-to-speed on the Alabasta story arc.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers).
One Piece, one of the most popular anime in Japan, finally debuted in its uncut glory. If you are like me, it seemed like it would never happen. The content reformatting that 4Kids adopted literally destroyed the greatness that lies in the One Piece saga. Enraged for years, many fans have cried for someone to save One Piece from the 4Kids chopping block of anime. Not as popular in the U.S. as Naruto or Bleach, one has to consider “what could have been?” if One Piece had been given the same treatment. Funimation has come to the rescue of reviving One Piece, in hope that fans and future fans will embrace the story of the Straw Hat Pirates as much as the Japanese have for so many years.

Originally airing in 1998, One Piece is an adaptation of the manga created by Eiichiro Oda. The One Piece manga is one of the most popular manga in Japan, and is sometimes regarded as one of the ”Holy Trinity of Shonen”, the other two being Naruto and Bleach. At the time this came out, the manga has reached over 480 chapters, and a new chapter is published weekly in the Shonen Jump. The Japanese anime had reached over 340 episodes, and a new episode airs on TV every week in Japan.

The eighth One Piece movie is a retelling of the infamous Alabasta story arc. In this story arc, the Straw Hat Pirates are on a mission to save the desert kingdom of Alabasta where a civil war is brewing. All of this is part of the sinister Crocodile’s plot to take control of Alabasta from the king. The king’s daughter, Vivi, is currently part of the Straw Hat Pirate crew. Sympathetic to Vivi’s dilemma, Luffy and the gang set sail to help Vivi stop the ensuing civil war.

If it all were that simple, it would make for a great movie. In essence, the plot is fairly simple. Beat Crocodile and Baroque Works, and save the kingdom. The movie accomplishes just that, but completely neglects the subplots that were present in the anime. The richness of that arc is completely missing and the holes are evermore present. In reviewing this movie, I could see a new viewer becoming very confused if they are not familiar with the Alabasta story arc from the anime. A lot of background information about Vivi, Crocodile, the Baroque Works gang, and even Robin are missing. Heck, Robin barely makes a cameo appearance and somehow winds up being part of the crew. Did I mention she is Crocodile’s left hand?

Aside from the subplot holes, the action has to be one of the bloodiest One Piece features I have reviewed. Fighting, fighting, and even more fighting… Each member of the Straw Hat Pirates has their own featured fight that goes down to the very last punch, kick, etc.. It was a neat perspective on the arc, but the flow of the movie just doesn’t do the original story arc any justice.

Funimation’s release of the eighth One Piece movie is a lot of fun for the fan who has followed it from its original release. The voice cast along with the uncut footage is a One Piece fan’s dream come true. However, this movie cannot be recommended for someone who is not familiar with the series so far.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles

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

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: February 19th, 2008
MSRP: $29.98
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Hitachi 62VS69 62″ UltraVision LCD Projection HDTV, Samsung BDP-1000 Blu-ray Player with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound

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