What They Say:
This is a story of Luffy in an alternate reality. While sailing on the sea by himself, a strange bird crashes into his small boat. He looks up to find a giant ship where a girl named Ann has been captured. It seems like the bird belongs to her.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As part of the 20th-anniversary aspect of the property, one of the early drafts of what would become One Piece gets animated (again). I believe we’ve had two instances of the Romance Dawn material from different periods being brought to anime form but this one is from a different draft, if I recall. Presenting it as a part of the 20th-anniversary, and on this weekend in particular, is no surprise even if it throws the pacing and flow of the ongoing series a bit. We already stepped aside from it not that long ago for the One Piece: Stampede movie but I believe after this we’ll be home free for a while and just get a good run of episodes there. It’s hard to begrudge them a big anniversary like this since anniversaries aren’t often paid attention to in anime.
The tale is simple but it works to define who some of these characters are in their various drafts with how they would become. Opening with Luffy sailing on his own in his small boat, thing chang when a bird crashes into it that belongs to a young blue-hard woman named Anne that’s being chased by pirates for it. Anne, tied to the mast of the pirates ship, fills in Luffy before we get introduced to the colorfully intimidating pirate captain Six Hones Speil. Luffy’s general disrespect is about what you’d expect as he deals with him like the kid that he is at this point, not realizing the greater dangers he’ll face in the future. The early innocence of Luffy is captured well here while Anne as an early Nami has all the seriousness and pent-up anger that you’d expect as we hear her story about the bond with her bird and why she’s so intent on freeing him.
The episode goes into some of Luffy’s foundations as well with his grandpa and you can see the evolution and changes that would come from there in the final product. Early drafts are always interesting to see how things change when working with a good editor and guide as well as just working out the kinks on it. Young Luffy is definitely amusing to watch here and it helps to set up his weakness nicely with the swimming thing as well. The episode overall is fairly well structured in what it has to accomplish as we get some decent action in the back half as Luffy stands up for what’s right and his abilities shine and delight after surprising everyone. It’s comical in all the right ways and you can see exactly where Eiichiro Oda was going with it and how we ended up where we are with these characters and this story in the main.
While I’m not enamored with the animating early drafts thing since we’ve done it before, the timing is right with the anniversary and stepping back to the past is not a surprise. It’s not a bad version to be sure and you can see how all the rewrites and planning would come together from here to what was actually put to paper and eventually animation. It’s a fun little story and a decent diversion overall and I’d actually be a little but curious in another timeline to see where this incarnation would have gone starting as it does here. But for now, it’s just a nicely animated curiosity that’s fun to watch.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Apple TV via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.