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One Piece Film: Gold Review

January 8, 2017 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
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One Piece Film: Gold Review  

Directed By: Hiroaki Miyamoto
Written By: Tsutomu Kuroiwa; Clint Bickham (English Version); Based on the manga by Eiichiro Oda
Runtime: 120 minutes
MPAA Rating: N/A

Colleen Clinkenbeard – Monkey D. Luffy
Christopher Sabat – Roronoa Zoro
Luci Christian – “Cat Burglar” Nami
Eric Vale – Vinsmoke Sanji
Sonny Strait – “God” Usopp
Brina Palencia – Tony Tony Chopper
Stephanie Young – Nico Robin
Patrick Seitz – “Iron Man” Franky
Ian Sinclair – “Soul King” Brook
Keith Silverstein – Gild Tesoro
Michele Knots – Carina
Amber Lee Connors – Baccarat

The Straw Hats are back in a new animated feature-length adventure from Toei Animation. While One Piece certainly isn’t my favorite anime or manga, it’s not for a lack of character or originality. The world Eiichiro Oda has created is epic and full of depth, just as intricate as the expanded universe for any existing or beloved property such as Star Wars or the Marvel Universe. One Piece is set in its own world with a pirate theme, and Oda makes it his own with all sorts of unique touches and also some amusing homages that pro wrestling fans would recognize. Not to mention, for all its faults, One Piece has a very likable crew of characters, from the heroes, to the villains all the way down to some that are more neutral and in-between. One Piece Film: Gold marks the 13th movie based on the franchise.

In One Piece Film: Gold, the infamous Straw Hat pirate crew, led by Monkey D. Luffy (Clinkenbeard), are fresh off their defeat of Donquixote Doflamingo and the Donquixote Pirates in Dressrosa. Their next stop? The golden ship city of Gran Tesoro. The lavish, opulent city is a haven for the world’s most infamous pirates, Marines and the wealthy elite. Gran Tesoro is its own sovereign nation under King Tesoro, so it has its own laws and government. Pirates, including the Straw Hats, are treated as VIP royalty. However, beneath Gran Tesoro’s golden towers and opulent excess, there lies a dark, rotting secret underneath. There is something sinister behind Gran Tesoro that threatens the fate of the Straw Hats and the New World as well.

One thing that’s great about movies based on Dragon Ball Z, Naruto or One Piece is that while the events of these stories are generally “filler” storylines that are far removed from main storylines of their respective shows, the movies get to showcase these beloved characters with better animation and bigger budgets than what’s generally allotted to an ongoing TV series. One Piece Film: Gold is no exception. So, fans get to see the characters depicted with some much more vivid and crisper animation that doesn’t have to cut corners every week. Gold is certainly no exception. The film’s best visual idea is that of Gran Tesoro, which is a visual marvel for the world of One Piece. It’s a ship paradise that’s basically the One Piece version of Las Vegas, dialed up to 11. Visually, it looks quite extravagant and as is usually the case with One Piece, overkill is never underrated.

The Gran Tesoro is a ship city designed exclusively for gambling and entertainment. It has its own set of rules quite different from the rest of the World Government [a lot like Las Vegas]. However, not long after the Straw Hats make berth there, they encounter a group of children who are trying to sell flowers in order to buy back their freedom. The ship’s ruler, Gild Tesoro (Silverstein), is not one to suffer mouthy drunks. For all its golden gleam, something is clearly not right here. The Straw Hats are easily in their element at first and go on quite a hot streak. However, their quite literal luck soon runs out, since Tesoro’s underling, the femme fatale Baccarat (Connors), has cursed fruit power that takes their luck away, exposing Gran Tesoro as one big gambling scam. Tesoro simply schemes to make all the big gamblers his work slaves by challenging them with big rewards, only causing them to lose on purpose, making them into his work slaves as a result. Of course, the Straw Hats aren’t much into that idea, so that makes Gran Tesoro ground zero for a war between the pirates and the forces of Gild Tesoro.

One fun aspect for the story is that after the main players are established, the Straw Hats make contact with Carina (Knots), a thief who shares a past with Nami (Christian), and the story plays like an old-fashioned heist movie. The Straw Hats have lost their shirts, and their only recourse is to team up with Carina to rob Gran Tesoro blind in order to buy back their freedom and free Zoro (Sabat). Also, Luffy and Franky come into contact with the film’s best new character, Raise Max. Raise Max has an amusing design. He looks like a cross between Ichiya from Fairy Tail, Clint Eastwood and Raoul Duke. He’s got the voice and attitude of a spaghetti western hero, yet he’s pint-sized and with super-strength; only in the world of One Piece.

In terms of story, Gold isn’t some status quo-changing, earth shattering event. It’s standard fare where the heroes meet a side villain, have a big fight and come together in a knockdown drag out brawl. That aside, there is an amusing reappearance of the villain Spandam, from way back in the Enies Lobby arc, and he has an amusing scene where he meets Luffy again. The only character from the central cast who gets some actual development is Nami, since she has a past with Carina that’s central to the storyline. Either way, it’s all about building to another big fight for Luffy facing a giant gold monster, since Luffy is the Goku character of One Piece.

That aside, it’s hard not to have fun watching the Straw Hat pirates get into another scrape. The Straw Hats dealing with a villain who is obsessed with achieving power through money and personal wealth is an interesting concept. The film does hint at a tragic past for the villain, Gild Tesoro, as is pretty standard with many One Piece characters. It’s all dumped into one sequence, but it could’ve been explored a little more. Either way, Gold is an entertaining adventure for the Straw Hat crew.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Imagine a sizable side quest from a really good RPG, and that's a pretty good example of what's going on here with One Piece Film: Gold. It's a filler storyline, but it makes up for that with great animation and some entertaining action. In terms of design, the Straw Hat crew has never looked better, and they get some nice outfit changes throughout the film. It might be a while yet until Luffy becomes King of the Pirates, but it's not about the destination. It's the journey of Luffy and the Straw Hats.