While I had watched a few episodes of the One Piece anime many years ago, for whatever reason I stopped watching it. Then when the Netflix live-action series came out a few months ago I watched it immediately and was really impressed––it seemed like one of the best anime to live-action adaptations to date. The only problem is that it left me wanting more.
I went back to the regular anime episodes and watched around ten from the beginning, but I was starting to lose interest because one of the arcs kept dragging on and on, not to mention the art quality isn’t that great (keep in mind it’s over 20 years old). For better or worse I think One Piece has a lot of similarities with Naruto, and that’s only natural because they came out around the same time.
When I checked on Netflix I saw there were also a bunch of One Piece anime movies available. I randomly chose “One Piece Film Z” and it ended up being a really enjoyable film. With so many mediocre movies on Netflix that I never finish, just the fact I made it to the end tells much about the quality level.
While this movie is from 2012, the production values are quite high and the visuals were beautiful, not to mention the wonderfully done fight scenes (some which have those crazy camera movements that you can only find in anime). In some ways this move reminded me of what made me really get into Anime in the 90s. The story was quite epic and enjoyable, and there was a good balance of slow scenes of dialogue and action scenes.
One thing that was a bit surprising is that Luffy himself plays a relatively small part in the movie, although he does kick butt in some key scenes. But I think with such a large number of characters, it’s hard to give everyone time without taking some away from Luffy.
Hardcore One Piece fans will probably say it’s not a good idea to skip ahead to story that is over a decade later, and to be sure there were some dramatic changes to characters that I wondered about. There were also a bunch of characters I had never seen before, which I assume joined sometime in the many episodes I skipped. But overall I feel like the story is somewhat self-contained compared to the regular anime series, and didn’t really ruin any major story points for me. The fact that characters are drawn totally different was initially a surprise, but overall I think it is a good thing.
I haven’t seen any other One Piece films all the way through, but I’ve heard Film Z is one of the best. So if you are a fan who hasn’t seen this one yet, I would definitely check it out.
The only thing to beware of is that the Netflix English translation (in the subtitles) is pretty bad. There was a lot of stuff missing, wrong, or just made up from nowhere. While I think I would have understood the majority of the Japanese w/o subtitles/translations, it’s always a good exercise to compare between English and Japanese while I watch (not to mention I was watching with someone else who wanted the subtitles on).