One Piece Film Z (Blu-ray) Review

Luffy and His Friends are Back in Their Second Feature Film

One Piece Film Z
One Piece Film Z. © Eiichiro Oda/''2012 One Piece'' production committee

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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 Movie

Spun off from the popular One Piece anime series about an eclectic group of truly bizarre pirates, One Piece Film Z takes the popular crew and thrusts them into a story separate from the main series yet very much set within the same world the franchise’s fans love so much.

The animation is slightly improved and the soundtrack is more cinematic than the main series (Avril Lavigne even recorded covers of Nickelback's "How You Remind Me" and Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" for the end credits!) but for the most part Film Z feels more like an extended One Piece episode than an epic story that just had to be told on the big screen. The movie’s protagonist is depressingly one dimensional despite a twist during the climax and the main cast of characters spend an inordinate amount of time in scenes that ultimately result in very little and are present simply to pad the film’s 108 minute runtime.

This is a film for One Piece fans who want to see more of their favorite characters acting the way they usually act and this is as much a blessing as it is a curse. Fans expecting more of the crazy humor and sexual innuendos the anime series is famous for will feel right at home here but those unfamiliar with each characters’ particular quirks could be put off especially with zero screen time dedicated to introducing the characters and personalities in any meaningful way and the objectification of female characters that the series is known for, being at an all-time high.

The running joke involving one of the main female characters getting magically de-aged early in the film’s plot yet still sexually harassed by one of her adult male comrades is one bit in particular that One Piece fans may find funny yet for the average viewer, especially those new to anime in general, it appears crude, inappropriate and unfortunately overshadows everything else the film has to offer.

Blu-ray and Special Features

One Piece Film Z is presented in full 1080p High Definition video but doesn’t live up to its format. The animation is good but fails to impress in the same way other recent anime films have and feels more like a direct-to-Blu-ray release instead of a major record breaking theatrical release (which it was in Japan). Much like the Fairy Tail movie, One Piece Film Z looks better than the TV series it’s based on but doesn’t compare with other anime feature releases.

While the visuals don’t necessarily leave a lasting impression, the 5.1 English and Japanese audio tracks both have some good surround and bass effects with clear dialogue throughout.

The usual trailers and promos are present and accounted for in the Special Features and while the Japanese promos in particular offer an interesting contrast to the way the film was marketed in the USA (i.e. footage of fans screaming in anticipation and holding up posters as opposed to a full trailer using footage from the film) it’s not really something you’ll come back to for repeat viewings.

The footage of voice actor, Patrick Setz at Sakura Con 2014 is interesting for those curious about the Western fandom and production of the One Piece anime but it is a shame there were no documentaries about the actual making of the film or the anime series that inspired it.

Who Should Watch?

Film Z is a movie that will appeal to longtime fans of the One Piece anime and manga series but offers very little for those coming into the massively popular franchise for the first time. A lot of the jokes (of which there are many) rely on running character quirks from the main series and tend to fall flat unless the viewer is made aware of the character’s history. The objectification and sexualisation of several female characters, which fans of the series should be used to by now, may shock newcomers and definitely rule out younger viewers.

Overall

Fans of the popular One Piece anime series will enjoy One Piece Film Z as it offers more of the same but on a much bigger scale with improved animation and a self-contained story arc which doesn’t stretch out over several episode like in the main series. Those new to One Piece would be better served picking up a DVD of the anime series or watching a few episodes online first to see if the show’s sense of humor and bizarre characters hold much appeal before investing in this film which is more of a celebration of One Piece instead of an introduction to it. BUY NOW

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Disclosure: A review copy was provided by Madman. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy. The Blu-ray featured in this review is the Zone B Blu-ray release by Madman. Alternate releases are available in other regions.