One Piece: Stampede Movie Review - Come aboard and bring along all your hopes and dreams

One-Piece-Stampede-Wallpaper-700x467 One Piece: Stampede Movie Review - Come aboard and bring along all your hopes and dreams

Come aboard and bring along all your hopes and dreams

Contains Spoilers

One Piece: Stampede Introduction and Story

The much-celebrated One Piece franchise’s 14th film/20th anniversary of the anime adaptation’s airing is finally upon us as we get to watch a pair of dangerous new villains draw the Strawhat Pirates, Heart Pirates, Barto Club Pirates, Kid Pirates, Buggy Pirates, Drake Pirates, Foxy Pirates and even more superpowered pirates than you can shake a sea-prism stone at into a day of exciting competition that quickly turns into thrilling combat.

Why You Should Watch One Piece: Stampede

1. Squash and Stretch

Toei Animation’s animated adaptation of One Piece has earned a bit of a sour reputation from hardcore manga fans for often being barely animated at all. Thankfully, Toei seems to have learned from their mistakes and have been consistently raising the bar for One Piece animation over the past 2 years or so. The TV series has been slowly reducing its constant tweens and obnoxiously long panning stills, new OVAs have been retelling previous story arcs with updated visuals and we still get the occasional theatrical film to show us what the franchise can look like with a bigger budget.

The movement in this film is nowhere close to matching the likes of Dragon Ball Super: Broly, but nonetheless remains a step above your average TV production values which go a long way in selling the franchise's vibrant world (seeing Monkey D. Luffy animated like he's really made of rubber is an especially noteworthy feature). The visuals in this film were so on point, even the CG looked good, something we only wish we could say for more anime.

2. Staging

The story is set in a massive festival for pirates from all around One Piece’s world, which gives the plot the perfect reason to turn the film into the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate of One Piece stories. Though not quite everyone is here, those that are bountifully represent the series’ major factions and the fact that almost all of them get a piece of the action gives the film a feeling worthy of its subtitle.

3. Overlapping Action

Anyone who comes to Stampede for its action sequences will leave a happy viewer. From the race in the first act to the fights that constitute just about everything else in the movie, the choreography and animation are clear and exciting, which is an indispensable quality when juggling multiple ongoing battles the way Stampede does.

The best part of the combat is the way the film thrusts its characters into confrontations we may never see in-canon. It doesn’t do it as much as we’d like and most of these fights last less than a minute anyway, but seeing Sanji vs. Smoker with our very own eyes was entirely worth it.

Why You Should Skip One Piece: Stampede

1. Arc

Character growth—be it from heroes, villains or side-characters—has always been the driving force behind One Piece's story, but Stampede is completely devoid of that, as its cast finishes the film with the same characterization as when it started. Some character arcs and developmental moments are included, but they're all retreads of things that already happened in the canon story.

The fact that the film does not fit into said canon could be seen by some as a defense to this, but it introduces several original characters who remain completely static throughout its 100-minute run time. The worst offender is the character Ann, who is introduced as an assistant-MC for the pirate festival who has the power to make any illustration she sees real, two details that never affect the story in any way as she completely disappears by the second act. Guess she must have used her power to bring Chekhov's Gun into the movie.

2. Timing

Although stampedes are exciting, they’re also incredibly disorganized, which sums up One Piece: Stampede perfectly. As the Strawhat crew expands as the series continues, its films seem to have a harder and harder time giving them something to do and Stampede only exacerbated that issue by throwing in as many established side-characters as it could fit.

Sure, it's great seeing memorable characters who haven't gotten enough love from the canon story when they have something to do, but only half a dozen or so stay relevant throughout the story, as most are only seen in pace-killing cutaways after the movie’s midpoint. But don't worry, other secondary cast members will soon show up to try to leave their mark on the picture. Too bad you'll have to watch them listen to a recap of everything you just watched before they get the chance. Cutting to side-characters talking is a common trope in shonen battle anime, but when it only serves to give redundant information, you’ll be forgiven for checking your watch.

3. Exaggeration

These filler anime films based on popular manga are, of course, incapable of doing anything that would affect the story past their own end-credits, so when movies like Stampede pretend to have stakes that will completely change the series’ world in an attempt to inflate their importance in the eyes of the fans, nobody is fooled.

The object being fought over in this particular feature is a key to finding the One Piece, a treasure so important to the narrative that the series is named after it. Of course, this ends up going absolutely nowhere, leaving the characters no closer to the eponymous boon than they were before and of course, this bait-and-switch is incredibly obvious from the moment it's brought up. A story needs consequences to get its audience invested, but false consequence is the same as having none at all.

Final Thoughts

One Piece: Stampede is a fairly average anime filler movie. It displays appealing production values put to good use on fanservice and action sequences but doesn't add anything beyond that and its bloated cast can make getting to those qualities less worthwhile.

Be sure to let us know in the comments what you thought of One Piece: Stampede and, while you’re there, let us know which character you want to see in the next film.

One-Piece-Stampede-Wallpaper-700x467 One Piece: Stampede Movie Review - Come aboard and bring along all your hopes and dreams


Author: Will Bertazzo Lambert

I’m a 22 year old writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba who does fiction, media critique and everything in between, currently studying English and rhetoric. I have influences ranging all the way from Henry James, to Stephen Greenblatt to Nintendo Power and after years of fanatical devotion to the coverage of anime and video games, I've finally tossed my hat into the ring and decided to give writing a try for myself. Will this be the dawn of a lifelong career or a small footnote on an otherwise unrelated life? Only time will tell, but I would like nothing more than to have you join me on the journey to discovering the answer.

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