Movie Review: One Piece: Stampede

Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of a franchise is no easy feat, and with One Piece: Stampede the celebration is shared with fans by offering a feature-length-animated-feature that brings the best of what One Piece has to offer within a single film. To some, this is a joyus occasion filled with crisp animation, intense fights and an amazing number of familiar faces; but to some – and me included – it brings a sense of disappointment with its overly simple storyline and sense of unfamiliarity.

Acting as a stand-alone-story One Piece: Stampede sees the pirates of the world summoned to a mysterious island for the Pirate Festa, a festival that sees pirates throughout the world compete against each other for fame and fortune. In this case that fortune is some of Gol D. Roger’s, the pirate kings, treasure. Naturally the straw hat pirates arrive to take part in this quest; and so the fun and the movie begins.

The film initially begins with each pirate crew racing to the top of a water sprout in order to arrive at an island floating in the sky, which in my mind seems like a reference to the Skypeia arc of the One Piece storyline, and as such we see numerous different pirate crews do everything they can to reach the top; all the while being introduced to the viewer. Those up-to-date on the manga and anime may be familiar with who these crews are, but for me I was left mostly clueless as to who they were but at least they offered some light humour that broke the tension on screen. Even being up-to-date on Manga Entertainment UK’s current releases of the One Piece anime will not help here.

Upon arriving at the island in the sky the various crews depart their ships in order to find the treasure left behind by the pirate king, and its here we see these numerous crews do battle with one another while racing to the treasure atop a cliff-side. Once again TOEI Animation’s new style of animating, and the same style used within Dragon Ball Super: Broly the Movie, brings these characters to life and offers more free-flowing visuals than ever before. As you’d expect sparks fly with different characters, from different crews, being able to highlight their different abilities while aiming for the prize.

This ‘race to the treasure’ is ultimately nothing but a prelude to bigger things, as when Buggy the Clown collects a tiny treasure chest the island crumbles to pieces and a monstrous pirate known as Douglas Bullet appears and issues a challenge to those who remain standing. From here the film takes a rather direct approach of the left-over pirate crews banding together to defeat Bullet so that they can claim the treasure, with Straw Hat Luffy leading the charge.

Just like in typical One Piece, and Dragon Ball Super, style the fight between the pirate crews and Bullet escalates to over-the-top and unbelievable standards. Firstly it is simply a standard fist fight between the pirates, of which escalates when Usopp becomes badly injured from Bullet, after which Bullet uses his devil fruit powers to absorb weapons to wield a giant mech suit. The battle rages on and Luffy in his gear forms, along with a small selection of Pirate Captains, band together to try and stop him. Unfortunately this yields no result.

The battle, and storyline, then skews again with the Navy arriving on the scene and issuing orders to attack both bullet and the pirates; to which Bullet once again uses his Devil Fruit powers to absorb everything insight, thus growing to the size of the entire island and causing destruction on insane levels. The insanity of it all, as well as unfamiliarity with some of the characters, is one of the reasons One Piece: Stampede didn’t provide the enjoyment I expected to receive; but there is more to it than just that as it offers the right amounts of comedy and subtle hints to what the future of the franchise could bring.

The story within One Piece: Stampede is a rather simple and straight forward one, and it sees Buena Festa, the organiser of the festival, using Douglas Bullet so that a new era can be formed. This is achieved with Bullet destroying all of the pirates in existence as well as the relevant navy forces that arrive on the island. It’s an interesting plan; but it seems rather dull in comparison to other One Piece movie plots. Fortunately Bullet’s own agenda offers something more substantial with him wanting to be the strongest pirate, and in turn the pirate king, within the world.

Naturally everyone searching for the one piece is seeking to be the pirate king, or the strongest, but from Bullets perspective it offers a similarity to Broly in Dragon Ball Z: The Legendary Super Saiyan and some aspects Dragon Ball Super: Broly the Movie. In those films Broly consistently grew stronger in order to show his worth and the same can be said here for Bullet; but in a rather “over the top” scenario. Even the character designs for both characters are relatively the same; with both being strong muscle-built-men that scream a lot in anger.

Bullet does have some rather emotional character development in the film, as we learn that he once worked under Gol.D Roger and he was the only person that actually beat him in combat. Regardless Bullet’s obsession with becoming stronger alone, and upsetting Luffy’s own ideals, causes one final conflict with Luffy, Law, Buggy, Boa Hancock, Smoker and Sabo all working together to defeat Bullet. It’s an interesting combination attack but it lacks the impact and speciality that was offered in Dragon Ball Super: Broly the Movie.

Although the focus of the movie is multiple pirate groups banding together in an attempt to defeat Bullet there are some alternate stories that run in parallel with this fight. For instance during the the festival Robin, Chopper and Brook look for clues on the real reason behind the festival – with Smoker close behind them. It’s a story that gives these characters purpose, and adds a few laughs, but is quickly overshadowed by the fight once they learn of their reasoning for being on the island. Additionally we also have the navy with their own agendas and an awesome sword dual involving Zoro. For me this sword fight was the highlight of the film, but as I had little understanding behind the meaning of the fight and their rivalry it just felt like wasted time; but alas to a One Piece fan it was probably something special.

From a simple perspective One Piece: Stampede was designed to celebrate the One Piece franchise and see all notable characters within the franchise, whether dead or alive, together in one feature-length-film. It offers the comical fun and intensity you would expect from the main series, and throws in some nostalgic vibes, but it failed to live up to my expectations of what it would offer. It’s a simplistic story that offers little character development and instead offers one long fight with multiple characters that serve little purpose other than to be included.

For fans of One Piece then One Piece: Stampede is generally worth checking out and will live up to your expectation; but for a casual one piece fan, or those who have yet to see up-to-date stories, then you’ll find it be a mediocre film. It’s good; but it has clearly been made for the die hard fans.

Score: review-stars-3

One Piece: Stampede will be available in selected cinemas from 2nd February 2020 in subtitled and dubbed formats. Tickets are available at the official website.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

One Response to Movie Review: One Piece: Stampede

  1. Pingback: Manga UK Announces DVD, Blu-Ray and Steelbook Blu-Ray Release of ONE PIECE: STAMPEDE | AnimeBlurayUK

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