Dec 20, 2009
I wasn’t sure whether or not include this sixth One Piece film in this run down of the best anime of the 2000s, after all it’s a franchise piece, and there are two clearly better Mamoru Hosoda films in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars. However, when I went back and looked at it again, I felt I couldn’t let it go unrecognised.
It’s a beautiful piece of work.
Hosoda takes a fairly standard One Piece film story about helping kids beat a villain (despite this happening twice in 500+ chapters of the manga, it happens ALL THE TIME in the anime-only stories) and turns it into some strange and at points very bleak (reportedly he threw a lot of the original script out). The Secret Island slowly turns from a hyper colourful playground like the world of Superflat Monogram and Oz in Summer Wars, to a nightmare in black, red and green overseen by the utterly alien creature Lily and the desperate, sad Baron Omatsuri.
And when you factor in that this was made off the back of Hosoda’s aborted, unhappy attempt at making Howl’s Moving Castle and the changes he made to the script allegedly make it an allegory for his time at Ghibli, it adds another level of interest and a longing that Hosoda had made Howl’s Moving Castle.
The visual style of this movie, at the time a severe diversion from the usual look of the One Piece franchise, has since pretty much been adopted for the TV series now, particularly in episodes by Naoki Tate.
If you’re a fan of Hosoda’s work since this film, don’t let the fact it’s a franchise film put you off watching it (nor for that matter his Digimon films), as it has plenty to offer the non-fan too.