In honor of One Piece’s 1000th episode, Fathom Events is releasing One Piece Film: Strong World in U.S. theaters for the first time on Nov. 7 (English dub) and Nov. 9 (English sub). In honor of the theatrical release, we’re revisiting the movie.
One Piece Film: Strong World may have debuted 12 years ago, but it’s still living rent-free in fans’ minds. Though it’s been available as a home video release for some time, it’s now hitting U.S. theaters for the first time in celebration of the anime series’ impressive 1,000-episode milestone. And it’s still just as excellent as it was then, perhaps even better by now, aging like a fine wine like so many great anime films often do.
Strong World takes viewers on a trip alongside the Straw Hats, the infamous One Piece pirate crew led by Monkey D. Luffy (Colleen Clinkenbeard), on a trip back home to East Blue. Unfortunately, their journey is cut short when they run into the infamous pirate Shiki, the Golden Lion (Scott McNeil). Comparable in power and clout to the legendary Gol D. Roger, Shiki has spent the past twenty years out of the spotlight.
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Now, however, he’s finally ready to conquer East Blue and all its inhabitants. First, he needs a navigator, and Nami (Luci Christian) looks to be the woman for the job. Shiki’s powerful animal hybrids and bizarre power to make everything float leaves the Straw Hats forced to battle through hordes and hordes of the ferocious beasts as well as droves of pirates. Home isn’t that far away, if they can manage to free themselves to set sail as well as rescue Nami.
One Piece has always been about the wild, sometimes bizarre premises introduced with each new character and location. Strong World is no different, cranking the weirdness up to 11 in ways that both newcomers to the series and longtime fans can enjoy. From the genetically enhanced minion bird Billy (Josh Grelle), owned by Shiki’s minion Dr. Indigo (Sean Schemmel), to Shiki’s plan to force the World Government to surrender, everything is just as absurd and madcap as you’d expect.
You have the entire Straw Hats crew stranded on a floating island positively brimming with strange creatures. Nami has been plucked away from her safe space and forced to help Shiki, and Zoro and Chopper eventually find a young girl named Xiao, who leads them to a village plagued by poisonous plants. The plot switches rapidly between each instance, and it can feel a bit breakneck for this. But that means there’s plenty of time for action and even more time for jokes.
That trademark One Piece silliness permeates every scene, without letting Strong World get too out of bounds or interrupting the multiple action scenes. The laughter is tempered by some of the more somber moments, such as when we find out Nami believes she has to say goodbye to the crew, or Shiki seemingly having stolen all of the “IQ plants” needed to cure all of the island villagers poisoned by the plants surrounding their home.
It’s exhilarating even if you aren’t familiar with One Piece’s usual crew: Sanji (Eric Vale), Usopp (Sonny Strait), Roronoa Zoro (Christopher Sabat), Tony Tony Chopper (Brina Palencia), and the others. That’s the mark of what makes Strong World such an intriguing standalone movie and addition to the One Piece film series. But you’ll really find yourself becoming even closer to Nami while watching. Given Nami’s few chances to impress audiences following the One Piece series’ time-skip, it’s refreshing to see her have her fair dues and extensive time in the spotlight with this film. There’s more to the character than meets the eye, and there’s a lot of effort that went into proving this to the casual observer for this adventure.
It isn’t all perfect, though, as Strong World flies a bit too close to the sun at certain points. At times, the movie does tend to drag on a bit, and there do seem to be a bit too many storylines converging at once. It can be a lot, for example, to follow Shiki’s plan, all of the Straw Hats splitting into groups, understanding Nami’s past, the poisonous plants around the floating island, and everything else that happens to arise. Strong World could certainly do with a bit of trimming of the fat, so to speak, or even split into a quick series arc. Luckily, the over-the-top action scenes, humor, and sheer heart make it all worth the while.