I’m going to preface this: If you’ve never watched One Piece or are not fully caught up with at least the Dressrosa Arc, you will either not comprehend the movie or risk spoiling character reveals/powers for yourself. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the franchise and are fully caught up you’re in for an amazing, fan-service filled roller coaster packed to the brim with tons of characters from all over the 20 year franchise. Takashi Otsuka’s film doesn’t take the franchise to brand new directions, but rather serves as a love letter and a celebration of everything great about the story.
The plot doesn’t do anything special story-wise, but is filled with a ton of fun and theatrics. The crew are invited by the pirate Buena Festa (Yusuke Santamaria) to a secret Pirate festival at Delta Island to celebrate and decompress. Upon arriving, they learn that the island is connected to Gol D. Roger and a secret item of his is up for grabs to whomever finds it. With the pirate king himself being connected to the prize, every pirate at the island is energized and the bout begins.
From the moment the Straw Hats entered the island I couldn’t stop laughing. Every member of the Worst Generation is here and the ensuing race between them and the Straw Hats to the prize is incredibly fun and emblematic of the over-the-top and exciting feeling One Piece is known for. This is something that doesn’t stop for the entire 101 minute runtime. There’s always a new fan favorite approaching the screen and having the interactions we, as fans, have always wanted to see. Imagine a character pool a bit smaller than the one during the Marineford Arc, replace the sadness of that arc with goofy fun and interactions, and you should have a pretty good idea of what the movie is going for. The final group of “heroes” at the end had me screaming like a fanboy at how interesting and epic its composition was.
While there aren’t as many fighting scenes as I would’ve wanted, most of the ones in the movie were dynamic and vibrant. There are quite a few cool set pieces and watching characters casually (or in some cases with great effort) demonstrate their power against them was not only cool, but in some cases, breath-taking. There’s one scene at the ending that had me almost tear up, at how emotionally resonant and beautiful it looked.
The new characters aren’t the most interesting or nuanced. Douglas Bullet (Tsutomu Isobe) is a generic walking power level who’s motivations are just as boring. Thankfully, his devil fruit power is entertaining and his tentative connection to Gol D. Roger is interesting, even if it feels underdeveloped. There were some cool things that were being attempted to flesh Bullet out more, but they came a bit too late in the movie to feel as meaningful as they should have been. Buena Festa feels intriguing at the beginning, but his motivations don’t go anywhere too interesting by the time they’re actually revealed. Thankfully, the villains are not the focus and are used primarily as a tool to showcase different characters/interactions.
There is a post credits scene so DO NOT get up and leave before it plays. It’s genuinely the spirit of One Piece on display and you’d be remiss if you missed it. It definitely brought a smile to my face.
TLDR: One Piece: Stampede is a beautiful love letter to fans of the 20 year running mammoth of a franchise. It doesn’t do anything revolutionary, but it has a ton of fun, cute, and emotionally resonant moments for fans of the series.
Final Rating: 8.8/10.If you enjoy One Piece watch the movie
Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!