For 20 years, fans have tuned in to Luffy and his merry bandâ€™s quest to make him the King of Piratesâ€”â€œOne Piece: Stampedeâ€ is the Straw Hatâ€™s latest big-screen event and despite it doing just enough to please, it falters at times.
A serviceable romp that hits all the notes of a typical One Piece adventure, but fails to add anything or serve as a celebration of the long-running anime.
Broken out of prisonâ€” Douglas Bullet, a pirate that used to run with Gol D. Rogerâ€™s crew, is broken out of jail by Buena Vista. Vista then creates a treasure hunt, gathering all the pirates and by proxy, the navy. It is here on the island where things begin to unfold and the crew have to stop Vista and Bulet before they unleash their terror on the seven seas.
The plot is fairly pedestrian and it does not need to be intricate, but when the characters out loud are suggesting this festival may be a trap, it is clear that we along with the characters are just waiting for the bad guy to unveil their evil plot and for the action to begin.
What works is that the story serves as a device to gather the colorful world of characters that has made One Piece so endearing over 20 years including Bloppy who steals the show at times.
Bullet as a villain is just the archetype anime film big badâ€”wants world domination, is unstoppable and turns into a giant Kaiju like a monster in the last act…thatâ€™s all you can really say about him.Â
There was a kernel of an idea that wouldâ€™ve made Bullet interesting, which is that he believes your crew is what holds you backâ€”only the weak depends on others, this is the opposite of how Luffy sees the Straw Hats and that one-man wrecking crew mentality is what leads to Buletâ€™s defeat.Â
Had the filmmakers focused a little more on that philosophical difference between Luffy and Bullet, the action wouldâ€™ve hit a little more because you never feel the stakes are real.
It does not quite hit as it should, but it still packs a Gum Gum Pistol. Bullet is a formidable foe and to steal Bloppyâ€™s word, he is a â€œbeast.â€ Standing tall and begging the worldâ€™s pirates to come at him. The ensuing fight is awesome, and it is complemented by a great race to Gol D. Rogers treasure before Bullet reveals himself.
Most anime films do not feature series altering events; however, youâ€™d expect a little more considering it is the 20th year of One Piece. â€œStampedeâ€ will work for fans, it just does not do enough to leave its mark amongst the countless stories in the Straw Hat Crewâ€™s journey.Â