One Piece Movie Collection 1Director: Atsuji Shimizu,

Starring: Mayumi Tanaka, Akemi Okamura, Kazuya Nakai, Kappei Yamaguchi, Hiroaki Hirata, Ikue Otani

Running Time: 160 minutes

Certificate: 12

One Piece takes to the seas once more in this collection of the first three movies. The first three films were actually rather short, with each one around 50 minutes, and upon their initial release they were paired with other anime features as a double bill. For those unaware, the series focuses on a group of pirates who travel the seas with their ultimate outcome to find the legendary One Piece, the most sort after treasure. The films themselves take place outside the continuity of the show in some respects but can be easily placed by ascertaining which crew members have or have not been introduced to the show.

This is the first time the films have been released in the UK and they are also lacking an English language dub. That’s not a bad thing, but many fans have taken to the rather impressive English speaking cast of voices.

Being short on time means that the films have generally very simple plots. The first feature ONE PIECE: THE MOVIE, sees the Straw Hat Pirates come across an island where there are reports of gold buried. Of course there are also a group of badguy pirates and the bystanders who become affected by the events and eventually win over the hearts of our protagonists. The animation doesn’t look as good as the show here, but has certainly taken on a slightly different style. It seems older than 2000, but this may be down to the transfer rather than the film itself. It’s a simple enough adventure that fits in as much as it can, including the expected humour and action.

Second up is ONE PIECE: ADVENTURES OF SPIRAL ISLAND where our heroes have their ship stolen and once again find themselves on a strange island. This time evil pirates kidnap Nami and it is now time for a rescue mission. Again this is a fast moving affair with the heroes gradually ascending a tower and taking on tougher and tougher foes. We have more interesting villains with wonderfully animated powers and a bit more heart and threat where the story is concerned.

Finally there’s ONE PIECE: CHOPPER’S KINGDOM IN THE STRANGE ANIMAL ISLAND where the crew end up on another strange island which is predominantly inhabited by animals. These animals are gloriously designed and soon assign Chopper as their leader. It’s always great to hear the voice of Ikue Otani, most famous as Pikachu, have a bit more to say, and here she really sells the struggle as to whether Chopper will stay with teh animals or return to his pirate friends.

It’s a fun set of what essentially feels like 3 extended episodes. That’s not a criticism however as the creativity is still alive, as are the themes of friendship that make this such a wonderful show to enjoy. Unfortunately, these don’t push the envelope at all and being set outside the main continuity means that there just isn’t enough at stake. One Piece fans such as myself will lap this up and just be happy these adventures are now available, but it’s the later films such as the previously released ONE PIECE THE MOVIE: STRONG WORLD, that were able to do more with their extended running times.

[usr=3]One Piece Movie Collection 1 is released on DVD from 28th July.

Check out more Anime news and reviews here!