Director: Naoyuki Itō
Writer: Hitoshi Tanaka
Strong World is arguably one of the better One Piece movies, in no small part thanks to the not small involvement of Eiichiro Oda himself, who wrote the script for it, and definitely a huge step up after two previous theathrical releases that were just adbridged recaps/retelling of canon story arcs (especially in the case of the movie Episode Of Chopper, with some weird bastardization of canon and changes).
This of course didn’t stop Toei to further milk the golden pirate udders of the series (never did), so to advertize Strong World, they released a prequel to the movie in form of this OVA, Strong World: Episode 0, an adaptation of the special chapter “Strong World” released alongside chapter 565 of the manga (and gave away for free if you went to see the film in some japanese theathers, apparently). Of course they didn’t just released it anywhere, but in a limited retail DVD release of 3000 copies, given out as prizes for a contest held in House Foods (a major japanese food manufacturer) stores.
This is definitely the meatier and more interesting piece of media of this little retrospective, as you could guess by it’s runtime, 18 minutes, quite long by the standard of this promotional OVAs and featurettes, and because it ties into the One Piece storyline (even if it’s still non-canon, like all movies, specials, filler arcs, etc.), and it does so by giving the backstory to the movie’s villain, Shiki The Golden Lion.
It begins with a montage of clips from the third act of the movie (so, i’d recommend watching that first to avoid spoilers), but then its goes in full flashback style, the story taking place 25 years before Luffy first ventured out of Fusha Village, telling of the battle of Edd, taking place between Gol D. Roger and Shiki, who wanted to have Roger join his crew (hoping to exploit his info on Ancenstral Weapons) but gets a big no in response.
Roger manages to win the battle and destroy half of Shiki’s ships, which result in the half of a steering wheel getting lodged in his head. 2 years later, he learns of Roger’s upcoming execution, storm the Marines HQ and, enraged, fights the Admirals and Sengoku, causing huge destruction on Marineford, and getting himself thrown into Impel Down. Once again 2 years pass, and Shiki manages to escape by cutting down his legs, insuccessfully asks alliance with Whitebeard, but he manages to meet with what would be his future subordinate, Dr. Indingo, who has discovered a land of strange beast, and with him he start hatching an evil plan that will require 20 years…..
It’s an interesting backstory and it’s also quite nice to see a lot of characters (both minor and major) in the different situation they were before getting introduced in the series, it’s quite nostalgic to see Zoro’s dojo master or see how many big shot pirates reacted at Roger’s execution in Loguetown. And it’s quite encompassing, so much you even see them sneak a joke at Duval, a minor character, but responsable for one of the funniest moments in One Piece story (and a blessing in disguise for Sanji, as it will turn out to be). They really packed a lot in 18 minutes.
This is how you do one of these “prequel shorts to a full lenght movie”, as it’s actually ties in to the movie it’s supposed to, it does succeed in his main point, giving the villain a backstory WITHOUT “detracting to ransom” his characterization and leaving his motives and agendas in the movie itself seem kinda random or arbitrary. This actually adds to Shiki’s character and spiteful motivations.
I actually want to own this, but no way in hell i’m paying 300-400 bucks on Ebay for it, it’s that rare, not too surprising given his limited printing and it belonging to an ultrapopular series… but i will keep swimming in the seas of legal grey.