Director: Yukio Kaizawa
Writer: Hashimoto Hiroshi, Junki Takegami
Runtime: 50 minutes
We start your journey through the One Piece anime’s TV specials with one most fans known, and a fairly long one, even if it’s actually on the shorter side for runtime among the TV specials.
Originally aired in late December 2000 as a “year end special”, Luffy’s Adventure At The Bottom Of The Ocean features an original story, which see the crew getting sucked into a big drain hole in the middle of the ocean, only to find a mysterious island at its very bottom, only known as the “Ocean’s Navel” and currently being destroyed by giant monsters that besiege the town and force its unfornate inhabitants to live hidden in their houses most of the time, in hope the rampage won’t touch them…
The Straw Hats Pirates explore the place and resolve to find the island’s treasure, which can supposedly grant any wish, but the island’s inhabitants possess agendas of their own for their new guests. They help the people living there, fight the monsters, and find a way to get back out. The usual.
I’ll be honest, this isn’t starting on the right foot for me, as i really don’t find magical or mystical elements fitting at all into One Piece, and this one features a cursed pirates, but on the upside it does have an undead talking skeleton pirate (way before Thriller Bark) as one of the foes, and i do like that one of the treasure guardians is a giant evil urchin.
That said, this is a fairly middling offering, sure it’s longer than the earlier One Piece movies, but the animation is pretty much TV quality, there’s more adventure than action, not a bad thing in itself, but i feel here it’s a choice dictated more to avoid inflating the budget than everything else, and the story itself it’s a bit generic, to the point it reminded me of a less interesting version of the one seen in the old Defeat The Pirate Ganzack OVA (down to Zoro and Luffy being rescued by the inhabitants while the other crew members are doing their own thing), just with magical elements.
The new original characters aren’t really worth committing to memory, for better or worse, and it doesn’t help that the ending is a bit anti-climactic and kind of a cop-out, even if it doesn’t come to Luffy’s having to beat the main villain as usual, so there’s that.
I feel they could have done a slightly better job even considering the scope of the project, but on the flipside it’s not as bad as it could have been, for a TV special where the first scene focusing on the Straw Hats has the main protagonist pissing off the boat while “rope-fishing”. Which isn’t an innuendo.
It’s alright, but just slightly above being totally mediocre.