Director: Hiroyuki Morita, Mitsuru Hongo
Writer: Yasuyuki Tsutumi
Runtime: 102 Minutes
Worry not, this time we don’t have another recap special.. kinda.
It’s not totally uncommon, as in 2008 they already did a similar thing with the 9th One Piece movie about retelling the Drum Island Arc… while making it happen after Water 7, and adding some new characters that change the story a bit. We’ll get to talk in more detail about that… next year.
Well, this special doesn’t actually go that far, as it is an originaly story, but also has extensive flashback sequences retelling the very beginning of the series, with Luffy meeting Shanks for the first time to his first encounter with Coby. The story sees Luffy befriend a wax sculptor called Diego and helping him save his son Regis, imprisoned by the corrupt Marine Commodore Bilic.
This after witnessing a “Straw Hat fashion show” held by Usop, meant to present all the crew members… for reasons, most likely padding out the special by 6 minutes, as if you don’t know anything about these characters while deciding to watch a TV special about their series.
The original story is set somewhere post-Marineford, which i didn’t fully expect by reading the special brief synopsis, but fear not, it lives up to the title to a stupid degree, because Hand Island is indeed an island situated in the New World and shaped like a giant human hand. Duh.
A bit less stupid is that it’s an island of artisans and artists… or it was, before the Marine Commodore Bilic basically snatched them all away to make them work on his giant cannon, Josephine, situated in a nearby Marine base. Then Marine Captain Coby and his second-in-command Helmeppo arrive to secretly investigate his base and verify some rumors..
While the “Episode of Luffy” monicker implies it’s mostly a solo adventure for Luffy, it really isn’t, since the whole crew is on the island as well… and Zoro is lost somewhere in there too. That darn pirate hunter.
While the new island is cute and has a different theme than usual, the most standout feature of the special is without a doubt the villain, Bilic, which has a striking design, says to be inspired by Admiral Borsalino (whom he clearly respects, enough to have his portrait hanging in the office), but in reality he just wants to be an Admiral even if he doesn’t have any Devil Fruit ability, so he coerces the island to basically build a superweapon that will be used against its own populace.
His childish behaviour comes off as a surprising, because it’s not obvious right away, with him having an almost theathrical two-tone to its face and suit you’d think he was schizo or something, but nope, it has a good natured facade hiding it’s true vile self, which i guess – maybe – explains why name him Bilic, as he doesn’t look like a serbo-croatian charicature or something. I do love how stupid is it that he has a snake hand-puppet (which he talks through to deride people and praise himself) on his right arm, complete with a Marine-branded little hat. XD
Not exactly a memorable foe, at all, but if nothing else, he’s more fun to watch (and look at) than most of these throw-away “filler” villains, and puts more of a fight than you would expect.
Speaking on production and animation… it’s decent, but some frames feature some fairly rough or odd drawing of dubious quality, again, this isn’t exactly prime material that deserves the animators bleeding their heart out into it, and it looks better than it really deserves, so i’m not gonna bother being EXTRA pedantic on the matter. I’ve seen One Piece looking better, and looking worse.
Truth to be told, i would enjoyed this more if it didn’t have the flashback sequences, they’re well re-animated, but i have seen those moments from the beginning arcs so much, i’d wish we saw more original material.
Compromise, thine name is Adventure On Hand Island (kinda), so overall is a fairly indifferent “alright” and not much else from me.