Director: Konosude Uda
Writer: Atsuhiro Tomioka
Runtime: 106 minutes
We’re finally taking a somewhat extended break from the recaps extravaganza (but not that extended, as we’ll find out) to have a TV special that actually features an original story, and calls back to a noticeably under-represented story arc, the Davy Back Fight, often completely eschewed from pretty much any adaptation of One Piece, and low-key hated by the fanbase, i feel.
Yeah, the premise sees Foxy and his crew send a false distress signal to the Straw Hats, seeking revenge after their Davy Back fight. The two crews begin another Davy Back, starting off with a mushroom eating contest as the first round of the challenge, but it’s a trap, as the new Foxy Pirates member, Komei, has made them eat the so called “Drousy Shrooms”, then reveals himself to be a Marine Vice Admiral and brings the four incapacited crewmembers as prisoners to Nebulandia.
The rest of both pirate crews follow them, but things get hairy as Nebulandia is an island that nullifies Devil Fruit powers due to its vegetation having adapted to live off sea water, acting as a natural prison for the many “gifted” pirates, so even more people get captured and it’s up to the few remaining to find a way to reserve the effects of the vegetation and escape the island.
I like how the special starts immediatly with someone shooting Luffy in the head and it being this dramatic thing, already lets you know something is off. You know it’s not really gonna happen, but still, i will commend the writer for having the balls to start things off this strongly.
Nothing of note on the animation side, pretty good work as usual, a bit less the 3D CG (the same seen in Straw Hat Chase 3D) used for some of the more massive displays of Marine soldiers. It’s used sensibly most of the times, but in the finale it feels a bit overused and kind of a cop-out.
Also, it’s a not drawn as well as some of the previous specials with sequences from Marineford or emotional moments where, but i didn’t expect them to overwork themselves for Foxy. Even less worthy.
I mean, it’s Foxy, one of the more comical villains in One Piece that somehow has less relevance and it’s more of a joke villain than Buggy (pretty much the Pilaf equivalent), but they did actually redid from scratch some bits of the Davy Back Fight, that end up being used for a flashback that’s also simply a set-up to the punchline of the Foxy Pirates being such small fries that Luffy just completely forgot about him, and other Straw Hats just groan when seeing them again.
Continuity wise it’s a bit odd to place the special, since it takes place somewhere before the Punk Hazard arc (and after the Z’s Ambition filler arc that led to the Film Z events), but it also ignores the anime only Foxy’s Return and Spa Island filler arcs, and there’s some minor contradictions.
Regardless, i love how the enemy Marine Vice Admiral is such an obvious a Romance Of The Three Kingdoms character design, it’s a Zhuge Liang rip-off with a Liu Bei style motivation, and i love that. XD So it’s fitting how the villains are some of the smarters ones you can get for One Piece and actually set tactics up to counter everything, it’s a nice change of pace from the usual ones.
At the time, Toei suggested that this will be the first in a series of ‘Adventure Of’ specials with original storylines, airing in winter in addition to the summer ‘Episode Of’ specials which re-adapt manga material. It was a nice idea and it’s not like they didn’t stick to that plan, they did, but it wasn’t exactly a long lived project, as we’ll see later.
Overall, Adventures In Nebulandia is a nicely directed (with some style) TV special, a surprisingly good script, arguably better than some of the ones used for the movies, quite a fun watch.