*cue crazy prospector’s laugh *
We’re finally getting to the One Piece films i’ve actually watched in theathers while they were new, and coincidentally audiences also had to wait a while before seeing a new One Piece film, 4 years to be precise. Most likely as they realized they couldn’t keep cranking them out on annual basis because otherwise Toei would find even more of its staff overworked to death. Just a hunch.
An upside of this 4 year gap is that audiences were gonna be even more eager and ready to get hyped at the prospect of a new One Piece film, one that had a very huge marketing campaign behind it, and was definitely ready to rack in the titular auruos substance, so much it had a world premiere on Jule 15th at the Emirates Palace’s hotel in Abu Dhabi, then released a week later in Japan. Not THAT surprising, considering how a Saudi fan pretty much singlehandedly funded the documentary about Dinosaur War Izenborg, simply called The Return Of Izenborg.
But today we’re talking One Piece Film Gold, so back to that!
And i must say this one has aged as good as i thought, meaning not that well, and all the qualms i had with it even when i first watched this in theathers…. are just magnified with further analysis and hindsight, so the thin veneer is even easier to scratch away and reveal its uninspired nature.
This adventure is set on the Gran Tesoro, a gigantic island-ship famous for its entertaiment districts and considered a neutral ground of sorts, as pirates, Marines and millionaries move about their business, untouchable even by the World Goverment.
The crew mets the country’s ruler, Gild Tesoro, skillful in buying over to his side anyone, be they pirates or Marines like, and their tricked into entering his casino, initially winning a lot in various games and competitions there, only to lose it all and having Zoro detained by Tesoro’s Devil Fruit power, which lets him have absolute control over gold, and basically rule the country with his cruel fist as everyone is sprayed with gold dust upon entering Gran Tesoro.
Tesoro then intimates the Straw Hats they have to repay the money they borrowed, and they have only until midnight tomorrow to do so, unless they want to have one less swordman among them..
The premise is not necessarily bad, the casino-entertaiment city scenario that leads to a caper hasn’t been done before in One Piece, and it’s always a fun one for movies, i do like the setting, the heist angle, the casino games. The problem lies with the script and villain, as Gran Tesoro’s dirty secret which affects the lives of everyone living there, the themes connected to such… can really be described as “not-Dressrosa” (aka “not-Alabasta”). Gild Tesoro too feels aggressively like a “Doflamingo bootleg” in pretty much everything, from looks, personality, power, his backstory it’s almost a reverse situation but it still involves World Nobles , and yes, there is his taste for spectacle/entertaiment and gaudy lifestyle, but it’s not enough to properly mitigate the issue.
It’s not subtle and it’s kinda distracting because it’s so obvious as well, and frankly the other new character aren’t much better, from Nami’s old frenemy thief Carina, which is basically another Nami personality wise, to the casino lady Baccarat, endowed with one of the stupidest Devil Fruit abilities ever, stealing luck, which translate to a cavalcade of old timey slapstick cliches ending with somehow Baccarat winning over her foes. Even for One Piece this is quite… stupid.
Tanaka and Dice fare a little better, even if Tanaka either seems like he should either be a guard in Impel Down or got lost on his way to a reunion of Akira Toriyama styled devils, and Dice… is just an ex-wrestler with a penchant for masochism. He’s my favourite one here, but it’s not saying much.
Also, for whatever motivation (among many) you can tell they decided to pander to the fans more than usual, by having Sabo and Rob Lucci fight for 5 minutes, for reasons that still boil down to “they’re fan favourites, so let’s put them in the movie as an extra hook”. Lucci is here, so why not, we’ll throw in Spandam too so he can be a pathetic punchbag for a laugh. And make sure to make Carina, Nami and Robin boobs even bigger, anything tokeep the public “distracted”.
Though i do like Tesoro having a mech-style cockpit for when he turns into a giant golden golem, how can i hate that? it’s undeniably fun, clichèd but fun nonetheless.
Music wise, we have a distinct theme song, “Ikari o Kure Yo” by a band Oda likes, Glim Spanky, but the more keen listeners might feel a different yet familiar tone to the soundtrack, as we don’t have Kohei Tanaka as composer, but Yuki Hayashi, which is mostly know today for his work on My Hero Academia, but also worked on Robotic Notes, Kiznaveir, and many Precure seasons-series.
Quite odd how there is a “magical girl” connection between people involved in One Piece films, but it makes for a fascinating factoid.
Overall, One Piece Film Gold it’s not bad, it’s just a bit disappointing, with a fun scenario and angle to the narrative, but the script it’s too derivative and uninspired, yet it still makes for a decent film, it’s undeniable it delivers on the snazzy spectactle the setting would call for and it does look very good, heck, it looks honestly amazing, maybe even the better looking One Piece film yet.
It’s also the rare case where the OVA made to tie into the movie (alongside the usual filler arc, this one being the Silver Mine Arc), Heart Of Gold, it’s arguably better than the feature lenght, in basically every aspect, except production values.
Even so, it’s a fun ride, but it’s a lot of spectacle and very little substance, the latter being a half assed rethead of the Dressrosa arc, and Gild Tesoro being an obvious and kinda shameless attempt of doing Doflamingo again with some minor tweaks, since they couldn’t use him instead for story reason, but they could (as they did) also “rework” a lot of material from that arc for the plot here.
At least Tesoro’s usage of his Devil Fruit powers help distinguish him a bit from Doflamingo, enough that he eventually became a DLC character for One Piece Burning Blood, kinda of unexpected. Good for him.