This is the sixth One Piece movie, theoretically taking place after the Navarone arc and before they go to Water 7. Once again, it takes place around the same time as the previous two movies because the anime was by now slow as hell. An interesting thing about it, is how the formula so far was to make each movie being dedicated to a crew member (the first for Usopp, the second for Sanji, the third for Chopper, the fourth for Robin, and the fifth for Zorro). In this case, there wasn’t any focus given to anyone in particular. The hero ends up being the main rival (he is not really a villain) Baron Omatsuri. And if you stretch it, since everything he does is for the sake of his nakama, we could say he is the dark side of Luffy and in a way the movie is a tribute to him and the despair that can be caused by the loss of his friends.
Just like all movies, it is a filler mission with a good budget and a simplistic plot. But unlike the previous ones, this is by far the darkest, saddest, scariest, and most psychological of them all. It is also the most unorthodox of all the movies, as it was quite different from the overall feeling of the main series, to the point it felt like it wasn’t even taking place in the same universe. This unfortunately wasn’t received well by many fans who disliked the sad and gloomy atmosphere and expected just another goofy no-brainer. Quite a sad thing to say, since the previous movie was shallow as hell yet had more positive image for being just poser action instead of context. The majority of fans unfortunately expect fan service and not a dive into the psychological issues of its characters.
Down to it, I liked the sixth movie for doing the same as the fourth: Beginning in a simple and silly way and suddenly turning to something completely different, more dangerous and serious. The story is just about the Strawhat Pirates ending up in a pirate resort to have some fun. They take part in lots of silly games until suddenly they realize the owner of that place is hiding something. And before you know it, their darkest thoughts begin to surface and making them crazy or desperate. This is the awesomeness of the film; all the characters have a role by having their inner thoughts showing instead of being there just for the sake of fighting a mini-boss and goofing around.
All that is reflected by the owner, Baron Omatsuri, who is not just setting up a trap but also is part of the same issues they are going through. Thus in a way he “is” the main conflict and afflicts the heroes directly, instead of some generic villain with a weird power that has nothing to do with his personality. Thus he easily becomes the greatest rival of the whole non-canon cast (as well as most of the canon if you ask me). He is extremely powerful and doesn’t seek more power like all the previous bosses did but rather to maintain what he already has, to protect it with any means necessary.
One thing to be noted is how the movie does not have cool action scenes. In the first half they are goofy and random and in the second they are mostly of psychological nature. It wasn’t “exactly” about how strong Luffy is but rather how willing he is to keep going. Makes more sense in a way.
Another thing is the animation style which is quite artsy most of the time. During the peaceful moments it looks cheery and normal with rather minimal shading and fluent animation, but during the dangerous scenes it changes to this gritty, colourless, rough outline style, which is quite creepy and unorthodox. Many disliked it for not fitting the cheery style of everything else so far but I loved it for its artistic value alone.
A funny thing here is how Oda took ideas from the movie and added them to the canon story later on (a land of undead and a prison of despair). Yet the themes there were hardly as captivating or artsy, since they were stretched to last a hundred episodes and were watered down with lots of slapstick humour. Although for most of the target audience that is what they would prefer to having the show becoming scary and sad, someone like me who got fed up with the easy going plot is definitely going to appreciate the work they did here. I openly recommend to film NOT to the fans of the series but to those who seek experimentation and psychological conflict instead of poser action.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 10/10
Analysis: General Artwork 2/2, Character Figures 2/2, Backgrounds 2/2, Animation 2/2, Visual Effects 2/2
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 3/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 3/3
STORY SECTION: 8/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 2/2, Complexity 2/2, Plausibility 2/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 8/10
Analysis: Presence 2/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 2/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 1/3, Memorability 3/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 8/10
Analysis: Art 1/1, Sound 1/2, Story 3/3, Characters 3/4