a.k.a. One Piece Movie IV
a.k.a. One Piece: Dead End no Bouken
The Straw Hat Pirates finally find some time to rest at the port town of Anabaru. Desperate for some quick money, the crew wind up in the Dead End Race; a wild and dangerous ship race filled with the most dangerous pirates this side of the Grand Line. But when there’s a fight reward and plenty of action, the crew of the Going Merry is always there! Will the Straw Hats make it out with the big prize? More importantly, will they make it out alive?
summary by Ender
Highs: Good animation; Story gets breathing room
Lows: Throw-away secondary characters
Dead End Adventure marks a significant turning point in the One Piece franchise–this was the first “filler flick” with a running time beyond the standard sixty minutes. Dead End Adventure clocks in at a healthy hour and a half and uses every minute of it to entertain.
One cannot expect much from a movie that was designed to be another big-screen adventure for a profitable series. However, what the movie does offer, it does very well. The story does not deviate from the standard action-adventure mold, but works within its confines. Much of the lovable formula from the series translates very well into these movies, and the fourth movie is no different–which sets these films a little higher than the standard Dragonball Z fare. The theater-quality animation compliments the series’ characters (as well as their funky abilities) adequately. In particular, the inevitable showdown between Luffy and the main villain, Gasparde, is a bright, colorful melee. Though the battle is nothing different from Luffy’s previous fights, the animation and direction work wonders as a big-screen attraction.
There was also, a heavier use of computerized shots in this film. Much of it was not noticeable, and was thankfully kept at a minimum. But the sequences that did utilize computer-generation benefited from the additional color and movement.
In spite of this being a cast adventure, some of the main characters were not given enough to do: Zorro and Sanji throw in for some brief fight scenes, and Robin displays her powers once, but this is hardly enough to satiate the run-time to screen-time ratio. The secondary characters are largely uninteresting. Again, these filler-type characters are not expected to be major players in the drama at hand, but that does not excuse them for being stuck in “throw-away” mode for the majority of the story. Gasparde comes off like a pale imitation of the series’ villain Crocodile, without any of the panache and motivation that made him so memorable.
When all is said and done, the movie ultimately takes the essence of One Piece and applies to the big screen; providing the viewer with a fun, adventurous, occasionally dramatic adventure. Sure, it may not be wholly original, but it certainly delivers an exciting escape.
Highs: Deviates from some typical One Piece norms.
Lows: Too many parallels to TV version, needless side characters.
Another year another One Piece movie; this time boasting the latest addition to their crew. While previous One Piece movies were not that fantastic (save for the second movie), this one brought a lot of promise. The result of this foray into the big screen was a fun and comedic romp throughout the high seas that I will be sure to remember for some time.
The typical factors remain. The crew gets into trouble, and needs to find their way out. This time however, we do not have some “staples” that we’ve seen in the other One Piece movies. There is no convenient swordsman for Zoro to fight, and there is no generic martial artist to get in Sanji’s way, and so on. Added into the mix is the best animation to ever grace a One Piece motion picture thus far. The fluidity of the movie’s animation really brings out a side of the combat we don’t really get to see in the televised series. While there were only a couple of big fights in the movie, they were certainly ones to remember, with the exception of one.
The final brawl in the movie is an incredible let-down compared to the rest of the movie. The situation and contents of the fight are almost identical to one of Luffy’s most major and memorable fights from the series. Sadly, that’s not the only similarity. There is one scene in particular involving a bunch of Sea Kings (Sea Monsters in the One Piece mythos), that is nearly frame-for-frame from the television series. The only other thing that left bad taste in my mouth was the secondary plot that was going on for the length of the film. It is some sort of tradition it seems in One Piece movies to introduce characters that have next to no bearing on the plot, and only serve to be a new face that will never be seen again. When you get down to it, if you had removed the filler characters introduced in this feature entirely, would anything change? Not at all, in my opinion. A funny side note, one of the marines they come across in the feature plays a role in a later filler arc for the television series. Maybe Toei studios had this up their sleeves the entire time, who knows.
With fun and frantic action scenes and enough comedy to keep me chuckling, this One Piece movie remains one of my favorites even today. I certainly use this film as my basis of judgment for the other One Piece features I see. Toei just needs to keep up the good work and learn from their mistakes when making One Piece movies, and I consider this a perfect apology for the third movie. If you’re familiar with the workings of the series, be sure to set sail to see One Piece: Dead End Adventure.
Dead End Adventure can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.