Kayarath’s Adventures in Z

Posted on Oct 09 2014

Kayarath's Adventures In Z

Let me tell you about a man named Zed. Some may call him a lunatic. Others will say he’s a tragic figure. Some may say he’s a master of physiological warfare. What we can all say is that he’s the antagonist of the One Piece Film: Z.

It’s common practice for long running shonen series to have yearly movies, and One Piece is no exception. The basic plot is that Zed wants to destroy the world and it’s up to the Straw Hats to stop him. How will he do it? Apparently, if you blow up the right volcanoes, you can cause a world-shattering chain reaction. It may seem convoluted, but personal experience has taught me that a person with just the right knowledge can cause massive amounts of damage. The World Government tried to cover up this information but obviously failed in a few respects. The World Government may do a lot of wrong, but I don’t blame them for wanting to put a lid on that data point.

I’ll preface this by saying I fell out of the One Piece loop a short while after Chopper joined. The only reason I even saw this movie was because the dub version was premiered at Otakon. I didn’t even go to the main premiere event (thanks Knightshade for leaving me to cover all of Otakon alone); I caught the Sunday rerun! I’m not even sure if I can even count this as convention coverage or a review.

Man, it took me seconds to find this picture!

Man, it took me seconds to find this picture!

As a reviewer, I hate to say it, but the One Piece Film: Z is… is… filler. I hate to use such a dirty word to describe one of the most cherished manga/anime on Earth, but it’s true. It obviously isn’t geared towards a One Piece newbie about to hit the big blue; it’s for the One Piece fan desperate for more One Piece (because six hundred some episodes just isn’t enough it seems). It’s not even canon (if the One Piece wikia is to be believed). The biggest flaw of the movie is how rushed it feels. I feel like it’s trying to cram a thirteen episode arc into a two hour movie. Fight scene! Fight scene! Exposition! Fight Scene! Chase! Fight Scene! A good plot needs time to stew.

Z is not without merit though. Loli Nami alone is enough to justify admission for some people. You also get to see younger versions of Chopper and Brook. Yeah, take a moment to let that sink in. Nico Robin also have some very nice dance moves, and Usopp would make a good talent agent if the pirate thing falls though. Let’s face it, only a person who ate an “I hate everyone” devil fruit could not like the Straw Hats.

The real driving force of the movie is it’s namesake and antagonist, Z. He’s an interesting character with bad characterization. Instead of letting him develop organically, they dump his backstory on you via exposition. Z was a Marine Admiral who was beloved by all and believed in justice with all of his heart. One day a pirate killed his family, but Z was too hardcore to let something like that put down a dark path. What made him snap was that pirate later becoming a Warlord of the Sea. Sorry Z, instead of taking your rightful revenge against the person who killed your family, you’ll have to work with him as he takes a position of prestige and power. If that wasn’t enough, he also saw his crew get slaughtered. That’s like Batman watching The Joker become mayor of Gotham. Even the other Admirals admit that he has the right to feel the way he does. Since the system he fought for so hardly couldn’t deliver justice, he rounded up every disenfranchised marine he could and set off to destroy a world corrupted to it’s core.

Keep Dreamin'! Don't give it up Luffy!

Keep Dreamin’! Don’t give it up Luffy!

What the movie hints at but never tells you is that Z is is a master of physiological warfare. People will talk about how many pirates spirits he’s broken, and Z’s forceful personality is quite strong. However, it really doesn’t show since the only pirate you see Z interact with is Luffy, and Luffy simply does not back down. Luffy is so hardcore himself that he can now knock out people just by looking at them funny. What really strikes me is that Z decides to take Luffy’s hat for some odd reason. I can’t tell if Z knows the significance of that hat, is playing some deep mind games, or just screwing around for no real reason. It wouldn’t surprise me if the writers just did that to raise the stakes (as if major catastrophe isn’t enough these days).

I’ve been off the boat, so some things came as a surprise to me. You can have undead pirates now? The ship can turn into a mech? There are trains on the sea now? Why do you even do that when there are boats? While I’m severally lacking in context, I can still wrap my head around the basic idea of the movie. While there is fanservice (of the non-sexual variety), they don’t bury you in it and make sure that the plot gets proper attention. For the hardcore One Piece fan, they have enough throwbacks and treats to ensure things are One Piece-y enough.

For the hardcore One Piece fan, it’ll satisfy the craving until the next episode hits. For a more causal fan, wait for a sale or television premiere, because regular One Piece is plenty. If you’re hoping this movie is a good jumping in point, go get the manga. Still, even as a person who only thought the movie was okay, I will admit it does have its moments. That last scene gets to you, man. It changes the whole feel of the movie. I still get feels from it.

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