This week, American theater audiences were treated to One Piece: Stampede, the franchise’s 14th film and a celebration of the anime’s 20th anniversary. The basic premise is that Buena Festa invites the Straw Hats –and nearly every other Pirate crew that has appeared in the series– to Delta Island for Pirate Fest. The focal point of the film is a hunt for the treasure of the Pirate King, Gol D. Roger, which eventually turns into a barrage of team-ups…
The animation and character designs are gorgeous, and the movie is full of action. The pacing is the best I’ve seen in an anime film in quite some time. Every scene felt like it had a purpose; nothing seemed unnecessary.
Stampede may be non-canonical, but it doesn’t feel like filler. But its biggest strength is in how well it handles the enormous cast. It primarily focuses on three groups of characters, but even characters that aren’t part of those central crews get chances to shine. The story wraps up neatly and there’s even a post-credits scene.
Being an anniversary crossover movie, Stampede is absolutely littered in Easter eggs. Being a filthy casual (I’ve only seen about a third of One Piece’s 900-plus episodes), there was no way I could catch them all. Hell, there were characters whom I had to look up on the wiki because I didn’t recognize them.
But this isn’t necessarily a detriment to enjoying the film. The story is easy to follow, and I was thoroughly entertained. That said, Stampede is 100% a love letter to the show and manga (manga artist and One Piece creator, Eiichiro Oda, served as creative supervisor and writer) and true fans of the series will absolutely adore it. 3.75/5 Bibles (filthy casual score) / 5.25/5 Bibles (true fan score).