The story arcs aboard the Straw Hat Crew's first ship Going Merry (Merry Go in some adaptations) are recreated with brand-new animation, from Luffy and Usopp's fight and Robin's disappearance to the crew's final farewell to the ship. Going Merry is treated as another member of the Straw Hats as Luffy, Zoro, Nami, and the rest of the crew set sail for the legendary treasure, the One Piece.
Oh my god...
I don't know how to start this review without crying again remembering all the things that happened...
One Piece: Episode of Merry - Story of another Nakama was without a doubt a blast from the past perfection!
Let's start from the beginning - the story!
At the middle of the special I thought "well, this is more like 'Episode of Enies Lobby'", because it really seemed that way. I know that that arc was "crucial" for the series and if someone who didn't watched the original anime wouldn't get the point but they could have shortened it a bit more... probably? Either way, it was
a big recap of Enies Lobby arc and the part with Merry (which is the special about) was rushed...
I was more that happy and hyped that they re-animated the old scenes about East Blue part and all the nakama but yeah...
Oh, the awesome thing that was included and was more than crucial for the story is Luffy vs Usopp fight which I, well yeah, cried for... again!
So, overall... story gets a 9!
Not that we got an outstanding animation in both Episode of Luffy and Episode of Nami but this was like a crown on the king on shounen! Re-animated parts were just outstanding and perfect and I just... I cry for perfect animation! It was so perfect, so awesome that I really couldn't control my "feels".
Yeah, in some parts you could've seen mistakes and errors and "omg, they put a cross on Luffy's chest, lol" but those were small scenes. And it was an hour and a half special which means a lot of hard work and a lot of focusing and stuff. So, I "closed my eyes" on those small errors and gave art a pure 10!
Sound... I guess it was okay... I must say I expected "Dear Friends" to start playing in the moments of Merry's funeral but once this new song kicked in.... I WAS BLASTED AWAY! IT WAS EVEN BETTER, if I must say! There were old themes from early episodes, bringing back all the feels and memories and that really gave more to the watching - I was really feeling great being taken back "to the old times" when I first watched those episodes. It was all amazing! But... something was still off, dunno... Sound didn't really "blast me away" like the animation did so I give it a 9.
You know... all the seiyuu had to do this again. They had to record all those old sentences, go back to the old times, "repeat" the script, do it all over again. And that way, the whole thing felt different... There were times where the characters were just "OMFG, SO AWESOME!!" but the thing I always notice and will never forget is Robin's cry that she wants to live. I always get chills and sadness overflow at that part and so it happened this time too. But like I said, the seiyuu had to do it again and it just didn't gave impact on me as it did in the actual episode where she yelled that. And not just that part... there were other parts were I DID feel chills and excitement but not that much as I did in the past... so I give a strong 8 to the characters.
After all I wrote just now, someone would say "wtf, you sound like you hate this! why did you even review?! gtfo!"
but, that's where you're wrong...
Even thought I wrote that the story was a bit dragged and for a moment I forgot what special was this, even though I wrote that the art had mistakes at some points, even thought I wrote that the sound wasn't so awesome and that the characters weren't "in character", even thought I said all that.... I enjoyed this! I really did!!
I loved it! I really did!! And I want to watch it again! and again! and again! In fact, I'm just gonna go and watch it and make gifs and post them on tumblr! BECAUSE I FREAKIN' LOVED THIS SPECIAL!! It gave me feels, it made me cry for countless times, really, it brought me back to the old days and made me remember how much I love One Piece! It made me happy! It made me happy that Oda-sensei created this thing, that he's still noway near the end, that it'll continue to be perfect for many years in the future!
This special made me proud that I was a fan, that I was part of the great fandom, that I have so many nakama in the fandom and that we all love and respect each other.
It made me smile, it made me happy...
This special... it was an hour and a half of great memories, awesome animation, superb characters, a part of a pure masterpiece that I will love and support for as long as I live!
The Straw-Hat Pirates' beloved ship “Going Merry” is given a recreated animation, condensing the story arc from the anime into an hour and 45 minutes. I was unsure how they would go about doing this, because how can one tell the story of Merry's life without just rerunning the entire show? Merry was first introduced in episode 17, and remained a constant companion and friend to the Straw Hats until episode 312. Rather than rehash everything in the show, Episode of Merry does a brief run-through of their time with Merry through the first several seasons, and this part only takes up the very beginning
of the movie; then, the remainder of the film is focused on the Enies Lobby arc, where we will eventually say goodbye to Merry.
The Enies Lobby arc is focused on Robin for the main part, with Merry also playing a key role.
For those who have watched the show, you know that Merry had been falling apart for quite a while, and this causes an unfortunate dispute between the members of the crew when they are trying to figure out what the next plan of action is. All of this was wonderful and tugged at my heartstrings, reminding me of how emotional it had been to watch the first time.
However, at a point in the movie, I had completely forgotten that Merry was supposed to be the focus of the movie because all I was watching was the Straw Hats fighting to save Robin from the CP9. They skip over all of the CP9 fights except for Luffy's, but even his fight with Blueno was shortened considerably.
Then, we have the final epic battle between Luffy and Lucci, and following this sequence we swing the story back toward Merry, and this then takes up the rest of the movie.
Before all of the One Piece fans hate me for giving it a lower score, please read what I have to say and just know that I absolutely love One Piece.
Story: 6 (Fair)
The Enies Lobby arc was one of my all time favourites to watch in One Piece. I loved the premise, the conflicts, and the emotions that came along with it. The show had a nice balance of loss and gain; what with the crew's minor falling-out, the loss of a dear friend, but also the gain of an old and new friend. It was all very memorable.
My issue with this movie's story is that it's too fast. Just as a reminder, the Enies Lobby arc (plus the Water 7 arc when the CP9 first arrived) was over 80 episodes long, and probably totaled to at /least/ 30 hours of material. Even when skipping over several details, that is a lot of information to cover, and cannot possibly be done in an hour and 45 minutes. So, what the writers (or, re-writers) of this movie did was cut out what they felt was unnecessary, and kept the most enjoyable or memorable parts. The problem is, some of the most memorable parts are /not/ related to Merry. Sure, Luffy kicking Blueno's ass was great, and was mostly known for being the start of Luffy's attack “Gear Second,” but the only reason they included Blueno's fight was because of the Gear Second (which would then be used later) and because people love that fight. Was it pertinent to Merry's story? Not directly. And therefore could have been taken out.
There are parts in this arc that would have been more relevant to Merry, but were left out entirely for reasons I don't know, and instead were focused on Robin. I know that Robin's part in the movie could not be avoided, but there would have been better ways to go about it. Realistically, they should have called this “One Piece – Episode of Robin and Merry.”
Art: 8 (Very Good)
One of the big attractions of these One Piece films that remake old arcs is the art. With new, upgraded resources the artists can remake the story with much higher quality, and more use of shades and highlights. Does it look cool? Absolutely. When watching the original and comparing it to the movie, most of the fights take place during the day, however the show has much more vibrant colours. There is nothing wrong with that of course, it is just how it is. The movie on the other hand gives it a slightly more muted colour. Part of me definitely likes seeing the darker shades, it's just a colouring style I enjoy.
The colours I'm fine with, what I was /not/ fine with was the way certain scenes were re-drawn. One Piece is known for being very expressive, and anyone who watches the show can attest to that statement; eyes and mouths can expand or shape in any way possible (or impossible), and this is used especially frequently during emotional or intense scenes. The re-drawings in the movie felt like a toned down version of what was expressed in the show.
One of the positives of the art is the movement. It is obvious that a lot of effort was put into making certain scenes look amazing, with smooth animation that was very fun to watch.
Sound: 8 (Very Good)
It's the same voice actors and the same lines in many parts. Some scenes were (vocally) delivered differently than the original, and it's not that it was bad, but I am more used to hearing the original so it felt slightly odd to hear. I won't count that against the sound score much, because that is mainly a personal preference of mine, and not something that can be avoided when re-recording the lines.
I'm not sure if this bothered anybody else, but sometimes the music didn't feel right. Songs were played at times when they shouldn't have been played or didn't play when they should. For example, in the show, Robin announces to Luffy that he should go and leave her to die; following this scene, the rest of the crew approaches and a song beings to play, it's a fairly up-beat and triumphant tune that works with the scene perfectly. In the movie, Robin is giving the same speech, and /while/ she is talking, this triumphant music is playing instead of waiting for the approach of the crew. It doesn't seem right to play the music that practically embodies confidence and hope while a person is announcing they wish they were never born.
Despite my complaints, the sound, for the majority, was good. All of the voice actors are talented and amazing.
Character: 5 (Mediocre)
Because certain scenes were cut, there were so many characters that were given no time to develop at all. In fact, I cannot even begin to list the number of characters that didn't get to deliver one single line but were placed in the scene for the sake of keeping it the same as the original. Had I not watched the show, there are times while watching this movie that I would have been completely lost. Characters just show up without introduction and suddenly vanish without an explanation. Who are these people? Why are they doing this? Well, those of us that watch the show (or read the manga) will know the answer to these questions, but nobody else would. Just because the fans know the story well enough doesn't give the movie's creators a free pass. From an outsider's standpoint, the characterization is just sloppy and disorganized, because, like I said, they attempted to cram too many episodes into one movie.
Enjoyment: 6 (Fair)
The pacing was off, going fast in some parts and slower in others, and that was something I was noticing frequently. The show often tends to drag on longer than necessary, but I much prefer that over rushing through scenes like it's a race.
Being the shonen-anime fan that I am, the fights were appealing to watch for the most part. Luffy vs Lucci will always be one of the greatest fights for me, but even those scenes had flaws which brought the enjoyment bar down for me.
I did enjoy seeing a movie that was (partially) dedicated to Merry and her importance to the crew. Merry has been and will always be an important chapter in the Straw Hats' lives.
Overall: 6 (Fair)
If the movie had actually focused entirely on Merry, I am almost certain I would have enjoyed it more, because in my opinion, Merry's story and Robin's story are separate things that intertwined perfectly in the show, but ended up feeling like two separate movies all together in this. If you cut out all of the scenes that meshed the two stories together, then there is no bridge between plot A and plot B. Because of that, I was not able to enjoy the movie as much as I hoped I would. There is simply too much condensed into too small of a time frame.
Throughout its +20 years of serialization, One Piece has had in its collection of extras some of the greatest movies and OVAs, but, of course, there is always room for some trash. The trend of episodes, a weird hybrid that resides between an OVA/Special in nature and a movie with its lengthy spanning where they go down their road into recapping certain story arcs, a very financially effective method of making money while still receiving minimal complaints from the fans. We all have our own favorite story arcs in One Piece, and having it the massive weekly shounen it is, the animation quality isn't always
the best and thus making us beg for remakes of several moments of the story, that's what these specials were good for, however, they are not always satisfying, and at times, they only create more controversy that nobody wants.
One Piece: Episode of Merry - Mou Hitori no Nakama no Monogatari is one of those special episodes that happens to cover up the events of Water 7 and Enies Lobby, two of the greatest and most beloved story arcs of One Piece, praised by many fans to be the greatest in the series, and you know when something is about to ruin a crucial part of a story you love, it's riot time.
- Story (7.5/10):
It was just another sunny day in the new world where Brook, Usopp, and Chopper decided to go for a stroll in the mini Merry when suddenly Usopp decided it was story time, and so the retelling of the Water 7 saga began for the purpose of letting Brook know more about the Going Merry, the ship that held the Straw Hats into the grand line that far, the ship that he missed upon as a crew member.
In term of the pacing, it was just incredible, no extra splashed unwanted filler or nothing of that nature, very concise and straight to the point, it lets you focus on what's important, on how the Merry was played in the center of all the drama that was going on at the time. They obviously had some considerable amount of flashbacks, not only is the special based on one, they even went ahead and pull off an episode one to water 7 recap, trying to remind us of how the Merry was cherished and cared for, and how beat downs it had to go through in order to carry its beloved crew sailors.
Some dialogue has been slightly altered which led to a different vibe from some big moments, like the Luffy and Usopp's fight it still had that same impact of sorrow and defeat but also felt a bit less intense as the original adaptation.
- Art (8/10):
Probably the most expected thing about this kind of animation is the updated animation and art style, all the fans know this already, the Water 7 saga had probably one of if not the best animation quality in the entire series (In my opinion, second only to Thriller Bark), and as we say in the world of development, if it compiles, don't touch it. The animation in term of fluidity was just as good, but the general look of characters and their design still felt a lot odd and overdone. Like, for instance, all the characters had this weird plastic-ish feel on their skin, so smooth it reflects light more so than a mirror, you could swear they had the characters take an ice bucket challenge, the only twist being it was soap instead of ice, for me, that was a big turn off, like you'd get Franky exposed to some great scale explosion and still keep his skin intact, as smooth as any crappy overplayed skin-care product commercial.
One other big thing that many people disagree with, including me, is the over-exaggerated sexual references, let's be honest, no woman with hips as thin as those can maintain her balance with those gigantic melons holding her chest down, Toei, go easy on us, please.
- Sound (8.2/10):
I really don't have to go any deeper in this category, I feel like One Piece, more than any other long-running weekly shounen has always had the most dedicated voice acing team, with an amazing quality performance during its +20 years in production, if there was anything lacking in terms of animation, the audio makes up for it, for the most part.
Not only that, but the killer classic soundtracks are also of great presence, almost a character of their own. One of the highlights was probably the showcase of a more updated version of Memories (the first ending theme song) at the end.
- Character (8/10):
Water 7 was a great step for One Piece as a series, not only it was the peak of its hype at the time, but the characters have had major upgrades aside from their syncing powerups. There was Robin deciding to believe in her crew member, Luffy taking bigger responsibilities and making gamer changing decisions as a captain, and Usopp facing up his cowardly side and accepting the fact that he has to move on. A lot of other great moments for Sanji, Nami, Zoro... and Merry. Yes, she was always a character.
Spandam managed to remind us of just how much of a scumbag he really was, playing that role and being that convincing is tough.
Of course, we get to see some more CP9 action, with the iconic Lucci showdown at the end.
- Enjoyment (8.5/10):
I would differently confirm this to be the best special episode that's currently in One Piece's wide collection of entertaining content, it really managed to live up to the hype unlike a lot of other similar animations.
All the fights have been remastered, it was a great reminder of how powerful CP9 was, it seems that lately with all of the crazy power levels the entire crew has had, looking back on the much simpler times really shows how much they've grown.
- Overall (8.04/10):
If anything, out of all the other special episodes, this is the one with the greatest value of re-watch-ability for what quality it packs up, I really encourage the fans especially to give this a spare of a couple of hours, it's both a great recap of a past great arc and a new experience to behold, the fights still were the same, but the new animation added so much.
I never thought that I would give a special episode a 10. [9.8/10]
Story [10/10] - As most of you did, I have watched almost all of the episodes, specials and movies of One Piece. I was unsure at first about watching this since it's basically just a recap episode of the Ennies Lobby Arc. I never thought that I would relive those emotions once again. I knew exactly what would happen but I couldn't contain myself from crying.
Art [9/10] - Animation was greatly done. Nothing to pick on about.
Sound [10/10] - The 'We Are' theme song always hit me in the feels. Plus the
beautiful sad song on Merry's farewell haf me all teared up.
Characters [10/10] - I may be quite biased on this one but I would still say it regardless. Strawhat crew for me is the most beautiful bond ever. Nakama isn't just a word. It goes deeper than that. Something a thousand words couldn't explain. Or at least that's how it looks to me after watching this.