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.