Luffy's hat is way too big, -10 points. No, but seriously, his hat looks like it's bulging or something instead of resting comfortably on his little dummy head. In fact, you can see it on the cover for this page, Nami could be hiding a sandwich under there.
Anyway, to the review. For some context, I'm currently on episode 208 or so, just beginning the Water 7 arc. I discovered this special when watching an AMV with the first ending song, Memories. I'm sure many agree that the Arlong Arc is when One Piece gets serious and as such I had high expectations for this special.
To be blunt, it was disappointing.
The story crams about a dozen episode's worth of material into one and a half hour. It wasn't really done well. Of course, shortening it that far means cutting things out, and there's no time to establish tension and stuff. But the special doesn't have much emotional impact at all. It's just a series of events shown one after another. It felt like sitting through a bullet-point slideshow. As a summary, it works; but as a source of entertainment, it's pretty weak.
The art is more fancy than the original. Which means they actually have shading, and more smooth and lively animation (stuff like moving their heads and jaws instead of simply flapping their mouths). Of course, the character design is slightly different as well. It's been updated to be more smooth and crisp with more shading again, but it's not as cute. Whether or not this is a good thing is up to the viewer. Personally, I enjoyed the more simple and cartoony feel of the original series. Perhaps it's also because of the weak story that this art seems like wasted effort.
The sound wasn't noteworthy, at all. Again, it's a summary of a dozen episodes so of course things will be cut out. There isn't any of the jolly soundtrack to accompany the funny moments, some of which have also been cut or truncated. In fact, if I recall the music was even mismatched in places and didn't fit the mood. Moments that were funny had no music, moments that were serious had funny music.
The characterization fits hand-in-hand with the story. Not much can be said. This is a Nami-centered story so most of the focus is on her. But everyone, including Nami, is given the bullet-point treatment, one event happening after another. Certain side-plots were also cut off, plots like Zoro getting captured or Luffy drowning, which again contributed to a rather dull straightforward presentation of events one after another. Everything just moved along smoothly in this monotonous pace.
Overall, it was an adequate summary of the Arlong Arc, but it wasn't enjoyable. It didn't have the same impact as the original episodes. As a standalone, it wouldn't be enjoyable at all. In fact, I'm rewatching the original episodes just to wash myself of this special.