‘One Piece Film: Gold’ Review: Fast-Paced Action And Memorable Characters Make For An Awesome Movie

one piece film gold movie poster
'One Piece Film: Gold' is coming to theaters in North America in January. Funimation/Toei Animation

Another One Piece movie is making its way to the States this January and will continue the adventures of Luffy and his pirate crew.

One Piece Film: Gold brings the Straw Hat Pirates to the floating city of Gran Tesoro, which is pretty much the Las Vegas of the One Piece world. There, our favorite crew meets the city’s ruler and people, but everything isn’t as golden as the city itself.

But does the animated film keep the charm and amazing action that the anime has delivered for almost 20 years?

In short, One Piece Film: Gold feels like an extension of the main story of the manga/anime and that’s what makes this film so enjoyable. Those who have followed One Piece for a long time will definitely get into Gold.

SPOILER ALERT! It’s difficult to talk about One Piece Film: Gold without some minor spoilers. Please keep that in mind.

one piece film gold luffy and the crew
Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates are just as comedic as they are in the anime/manga. Photo: Funimation/Toei Animation

All of the characters in One Piece Film: Gold feel right in how they interact with each other and new characters. The story even makes reference to where Luffy and his crew have been before getting to Gran Tesoro. It’s these small things that help make Gold more than just an OVA or a one-off film like the Dragon Ball Z movies in the 90’s were never mentioned again.  

The animation in Gold is great, keeping the same style as the manga/anime but with the obvious added budget to make backgrounds and action scenes feel more like a movie instead of something you’d see on television.

The voice acting from the same English dubbed cast as the anime works well, despite some cheesy dialogue (Robin and her hand puns *shivers*). But the style, cast and script all lend itself to how One Piece has always been. It’s a Shonen anime that’s high on action with a message that doesn’t take itself seriously or gets bogged down by its own rules with virtuous characters despite them being… well, pirates.

one piece film gold straw hat pirates
The Straw Hat Pirates enter Gran Tesoro. Photo: Funimation/Toei Animation

As for Gold ’s story, it feels like an arc from the anime that you’re watching in one sitting, again reinforcing how well the movie fits into the overall anime.

While viewers can probably tell who the villain is and where the story is pretty much going from the opening credits, it’s the journey that the Straw Hat Pirates go through that makes this film fun.

Gran Tesoro is an interesting world that would have been great to see fleshed out in something longer than the two-hour runtime and the new characters introduced are pretty unique and cool. The main baddie, Tesoro, is especially interesting. While he is overtly a bad guy from the moment you meet him his motives and origins are rather intriguing. If there’s one thing I wish Gold did was tell more of Tesoro’s backstory. From the bits of flashback you get (most of it at the very end) there is some really amazing and somewhat dark material that they could have explored.

one piece film gold tesoro
The main baddie in the 'One Piece Film: Gold' Tesoro Photo: Funimation/Toei Animation

With that said, Tesoro’s actions towards the people of Gran Tesoro is unforgivable and any attempt to make him sympathetic is lost because not enough time was dedicated to his backstory.

Luffy and his crew all play their roles in Gold as the writer/director make sure each character has chances to shine and propel the story.

There’s a fun Ocean’s Eleven -style heist involving the Straw Hats, and all the twists that come at the end make viewers rethink everything they saw up to that point. And, of course, the big climactic fight scene is highly entertaining. Everyone gets to show off their skills and Luffy is put through the ringer as he has become accustomed to.

Overall, One Piece Film: Gold is a delight for One Piece fans everywhere. If you’re a fan, you’ll become a fan of this movie. If you are not familiar with the franchise, you can still enjoy the movie but a lot of the character cameos and lore may be lost on you. But to its credit, Gold does do a good job of giving a baseline introduction to each of the main players. While this may not be productive in terms of getting newcomers up to speed, it does take away any forced dialogue that may punish anyone who has followed the long history of the series.

If you’re a fan of One Piece or anime in general, you’ll have a great time watching this film.

One Piece Film: Gold will release in select North American and Canadian theaters from Jan. 10-17. You can find tickets at Fandango.

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