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Review: ‘One Piece: Stampede’ screens as the manga-inspired series turns 20

Animated film ‘One Piece: Stampede’
A scene from the animated film “One Piece: Stampede.”
(Funimation)

“One Piece: Stampede,” the 14th feature in this popular franchise, was created to mark the 20th anniversary of the animated television series based on Eiichiro Oda’s record-breaking manga “One Piece.” The film scored a big hit in Japan earlier this year, and American otaku have eagerly awaited it.

The sinister Buena Festa invites all buccaneers to a Pirate Festival, with a chance to acquire a fabulously valuable relic belonging to Gol D. Roger, King of the Pirates. Luffy and his crew of Straw Hat Pirates attend along with numerous friends and foes from earlier installments in the series, including Buggy the Clown and Luffy’s rebel brother Sabo.

Lurking in a cavern beneath the festivities is Bullet, a former member of Roger’s crew who hopes to establish himself as the strongest pirate — and the new king. He insists that people can and should only rely on themselves — which is anathema to Luffy, who values friendship over everything. Bullet has the power to absorb and transmute things surrounding him, and when he morphs into a gargantuan monster, Luffy and his chums must defeat him.

The minimal plot is little more than an excuse to launch an all-out slugfest that includes explosions, fist fights, earthquakes and naval bombardments. Director Takashi Otsuka blasts the screen with colorful special effects and crowd scenes that the smaller budgets of the TV series don’t allow. The nonstop mayhem will delight “One Piece” fans, but the uninitiated may find the film exhausting.

'One Piece: Stampede'
Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Playing: Oct. 26 and 30, English dub, Oct. 24, 29, and 31, Japanese with English subtitles, in limited release
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