ANIME REVIEW: “One Piece: Heart of Gold” – Animation Scoop

ANIME REVIEW: “One Piece: Heart of Gold”

Although it aired as a stand-alone broadcast special a week before the opening of the theatrical feature One Piece Film: Gold (2016), the two-hour One Piece: Heart of Gold (2016) is essentially a lengthy introduction to the film. Both adventures were written by Tsuomu Kuriowa and take place shortly after the “Dress Rosa” story arc of the series.

Olga (voice by Sara Ragsdale), a bratty girl who may be 200 years old despite her appearance, escapes from her captors, who want her to lead them to the fabulous treasure of the Pure Gold. The Pure Gold is reported to be so fabulously valuable, it can buy everything in the world. Naturally, everyone wants it.

When Olga makes her way to the Straw Hat Pirates’ ship the Thousand Sunny, she assumes—not unreasonably—that Captain Monkey D. Luffy (Colleen Clinkenbeard) and his crew are a passel of simpletons she can easily double cross. The cynical Olga is disarmed by Luffy’s unaffected warmth and kindness: The affection he and his crew members share is so powerful, Olga begins to have second thoughts about stabbing them in the back.

The arrival of the nasty pirate Mad Treasure (Troy Hughes) and his crew, who also want the Pure Gold, throws everything into chaos. His lieutenant Psycho P (Akron Watson) ate the accursed Clear Clear Fruit and is a master of camouflage, blending into the background or assuming the appearance of other characters. As Mad Treasure ate the Chain Chain Fruit, he fights with endless ropes of metal links and captures not only Olga, but Straw Hats Usopp (Sonny Strait), Nami (Luci Christian), Robin (Stephanie Young), Chopper (Brina Palencia) and Brook (Ian Sinclair). They set off in search of the Pure Gold, with Luffy, Sanji (Eric Vale), Zoro (Christopher Sabat) and Franky (Patrick Seitz) in pursuit to rescue their friends.

The Pure Gold is hidden on the mysterious island Alchemi, which disappeared two centuries ago. But Olga knows its location: Inside the third stomach of the monstrous angler fish Bonbori. Both the Thousand Sunny and Mad Treasure’s Shark Emeralda are swallowed by Bonbori. Within his cavernous gut, they must contend with corrosive gastric juices and islands inhabited by dinosaurs. Luffy befriends Olga’s long lost father, Acier (Steve Young) who created the Pure Gold to preserve Olga’s life. In typical Luffy fashion, they charge ahead, intent on rescuing Olga and the Straw Hats from Mad Treasure.

Of course, the climax pits Luffy against Mad Treasure, mano a mano: Luffy’s loyalty and affection vs. Mad Treasure’s unquenchable greed. Like One Piece Film: Gold, Heart of Gold offers a blistering critique of the contemporary cult of money beneath its nutty action. Mad Treasure dismisses the idea of friends—to him, people are just tools to be used and discarded in the quest for wealth. Luffy replies that without friends, treasure has no meaning. Shifting into Third Gear, he pounds Mad Treasure into so many scattered steel links, rescues Olga and Acier, and reunites his crew.

In a sort of coda at the end, Nami reveals that they may have lost the Pure Gold, but they managed to save a special ticket to Gran Torino from the wreckage of Alchemi. An enormous Las Vegas-esque city-ship, the floating casino of Gran Tesoro is the setting for the subsequent film.

Tatsuya Nagamine, who also directed two of the earlier One Piece features, provides everything the series’ many fans expect: flashy special effects, all-out-battles, explosions, grueling tests, duels, and hairsbreadth escapes, all leavened by Luffy’s blithe good cheer. Less hard-core viewers may wish Olga weren’t such a brat and that they got to learn a bit more about both Acier and Mad Treasure’s crew. But Heart of Gold works, both as an over-the-top comic adventure–and as a condemnation of Trump-era materialism.

One Piece: Heart of Gold
Funimation: $26.02 2 discs, DVD and Blu-ray

Charles Solomon

Charles Solomon

Internationally known animation historian and critic, Charles Solomon has written over 15 books books including Enchanted Drawings: The History Of Animation, The Art of Disney's Frozen, and The Making of Peanuts Animation. Solomon's "The Art of Toy Story 3" will be published by Chronicle this spring.
Charles Solomon
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