In One Piece: The Desert Princess and the Pirates, Adventures in Alabasta, as chance would have it, the arc that this movie retells was one of the last arcs to air on 4Kids TV. I don’t know anything about the episodes of the popular television series featuring the characters from One Piece, but all that really isn’t necessary to enjoy the delightful story of how a mismatched group of super-powered pirates rally behind a desert princess to save her kingdom from the dangerous fiend Crocodile. As the crew, investigate the desert area, Vivi learns from one of her father’s assistants that a civil war has turned the country upside down and that Crocodile was using Mr. 2 Bon Clay to impersonate her father with his evil plans. Thus, the crew are now off to stop Crocodile.
Whereas the anime television series, of course, had 37 episodes dedicated to the Alabasta storyline, you lose a lot of the plot but yet, the film manages to focus on the overall theme of One Piece which is friendship, loyalty, sacrifice and all out battles. Why they are helping the princess, or what the princess was doing with Luffy is not revealed, nor do they explain all the strange super powers. Even seeing walking ducks that look like yellow rubber bath toy ducks running around like horses was extremely strange. As with all movies of this type, the good guys lose for most of the movie. Just when all seems hopeless, miraculous events take place and you know the rest. I guess I was expecting more.
However, I suppose the One Piece fan would get a lot more out of the experience. It is well paced with some interesting visuals and funny moments, though on the whole the art is weak. I would think of it as a lil taste of one of the greatest arcs in the One Piece universe. Sure it cuts out certain characters like Ace, Smoker, and Mr.3 for time restrictions, but its still well executed. One can only hope that future films, if they are released by Funimation, will be better managed and edited, perhaps with a bit more background information for those who are new to the series. The plot of the movie, while predictable, has enough going for it in terms of action and characters that makes it an enjoyable watch.
The emphasis on the friendship and loyalty among the protagonists maintains the sense of strong relationships among the characters. The fight scenes were a bit too drawn out, though given the medium and the source material, this is perhaps to be expected. The best part about the whole movie is that the emotions and the energy that makes One Piece so special is fully at work here. Its not just a run of the mill B-plot servicing the action, most of which is presented with a lot of energy and flair. Admittedly, the story IS pretty basic but it still manages to entertain and engross without having to try too hard. It is, indeed, a shame that such interesting plot points and character scenes are removed in order to fit the entire arc into an hour-and-a-half. However, despite the omissions, this release is also to show that Funimation has taken One Piece into its capable hands. This is a good start but I would like to see better releases in the future.