"One Piece Film: Gold" is the type of movie you have to think about before considering a watch. While fully in English and completely localized, it falls into a niche category of anime style movies that benefit greatly from watching the series in question for context. It isn't an artsy "Studio Ghibli" outing that stands on its own, it is part of a huge franchise with an equally large following. So before buying a ticket, consider this movie a "for the fans" approach. If you haven't watched, don't expect to understand everything or much in general.

Knowing the bits and pieces about "One Piece" that I do I was still able to keep up more or less. The plot being a homage to "Ocean's 11" helped a lot with that but some references went over my head despite the strong opening sequence and setup. The core story and character interactions are very easy to follow even for newcomers but expect substantial spoilers if you actually plan on watching the series after or aren’t caught up.

Luffy and the gang provide a different brand of comedy than what Western audiences are used to but it translates well to its intended audience. That is what matters considering this is a limited release. Their growth as characters isn’t the point of conflict here as the crew finds themselves in a gambling utopia ruled by an eccentric villain who holds a dark secret. The undercurrent of commentary on wealth inequality and the ethics of lucrative living are very welcome. It adds a needed depth for the conflict seeing as how no one has a real character arc in this movie. A battle of ideals it is and it works well for the most part.

The run time felt bloated at over two hours with a plot that could have ended at an hour and forty minutes without all the filler dialogue and overextended fight reactions. With such a long run time compared to what it needed, it felt as though the movie was winding up for something huge. Instead, it delivers a swing and a miss as it clearly gets lost in its own pacing issues with a no more than decent final act.

All those unnecessary side characters tend to take up screen time needed for actual plot relevance. I will note that it is also a consistent problem in the show as well. Animation quality is AAA and fluid as "Toei Animation" gets (a notch below "Ghibli" to be sure but great looking), the soundtrack fits but doesn't thrill as it should and the voice work is... passable. Not good or bad, just dead in the center for the English voices.

Film: "Gold" is everything you expect "One Piece" to be but with chopped down action that feels like they needed to waste more time than actually use it meaningfully just for a bulkier time stamp. The fan reaction will be positive there's no doubt about that. For me as an outsider with limited interest, however, it doesn't reel me in to the craze by any means. That is the movie's biggest weakness.

You have to know a lot about the series to really get into it. But the end of the day, the movie doesn't even matter in the grand scheme of the series. So if you want to watch a casino thriller with "One Piece" characters and know enough about the lore to get every reference then yes go watch this. The general moviegoer as well as general anime fan can and probably should miss this one.

7/10 well above average for fans

5/10 borderline average for newcomers