Well, originally I was going to blog episode 448 here, but I'm going to do something different. Remember chapter 0, the backstory to Movie 10, Strong World? Well, it was animated as an OVA which has just now been put out on the Internet. I'm not going to let this chance to blog it slip by, so enjoy.
We open with a series of scenes taken from the movie. The Straw Hats crashing the Thousand Sunny into the gate of Gold Lion Shiki's headquarters, the Straw Hats, dressed up in formal wear and armed to the teeth, training their weapons on Shiki in the assembly hall while Luffy tells him to prepare himself for the fight that's to come, Nami, sickly but defiant, standing atop a building shouting that Shiki's plans are over, and Luffy, filled with righteous anger over everything that Shiki's done to both Nami and his home sea, bringing down his final attack, while Shiki can't believe that he's been defeated once again by someone from East Blue.
Twenty years ago, before the start of the Great Age of Pirates, the klaxons in Marineford sound as Fleet Admiral Kong receives word that Gold Roger and Gold Lion Shiki have made contact in the Edwa Sea. Upon hearing this, Vice-Admiral Garp, eager for some action, walks out of his meeting with Kong, much to his superior's displeasure. In the hallway he meets up with Vice-Admirals Kuzan, Tsuru, Saul, and Sakazuki. Garp asks Tsuru to lend him her ship, but she turns him down, since he'd just end up destroying it as usual. At the harbor, Admiral Sengoku yells at Garp to stay out of this, as Shiki is his responsibility, but Garp laughs him off and says that he'll just let Sengoku take all the credit.
Meanwhile, an ocean away in the New World, Roger's ship the Oro Jackson is in a standoff with Shiki's considerably larger fleet. The young Buggy wails in fright, pleading with the doctor Crocus and the first mate Rayleigh to try to talk the captain out of this, even though there's no stopping Roger, and, as Shanks points out, Buggy is immune to being slashed and stabbed thanks to the Chop Chop Fruit. Standing on the bow of his flagship, Shiki tells Roger that while they may have had their differences in the past, that they now should team up and work together. With Shiki's fleet, and the Ancient Weapons that Roger has knowledge of, they could rule the world! Unfortunately for him, Roger retorts that he isn't interested in ruling the world, and a fight breaks out between the two crews. The narration then informs us that despite being outnumbered by a considerable margin, the Roger Pirates pulled through thanks to a freak storm and won the day.
Sometime later sequelching footsteps announce the arrival of the clownish Dr. Indigo into the doctor's office where Shiki is being treated for the injury he received during the battle, leaving part of a ship's steering wheel embedded in his head. Unfortunately the doctor doesn't think that they can take it out without killing him, but Shiki takes the news quite matter-of-factly, and then mistakes himself for a rooster when he looks in the mirror, prompting Indigo to slap him for being a dunce.
Time passes, and the Roger Pirates conquered the untameable Grand Line, earning Roger the title of Pirate King. His crew disbanded, and Roger himself was captured by the Marines, which came as a great shock to the entire world. Shiki himself takes this very poorly, literally shooting the messanger because he can't believe that Roger could possibly be captured. So Shiki invades Marineford all by himself, slaughtering the soldiers sent after him and demanding that Roger be brought before him so that if he had to die, at least let it be by his hand. He's met by Sengoku and Garp, who tell him that Roger is no longer there, and will be executed in his hometown, Loguetown, in East Blue. Shiki says that for him to be executed in the weakest of the four Blues is an insult to his strength, and the three begin to fight, in a battle that results in half of the Marineford city being destroyed, as well as Shiki dropping a battleship into the harbor. Shiki was defeated and imprisoned in Impel Down.
And so Roger met his end at Loguetown, but sparked the Great Age of Pirates with his last words. Many pirates and figures who would play great roles in the future witnessed his death, including Buggy, Shanks, Donquixote Doflamingo, Dracule Mihawk, Sir Crocodile, a thin Gecko Moria, and even Monkey D. Dragon. The news quickly spread across the seas, where we see a lone blond woman in a blue dress staring out to sea, Nefertari Cobra of Alabasta comments that a fearsome age is upon them, the giants Kaashi and Oimo of Enies Lobby comment that now there will be more pirates than ever, Dorry and Broggy clash on Little Garden, the nomad Tonjit ignores the news in favor of his champion stilts, Montblanc Cricket thinks the upcoming age will be a true adventure, the young CP9 recruits train hard, and the snake sisters on Amazon Lily resolve to grow stronger so that they may become pirates as well.
On Level 6 of the isolated Impel Down, the prisoners start cheering and clamoring away at the prospect of a new pirate era. Only Shiki, locked and chained in his cell, isn't pleased. He laments Roger's passing, and how now every two-bit wannabe is going to take to the seas searching for the great treasure that they do not deserve. However, his time soon comes. Two years later Magellan reports to the warden that Shiki has managed to escape his cell by cutting off his legs! The unfortunately guard to find him is none other than the hapless Hannyabal, who's quickly forced into handing Shiki over his two swords, Oto and Kogarashi, which he uses as his new legs once escaping.
In the rural Windmill Village Garp receives a call from Sengoku concerning Shiki's escape. Garp comments that they're going to have to be careful about this, and adds that Shiki's the cunning type. If he's going to try anything, it'll be after everything is perfectly planned out. And so we get another montage of scenes from all over. An infant Ace is chased by his grumpy caretaker, the dojo master Koshiro laments having a newborn daughter instead of a son, but his wife assures him that she'll grow up to be a fine, strong young woman, Shanks pays a visit to Syrup Village to invite local Yasopp to join his pirate crew and the servant Merry designs his dream ship, the Going Merry, the marine Bellemere vows to give Shiki a beating if he ever shows up in East Blue, Red-Shoes Zeff reads about Shiki's exploits, on Drum Island Hiriluk dooms another patient while the king and Dalton worry that the prince is too spoiled, the young Nico Robin is on the run from the World Government, Tom's Shipwrights work on the Water 7 Sea Train, Gaimon gets stuck in his chest, Crocus looks after the island whale Laboon, Brook is all alone in the Florian Triangle, and a young Hatchan visits Rayleigh and Shakuyaku at their bar on Sabaody.
In the New World, Shiki pays Whitebeard a visit, saying that now that Roger's gone, he's the strongest pirate in the world. Whitebeard threatens to throw him overboard, and Shiki laughs, saying that it's good to see that some things haven't changed from the old days, and then says that he's going to hide himself away for a while. Whitebeard immediately sees that he's up to something.
On the towering island of Merveille, home to all sorts of unique, monstrous beasts, Shiki meets with Dr. Indigo to ask how his research is going. Indigo starts going into an explanation on the island's ecosystem, but Shiki cuts him off by asking him how long it'll take for his plan to come to fruition. After some calculations, Indigo says that it'll take twenty years, and Shiki says that that's fine; he'll wait twenty years, and then unleash Hell upon the world.
And there we go. For a feature that was less than twenty minutes long, there was a lot packed in, and was basically a non-stop fanservice ride, getting to see all of these characters, both past ones and current ones, how they were in the past and what they looked like (particularly the Warlords). Shiki himself is a lot of fun to watch, thanks in small part to the excellent performance by his seiyuu, Japanese actor Naoto Takenaka. One of those kinds what can make you laugh at in one instance, and then loathe with all your might the next, without the switch flip feeling forced or unnatural, and now I'm really looking forward to finally watching the movie itself.
Production-wise, everything was top notch, the art, the animation, music, etc. Kinda fun to note after last week's chapter that Dadan's voice is very obviously female (maybe that was why this took so long to come out, they didn't want to spoil the surprise). We also got the anime debut of Rouge and her color scheme (unfortunately I couldn't get a chuckle out of it since they didn't go for what I had envisioned), and serves to remind me that a lot of neat stuff is going to happen in the main series soon. I guess my only complaint is that it followed the manga almost panel-by-panel, while I was hoping that they would expand on some of the material (particularly the fight between Garp, Sengoku, and Shiki) like they usually do in the episodes.
But despite that small issue, the OVA was well worth it, and with this much build up and hype, the movie will hopefully be worth every minute of it.