One Piece Film: Z is the 12th anime film in the One Piece franchise. It was released to Japanese theaters on December 15, 2012.

One Piece Film: Z
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Release Date: September 30, 2014

One Piece Film: Z seems to be set after the timeskip, between when the Straw Hats leave Fishman Island and when they arrive at Punk Hazard. The main antagonist is Z, a former Marine Admiral who trained many of the Marines that the viewers of One Piece have come to know. After a couple of tragic incidents in his past, Z hates both pirates and the marines. Z, along with his Neo Marines, are on a mission to stop pirates and destroy the New World. He plans to do this by destroying the three mythical “End Points” with the Dyna Stones that he steals from the Navy.

Luffy and the Straw Hats get caught up in the story when, after exploding the first “End Point,” Z ends up adrift in the sea and is rescued by the protagonists. When Z awakens and learns that he was rescued by pirates, he starts attacking the Straw Hats. When the Neo Marines arrive, they join in. Two of Z’s subordinates, Ain and Binz, use their Devil Fruit powers to cause mischief. Ain touches Nami, Chopper, Robin, and Brook and makes them 12 years younger. Binz uses his power of controlling vines to bind most of the other Straw Hats. Luffy tries fighting Z, but his opponent has a mechanical arm made from sea prism stone, which causes Z to overpower Luffy. The Straw Hats manage to get away thanks to a Coup de Burst, but the Thousand Sunny is damaged. They make it to Secon Island, and Franky starts making repairs to the ship.

When the other Straw Hats go to a nearby island to try to get information on Z, they encounter Aokiji, who has left the Navy is now working on his own. He provides important information to the Straw Hats about what Z is doing. Aokiji also uses the fact that Z was his former teacher to try to get close to him in an attempt to get him to stop what he’s doing.

The film reaches its climax with a final showdown between Z and his Neo Marines, the Straw Hats, and the Navy.

Although I learned about Z’s tragic backstory during the film, I had a hard time sympathizing with Z because of the way he was being portrayed. Prior to the backstory, Z came across as being full of himself and was kind of annoying. Even with this issue, I still did enjoy One Piece Film: Z. The story itself was riveting enough, and I appreciated getting to see some characters I really hadn’t seen in a while (such as Aokiji and Kizaru). Many of the character interactions in this film were on point, and it almost felt like this story could have fit in with the canon material. However, knowing that this is an original story, I knew that at the end, the story would have to do the typical shonen anime trope of “resetting to zero” so it wouldn’t affect the continuity of the canon storyline from the manga.

If you’re a fan of the One Piece franchise and haven’t watched this film yet, I would recommend it. Of the One Piece anime films that I’ve seen at the time I’m writing this review, this is by far the strongest one.

When it comes to the Blu-ray in this release, it has 1089p High Definition 16×9 HD Native video. The audio includes Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD: Japanese 5.1. However, the bonus features on the Blu-ray have Dolby TrueHD: English 2.0 and Dolby TrueHD: Japanese 2.0 for the audio. The DVD has English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and Japanese 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound. I had no complaints about either the video or audio quality of this release.

The main bonus feature included on the set is “Patrick Seitz at Sakura-Con 2014.” This roughly 19-minute feature is an interview with Patrick Seitz, intercut with footage of his signing and of his panel at Sakura-Con. Sometimes, there are also shots of Patrick wandering the premises as he’s trying to get to another location. Neither of his appearances were directly tied in with One Piece Film: Z, and the only connection with the film is the footage from the film that is included at the beginning and at the end of the feature. I did enjoy Patrick’s interview, and I guess it was decided to include it on this release since Patrick is the English dub actor for Franky. My only issue with this feature is the fact, at least on the Blu-ray copy that I watched, that the audio wasn’t syncing up with the mouth for whatever reason, and this could be quite distracting at times. I put the DVD of the set in to check the audio sync on this bonus feature, and the sync was just fine. However, I don’t know if the audio sync issue exists on all the Blu-ray copies of this feature, or if it’s something weird with my copy.

The “In Theaters Commercial Collection” includes the various Japanese commercials that were aired after One Piece Film: Z started screening in theaters. There’s also a Japanese promo video that runs for almost a minute-and-a-half to promote the forthcoming release of the film. The U.S. Trailer is the English version of the trailer. There are also trailers for other releases FUNimation Entertainment was promoting at the time this Blu-ray/DVD Combo set was released.

If you’re a fan of One Piece Film: Z or are a fan of the One Piece franchise that has to own every episode and film that’s been released, then you’ll want to add this Blu-ray/DVD release combo of the film to your anime home video library.

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