One Piece: Take Down! The Pirate Ganzack! is an OVA that was produced by Production I.G for the 1998 Jump Super Anime Tour. The OVA was directed by Goro Taniguchi and was released before the television anime series. It was recently streamed as part of a livestream to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the One Piece manga.

The OVA is an original story that’s set before Usopp joins the Straw Hats and the crew acquires the Going Merry. At the beginning of the story, Luffy, Zoro, and Nami are hungry because Nami had brought on a month’s worth of food, but Luffy and Zoro went through it a lot quicker than she had anticipated. They’re suddenly attacked by a sea monster that destroys their boat and captures Nami.

Luffy and Zoro wash up on an island where a pirate named Ganzack has taken the able-bodied citizens prisoner and is forcing them to work for him. A little girl named Medaka wants to save her father, and she goes around wearing armor and carrying a weapon to take on Ganzack’s men. Luffy saves Medaka when Ganzack’s men are fighting with her. As a sign of appreciation, Medaka takes Luffy and Zoro to her grandfather’s house, where they end up being fed the last bit of food the family has. When Luffy complains about still being hungry, Medaka points out the tower where the villagers are being held and tells Luffy he can have all the food he wants if he goes there.

Luffy, Zoro, and Medaka go to the tower, but Luffy destroys Zoro’s plans when he simply walks out and asks the Ganzack’s men where the food is. This is typical Luffy behavior, but it’s still amusing to see.

Ganzack makes an appearance, and it turns out the sea monster that captured Nami is owned by him. Nami appears with Ganzack, and it looks like she’s allied herself with him because he’s rich. The rest of the special sees Ganzack capture Luffy, Zoro, and Medaka, and the events that lead up to the climax of the story.

I have to give credit to the writer and animators for a piece of the climax that features Medaka. There was a great fake out, and I swore something had happened on screen that I hadn’t been expecting. This fake out was necessary to give Luffy what he needed in order to overcome his situation and ultimately defeat Ganzack, but the way the fake out was depicted, it made the audience think that something happened to Medaka. Once the fake out was revealed, I felt kind of silly for assuming the worst, but at the same time, it proved how effective the fake out was. I’m sorry to be vague, but I don’t want to provide a spoiler for a reader who hasn’t seen the OVA and they want to watch it after reading this review.

Watching One Piece: Take Down! The Pirate Ganzack! was definitely an experience. Since it was made by a different animation studio than the anime series, it has a very different look and feel to it visually. In a lot of ways, the feel of the animation was making me think of the early episodes of the Pokemon anime series. This was especially true with a couple of the expressions that Luffy makes during this OVA, because they made me think of expressions that Ash Ketchum made during the early episodes of Pokemon.

The depiction of the characters in the story is spot on, though. However, the voices for the three Straw Hats are very noticeably different from the anime series. After seeing this OVA, I’m glad that the voices were ultimately recast. No offense to the voice actors for Luffy, Nami, and Zoro in this OVA, but I think the voices that Toei cast for the anime series ultimately work better for these characters.

Some interesting trivia about some of the voice actors in this OVA, though. Wataru Takagi, who voiced Zoro in this OVA, went on to voice Bellamy in the One Piece anime series. Takkou Ishimori, the voice of Skid (Medaka’s grandfather) went on to voice Sengoku in the series. Ikuya Sawaki, who voiced Herring and the narrator in the OVA, went on to voice Fujitora in the anime series. Although, I have to admit that I never would have guessed from hearing Zoro in the OVA that it was the same voice actor for Bellamy.

When all is said and done, One Piece: Take Down! The Pirate Ganzack! isn’t bad, but it definitely feels different if you’re used to the anime series. I’m glad that this OVA was streamed as part of the manga’s anniversary celebration, because it’s part of the history of the One Piece anime that hasn’t been easily accessible outside of Japan prior to this. I’m glad I had the opportunity to see this missing piece of the One Piece anime. Even if I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the anime series, I appreciate being able to see the OVA for the historical relevance that it has for the franchise.

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