Spoiler Warning: ‘One Piece 3D2Y’ is littered with information about the Impel Down arc and beyond, so much so that even the full title reveals way more than I’d like. If you’ve not seen up to around episode 660 in the series, then I’d advise you to avoid this review as it may contain minor spoilers.
Following the events in Impel Down, Luffy isolates himself from the crew so that he can concentrate on becoming stronger. However, he finds himself distracted when Boa Hancock’s sisters, Marigold and Sandersonia, are kidnapped by an evil pirate known as Byrnndi World. World hopes that his actions will lure Hancock out of hiding so that he can use her as his hostage against the World government due to her Shichibukai status. Being the brave soul that he is, Luffy opts to put aside his training so that he can travel with Hancock to confront World and hopefully save Hancock’s sisters.
‘One Piece 3D2Y’ is a feature length TV Special that attempts to fill in the gaps during the two years that Luffy spent in training. As this period was never fully explained in the manga, everything included here is filler material that ticks most of the usual boxes; a new set of disposable villains, no significant use of special powers and absolutely zero character/plot development. These obvious deficiencies aside, ‘One Piece 3D2Y’ instantly struck me as something of a disappointment simply because the whole thing feels fairly unnecessary. While it is apparent that there is a gap in the story here, we’re quite happy knowing that Luffy used the time to improve his skills and heal his wounds. We certainly didn’t need to be told that the majority of his new moves were conceived almost by accident and he ran off before completing his training.
Putting aside my issues with the overall concept, it still has to be said that ‘One Piece 3D2Y’ is a fairly lightweight affair that is almost definitely more suited to hardcore fans of the franchise. Obviously most of it takes place during a specific point in the show, but it also assumes that the audience is familiar with all that has come before. Ergo, there is very little real setup or backstory and instead it leaps in with both feet, whisking Luffy away from the main story to fight a new villain of extraordinary power. While this carefree approach makes for a relatively easy-to-watch adventure, the whole affair can’t help feeling a touch empty as it’s really nothing more than Luffy saving a couple of damsels in distress. Thankfully, they do attempt to pad it out with some appearances from Boa Hancock and a few of the Impel Down crew, but even they feel like little more than extended fan service as all of their stories quickly fizzle out.
For me though, the most interesting aspect of ‘One Piece 3D2Y’ is undoubtedly Luffy’s confrontations with World. Throughout the majority of the movie he is truly hammered in every battle they have, getting injured harder than we’ve probably ever seen before and pushing himself beyond all limits. It isn’t until he finally conquers his haki abilities that he is able to fight back and this makes for an entertaining, if perhaps slightly unspectacular finale. As mentioned before though, my one big issue with the action is that they choose to mix in some ridiculously clumsy beginnings for moves like the Red Hawk. This approach just seems to remove the element of mystery from this period as well as cheapening the initial moments right after Luffy enters the New World.
‘One Piece 3D2Y’ is definitely worth a watch for fans of the show, if for no other reason than to see the blistering battles between Luffy and World. Be warned though, as it does attempt to explain way more than it should and proves that sometimes certain aspects of a character/show are better left unsaid.