Set in the midst of the Straw Hat pirates exploration, (I'd wager not long after the Skypia arc) the crew finds a message in a bottle inviting the best of pirates to a resort paradise on Omatsuri Island. With most of the crew eager to take a break from their adventures, they accept the invitation and set sail. However they discover the island's strange caretaker, The Baron, will only let them enjoy themselves after passing a series of tests. Mysteries abound about the Baron's true purpose and the unique plants on the island. Can Luffy keep his crew together long enough to find out the truth?
The sixth movie of the One Piece movie franchise was initially released in 2005, directed by now critically acclaimed Mamoru Hosoda. This film was his last anime series adaptation before moving on to his first stand alone film, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Looking at the film, fans will notice a distinct difference in animation style which is familiar to the style used in Hosoda's previous films, Digimon Movies. That being said, while they may look slightly different, certain aspects of the animation that have become staples of the anime are kept in to keep from become too unrecognizable. To be perfectly honest, I love the way the characters are animated in this film. I have nothing against the anime's usual style but there is just something about the way Hosoda captures facial expressions and subtle physical cues that just looks like how a real person would move (Even if they are made of rubber).
Given the fact that there are still seasons of episodes that take place after this movie, you know the characters are all going to make it through. However, one of the joys of One Piece is watching how the characters get out of their various predicaments. The Secret Island, in my opinion, is one of the crew's greatest challenges before or since. It is not for the feint of heart despite the anime being mostly targeted to kids and teens.
Even the movie's overall message is very adult and something that anyone can walk away and contemplate even after the movie is over. While Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island may not be for everyone, I believe it is a worthy installment to the One Piece franchise and a fun yet suspenseful ride for both fans and newcomers alike.
ONE PIECE: BARON OMASTSURI AND THE SECRET ISLAND is available now as part of ONE PIECE MOVIE COLLECTION 2 from MANGA ENTERTAINMENT in the UK. [ORDER FROM AMAZON UK]