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How One Piece Gold enraged Star Wars fans in Japan

There are so many things to write on this week. I had a headache choosing which article to focus on. How a frustrated Japanese father quarrelled with his neet son and smashed up a PS4. And the entire incident is up on Youtube now. The revival of Beat the Vandal Buster. The many new anime titles starting next year. Or should I cover them all? I have something in mind. More later. But there is one story you will not want to miss. A incident which set the Twitter on fire. We will start this week with One Piece Gold vs Star Wars.

Freebie for pre-booking of tickets

I have already covered the success of the One Piece franchise previously, and its various anime projects. The latest movie, One Piece Gold, opens on July 23 2016. Details are sketchy for now. Luffy stars as a Kintaro like character, with a few more sketches of the villain. Oda Eiichiro will be the executive producer. And pre-booking of tickets have already started this month. Anticipation amongst fans is high, to say the least. There has been a One Piece movie every two years since 2001, a decent record amidst sagging anime sales. 

Famous artist Ohrai Noriyishi's poster for The Empire Strikes Back. He passed away in October 2015

So how is Star Wars mania in Japan? While not as big as in America, George Lucas' B grade epic sci fi western has had a huge fanbase in Japan since the debut of Episode IV. From the older generation of episodes IV to VI, to the younger fans of I to III, Star Wars is a household name. Merchandising is a huge success, especially amongst modellers, since Star Wars has an extensive line-up of model kits, from the worn down Millenium Falcon, to the iconic Vader Tie Advanced x1, to the colossal Death Star, Star Wars diorama displays are often seen in Akihabara and the model contests every year.

Which is why it is no surprise The Force Awakens opened in style in Japan in 4D. The theaters use specially engineered seats to add physical and sensory sensations to the 3-D movie-watching experience. Like an amusement park ride, the seats move in sync with the action and produce wind, mist, smells, vibrations and other effects to fool moviegoers into feeling they are experiencing the film, rather than just watching it. And all tickets for the latest “Star Wars” movie at Toho’s 4D theater in Roppongi Hills were sold out, even including including the 3:45 a.m. show on Saturday, with many even turning up in cosplay mode.

Star Wars fans strike a pose Friday at Toho Cinemas' Roppongi Hills theatre in Minato Wardd, Tokyo, ahead of the first screening of "The Force Awakens."
So what led to the flying of sparks between these two seemingly unrelated movies? Apparently, unbeknownst to Star Wars fans, the One Piece animation staff did a short homage piece which was inserted in front of the Star Wars movie.  Fans were not expecting this and many were livid.

A clash of films

Boos were heard during the screening of the homage. Comments were numerous. The general consensus is that, essentially, even Disney kept their logo out from the film, even though the entire franchise was already sold to them by George Lucas. The official statement was that "it's for the fans", Disney probably fearing a backlash. Alas, the Japanese had no such precautions and they have made exactly the mistake Disney avoided.

 "Even Disney kept their logo off!" , "I was neutral towards One Piece before, but now I actively hate it", " Japanese distributors have nothing better to do", " Star Wars will be a hit even without this nonsense", and "We don't want this, there are no links between the two films at all". A few even asked for refunds. Of course there are many moderates who say they are not affected either way, with even comments against the haters like "Star Wars fans are mostly hardcore, of course they will be angry", "They have a right to be angry, but I am a One Piece fan, so I will not comment" and "Don't watch it then" . 

Despite all this, both films will probably do very well at the Japanese box offices. The homage was probably not required at all to boost ticket sales of both films. It is unclear who suggested the production of the homage, but they are probably regretting it now. The entire  episode, ultimately, could have been easily avoided if they had just included the One Piece movie trailer instead. 

Written by Don

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