There have been many anime series that have been considered classics and continue to deliver epic stories that also translate well onto the big screen. One Piece falls under that category of being perhaps one of the few longest-running series that has grown in popularity with each passing year. Just like other anime shows, One Piece has also run countless theatrical films during its lifetime, and its latest feature One Piece Film: Red is being added to that library. What is incredibly unique about this film is that it is rooted in One Piece’s main storyline while also acting as a standalone tale that rightfully displays the gravitas of this popular series.
One Piece follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy as he travels the seas with his crew known as the Straw Hat Pirates to obtain the ultimate treasure and become king of the pirates. The series has been through many storylines where the Straw Hat crew has faced a vast roster of enemies during their journey, taking advantage of its surreal humor and action-packed fights. One Piece Film: Red continues that trend with a new story that brings it back to the show’s beginnings while also capturing the essence of the anime that fans have grown accustomed to over the years. The film takes those familiar traits from the series and builds upon them to focus on the team’s encounter with a new character that has connections to Luffy’s past.
One Piece Film: Red has the Straw Hats attending a concert that is being held by a popular singer known as Uta. The film connects Uta to our main hero, who turns out to be a childhood friend of Luffy’s and happens to be the daughter of the Pirate Shanks. Despite this huge revelation shown in the film, there is more to her than meets the eye as our crew soon finds out. The character of Uta makes a seamless transition into the main story as we learn more about Luffy’s background and his shared connection with his hero, Shanks. It’s Uta’s appearance that brings out a different side of Luffy that fans have never seen before in the series, giving the main character a lot more depth to him as a person.
The music in the film plays a huge part in the story as it progresses. Much of these songs that Uta performs in One Piece Film: Red has a deeper meaning to what One Piece is all about. This is something that the film does well to respect the manga and the anime series. Using music as a plot device makes One Piece Film: Red feel more like a culmination of the entire series. It is something that none of the other films was able to capture so elegantly. These songs have a double standard regarding their connection to the series, which is something that long-time fans will notice once they hear them. Those who have watched the series will likely have more of a connection to these tracks than some who are coming in fresh and are probably unfamiliar with the series. So this might come off as a big issue for newcomers who aren’t fully caught up on One Piece.
Uta is probably one of the best things to come out of One Piece Film: Red. Her singing is what makes Uta stand out from the rest of the characters thanks to the talent of J-pop singer Ado. Each of these songs carries a different theme, which displays Ado’s vocal range as an artist. We get through all the emotions with these songs, ranging from happiness and joy to trauma and destruction. It is also something that perhaps the composer of the film was aware of as they each are built into the scenes throughout the film. Uta’s powerful voice is what makes One Piece Film: Red one of the most ambitious films that the franchise has put out in a while.
We never got to learn a lot about Shanks as a character after fans were introduced to him at the beginning of the series. We know that he was an integral part of Luffy’s childhood and what prompted him to follow his dreams of becoming a pirate. Despite Shanks being a significant part of Luffy’s life, there’s still so much we don’t know about him. However, One Piece Film: Red offers to give us a glimpse into his background by bringing Uta into the picture. He does play a role in the film, but it still provides a bit of a mystery to his character, which is something we may get to see more of in the future.
One of the biggest complaints that still linger from other films is the limited screen time that we get with the Straw Hats. Each member of the crew doesn’t get as much to do in the film as they do in the series. We do get some nifty scenes with each of them sprinkled throughout the film, but it’s not as much as we have hoped to see in a big film like this. Luffy is the one who gets most of the focus than many of the other characters. We do get some cameos from other pirates that the Straw Hats have met throughout the series, so that is something that should excite those hardcore fans. Each of these fan-favorite characters does get to shine in their way as they all get sucked into this concert that Uta put on and figure out what’s going on.
One Piece Film: Red is a film that doesn’t follow the typical formula of most anime movies where the source material is still properly respected. The music is the major highlight that helps bring the story together thanks to Ado’s singing talents that bring Uta to life. While it is a shame that we don’t get enough screen time with some major characters like Shanks, it does deliver on being a standalone story that fans will enjoy. One Piece Film: Red is perhaps everything a fan would want in a One Piece movie and it’s a celebration of what makes it one of the best anime shows ever created.
One Piece Film: Red will release in US theaters on November 4th, 2022.