Shonen anime films often remain self-contained, leaving little impact on the running series, and most of One Piece’s previous movies have followed this formula. However, One Piece Film: Red bucks the trend with an impactful story that plays on the pasts of popular characters and incorporates music with Shonen tropes to create a fantastic story.
Film: Red sees Luffy and the Straw Hat pirates attending the concert of popular idol Uta in a remote island nation that strangely has no locals. Uta performs for the crowd before being interrupted by pirates trying to kidnap her but is helped by the Straw Hats and turning the fight into a musical spectacle. After this, it is revealed that Uta is Luffy’s childhood friend, growing up with him alongside the Red-Haired pirates as Shank’s adoptive daughter.
Uta’s place in the story does not feel forced at all. Instead, her background with Luffy and Shanks is presented organically. Even Uta’s hatred towards pirates feels expertly woven into her character arc. Luffy and Uta are put on an even footing from the start as they compete in a food-eating contest like they did when they were little, but Uta outwits him every time. Their dynamic and relationship spurs the story forward as their idealistic outlooks on life clash.
One Piece Film: Red has fanatic visuals, due in no small part to Eiichiro Oda’s involvement in the character designs. Uta is a notable one, with half-white half-red hair, and how her hair is tied moves to showcase her emotions, such as making the shape of a heart above her head when she’s happy, like when Luffy and Uta are reunited. The same can be said for all of the Straw Hat’s outfits, like the Kiss-inspired costume for Usopp during Uta’s concert or everyone’s leather-clad battle outfits during the final battle against Tot Musica.
The same can be said for the visuals around battle and music scenes. Any instance of Uta singing a song or Luffy beating back a rogue pirate is beautifully animated, like the first fight between Uta and the pirates trying to kidnap her at the concert’s start. Uta turns the battle into a song with stunning visuals as the stage comes alive to round up the pirates.
Having the main character that is an idol performing a concert in the first sequence means this film delves deep into music. The music follows the ideals of the One Piece universe, with the lyrics sung by Uta using themes like the main track New Genesis, talking about overturning oppression and creating a new world order, much like Uta’s motivation in the film. All of the music feels authentic in the setting, fitting perfectly into the One Piece universe.
Each song throughout One Piece Film: Red has a different composer, giving a feel that Uta’s singing transcends all genres to showcase the versatile voice of Japanese pop star Ado, who brings Uta’s music to life. The best illustration is the difference between the central theme New Genesis, which has Uta hopefully and wistfully singing about a new world being born for all, and the Tot Musica theme for the climax of the film’s conflict, which has Ado presenting Uta’s emotional turmoil of fighting friends and family in heart-wrenching screams with such a heavy backdrop of guitars and drums.
One Piece Film: Red is a must-watch for any One Piece fans, but also for any music and animation fans. The sheer skill displayed in this movie from the music, animation, design, and story writing combine to present a cohesive narrative about struggling with friends and family over ideals. Still topping the box-office charts in Japan, the movie is set for dubbed release in theatres on the 4th of November. So what did you think of One Piece Film: Red? Or are you waiting for the dubbed release? Let us know in the comments!