'One Piece Film: Red’ delivers a musical twist to a legendary saga

one piece
(Photo: IMDB)
The latest film in the massive One Piece franchise navigates a fine line: A story relatable enough for newcomers in spite of bizarre details, that is as loud and flashy as a “One Piece” story can be.اضافة اعلان

Directed by Gorō Taniguchi, “One Piece Film: Red” is the 15th feature film of the famous manga director. It follows the hero, Luffy, as he embarks on a musical, rhythmic, and colorful adventure.

The densely populated pirate saga has been on-air since 1999, and it is nearly impossible just to log in every once in a while to casually watch — references and character arcs from previous years are sure to pile up.

Eichiro Oda’s (manga artist and creator of One Piece) masterpiece seems steadily ongoing. And fans are devotedly following.

The series’ episode count has surpassed 1,000, and its additional features are growing. In fact, its source material — which is still in progress — has been compiled into over one hundred volumes.

That said, the audience for the film is sure to comprise a large group of real diehard fans — and for those fans, it delivers.

“One Piece Film: Red” is a work for the most avid fans of the saga, and although those who have never tuned in to the series can watch, they are sure to miss a layer of understanding about the characters taking turns on the screen.

One thing is for sure, the almost two hours of unusual adventure will inspire you to sing at the top of your lungs, diehard fan or not.

Enchanting Uta
Let us set the scene: On an island no better specified than Great Blue, where the sea is home to some of the world’s greatest dangers, we meet a singer named Uta. 

With her voice, Uta can enchant even the least musically inclined person, but due to her chosen anonymity, she has abstained from concerts. However, wearing her staple ear warmers, Uta decides that it is time to reveal her identity at a live concert in Great Blue; Luffy and his crew are eager members of the audience.

After a spectacular first song, Luffy takes to the stage and reveals to the whole world that Uta is no stranger after all: she is the daughter of Pirate Captain “Red-Haired” Shanks, one of the Four Emperors and Luffy’s childhood hero. Not just that — Uta and Luffy were friends when they were kids until Uta quit the pirate crew to become a singer.

Here begins a daring adventure. Luffy’s crew find themselves defending Uta from the attacks of other crews who want to kidnap her and demand a large ransom from her father, Shanks, but Uta uses her song power to defend herself.

As Uta and Luffy catch up, she encourages him to quit the pirate life. She reveals that she plans to use her concert (and her mysterious magical hologram powers to make it last forever) to bring the world together and end all suffering — a completely normal aspiration, and certainly not something a person who is about to become a supervillain would say.

From there, adventures arise.

Because the film is set during a concert, it is a bit of a musical, with a total of eight pop and rock songs serving as the backdrop for the onscreen action.

The J-pop singer known as Ado, who also keeps her real identity hidden, is the voice actor for Uta.

Some missed emotion
What happens in “One Piece Film: Red” is unlike anything you have ever seen or heard in a product about the saga. Uta has a personal power tied to music, so she does not only sing whenever the opportunity arises; she sings to communicate.

This poses some viewing problems. Because the film is not dubbed in English, we hear a beautiful voice, but we are not fully sure what it is saying.

And although there were subtitles, the immersion felt weak, as though we were missing key emotions from the language.

Artistically, the film is flawless, and the characterization of the characters (both the never-before-seen and the all-time heroes) comes second to none.

Where is Shank?
From the title, viewers expected that the film would have something to do with Shank in some significant way, and it does, somewhat — if you count reliving events close to this character, which the public has always loved.

However, everything boils down to speculations.

As often happens, “One Piece Film: Red” was sold for something it did not do, and the plot was somewhat predictable. The theme of the music — which is objectively not in line with the usual pirate scene — at one point seems to be leaning more into a K-Pop presentation. 

An existential question
There are things to say about this film. Beyond offering a real treat to fans, it poses a somewhat existential question: Are we ready to remove all suffering from the world?

Alternatively, it also explores how good intentions can have catastrophic consequences.

These themes have been addressed in the past in different ways, whether in Avengers: Infinity War with Thanos’ choice to zap half the universe to oblivion to deal with the lack of resources, or before him in Watchmen (2009). And “One Piece Film: Red” makes a relevant proposal to allow the work to have a real dramaturgy.

The film is self-contained, considering the expansion of the One Piece universe. But it brings together as many of the franchise’s characters as possible. At times, it feels like a movie about characters showing locations while other characters remind viewers of their names and whether they are good or evil.

Ultimately, the heart of the film is about heroes and villains who reluctantly work together to defeat a common threat and save the world they all live in — so, in a way, Uta unexpectedly gets what she wants.

If you are a big fan of the manga and anime in question, you will watch the movie with a real dose of pleasure. Otherwise, you could be disappointed at the time lost.

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