The release of One Piece Film: Red had its initial release across theaters in Japan on August 6, 2022. As per usual, the North American subbed and dubbed versions took a couple of months longer to reach overseas. Despite the long wait for the North American release of this film, I can proudly say the wait was well worth it!
I grew up watching the One Piece series as a kid when it aired on Canadian television network, YTV, and the episodes were limited—when dubbed was the only option to watch. But it took the COVID-19 pandemic for me to finally get back into the series when it was added to Netflix. Then, I transitioned to watching the rest of the series on Crunchyroll. While most anime films based on their TV series counterpart are not canon to the main TV series, this one felt the closest to it.
The premise of One Piece Film: Red was that the most popular singer in the world named Uta was finally going to play a live concert on the island of Elegia (aka the Island of Music). She grew popularly after finding a video transponder snail, and performing on it for the world—sort of like a TikTok star but in the pirate world. With the Navy, World Government, pirates, Luffy and the Straw Hats all watching her perform live, her secret was revealed when Luffy blurted out she was Red-haired Shanks’ daughter—and his childhood friend. Classic Luffy!
I thoroughly enjoyed how the film did not wait too long to reveal this secret, as it was shown in the trailer already. The intelligence of the film was the way in which the various organizations responded to hearing that Uta was Shanks’ daughter—being the daughter of one of the most notorious pirates (and one of the emperors of the sea) was no joke. I appreciated the fact that the events that took place showed me the gravity of the situation with other world powers being concerned rather than telling me it was a world problem.
Even though One Piece Film: Red had some heavy topics with loneliness and ambition, it still kept its core One Piece values—zaniness and intimate moments, action-packed sequences and always full of heart and hope. The movie also featured some great cameos and surprisingly cute first-time appearances that you will have to see for yourself.
The animation blended a lot of the classic Eiichiro Oda art style with some newer 3D/CGI artwork. It was a lot closer to what the latest seasons of the series have been like, but with a little bit of extra movie budget juice and spinach. The final battle sequence was a spectacle with an array of colours, and even the lack of colours. If you are an anime fan, you know when an attack begins to eliminate colours from the screen, it is crazy power levels. The only exception would probably be the Dragon Ball series where power levels are measured in a different visual manner.
“From the beginning of One Piece Film: Red to the end, the film wrapped up in a typical resolute fashion how most One Piece arcs ended.”
It also felt like a Final Fantasy game where the team composition had to be perfect to kill the final boss, and there was even a moment where the enemy’s critical hit box was revealed. Overall, I enjoyed the length of the final battle, and the music to pair with it was just phenomenal. And speaking on the music of the film, it played a lot into the narrative unexpectedly. I was not sure how Uta would fit into the whole drama of her being Shanks’ daughter, but I had a deep feeling there was more to her powers.
From the beginning of One Piece Film: Red to the end, the film wrapped up in a typical resolute fashion how most One Piece arcs ended. One Piece has been known to show that they were not afraid to kill off fan-favourite characters, but not without reason nor lack of flair. Like most anime films based on their TV series, the film was not canonical. However, it provided some insight into more backstory of Shanks, who is a character that still remains quite mysterious in the manga and anime series—even after 1000 episodes!
The movie had a regal style about it, being flashy and emphasizing the key element of music throughout. Every time Uta had a new song to sing matched the gravity and issue of the scene, along with how wonderfully the musical powers were incorporated throughout the film. And while the story wrapped up quite abruptly and some unsurety, it was definitely one of the best One Piece films in a while.
One Piece Film: Red was a true testament that Oda and the other writers still had the guts and the willpower to give fans something fresh and exciting, despite the film not actually being a part of the show. It contained all the lovable Straw Hat members (Zoro did not get lost in this one), along with some notable friends, enemies and frenemies.
If you are a fan of One Piece, this is a must-see film that will have you laughing, hyped out of your cinema seat and bopping to the tracks—maybe even leave you weeping. Japan’s box office has already been blowing up for the last few months since its August release, so I can only imagine how much more it will make across the world.