January 3, 2023
by Carla Hay
Directed by Gorō Taniguchi
Available in the original Japanese version (with English subtitles) or in a dubbed English-language version.
Culture Representation: Taking place on the fictional island of Elegia, the Japanese animated film “One Piece Film Red” tells the story of pirates, a female pop star, and how her past connects to the present.
Culture Clash: The pirates get involved in a battle over the pop star, who wants to create a utopia for her legions of followers.
Culture Audience: “One Piece Film Red” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the “One Piece” franchise and adventurous anime films that have some social commentary.
“One Piece Film Red” is an exuberant adventure story that will please new and previous fans of the “One Piece” franchise. Beyond the thrilling action scenes is clever social commentary about blindly following anyone in power who promises a utopian existence. People don’t have to know anything about the “One Piece” franchise before seeing the “One Piece Film Red,” but it helps in understanding some of the characters’ motivations, backstories and personalities. The franchise follows the adventures of a group of pirates (some with superpowers) as they battle other people in search of a famous treasure called One Piece.
Directed by Gorō Taniguchi and written by Tsutomu Kuroiwa, “One Piece Film Red” opens with the Straw Hat Pirates going to the fictional island of Elegia. The captain of the Straw Hat Pirates is a teenager named Luffy, who is also known as Straw Hat Luffy or Monkey D. Luffy. He has an upbeat personality and, for better or worse, is often impulsive. A running joke in the “One Piece” series is that Fluffy’s enormous appetite frequently affects his judgment when he is hungry for food.
The Straw Hat Pirates have gone to Elegia to see a young pop star Uta perform in concert. She’s abut the same age as Luffy, who is in his late teens. Luffy has a past connection with Uta because he met her through her biological father: a pirate named Red-Haired Shanks, who is Luffy’s idol. About 12 years earlier, Red-Haired Shanks and his pirate crew were stationed in Luffy’s native land of the Goa Kingdom. That is how Luffy met Uta, who was being raised by single father Red-Haired Shanks.
However, during Red-Haired Shanks’ travels, he left underage Uta in Elegia shortly after Luffy met her. She was adopted and raised by a man called Gordon, the former king of Elegia. Red-Haired Shanks told people that he gave up custody of Uta because she wanted to pursue a singing career, and he believed that Elegia was the best place for her to receive training.
Uta has now become a world-famous pop star with millions of devoted followers. Her performances seem to have a hypnotic effect on people because she has control of Sing-Sing Fruit, which casts a trance-like spell on people who hear Uta sing. She has messages of positivity, which makes her a beloved celebrity. Uthe has announced that she’s planning to bring her followers to a paradise called Sing-Sing World, where she says there is peace and unity.
In order to follow Uta to this world, people have to be willing to leave their regular lives behind. And that makes her a threat to the World Government. Uta comes under attack from various entitities, while Luffy and his crew have to decide which side they will take in this battle. In order to fully understand Uta, they have to uncover more of what happened to her in the past. The movie features original songs performed by Ado as Uta’s songs.
“One Piece Film Red” not only has an intriguing story, but the movie’s visuals are also captivating and enhance viewers’ enjoyment of the story. The movie also has touches of comedy that lighten the mood and make the characters more relatable. “One Piece Film Red” has a lot to say about families, identities, and how they play a role in people’s perceptions of themselves and of society. It’s not a preachy film, but it’s not just mindless fluff either.
The voices of the “One Piece Film Red” characters are portrayed by different actors, depending on the version of “One Piece Film Red.” The original Japanese version (with English subtitles) has Mayumi Tanaka as Luffy, Shūichi Ikeda as Red-Haired Shanks, Kaori Nazuka as Uta (with Ado for Uta’s singing voice), and Kenjiro Tsuda as Gordon. There’s also a U.S. version, with the dialogue dubbed in English, that has Colleen Clinkenbeard as Luffy, Brandon Potter as Red-Haired Shanks, Amanda Lee as Uta, and Jim Foronda as Gordon.
“One Piece Film Red” has moments that will be confusing to people who don’t know anything about the “One Piece” series, but these moments aren’t crucial to undertstanding the overall arc of the story. The movie admirably doesn’t have a predictable ending. “Once Piece Film Red” looks like it will end one way, but then the last few minutes offer a surprise that’s a little bit of a cliffhanger and teaser for what’s next in the “One Piece” saga.
Crunchyroll released “One Piece Film Red” in U.S. cinemas on November 4, 2022. The movie was released in Japan on August 6, 2022.