Best-selling manga series One Piece, created by Eiichiro Oda, has just brought it's 15th film to theaters overseas. While initially released in early August, the film hit theaters here in the U.S. on Nov. 4.
Straight out the gate, we have to acknowledge the fact that this film is not canon. The animated series focuses on Luffy, a pirate trying to be king of the pirates.
“One Piece Film: Red" is a musical first, having several important musical numbers that further push the narrative forward. This is mainly in part to Uta, the red and white haired woman seen throughout promotional material.
The film itself follows a similar formula as its predecessors, but there is a new spin on things, as the movie puts Uta at the center of the story, marketing that she is the daughter of Red Haired Shanks, the very same pirate whose selfless sacrifice to save Luffy as a child costed him his arm. Uta steals the show on and off the stage.
The film is only being shown in English sub, so early warning for those used to watching the English dub. With that being said, Uta's non-singing lines are voiced by veteran voice actor Kaori Nazuka, whose notable roles include Tsubaki Nakatsukasa from Soul Eater, Margaret Mitchell from Bungo Stray Dogs, Pipimi from Pop Team Epic, and Invisible Girl (Toru Hagakure) from My Hero Academia.
Uta's singing voice actress is Ado, a J-pop singer with a massive fanbase. Each of the individual songs found in “One Piece Film: Red" can be found on her channel on Youtube, which I highly recommend seeing. It is hard not to mention this when the majority of the film is primarily Uta singing her heart out.
As an shonen anime, one would expect the film's action to be as good as the concurrent running anime, right? Personally, this was actually the one thing the film did not get correct in the beginning. There are a lot of things the film does right; the animation quality does not falter, the plot itself is there, and there isn't too much exposition or bad pacing.
My only gripe is the first half of the film's action sequences.
There was a mess of action coming towards the screen during certain sequences and it felt more of a showcase of the Straw Hat Pirate's capabilities rather than something with purpose. The scene was needed, but how it was shown wasn't necessary.
As things progressed later, the main thing keeping your eyes on the screen is the constant performance Uta gives and the anticipated arrival of Shanks, who is what the promotional material heavily emphasizes.
The ending of the film, however, definitely makes up for it. There is a massive amount of payoff for the work put in early and there is a lot of character development between several important cast members that makes you want to shout.
While the final scenes leave you wanting more, you will be left wanting things to remain canon.
For better or for worse, I left the theater having enjoyed the story Uta was there to tell. For that, I would give “One Piece Film: Red" a 7 out of 10.