One Piece Film: Red review – A marvellous musical musing

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
one piece red

One Piece Film: Red is an enjoyable side show to one of the longest running animes, and it could easily be classed as a musical.

One Piece has led to many a successful TV episodes and films. The ongoing manga by Eiichiro Oda, which follows the sea-sailing adventures of the stretchy superpowered Monkey D. Luffy as he attempts to become the Pirate King, has long become a 24-year-old epic tale, featuring multiple beloved characters. The anime is equally as influential, having begun in 1999, and still going strong over 1,000 episodes later. There’s even a live-action adaptation of the anime coming to Netflix soon.

Now, a new film has arrived worldwide, after having been released in Japan for a number of weeks, and topping the box office there. The film, which follows Luffy as he visits Uta, the daughter of his pirate idol Shanks, has managed to take One Piece fans by storm.

The film is overall inconsequential to the wide-spanning One Piece story, but it is still a strong separate tale in its own right. But first, WARNING: One Piece Film: Red spoilers ahead…

One Piece focuses on one character

One Piece Film: Red faces the same problem as many an anime movie, in that it must tell its own story separate from the central anime. Meaning that the events of the film will likely have little effect on the actual overarching story.

It also means that we get to see a ton of our fan fave characters, all of which get hilarious little moments, but they are just that: moments. As per the usual anime movie formula, a new character is introduced, who is usually the daughter of someone important, and the movie follows their arc and their temporary bond with the show’s main protagonist.

Thankfully, this character does manage to be a lot more entertaining to watch than most anime movie new additions, since she is actually the movie’s villain. Uta, a pirate turned singer, is a fun character with connections and motivations that are compelling to watch. Her villainy is actually a pretty effective twist, as it is revealed that she is intent on trapping everyone in a dreamlike state in order to avoid the conflict of a pirate-ridden world.

And while the musical numbers arguably overstay their welcome – if you’re not a fan of musicals you may hate this movie – her voice actor is a very good singer, and she definitely gets you energised during the film’s opening and fight scenes. The story does go somewhat overboard on just how important she is, but hey, that’s a classic trope of many an anime film.

There’s sadly nowhere near as much Shanks in the film as you may believe there would be, but his relationship with Uta is certainly compelling to watch, and it brings more humanity to the wise figure of the red haired pirate.

Pirates know how to fight

When Shanks does show up, it’s for a very awesome fight scene. All of the fights in this film are great, as they have a perfect mix of humor, stakes, and stellar animation – though sometimes the use of CGI feels rather pointless.

The film takes full advantage of the settings and powers that the film allows, giving different stakes to different characters and realities. The fights are also imbued with inner conflict, as we watch Uta and Luffy tear themselves apart for their goals – watching Luffy’s hat also getting torn apart is actually one of the tensest scenes of the film – making for a very cathartic conclusion to all the fighting at the film’s end.

Overall, this is definitely one of the better anime films we’ve seen as of late. While it will likely have little effect on the plot of the show, it’s a compelling story in its own right, and gives just enough humor and spectacle to make for a fun night at the movies.

One Piece Film: Red is currently available to watch at selected cinemas.