By Dan Avola
If you are even the most casual fan of anime or manga, chances are you have heard of One Piece. The saga has been raging on for over 1000 episodes and since its debut in 1999* (anime), has kept its fan base coming back for more while still bringing in new fans every day. Like most shounen anime, the series has spurred many theatrical release films that are not adapted from the manga but tell their fair share of epic stories. One Piece Film: Red is the latest of these films, and when we say this movie has taken the world by storm, we are not exaggerating.
The film was released in Japan on August 6th, 2022, and was immediately a box office hit. The film opened with revenue of ¥1,232,095,230, which places it as the THIRD film in Japanese history to make over 1 Billion Yen on opening day and placing in 2nd as the second largest opening day of all time in Japan. Prior to its US Release on Nov. 3rd, 2022, the film was already HEAVILY anticipated by fans of the series. The film had a huge presence at NYCC 2022 and even had a full takeover in Time Square in New York City.
Overall, The film follows our ragtag group known worldwide as The Straw Hat Pirates led by their captain Monkey D. Luffy who is a long-time childhood friend of the film’s poster character, Uta. In the world of One Piece, Uta is a famous performer who is about to throw her first-ever live concert which spurs pirates, navy officers, and civilians from all over the world to travel to the Island of Music, Elegia. Once there, Luffy reveals that he was childhood friends with Uta because she is the daughter of one of the Emperors of the Sea, Captain of the Red-Haired Pirates, Shanks. If you are a fan of the main series you would know that Shanks is one of Luffy’s idols and is the man who gifted him his iconic Straw Hat.
Whether you watch the film in the original Japanese or English dub you will be greeted by the same AMAZING soundtrack. The music for the film is performed by Japanese pop star Ado. Even if you do not understand ANY Japanese (which I do not.) you will find that this young pop star has some amazing talent. The film’s theme song titled “New Genesis” is an absolute banger and will continue to live rent-free in my head until the end of time, or until Luffy finds the one piece, whichever comes first. The movie flawlessly combines traditional 2D animation styles with CGI that really brings the action to life in quite an extraordinary way.
Even if you are not a fan of One Piece, you would be remiss if you do not at least check out the film for the spectacular combination of sound and color for each of Uta’s performances during the film. Each of the songs on the soundtrack is actually performed by Uta as part of the plot of the film and each has a very different effect on the landscape as well as on our favorite characters who are watching the performance. The way the music is integrated into each scene and the choreography of not only the action, but the dynamic lighting and other CGI effects are nothing short of a breathtaking extravaganza.
I do not want to get into the battle between sub and dub, but you cannot go wrong either way with this film. The Japanese cast of One Piece is amazing, but if you choose to watch in dub you will have the pleasure of some of English anime’s top-tier talent ranging from Christopher Sabet to Matthew Mercer. Joining the cast as the voice of Uta is Amanda Lee aka AmaLee who is also a pop singer in the US and her discography includes some incredible English covers of anime songs. I would recommend checking her out and I am looking forward to seeing if she covers any of Ado’s songs from the film. *crosses fingers*.
The themes explored by the film mirror that of the overall show, the yearning to be able to live truly free. The way various characters come together to overcome the will of one person subjugating the many yet still retaining their individuality as different characters have always been something I loved about One Piece, and the film does not disappoint. Even though it is not canon to the manga arcs, the films do a great job of further exploring characters that we do not get to see that often during the show. This is particularly true in the film Captain Shanks and The Red-Haired Pirates. He is such an integral part of the plot of the show but due to that same plot, his screen time is severely limited to incredibly pivotal moments in the story. This film let the writers show off just a smidge more of Shanks and team than we are used to and let it hit home just how influential this character is not only to our hero Luffy.
I think that is as far as I can go without dredging into spoiler territory, and I would hate to ruin the many twists and turns that this movie takes, so please let us know if you would like to see a more in-depth review or discussion of One Piece Film Red or One Piece in general. One Piece Film Red arrives in theaters in the United States and Canada North America on November 4. Go enjoy this anime-pop musical spectacular with the largest screen and speakers you can find, you will not regret it!