By Jake Tickle, Film and TV Deputy Editor
One Piece fans rejoice! One Piece: Red finally unlocks the potential of the franchise on the big screen, showcasing the newest antagonist, Uta, with vocals by the twenty-year-old Ado. After being long-time friends with Luffy, she has grown up to use her devil fruit power to create a ‘New Genesis’ for those who want to live normal and happy lives away from the tyranny of the pirating generation. Sounds pretty good, but of course, this dream manifests itself in some pretty awful ways as the film goes on.
As the film starts, we begin with the Straw Hats, in a way, seems to be a very grey and foggy field as they arrive at Uta’s concert. When the lights go out, and the show begins, the screen is filled from left to right with beautiful flashes of colour as synths rise and Ado’s powerful voice sets the scene for the full movie. In the best way possible, this movie was like a two-hour-long beautifully animated music video.
At times, the film feels a little dragged out. Every pivotal or fight scene involves Uta singing a new song and performing it whilst the Straw Hats fight off her projections as she tries to achieve her ‘New Genesis’, but the film does redeem itself in many ways.
As One Piece: Red progresses, there are numerous flashbacks to Uta and Luffy’s childhood, which operate to keep the film contextualised, and make the film even more intertwined with the pre-existing 1000+ episodes of the anime. However, it breaks up the otherwise fast-paced movie into something a little more digestible and less overwhelming.
But where One Piece: Red truly shines is at the film’s climax, when Red-Haired Shanks, Uta’s dad, finally appears. Up until now, Shanks has had barely any screen time, so when he showed up, there was a collective gasp amongst the audience in a truly exciting and climactic moment for not only the film but the series as a whole.
By the end of the film, Uta unlocks a weapon-monster hybrid slumbering under the island of Elegia, where Luffy and Shanks have to fight Uta’s monster from both sides, culminating in an incredible moment where they connect, unlocking Luffy’s Gear 5 – finally.
One piece: Red was a genuinely fantastic movie, connecting the series to the cinema screen, and linking Uta to the ever-expanding One Piece universe. Although the fight scenes and performances felt a little formulaic, it was a formula that worked.
Any One Piece fan looking to keep up with the series should see this, as it is an expansion to the One Piece universe, and it is excellent in and of itself.
Featured Image: Toei Company on IMDB
Have you watched the latest addition to the One Piece universe?