One Piece Film: Red is a bold musical twist for the animated franchise

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It’s quite fascinating to see that most of the over 1,100 characters introduced in the A play franchise fall into two groups. The World Government – the tyrannical and repressive global regime that dominates the franchise’s setting – naturally makes most characters fall to one side or the other of the line. Some people support him, such as his army and the untouchable and despotic aristocracy of the World Nobles. Others are his enemies, like the pirates who are among the protagonists of the series. It is a defining division that crosses A playand it’s such a simple division that it doesn’t seem like enough to make a story last for 25 years, across 103 manga volumes (and counting!) and over 1,000 anime episodes.

But there are so many variations between these two groups. Pro-World Government figures include the secret government assassination and intelligence organizations CP9 and CP0, the sold-out pirates known as the Seven Warlords of the Sea, the navy and much more. At the other end of the spectrum are hackers of all beliefs and dispositions. Some want to dominate the world. Others want freedom for themselves and their chosen families. Some people just want to see the world burn.

Ultimately, however, the world of A play seems to be split into two tribes – so far. Last born of the series, the feature film One Piece Movie: Red, which opens in US theaters on November 4, introduces an equally complex third camp that opposes both world government and piracy. This faction has enough power to convince people on both sides that it is a force to be reckoned with.

What’s most fascinating about this group, however, is that it’s made up of just one person.

Uta, a woman with half-pink, half-white hair, dressed in elaborate fluffy pink and white robes and golden arm gauntlets, draws a line in the air with an outstretched finger and leaves ribbon-like interlacing hanging in the air. space in One Piece Film: Red

Image: Toei/Crunchyroll

The new arrival, Uta, is the daughter of Shanks, one of A playthe most powerful and well-known pirates. She is also a lifelong friend of series protagonist Luffy. She happens to be the most popular singer in the world. And we just learned of its existence for the first time in Red. Considering all of this and the fact that her name is literally the Japanese word for “song,” fans who are fed up with shonen tropes could be forgiven for firing Uta from the get-go.

But the character is actually something fans have never seen before on such a scale in the OP-verse: someone who acts and fights on behalf of ordinary, non-superpowered people. The Revolutionary Army founded and led by Luffy’s father, Monkey D. Dragon, may seem like much the same thing, but opposing world nobles who support slavery and actively fighting for the little people are two different things. Uta’s mission is to free people from suffering. Her willingness to ensure their happiness and her minimal moral qualms about how she does it give her a fascinating identity.

Thanks to Uta, it also becomes clear how much the world of A play can feel for anyone who doesn’t have a Devil Fruit superpower, is training in the spirit power of Haki, or just their own pirate crew. Civilians around the world are being killed all the time by pirates, Marines acting monstrously within the law, or world nobles who are legally allowed to enslave ordinary people on a whim. Uta sets out to save these people through the power of music.

Pop star Uta, dressed in a frilly white blouse, sings and see-through flowers form in front of her as cartoon characters cower or grimace in the background in One Piece Film: Red

Image: Toei/Crunchyroll

Musicals aren’t universally popular, especially when a non-musical franchise is testing the musical waters. But the songs of One Piece Movie: Red don’t feel obligated, because Uta is a singer with musical powers. This allows the story to expand fans’ understanding of the OP-verse, while naturally weaving stunning musical numbers that take full advantage of the medium of animation. Every song is a gigantic spectacle, whether a given number is J-pop or R&B.

The songs are all performed by musical prodigy Ado, a 20-year-old who made his 2020 debut with the youth rebellion song “Usseewa,” which roughly translates to “Shuddup.” The release of this song sparked a bit of a stir in Japan, with parents worrying about how such “provocative” lyrics would affect their children. Red might just change these people’s opinion of Ado, given its wide range of non-explicit, touching, and beautifully performed musical masterpieces.

The best way to describe Ado’s singing is “incredible”. It’s literally hard to believe that someone so young could have such an incredible musical and emotional range. She can so clearly convey joy and hope in uplifting songs like “New Genesis,” or convey visceral pain and despair in the melodic hard-rock track “Tot Musica.”

Ado’s performance is a big reason why Uta might go down in anime history as the greatest A play movie character ever. But equal praise goes to director Goro Taniguchi and writer Tsutomu Kuroiwa, who created a wonderfully complex character. At first, Uta looks like a typical hero type who fights for what she believes is right, like Luffy. In reality, Red is very much an Uta-and-Luffy getaway, with the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates being relegated to little more than cameos. But there is a sinister streak in the way Uta carries out her mission.

Uta has her own idea of ​​how to heal the world, and she pursues it relentlessly with no regard for her well-being or the consent of others. His actions are eerily reminiscent of those of CP9/CP0 agent Rob Lucci, who makes a brief appearance in Red as if to remind us that we’ve seen this kind of behavior before from one of Uta’s supposed enemies. Uta never does anything as gruesome as slaughtering 500 hostages to remove the influence of a pirate crew, but her insistence that she’s right and the others should just go with her is not. so far removed from Lucci’s devotion to “absolute justice”.

Luffy, a dark-haired pirate boy wearing a straw hat, smiles in the foreground as Uta, a singer diva with long half-pink, half-red hair, smiles in the background in One Piece Film: Red

Image: Toei/Crunchyroll

But for all these nods to A playit is past, One Piece Movie: Red is fully accessible to newcomers. Even people who have never seen a single episode of the series or read any of the manga can still follow along and enjoy Red. Some details will pass over their heads, but the lively story and captivating songs should keep them entertained. (Even though we never hear Luffy sing.)

Long duration A play fans, however, are in for something magical. Uta potentially represents a huge shift in the balance of power across A play. Although the events of the film have not been confirmed as series canon, Uta herself appears in manga chapter 1055, meaning she is part of the main plot. If his character and motivation are carried over into the official story continuum, it could mean that the most exciting A play the stories are still ahead of us.

One Piece Movie: Red debuts in US theaters on November 4.

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