Red Brings Melody & Heart to the Pirate Anime


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Image: Toei Animation

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Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga One Piece has been round for a very long time—longer than a great quantity of its fanbase has been alive, even—however it feels prefer it’s solely not too long ago turn out to be a mainstream anime juggernaut. It has damaged the Guinness world report for being the best-selling manga of all time, and its anime adaptation noticed the discharge of its one thousandth episode again in 2021, in addition to the solid reveal for an upcoming stay motion sequence.

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Suffice to say, One Piece is on a excessive proper now, and that’ll proceed for a great whereas following the discharge of its latest theatrical film, One Piece Film: Red. Announced again in 2021 throughout a celebration of Episode 1000, the movie was part of the franchise’s total twenty fifth anniversary celebration earlier this 12 months, and at the moment stands as each Japan’s highest-grossing movie of the 12 months, together with the highest-grossing One Piece film typically. Perhaps because of that, it’s supposedly the primary movie within the franchise to have as a lot involvement from Oda as potential. If that’s the case, he picked a good time to get entangled, as a result of Red is an utter delight from begin to end.

Numerous what makes Red work is its central character, Uta. Voiced in Japanese by Kaori Nazuka and in English by Amanda Lee (or AmaLee, greatest recognized for covers of anime openings on YouTube), Uta is a pop star sensation that’s gone viral throughout the recognized world. At first, it looks like Luffy (Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard) and the crew have stumbled into gaining her friendship after saving her from a kidnapping try, however the movie takes a swerve when it’s revealed early on that just like Luffy, Uta is a Surrogate baby of the notorious pirate Red-Haired Shanks (Shūichi Ikeda/Brandon Potter).

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That shared connection between them makes for a few of Red’s strongest moments. Luffy’s typically been positioned as an oddball on the earth of One Piece, so it’s enjoyable to see somebody who’s on his stage, and in some instances, even goofier than he’s. Their friendship feels very actual in each current day and flashbacks, and as straightforward as it might be for her to really feel like a plot system, she seems like a pure extension of Oda’s world and totally shaped character in her personal proper.

Image: Toei Animation

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Like most pop stars of the current day, Uta’s presence might be overwhelming to the purpose of being an excessive amount of. One Piece has such an extremely massive solid of characters, positive, that comes with the territory of being round 25 years. But whereas Red makes the correct name honing in on what Uta means to each Luffy and the remainder of the world who’ve linked along with her singing voice, it makes practically everybody else not in that class really feel extraneous. Despite having sporadic appearances all through the movie, Shanks simply barely manages to keep away from this, however that’s probably not a destiny afforded to different characters.

Outside of Luffy, the opposite Straw Hats don’t actually have a lot of something to do besides look nice within the movie’s plethora of motion scenes—exterior of the extremely wild finish battle, they get a enjoyable battle sans Luffy in the course of the second act, each of which supply some enjoyable fan service for lovers of Zoro (Kazuya Nakai/Chrisopher Sabat), Nami (Akemi Okamura/Luci Christian), and the remainder of the gang. I’m nowhere close to caught up within the current occasions of both the One Piece manga or anime, however the non-film particular characters who seem, of which there are a lot of, really feel like they’re simply right here to be right here relatively than serve a plot or thematic objective to the movie.

As a end result, the film generally threatens to break down beneath its personal weight, and it’s a problem that will get exacerbated in direction of the center portion when the plot actually takes form. But by some sheer miracle, the movie finally doesn’t crumble, and manages to drag itself collectively for its climax.

Music is a crucial a part of One Piece, primarily its numerous openings over the a long time. But Uta’s existence in Red kicks issues up a notch by turning the raucous pirate anime right into a musical. Her live performance, held on the secluded island of Elegia, seems like a mix of Coachella and the Super Bowl halftime present, and her opening quantity “New Genesis” is extremely splashy and colourful in the way in which that pop songs simply are. Sung by Japanese singer Ado, the songs themselves are constantly nice, and for essentially the most half, the visuals are capable of match the lyrical power of every tune. Nearly all of them will probably be an earworm for a while, and a few of the ultimate songs could find yourself being tearjerkers for viewers. If you’re somebody who solely not too long ago heard of Ado (like myself), these songs completely showcase her vary as a vocal performer.

Image: Toei Animation

The weekend of New York Comic-Con in October, promos for One Piece Film: Red took over Times Square, Those promos solely lasted an hour, however their mere existence additional drove house how huge One Piece has turn out to be, and Red will simply assist it get even greater. It’s an utter delight of a movie that’s the franchise firing on practically all cylinders. Even when it generally will get misplaced in itself, it’s simply enjoyable and encapsulates why folks have spent years following the Straw Hats on their grand adventures.

One Piece Film: Red releases in theaters within the West on November 3.

Want extra io9 news? Check out when to count on the most recent Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s subsequent for the DC Universe on movie and TV, and the whole lot it’s essential to learn about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.



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