Red discovers a wonderful technique to upend the One Piece universe in One Piece Film
And its centerpiece may be the finest cinematic character ever in One Piece
It’s remarkable that the majority of the over 1,100 characters presented in the One Piece franchise fit into two categories. The World Government, the totalitarian, repressive global authority that dominates the franchise’s backdrop, inevitably forces the majority of the characters to fall on one side or the other of the line. Some individuals support it, such as its military and the World Nobles’ untouchable, tyrannical nobility. Others are its adversaries, such as the pirates who are among the series’ protagonists. It’s a defining divide that runs through One Piece, and it’s such a simple split that it doesn’t seem like enough to sustain a tale over 25 years, 103 manga volumes (and counting! ), and over 1,000 anime episodes.
But there is a lot of variance between those two groups. The covert government assassination and intelligence groups CP9 and CP0, the sellout pirates known as the Seven Warlords of the Sea, the Navy, and many more are among the pro-World Government personalities. Pirates of all faiths and dispositions are on the other extreme of the spectrum. Some people wish to conquer the world. Others desire independence for themselves and their chosen families. Some folks simply want to see the world burn.
However, until recently, the world of One Piece appears to be divided among two tribes. The next installment in the series, the feature film One Piece Film: Red, which hits theaters in the United States on November 4, presents a third, equally complicated group that opposes both the World Government and piracy. That faction wields sufficient strength to persuade individuals on both sides that it is a force to be reckoned with.
What’s most intriguing about the group is that it’s made up of only one individual.
Uta, the newcomer, is the daughter of Shanks, one of One Piece’s most formidable and well-known pirates. She’s also a long-time buddy of the series’ protagonist, Luffy. She happens to be the world’s most popular vocalist. And we’re only learning about her for the first time in Red. Given all of this, as well as the fact that her name is literally the Japanese word for “song,” fans tired of shonen cliches may be forgiven for discarding Uta right away.
However, the figure is something that fans have never seen on such a large scale in the OP-verse: someone who acts and fights on behalf of ordinary, non-superpowered people. The Revolutionary Army formed and headed by Luffy’s father, Monkey D. Dragon, may appear to be about the same thing, but opposing the slavery-supporting World Nobles and actually fighting for the small people are not the same thing. Uta’s purpose is to liberate people from pain. Her desire to ensure their pleasure, along with her lack of moral concerns about how she goes about it, contributes to her interesting identity.
Through Uta, it is also evident how dismal the world of One Piece might feel for anybody who lacks a Devil Fruit superpower, Haki spiritual power training, or their own pirate crew. Civilians are slain all the time by pirates, Marines operating illegally, or World Nobles who are legally permitted to make ordinary people their slaves on a whim. Uta uses the power of music to save those individuals.
Musicals aren’t uniformly beloved, especially when a non-musical series dabbles with the genre. But, because Uta is a vocalist with musical abilities, the songs in One Piece Film: Red don’t sound forced. This enables the plot to broaden fans’ comprehension of the OP-verse while also naturally weaving in some breathtaking musical passages that fully utilize the medium of animation. Whether it’s J-pop or R&B, each song is a massive show.
Ado, a 20-year-old musical wunderkind who emerged in 2020 with the youth-rebellion song “Usseewa,” which roughly translates to “Shuddup,” performs all of the tracks. The publication of the song sparked some pearl-clutching in Japan, with parents concerned about how such “provocative” lyrics would effect their children. Given its vast spectrum of non-explicit, poignant, and wonderfully executed musical highlights, Red may perhaps alter those people’s minds about Ado.
Ado’s singing is best described as “unbelievable.” It’s difficult to comprehend that someone so young can have such a wide musical and emotional spectrum. She can express pleasure and optimism so plainly in uplifting songs like “New Genesis,” or visceral agony and sorrow in the melodic hard-rock piece “Tot Musica.”
Ado’s portrayal is one of the main reasons why Uta may go down in animation history as the best One Piece movie character of all time. Director Goro Taniguchi and writer Tsutomu Kuroiwa deserve equal credit for creating a brilliantly complicated character. Uta appears to be a classic hero type that battles for what she feels is right, similar to Luffy. In actuality, Red is mostly a Uta-and-Luffy adventure, with the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates serving as cameos. But Uta’s approach to her task has a dark undertone.
Uta has her own vision of how to repair the world, and she pursues it with little concern for her own well-being or the agreement of others. Her behaviors are disturbingly similar to those of CP9/CP0 agent Rob Lucci, who appears briefly in Red as if to remind us that we’ve seen this type of conduct before, from one of Uta’s professed foes. Uta never does anything as heinous as slaughtering 500 prisoners to eliminate a pirate crew’s leverage, but her determination that she is right and everyone else just needs to go along with her isn’t all that unlike to Lucci’s commitment to “absolute justice.”
Despite all of the tributes to One Piece’s heritage, One Piece Film: Red is very approachable to newbies. Even if you’ve never seen a single episode of the anime or read any of the manga, you can still enjoy Red. Some facts will pass them by, but the vivid tale and appealing tunes should keep them entertained. (Even though we’ll never hear Luffy sing.)
Long-time One Piece fans, on the other hand, are in for a treat. Uta might mark a significant shift in the balance of power in One Piece. While the events in the film have not been verified as series canon, Uta appears in chapter 1055 of the manga, indicating that she is involved in the main narrative. If her personality and motivation are carried over to the story’s canonical timeline, it might suggest that the most interesting One Piece stories are still to come.
On November 4, One Piece Film: Red will be released in theaters in the United States