Manga images of red
Movie Title: One Piece Film :Red
Director: Gorō Taniguchi
Cast: Mayumi Tanaka,Kaori Nazuka, Colleen Clinkenbeard
Run Time: 1h 55m
Year: 2022
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One Piece Film Red, is a movie based off the manga and anime of the same name, One Piece. The original works follow the pirate Monkey D. Luffy and his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates in their journey to find the legendary treasure, the One Piece. While the movie is based on an existing anime, you do not need to watch the anime or read the manga to understand the plot and enjoy the movie as it is not canon to the overarching story of the anime. I can’t say that I recommend watching the anime before the movie as well, if you’re new to the series considering that it has been airing since 1999 and now spans over 1000 episodes. Although, having some context on the characters may be helpful to newcomers, so consider even just reading their Wikipedia pages.

As I mentioned before, the plot of this movie follows the same pirate Monkey D. Luffy, and his crew the Straw Hat Pirates. In this movie, they choose to take a break from their pursuit of treasure to attend a concert of the mysterious singer Uta. In this concert, Uta promises to reveal her identity and bring her fans to a new, idyllic world free from hardship and suffering, New Genesis. Luffy and his crew begin to unravel the true nature of Uta’s concert, worrying that it may be more than first meets the eye.

Being based on a “shounen” (Japanese for ‘young boy’) manga means that One Piece Film Red is subject to many of the standard genre tropes that come with it. These tropes even bleed into the overarching messages of the movie. One of these messages which younger viewers could learn from would be how the film promotes teamwork, with the Straw Hat Pirate crew working together to best their enemies even if the odds stand against them. Luffy is also a great role model (despite the fact that he is actually a literal thief and pirate) for these younger kids as he is determined to help and support his friends, trying his best to make the right decisions. Now regarding an age recommendation for younger viewers, I’d personally have to say that this movie is suitable for ages 13 and up. Do not underestimate the animated medium and mistake it for a normal western animated movie, as anime can be quite violent, with a fair bit of blood, explorations of mature themes, overtly-sexualized characters and even some foul language here and there.  Make no mistake, One Piece Film Red is no different and does participate in some of these aspects as well.

Being a tie-in movie, this film had its work cut out for it. There are always common pitfalls when it comes to these types of anime films like the characters being somehow all conveniently in the same location without any truly believable reason to be. Or the characters that are created for the movie and the movie alone disrupting the balance of a tried and true cast of characters, even perhaps feeling shoe-horned in at the sake of a studio cash-grab.

Thankfully, One Piece Film Red is able to sidestep most of these pitfalls. Uta, a character introduced solely for this movie, manages to feel like a natural extension of the One Piece world, gelling well with the characters.  The movie also has a musical flair, with Uta’s popstar character often performing songs within the movie. The musical aspects slow down the movie but is certainly a welcome break in the grander scheme of the plot. The musical features, paired with the ragtag but lovable cast and fascinating world, paired with the eye-watering animation all come together to produce an extremely enjoyable film.

However, despite my praises, it is not without its faults. For a start, the narrative of the movie is not necessarily cohesive. Oftentimes feeling like it is meandering with needless subplots and hijinks that don’t really contribute to the better qualities of the movie. In addition, while you do not necessarily have to have watched or read One Piece, not having the base-level context and understanding of the characters can hurt your enjoyment and appreciation of the film, making it a little less accessible than your average Western animated feature.

Nonetheless, One Piece Film Red is still worth watching, One Piece fan or otherwise. It is a lovingly animated and written sensory feast that has the potential to introduce young viewers to a longstanding franchise with charming characters and an increasingly expanding and fascinating world.

Nirek Panditha
Author: Nirek Panditha
Self professed film buff, aspiring writer and comic book geek.
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