One Piece Red Review: Shanks, Luffy not the end-game in this filler about Uta

The odd comings of One Piece Film: Red seem too blatant from Uta’s overemphasis and an equal downplaying of Shanks and Luffy. At the precipice of the film’s release, one may have anticipated a Luffy Gear 5, or Shanks and Luffy collision. Both of these are executed in a wittily crafty manner that disappoints and at the same time appeases. It’s time to do a much-needed One Piece Film: Red Review.

One Piece Film: Red premiered in India on 7th October across 172 theatres in the country. I happened to be one of those awaiting haphazardly the release of this new giant of Japanese theatres. I am also the one who is seemingly disappointed by its content. (Although I will appraise its execution).

One Piece Film Red Review in a glimpse

Now here’s the deal – reviewing a film comes with the curse of subjectivism. What appeals to me may not appeal to you. Similarly what appeals to a younger audience may not be what appeals to more mature ones.

To give you the gist, I personally disliked the storytelling of One Piece Red, while I absolutely loved the lore. The story pulls way too much cheese out of one character – Uta.

  • This is done so in a hollowing attempt to establish her as Luffy’s companion and then to pull her out as a villain.
  • This only ends in attempting to once again establish the vindictive truth to her own suffering and to justify her psychopathic tendencies with the measure of empathy.
  • But then again one may object that is how her character is written. And her being a tremendously linear-thinking individual who wishes to pathologically reign her version of world peace upon everyone. She also simultaneously seems to cry whenever a fellow human is shot by a bullet. A twisted amalgamation of wanting peace for all and reigning twisted methods to put it together.

One Piece Film: Red Review – the film is good production wise

One Piece Uta
Uta in the trailers, via Toei Animation

I will still warn, however, that the visuals, music score, execution, and voice acting are top-notch. The production quality is brilliant and awe-struck; perhaps the finest of all One Piece films.

  • One Piece films already have a vast number of characters to base upon. As such there’s no need to establish, let’s say, Zoro once again in the film (unless the film is based on him).
  • There is however a need to establish a new character in a decent way. As such it is of vital importance that the new character is decently written. Uta is by no means written by Oda, although he may have supervised it.

Focusing on the plot and storyline

Shanks in One Piece Film: Red Uta is similar to Big mom and Obito Uchiha
Shanks after destroying Elegia (seemingly) in the trailer (TOEI’s official YouTube)

The reason why Film Red feels so disappointing plot-wise is that the film came out as attrition to honor Oda’s request. Yes, the story was done by the director and screenplay writer, but this was not done against his will. Instead, it was Oda himself who requested the same. 

As of such, I will not be focusing on the film’s productive aspects much. Please heed my words that technical fields in which One Piece Film: Red can be judged, should be judged a 9/10 if not an immediate 10. The songs? check. The background scores? check. Character sketch and animation? check. Pacing of its broken plot? Check.

Differentiating Production/Execution from the narrative/plot of a film

One Piece Luffy Gear 5, One Piece Film Red Shanks Non Canon
Courtesy of Toei Animation

It is here that we must however separate a film from its plot to its production. The scores, music, pacing, animation, voice acting, and everything ‘production’ in One Piece Film: Red review; is of true blockbuster and adequate for its name. Usually, a film (as per me) should be judged in two ways. You judge it plot-wise, or you judge its execution.

  • Of course with Toei hiring such a huge load of work into their biggest money maker, they will not hold down on production.
  • I will make a differentiation here that One Piece Film: Red being a corporate giant’s biggest milestone, they have left no stone unhinged in making it a good film production-wise.
  • It’s the plot, the story, and the narrative where it really becomes pale. 

Differentiating the story of a film and its plot

Herein I will make a distinction. This differentiation would not be possible in other films, series, works or anime unless it has a large world built like One Piece. Perhaps worlds like Harry Potter, Naruto, Hunter x Hunter, Game of Thrones, etc can be explored in this way. 

  • By the term ‘story‘ I refer to the lore – the core element of the plot.
  • By ‘plot’ I refer to how the story is written to narrate it.

What does it mean? Take for example the concept of a table. If I were to explain the concept of a table to a toddler, I’d try my best using various methods. I will try and use words only to fail. I will then go on to maybe teach him using signs, symbols, or the table itself.

  • The plot is like the concept,
  • while the story is the written script of the screenplay of the film. 

One Piece Film: Red Review – Understanding the Lore/Story in regards to Uta’s significance

Uta is similar to big mom and obito uchiha
courtesy of official YouTube channel of TOEI

One Piece Film: Red told epic lore of the daughter of Shanks who was adopted and told to become the best singer in the world. This little girl cared little for the world and wanted only to be in Shanks’ crew forever; she loved Red-Hair. But when she is left behind in a burning kingdom of Elegia in the hands of Gordon. Gordan tells her that Shanks destroyed the country, looted it inside-out, and left her forever; Uta is heartbroken.

The movie also unravels Tot Musica, the most dangerous piece of music to ever exist. The world consists of evil and negative feelings manifested by its populace. The user of Uta Uta no Mi is able to sing a certain melody that brings forth the incarnate of all that negativity – the devil king. The Devil King measures to be one of the world’s most ferocious weapons.

Why the plot feels broken in One Piece Film: Red

One piece film red review
Shanks (courtesy: IMDB)

The plot feels broken mainly because of how over-stretched Uta has to be emphasized. Ado is a phenomenal singer, and the soundscores sung by her can by no means be underestimated. Each song felt vibrantly different. While one seemed to be a hard-thrust rock genre, others seemed to be holy metals.

Few songs also whistled to the serene heart, and others simply brought you to calmness. But when you overuse one element, it starts becoming rusty. Literally, every alternate 15-minute segment contains one song, which to be honest after one point starts feeling rusty.

The plot is told haphazardly. As such as an audience what I was more interested in was Shanks and Luffy than Uta, truth be told. Maybe this bias of mine is blinded by the judgment of the film; which I will assume all humans are prone to.

Why judging Uta is like judging One Piece film: Red

One Piece Film: Red Uta and Luffy
One Piece Film: Red Uta and Luffy, courtesy of Luffy Smile YouTube channel)

To hate Uta is completely different from judging the film in itself. But when we talk about reviewing the film, we must fundamentally review Uta given that the entire film revolves around her, and only secondarily around Luffy and Shanks. I write this to bring notice to the question of why Film Red fails to tell a very amazing story of Uta Uta no Mi and Tot Musica in an absolutely cheesy, corny, and childish manner.

At this point, we must differentiate the director/writer of the film and the author of One Piece itself. The film is written by Goro Taniguchi and Tsutomu Kuroiwa was responsible for writing the screenplay. As such it was Oda’s request to TOEI that the film be directed by a person not related to the One Piece series.

Oda actually requested a non-series related director and an emphasized female character

Devil Fruits in One Piece Paramecia type
Nico Robin’s Paramecia type devil fruit, via

TOEI’s animation producer Shinji Shimizu revealed during TOEI’s 2022 film lineup press conference in February that Eiichiro Oda had two requests for the upcoming film.

  1. He wanted the film’s director to be someone who has not worked on the One Piece series before. As such the brilliant Code Geass director Goro Taniguchi came to direct the film.
  2. He wanted the film to work on a female character.

With these two requests by the king himself, TOEI felt compelled to put his request into action. Shimizu also revealed that his request felt difficult initially – to write the script with the consideration of such a character.

This leads to a few things happening. Mainly the writers have to comply with the production house’s requests (here it’s TOEI who is pressured by Oda). It isn’t new for producers to pin writers to put out things that can grab the audience. I feel one of the reasons why Uta’s writing feels so off-put is because of this. The film is so much about Uta that it feels childish at points.

We all thought we were finally getting Shanks, welp not really 

One Piece Film: Red Review Shanks
Image courtesy of Toei Animation

Here’s the deal – the entire point of having “Red” as the title is to indicate some vindictive connection and plot related to Red Haired Shanks. Uta herself is half red half white. The film should have just been named One Piece White and Red, or some similar Pokemon ripoff. But given that the entire promotion of One Piece Red seemed to revolve around Younko Red, fans were expecting a ton of him. Like, literally more than a kilogram of him. But what we get is only a gram.

One Piece Film Red spoilers; it doesn’t contain anything, world-breakingly Shanks. Yes, Shanks does appear to save the day. We knew that Luffy and Shanks would not meet, yet we anticipated a possible battle sequence involving them both. Now here’s where it gets difficult.

Shanks and Luffy cannot meet in a non-canon One Piece film

One Piece Film: Red Review Shanks and Luffy
a compilation of episode 1 snippets, via Crunchyroll

Luffy and Shanks had made a promise during the very onset of the show that they will only meet again when Luffy is a great pirate. This is symbolic of Luffy becoming the king of pirates and uniting all the emperors under him, even subduing the world government. Oda probably has the world’s greatest showdown planned for when Luffy will meet Shanks – something that will outdo Marineford arc even.

But til we get there, we can’t really have Shanks and Luffy meet. This much makes sense, and this much is justified.

One Piece Film: Red Review – the pacing, humor, and narration 

One Piece Film: Red Review Shanks, Bepo, Law and Luffy
Bepo’s oddly comic getup really hits the laugh, via the official trailer of One Piece Film: Red

The target audience of One Piece

The humor and comedy are often that to appease more younger audiences but one that could easily be enjoyed by older ones as well. Now One Piece was written with a teenage audience in mind. Shueisha’s shōnen manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump July 1997 has serialized One Piece and Shonen refers to a male audience.

  • I don’t know if Oda predicted his series would become the world’s largest-selling Manga to ever exist and incorporate teenage boys who have now grown daddies with families to feed.
  • So that’s the thing – One Piece has run long and its initial idea of catering to a young audience no longer works. Still, the series manages to engage even those looking for more realistically mature comic scenes. 

The succeeding humor for that targeted audience reaches only in few scenes in Film Red

one piece jon snow

  • The very comic element that shines in One Piece (although not always) also seems to be one of the scarce good points of One Piece Film Red.
  • While some moments are amazingly funny. Such as when Bepo poses the usual Japanese dance with red-blue-yellow lights on his back when Elegia’s king is describing the tragic story of his kingdom.

Other times it downright fails, for example when Uta and Luffy compete for a “who can eat meat faster” amidst a reigning crowd of Uta fans waiting for her performance. Although I understand that the entire point of Luffy is supposed to be a goofy meathead who cannot cater to social conventions. The scene felt like an off-put fantasy of a child who wanted to show the world just how two famous people know each other.


Luffy in One Piece anime episode 1033
Luffy announces his dream in front of his nemesis Kaidou, via Toei Animation

One Piece Film: Red review is that it disappoints in some parts while downright marches to glory in others. While the plot may come off as sponging Uta beyond the innate potential of the characters, we do ultimately get a lot of Shanks. Although this “lot” is still very less, it’s way too much compared to what we have seen in the series. One second of Kizaru and Shanks exchanging blows made the entire theatre go Kaboom! All the navy admirals backing off after Shanks releases his conquerer’s Haki is another such moment. Also, his Haki makes everyone under the vice-admiral go unconscious – which is what you’d expect of an emperor of the sea.

Film Red is definitely one you should go watch in the big theatres. And every now and then it’s alright to put our judging mind into standby and simply dive into the world the creators have cast onto us. Something the likes of me couldn’t afford given my job as a writer and a critique, but kudos to you. 

Rating – 3.5/5

Also Read: Over 90+ GTA 6 Leaks hint at Vice City Map Return; Real or Fake? 

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