The oceanside tales of Monkey D. Luffy have spread its wing far across the globe with the onset of One Piece Film: Red. The alarming question that hustles the heart of all One Piece fans and even newcomers to the franchise is how good is this film really? Does it have Luffy Gear 5? Does it have Shanks going off with his powers? The golden rule of film critiquing seems to lead one to the holy grail of understanding this kind – What sells is not always what is good. In a world where both non-canon and canon films sell, why not go for canon ones after

Hold your horses before you close the tab on this article, hear me out

It’s understandable if readers of this article feel concerned about being threatened by their proclivity of being biased towards the world of One Piece reviews.

  • Rest assured wholly that I separate judging One Piece Red from the whole of One Piece itself. I do this on two accounts, firstly that the film is non-canon, and secondly that it is not exactly written by Oda himself.

What are non-canon films?

Non-canon means that the film’s story is not part of the original story written by the original authors. Imagine the fillers of Naruto Shippuden, none of them are part of the Manga and hence are called fillers. Similarly, all One Piece films so far are non-cannon. The only canon films in Naruto are Naruto the Last and Boruto: Naruto Movie. 

Canon movies lately have been hitting the mark

One Piece Film: Red Uta and Luffy
One Piece Film: Red Uta and Luffy, courtesy of Luffy Smile yt channel)
  • Jujutsu Kaisen 0 did fairly well both critically and box-office-wise. I will credit this to the fact that the film adapted the prequel of Jujutsu Kaisen written by Gege Akutami himself.
  • The only film (that I feel) that truly shattered everyone to pieces with how well it was (both execution-wise and plot-wise) was Demon Slayer Mugen Train.
  • We also have a few other entries to name such as Rascal Does Not Dream of A Dreaming Girl (Also a canon work).

Non-Canon films weren’t bad in the old times

This brings to me that lately, almost all hugely audience-appreciated non-canon films have really been downplayed critically.

The only non-canon movie additions that I remember being good are the OG ones, say Pokémon: The First Movie, Dragon Ball Z: The Legendary Super Saiyan Naruto The Movie: Road to Ninja, Hunter × Hunter: The Last Mission, and heck, even Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa.

I admire One Piece, but the latest films in the franchise have really downplayed it for me. One Piece Film: Stampede also feels like could have done better. Things were happening very fast without proper set-up.

One Piece Films are cash grabs and not a story-telling antique 

One Piece Theory: Shanks Planned Everything Since Beginning
courtesy of Toei Animation

At this precipice, I must bring it to everyone’s notice that One Piece films are not really an artist’s most vicarious dream. If anything, that is the job of Oda, for which he already writes the main series; not the films. One Piece films are more like industrial money grabbers. You have a big source to draw the greens out of, and you do just that.

That is why most One Piece films feel like money grabs. Villains appear out of nowhere and the story writers don’t give enough due to the new characters. Out of nowhere, they are engaging in battles.

A Common Trope in most shonen-series feature films

Yuta fighting villains
Yuta fighting the villain in the trailer (Snapped from Rotten Tomato Trailers)

This is a common trope in the Shonen series’ rip-off films – battles. Dragon Ball Super films have been doing nothing differently – stories that seem to cater to an audience that has a brain of a chimp.

  • I don’t expect Christopher Nolan’s level of good story-telling, but at least do what you’re supposed to do right – the battles.
  • One good thing about Dragonball Super Broly is that it carried off what it had to do fantastically well. One Piece Film: Red seems to lag behind in how much they can show off Shanks without spoiling it for Oda’s fun when time is due and how much of Gear 5 tease they can possibly incorporate without hinging the fans of spoilers.

Why One Piece by Oda is in itself a genius story and Film red – not so much

  • Personally, I look for complexities in storytelling that connect flawlessly.
  • Complex stories could be told in understandable ways while simple stories could also be told complexly. One Piece is one that usually does both.

The genius of Oda in One Piece

Devil Fruits in One Piece, Shanks Luffy One Piece Film: Red
Crocodile who can turn himself into sand
  • Numerous times Oda has represented his genius of storytelling through his depictions of the various characters. I can hardly name all the amazing characters because almost all the characters (ever) have an immense depth to them.
  • You may attest to the fact that Oda does his story so well to the nature of One Piece – which is a series. Usually with films or series, whether it be a cinematic motion picture, CGI, or full-drawn anime – is that there’s less time to deploy the new characters.

Putting out the One Piece series is important because only then can we contrast it with the film. Goro Taniguchi (Code Geass) directed the film while Tsutomu Kuroiwa was responsible for screenplay writing. These two are the ones who have told the story of One Piece Red while Oda himself supervised it. Obviously, letting a film go without Oda reviewing the story doesn’t make sense.

What makes One Piece good doesn’t extend to Non-Canon works 

One Piece Theory Shanks and Luffy Gear 5
One Piece Episode 1 (Reanimated) via TOEI animation

One Piece has always been known for its story-building. The world is rather complex but often presented in a simple and frivolous manner. The highly voluptuous figures of the female bodies drawn by Oda (and I mean every single female body, other than maybe Big Mom) is only one such chivalry.

The film had to stray within limits to not ever spoil Manga fans

The recent developments in the Manga have led to the revelation of Luffy’s ultimate gear 5 powers. Given that One Piece films are based weirdly in between arcs, we expected more of Luffy Gear 5. Now the film is set in post Wano period, this is mainly due to the fact that Nami has Zeus, Zoro has Enma, Jimbei is officially in the crew and of course, Gear 5. After this much, you’d think that TOEI is ready to spoil all Anime fans of the Manga developments for the sake of the movie’s glory. But no, not really. 

Does Luffy use Gear 5 in One Piece Film: Red?

  • Gear 5 is about the definition of insanity in terms of the possible hype it could produce. Luffy going Gear fifth is literally worthy of a festival celebration dedicated to the entire transformation itself.
  • Gear 5th is also notably one of the most notoriously innovative ways of giving transformations. While Dragonball Super transformations have degraded lately, with a new color popping every new work, One Piece has maintained the transformation race fairly well.

Unlike Super where we were met with 4 transformations in some 200 episodes, Oda has taken his sweet time to get to Luffy Gear 5. All of this does pay off simply in the possible reactions the crowd will have. As such it is likely that they are just saving the best for the anime, which is still their main focus and a canon work (obviously, hah!).

The greatest redeeming possibilities for a One Piece movie: One, for Shanks and Luffy to collide and second for Luffy Gear 5 to come to screens

Via Viz

Two things don’t happen that would have if One Piece Red was a canon film –

  1. Shanks and Luffy never meet, despite battling the Demon King from both worlds. Luffy attacks the entity from the Uta world while Shanks simultaneously does it from the real world, with no actual communication between them. Shanks also does engage with Kizaru, although for not even a minute.
  2. Luffy’s Gear 5 is never properly shown. It only comes as a 2-second glimpse where his shrouded white clouds are shown in a scene where only his back is visible. The other is another 2 seconds glimpse where his eyebrows turn into Sun God Nica in the climax where he simultaneously attacks the Devil King with Shanks.

Concluding

  • I do not blame One Piece Red for overdoing this line, which if they did would have been a cardinal sin. Not that TOEI or Oda would ever approve of such.
  • I am not judging One Piece Red over this, I am saying they didn’t have much choice. Within what limited possibilities it had for Luffy and Shanks being in the same screen, they did a tremendously good job. But that’s my point –

There’s not much that can be done. with such limitations being a result of the fact that the movie is not written by ODA AND IS NOT CANON.


Also Read: Chainsaw Man Preview comforts haters of CGI in earlier leaks

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Rhytham is a Philosophy graduate who founded a state-level organization that promotes anime and Japanese culture in his home state of Assam India. The org is named Assam Senpai Society. He is also an ardent writer, poet, musician, vocalist, graphic designer, and photoshop artist. He has worked on multiple state and national level conventions. Other than anime, catch him watching western series that really have in themselves the solidity to catch his attention.