The story of Uta in One Piece Film: Red is almost spoon-fed to the audience so that we empathize with her. Also, her story is strikingly similar to the origin of Big Mom, although modified in some sense. One more character that strikes the mind is Obito Uchiha, who salvaged similar ideals of a world of dreams and peace.

One Piece Film: Red is about the next big thing in Japanese theatres and also the next hype-machine for western audiences of Anime. The One Piece fans have returned to bless showers upon the films. I have seen the film, and I have a hard comment to add. In One Piece Film Red, Uta is a paradoxically good but simultaneously broken character. How exactly is Uta broken, and what exactly is similar about her and Big Mom and Obito Uchiha?

Why Uta feels so over-baked, and what’s good about her?

We know that Oda wanted a female character to be emphasized. But it feels like he underestimated TOEI who wanted to fulfill all his requests. Facts are put, Uta is simply overemphasized. To the point that I’ll say the whole film should be named One Piece Uta Uta no Mi.

Uta’s devil fruit powers in One Piece Film Red is a plot-armor fruit but is one of the finest written devil fruit lores

Devil Fruits in One Piece
courtesy of Toei animation
  • The Uta World
    • Firstly the sing-sing fruit seems to be overly broken. A devil fruit power that allows the user to pull users into a magical dimension named Uta World seems overpowered. But One Piece world isn’t unknown for harboring multiple overpowered devil fruit abilities.
  • The overpowered Paramecia-type nature
    • Her fruit is a paramecia type, which is conclusively the most complex generally among the three types of Devil-Fruits – Zoan, Logia, and Paramecia. Usually, Paramecia types manifest in weird ways, as seen in Whitebeard’s Gura Gura no Mi.
Uta in One Piece red similar to Big mom and Obito Uchiha
Uta in the trailer (via TOEI Animation YouTube)

The entire story also connects to the Demon lord that reigns from a different realm altogether. Which is, truth be told, very well-connected lore.

  • The Devil King
    • The devil king is the tale of the Tot Musica and is referred to as the manifestation of the people’s ill feelings. The devil king matches the power of three ancient weapons. Throughout the film, it is shown that only the user of Uta Uta no Mi can call the being upon this world while it also manifests in that user’s Uta world. The being must be sung using the special notes in a victorian worn-out sheet-music piece.

How Uta’s Devil fruit abilities deny power-scaling in One Piece film: Red

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

One Piece film Red downgrades power scaling. Uta’s devil fruit powers manifest differently according to what song she sings. But the song she sings is merely the emotions contained within her.

  • Now depending on how she plays it, she can pull the soul of everyone who hears her music into her world.
  • Plus she can also create minions that can withstand attack by the top-ranking crews of Big Mom Pirates. The big Mom pirates kick start an entire action sequence which is also consequently the first action of the film when they invade her concert.

The straw hat pirates, including Jimbei, jump into defending Uta. Much to their surprise Uta hardly needs any protection. Although I bet you the Strawhat Pirates did not go all out, Luffy himself hardly went Gear third. Still, Uta sings a song whereby she calls out an armored and a giant spear along with geared minions who take care of the Big Mom Pirates like it’s a piece of cake.

Uta’s Devil Fruit abilities made our characters forget about Haki

One Piece Manga 1013 colorized
A clash of Haki between Kaidou and Luffy, Artwork (via Devinart)

Uta is also able to somehow bypass Haki and magically put those enchanted into her Note Cage. Her ‘Note Cage’ is my fancy way of referring to her powers whereby she entraps a person into her music sheet-like barricade. Now we have been introduced to a full-frontier method of breaking any devil-fruit special abilities – Haki.

  • Haki has been the de facto way of countering any abominations that come in the form of devil fruit powers, especially Paramecia and Logia ones.
  • We can never imagine a way of breaking Logia-type powers without Haki. How can you touch Portgas D Ace if he is fire all the time?
  • Yet all our top-tier pirates struck by her powers, including straw hats, seem to forget the ability to use Haki. This is just plain lazy writing in my view.

Comparing Uta’s origin with that of Big Mom in One Piece Film: Red

Big mom
Charlotte Linlin courtesy of IMDB

Uta seems to be written with the goal of being morally black but portrayed as grey. And it fails. Her logic is that the era of pirates only ushers in the harshest of calamities. Hence she thinks that people should simply just enjoy a careless life of leisure with no work and only candies. Now someone that comes to my mind when I think of candies is Big Mom.

A portrayal from Big Mom

  • But Big Mom’s ambiguously unrelatable personality adds to the fear she enclaves. Big Mom is a ginormous character, both by the depth of her past.
  • But this inability to relate to Big Mom simply makes her one of the most ferocious monsters. You just never know how cruel she can get, you can never find empathy for her. This makes her a brilliant character.

Uta seems to be a stark copy of Linlin, who ate all her friends and never knew it. Which is one of the most carnivorous portrayals of cannibalism in TV history, because Oda delivers that scene with utmost perfection. Don’t heed this experiment, but try showing this scene to a child and he will love it. Show that scene to an adult and he will probably be depressed for a night or two. 

Big Mom still in the present does not know that she ate Mother Caramel and all her friends. She remains horridly ignorant of the fact that she’s the very monster that she never saw. This is a phenomenal example of why Big Mom is such a beast, one that really hits your spine. Uta feels broken, in the sense that she does something similar, gets to know about it, then goes into denial but still plays as if she is still her pre-knowledge-of-her-origin self.

Uta is haunted and traumatized 

Uta crying over Shanks in One Piece Film Red
Courtesy of TOEI’s official Youtube

Now to spoil you, remember how it was mentioned in the anime that Shanks was responsible for the massacre of Elegia? Turns out by the end of the film that it wasn’t Shanks. It was instead Uta who got possessed by the Tot Musica and burned the entire country down. To save Uta the guilt of bearing all the people’s deaths, Shanks asked the king of the country (Gordon) to tell her it was his doing.

Now this made me feel a little bit of guilt for judging her too harshly initially. Hell, all her actions felt justified even.

  • A girl who grew up looking out for her adoptive father (Shanks) and wanted to be by his side forever was betrayed by this very pirate.
  • But as the stories unravel it is revealed that Uta always knew this. She realized this when she received a video recorder snail (or whatever it’s called) off the seashore and found a recording of the incident that took place in Elegia. This happens a few years prior to the events of the movie.

Uta in One Piece Film: Red reminds us of Obito Uchiha in some ways

I’ll tell you how to do a character that knows the truth of his origin villain story Obito Uchiha. Perhaps what could be described as one of the greatest tragic villain backstories, Obito Uchiha knew the reason Rin had to die.

  • Obito Uchiha’s philosophy and distortion of the world were motivated not by the fact that Kakashi killed Rin, but by the circumstances that led to Kakashi killing Rin.
  • As such he never bore vengeance against Kakashi, who was only a pawn in the world of dread and tragedy. This is different and it adds so much depth to Obito Uchiha himself. 

Similarly, Uta knew about Shanks’ story. She knew it was always her who destroyed Gordon’s country. She instead replies that she could not come to accept the way she had hated Shanks all her life. At this point in time, she had no way but to continue believing the lie she was always led to believe.

Obito Uchiha
Obito witnesses the death of Rin, via Crunchyroll
  • This in itself is a brilliant revelation. It is completely human to go into denial. This even goes on to show why she was so empathetic that she didn’t want anyone to be shot to death but was psychotic enough to put everyone in Uta’s world.
  • This is similar to Obito Uchiha, who believed in Madara’s vision of the Infinite Tsukuyomian illusion in which everyone would be asleep forever -living their best dream. But the catch is that all throughout the film she acts as if she didn’t know about this.

One Piece Film: Red writers may just have been complacent

One Piece Uta
Uta in the trailers

What it felt to me instead was the writers had a big revelation midway through the plot that let us make it so that Uta realized her fault but just went into denial. But instead of rewriting the entire script from the get-go they just made Uta not know that she is the reason everyone in Elegia died. In the end, she magically seems to know she did it.

  • There’s a difference when a character knows something beforehand- he acts differently. More detailed and seasoned authors can pull this trick amazingly.
  • Some authors just make it obvious the character knows this thing, so even during a later reveal it isn’t a shock.
  • Some authors (Like Kishimoto) just go meh. Kakashi always knew Naruto is the son of the fourth Hokage and yet we as the audience could never even guess that the Sharingan of the Leaf knew it.

You may argue that Uta had her emotions exaggerated by the mushroom she ate (it deprives her of sleep and makes her an edgy teen, which she anyways is). But when she got to know the truth, she was not in any way under any influence.

Conclusion

Uta singing and similar to Obito and Big Mom
Via TOEI Animation

Uta could have been emphasized a little less. Sometimes less is more. In One Piece Film: Red, Uta’s story is definitely the case. She did not have to sing childishly in every little act she does. We understand she’s a singer – Nami is a navigator. She’s not always navigating each road the crew has to take even inland. Uta has to use her powers to bring the world under her spirit realm, where they will be protected and safe. Her ideals aren’t childish, but the way she is explored definitely is. Share with us your thoughts on One Piece Film Red, below.


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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.