One Piece Film: Red – Isolation and Too Much Escapism

The Movie Theater Experience and One Piece Films

Oh hey, another Goro Taniguchi film. Yay!

I’m so glad that Film Red got such a wide release. Especially since I had the option of watching this at my smaller theater in town that is only five minutes away. I do have to mention that this was my second night going to the movies. Thursday, I watched Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla for Godzilla day and it was a fun little movie. That theater was pretty fun with much more people than I expected to see for a one night showing. The showing that I went to One Piece Film Red? Me and a couple that was all the way in the back. Yeah, awkward. Anyway, two different experiences in a span of days. I liked it being empty though. It felt more comfy.

As for One Piece Films, this is the fifth one that I’ve watched starting my One Piece journey and I’ve enjoyed every film that I’ve watched since then.  Compared to a lot of other shonen jump films that I just can’t enjoy or find as much love for, One Piece Films hit the spot for me. I think it has to do with other films just having a villain come out of nowhere that barely has any attachment to what is going on. They are just a villain for everyone to unite against. On the either hand, One Piece does the same thing with their stories, but these characters actually feel attached to the world at large because the One Piece World is just so large and those films do go by the One Piece Rules and connections. 

Uta and One Piece Film Red’s Story

After a small pirates destroy everything opening, One Piece Film Red starts with what is basically a Macross concert except in the One Piece universe. The world’s most popular idol, the mysterious Uta, has a cool holographic concert in a nice concert hall in a place called Elegia. Of course Luffy and the Straw Hats are all there. Of course it feels like a fun time at first with everyone enjoying themselves and the pirates that are assigned to capture Uta, even after Luffy mentions how Uta is Shanks daughter because he knows her from her childhood. You know, despite this girl being isolated on this island for 12 years. So when the word “pirates” and Luffy are connected to each other, everything gets worse.

Through Uta’s Song Song fruit and some other musical items, what was a short escape from normal life for an hour or two for a concert becomes a supposed escape for everyone in the world of Song Song. A supposed perfect world in Uta’s imagination influenced by all the people she talked to complaining about their living circumstances. As I already mentioned,  the concert itself follows a small smattering of pirates destroying everything thus creating that idea of the classic marines good, pirates are bad scenarios. Uta wants to create that perfect sort of humanity instrumentality world without pirates, a world that normal people can be happy in.

This film man. The story behind it is pretty standard for this kind of setting, but it works because Uta is a great character and how this film has a very strong family focus. That one of an adoptive family of Luffy and Shanks (mainly Shanks)  having to deal with what they caused by leaving Uta behind for 12 years in a dead country with one guy teaching her music. Meanwhile the world is in jeopardy with most people being stuck into this and it’s up to the Straw Hats and some friends trying to figure out how to stop what is happening and then everyone, once again, working together to save everyone including Uta. Plus, Shanks is bad ass. Everyone is, but you know there. It is a movie that somehow uses everyone in the cast and it’s good because of that.

Isolation, Covid, and the Social Media Experience?

Maybe this isn’t on purpose or maybe it was, but this is just something that I saw in the main idea of the film itself. Well, besides the whole being isolated for 12 years sort of idea, but maybe that still had something to do with the fact that we felt like the pandemic lasted. Not that important. The most important thing is that Uta became popular in two years over what is like social media in One Piece’s world, Video Transponder Snails. That takes the place of having a smart phone with an internet connection because I”m sure you can have those in One Piece, but it would be kind of strange still. (Yeah, this is the time where I once again have to lament how weird One Piece is, but in a fun sort of way.)

Basically, this story takes place after Uta became popular online. After she performed a large amount of concerts on One Piece social media and after she talked with countless people in that space about their current situations. So this is the start of where Uta’s plan comes from. Especially in this world where, at least Uta learns from her experience, that pirates are bad because they destroy everything and the marines are good because they uphold the law and save citizens. Something which isn’t wrong because there are a lot of evil pirates in One Piece. At the same time, crews like the Straw Hats and others exist that aren’t like that and save entire nations from the oppressive marine rule. 

So this is the experience of Uta trying to figure out the actual nuances of the world and how its not all black and white. Something which is also a social media thing because there is the good and bad, the dark and the light. So seeing that experience of Uta learning that the marines can not care for civilian lives while the pirates are fighting to save civilians is really confusing to her. Same with Uta forcing the pirates facing off against her and her minions were forcibly placed in more cliched evil pirate gear because that’s how strongly she wanted to believe what she saw from normal people the same as those civilians wanting to go home because they had enough fun. The wake-shrooms that Uta used to stay awake didn’t allow anyone to escape. That’s a major problem.

Music, Singing, and the Tots Musica

The music in Red is really good. Something that you would have in a film around a very powerful Idol. Uta is a cute idol with a really power of placing enemies into musical staffs to create songs apparently. Plus, all the songs really do create a sense of what state of mind Uta is in at that moment. Works great with a lot of the animation and direction behind every single moment placed onto them too. There is so much great work put into everything that she is clearly the coolest and most powerful character put into play and those ideas for them too. The Song Song fruit is pretty unique and creates a lot of good visuals to make this film unique.

Then there is the Tots Musica and the demon comes from it. The Tots Musica being that one plot item which causes absolute devastation and also provides a Madoka Witch monster for every hero to fight in two places at the same time. And that connection with Tots Musica and Uta’s song song fruit which causes chaos in many areas. IT doesn’t help that this person is also eating Wake-Shrooms that are also known to cause a person to go more insane. Nothing about this was good, but this was the place that Uta was in because not only from her insane plan that wasn’t received as well. 

So all of that sets the stakes of this film. Uta slowly ruining her entire life to see a plan go into motion that wasn’t received well only for a Madoka Witch to attack the Song Song World and the Real World. Especially since Uta’s entire life is the main story of this film. The sad, more brutal life then it should be leading to her backstory with Luffy to where he and Uta actually had a pretty cody environment. Can Uta be redeemed for everything she did? In the world of One Piece sure, but it will take her adoptive family to come back and help her from destroying herself and the entire world. 

It’s About Family and Shanks is here

That is a meme and a bit of a cliche, but it’s true. Especially since Uta is the first person to ever take the Straw Hat off of Luffy and even damage it without any sort of strong feedback or an immediate response from Luffy. It still is Shanks hat, which needs to be mentioned because Shanks is an actual presence in this film. That worry of whether or not Shanks will show up is something at the very mind of this film as Uta wonders where the mysterious Red Haired guy is until the end. An end that not only reveals everything, but shows you how much Shanks still cares about his adoptive daughter. Or how Luffy’s Group and Shanks’ group worked together to defeat the monster and save everyone. Some crazy visuals with that happening.

That family matter kind of continues with just the presence of Shank’s crew itself. A crew of a lot of dead beat dads, like Ussop’s dad, is in it. I have a feeling that the entire crew is kind of like that because I can’t imagine a lot of people who would be on shank’s crew who didn’t want to escape their kid for some reason. I suppose that now Shanks is in double trouble on that front because the whole Uta situation wasn’t helped by him making decisions for Uta that she didn’t want. You know, even if they were for Uta’s protection. Perhaps that there is the entire Canon of One Piece that Film Red still has to contend with to make it difficult, but I have to wonder how or where Uta is going to be now that she is off of Elegia because the film did not kill her. Hmmm. At least we know something about Shanks abilities now that he is a bigger focus.

An Overstuffed, but Good Movie 

Once again, a main complaint that I have towards this film and other One Piece films is that they have too many things going on with too many characters trying to go too many directions. IT’s only two hours of film and the cast of anything One Piece is way too big simply to have a simple, self contained plot. Almost every faction of One Piece needs to be represented on some level. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be One Piece. The main plot of this film is really good and emotional with Uta, Luffy, and Shanks having a lot of good story bits and emotional scenes. Even Robin had some good moments as she was learning more about the Tots Musica while everyone else held back the threat at bay. A kind of formula for how the film works.

For instance, all the cool action moments not involving Shanks and Luffy are group based. Not a bad thing necessarily. I just wish that the cast of this franchise had a bit more time then to be thrown together in a mod for one quick, cool looking action sequence before moving onto another to do the same thing. I mean, the whole coordination thing was still pretty cool so I have to say that. Just lessened the film a bit for me behind all the emotional material that Red was carrying. But, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I’m not sure where it is on my list of One Piece Films that I also really liked, but it is definitely among all the good films I’ve watched. It was also just really cool. Glad I became a fan of this series and went to see this in theaters. 

8 comments

  1. Wow, this sounds like a really good movie! I’ve heard that even people that aren’t current in the One Piece series also liked it. I’ve only watched the first hundred episodes of One Piece (not much by One Piece standards) so I tend to avoid the movies because I assumed I wouldn’t understand what’s going on. Hmm, maybe I could hop into this one and still understand it a bit? I might check to see if it’s available at any of the theaters near me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. From the now five One Piece movies I watched, none of them really feel like you have to be current at all in terms of story. Perhaps they are a bit much in terms of the world because even if they don’t follow a canon story, a lot of the One Piece elements of those stories are there in some kind of way. It’s weird, but I think they would be enjoyable anyway even if you don’t know some of the things going on.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have lost track of One Piece so long ago. Interesting how Goro Taniguchi got to direct this thing. Looks like it is a good movie. I did chuckle a it about Uta’s name because it literally means “song”.

    Liked by 2 people

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