The release of One Piece Film: Red on Blu-ray has taken many fans by surprise, reflecting the franchise’s current cultural significance. Amid the buzz generated by the upcoming Netflix live-action series and the internet-breaking debut of Gear 5 Luffy in the One Piece anime, the renowned pirate anime/manga series has garnered unprecedented public attention. Fortunately, the Blu-ray release of One Piece Film: Red offers fans a source of enjoyment while they await new manga chapters and anime episodes.
Originally hitting theaters in 2022, the film arrived on Blu-ray in July via Crunchyroll. The storyline centers on the Straw Hats’ encounter with an old friend of Luffy’s, Uta, a pop idol who bears resentment towards pirates, including Luffy, due to her history and unique abilities. This culminates in a three-way conflict involving Uta, pirates, and the World Government. Uta emerges as a multifaceted antagonist, more personal than many previous adversaries Luffy has faced.
The film’s production quality shines through, characterized by fluid animation, distinctive character designs, and impactful sound design that elevates the intensity of each battle. Notably, the animation takes a surreal turn during the final confrontation, reminiscent of the style seen in “Madoka Magica.” The soundtrack, especially Uta’s songs performed by Japanese singer Ado, captures her emotions and character arc flawlessly. While the English voice actress Amanda Lee, a talented singer herself, doesn’t sing Uta’s songs in the dub, Ado’s renditions capture Uta’s essence beautifully.
Red’s narrative is a mixed bag of triumphs and shortcomings. Uta stands out as a compelling villain, offering a fresh perspective on piracy and a deeply intertwined connection with Luffy. Her story delves into the pressures of Idol culture, highlighting its dark underbelly. However, problems arise when exploring her relationship with Shanks. The resolution of their connection feels unsatisfactory and falls short of its potential.
Yet, despite these issues, One Piece Film: Red encapsulates the series’ beloved elements. All the Straw Hats enjoy their moments to shine, and the action sequences are exhilarating. Uta steals the spotlight as an impressive antagonist. The film is a treasure trove of details and Easter eggs that loyal fans will relish discovering upon multiple viewings. In the grand scheme of One Piece films, Red stands as one of the finest, making it a must-watch, especially during this era of the franchise’s unprecedented popularity.