‘One Piece: Red’
On Aug. 6, “One Piece: Red” made its theatrical debut in Japan. According to Japanese manga press Mantanweb, the film has made over 11 billion yen and sold over 8.2 million tickets as of Aug. 28 since its debut, making it one of the highest-grossing films in Japanese cinematic history.
Even for people who are not fans of Japanese manga or anime, “One Piece” is not an unfamiliar name. The pirate-themed, anime-adapted series has been serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, a dominant monthly manga publication, since 1997, and it has shown no signs of concluding in the near future. In 1999, the manga series was adapted into animation by Toei Animation and broadcasted internationally as a family-friendly show. The plot follows the journey of a pirate boy named Monkey D. Luffy, who attained the elastic power to stretch any part of his body to incredible extent as if he is rubber. Luffy is an optimistic, carefree character, attracting a variety of partners to join his band of Straw Hat Pirates, including iconic characters such as the talented navigator Nami, the swordsman Zoro, and the adorable reindeer medic Chopper. The crew’s goal, like a number of pirates in the “One Piece” universe, is to find the treasure (named “One Piece”) of legendary Pirate Gol D. Roger.
The film “Red,” like other previous films of “One Piece,” retains the series settings and characters, yet has an independent plot from the main storyline of the series. The film introduces popular singer/idol Uta who vows to make the world a better place. With her singing, she is capable of bringing her audience into her dream world, a space in her mind where there are no crimes and conflicts. She attempts to persuade her childhood friend Luffy to forfeit his career as a pirate, and, after his refusal, kidnaps everyone in the universe into her dream.
Aside from the popularity of the original manga series, the impressive box office success of “One Piece: Red” also comes from the introduction of Uta. “Uta” means “song” in Japanese, echoing her character as a singer. She has an iconic, adorable appearance, heavily characterized by her hair color, which is red on one side and white on the other. Another likely reason for the box office number is the bewildering revelation of her identity as the daughter of the legendary captain Red-Haired Shanks in the beginning of the film and the trailer. In the original series, Shanks rarely appears in scenes, yet he is mentioned very often as an idol of Luffy. Hoping to see more of the mysterious Shanks, “One Piece” fans are more than willing to pay for cinema tickets despite the film being independent from the original storyline.
A unique feature of the film is its intertwining of an animated movie with a live concert resembling that of the well-known android idol Hatsune Miku. The stage movement of Uta was choreographed and modeled to resemble lifelike idols. Furthermore, the singing of Uta is voiced by well-known J-pop singer Ado, most known for her debut piece “Useewa” at the age of 17. Uta’s songs were produced by young artist Vaundy, Mrs. Green Apple, and others. The iconic “Shin Jidai” is written by DJ Yasutaka Nakata. Watching “One Piece: Red” in theaters guarantees a concert-like experience.
“One Piece: Red” will be released in the United States theatrically this coming fall by Crunchyroll, date undetermined.