The One Piece franchise is currently one of the most popular Japanese works in the world. The adventures of the pirate Monkey D. Luffy and his crew, full of dangers and unexpected discoveries, have excited tens of millions of people for 25 years. The full-length anime One Piece Film: Red was a unique way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the manga. And this is one of the rare representatives of Japanese animation, which was officially brought to Ukrainian distribution. We tell you in the review below how much “Van Peace: Red” deserves your attention.
“One Piece: Red” / One Piece Film: Red
Directed by Goro Taniguchi
Starring Mayumi Tanaka, Shuichi Ikeda, Kaori Nazuka, Kazuya Nakai, Akemi Okamura
Release year 2022
The story of the anime film revolves around a super popular singer named Uta. The girl is loved all over the world, but she performs only virtually. That is why her first live concert caused a massive stir. During the very first appearance (not without Luffy’s help), it turns out that Uta is the daughter of Shanks, one of the most powerful pirates in the world, and a childhood friend of the protagonist. Because of this, other pirates and the World Government want to use the girl for their own selfish purposes. However, Uta has his own plans for a concert that will supposedly “never end”.
Films based on “Van Pis”, as well as almost any Senen, are often beautiful entertainments, which, unfortunately, do not carry much meaning. They don’t even particularly affect the canonical story from the main manga and anime. “Van Piece: Red” became the fifteenth feature film from the franchise. And in the approach to the plot, its authors decided to distinguish themselves somewhat.
After all, local history, while remaining as independent and separate as possible, promised to shed light on the past of one of the most mysterious characters of the “One Piece” series – the pirate Red-haired Shanks. It was from him that Luffy’s adventures actually began, but in the main story he appears only in exceptional moments. Therefore, the concept of the film, which would tell a little more about Shanks, immediately bought the multi-million army of “Van Piece” fans.
The reality turned out to be somewhat more modest. Yes, Shanks and his crew of pirates are enough in the film, but they play a far from decisive role. And the shown moments from the past are limited to a direct connection with the story of the feature film, the rest were specially left behind the scenes so as not to destroy the general intrigue of the series. However, given the frequency of the character’s appearance in the main series, fans will be happy with this one. The main thing is not to wait for some stunning revelations.
The main character of the story here is Uta. She occupies a rather interesting position in the script, thanks to which it will not be possible to describe her with any specific stereotype. And her story line is generally intriguing and makes you genuinely fall in love with the singer, who has been through a lot. There is even a possibility that Uta will appear in the main plot of “Van-Piss”, but here it is better not to nurture special illusions.
The type of activity and abilities of Uta, who can literally influence reality with her singing, found an imprint in the film genre as well. Yes, “Van Pis: Red” is still a classic teenage story about pathetic battles, victory over oneself and critical circumstances around. But this time it was diluted with numerous elements that are primarily characteristic of musicals.
This is not surprising, because the entire feature film is to some extent a two-hour concert of Uta. Both in the literal sense, because the events unfold during the singer’s performance, and in the metaphorical sense. After all, every battle here, the very development of history is a musical performance, an extravaganza at its best. And just for that reason, it’s worth going to “Van Piece: Red”, even if you don’t know anything about the original source.
Many moments here are reminiscent of animated clips of the best Japanese (and not only) artists — and only One Piece can afford a similar level of production quality today. Perhaps, only from a technical point of view, the full-length film will lose to the works of MARR, for example, “Magic Battle 0”. But instead, the anime wins with the unconventional use of classic animation techniques and an extraordinary level of creativity, whether through the scene or not.
Such a show of the highest quality allows you to distract yourself from a somewhat overloaded plot. The authors introduced many characters from the main series into “Van Piece: Red”, which do not have much effect on anything. They are needed only in order to please the fans with the mere fact of their appearance on the screen, and in fact the story does not help in any way. Such a kaleidoscope of characters is, in principle, often found in full-length anime series, but earlier in “Van Pis” it was almost always possible to avoid such overload. Perhaps, the previous film One Piece: Stampede should be blamed for the changes, which also resembled a kind of “club for their own” of the heroes of the franchise.
The bet on the elements of the musical had a positive effect on the musical component of the show. A full-fledged anthology album was made from the local soundtrack, and extremely popular Japanese musicians were called to work on it. For example, composer Sawano Hiroyuki, known for his music for Attack on Titan. And all the compositions are combined by the vocals of the singer Ado, whose strong voice will sink into your consciousness one hundred percent.
Two hours of the film’s running time fly by completely imperceptibly, almost all the elements are so successfully assembled in it. The battles here are large-scale and pathetic, there are enough comedic moments, but the authors did not forget about the drama either. All are combined in extremely neat proportions, which with the overall dynamics of the story keeps you glued to the screen right up to the credits. And there is already tons of fanservice here, fans of “Van-Peace” will like it.
Separately, a few words should be said about the distribution of the film in Ukraine, which turned out to be at least strange. No distributor deals with the feature film, its showing is a personal initiative of the cinemas. Therefore, “One Piece: Red” is shown only in cinemas of the “Oscar” and “Cinema City” chains. And only one session per day (not always at the most convenient time) and without any advertising at all.
We all understand that going to the cinemas in Ukraine now is an extreme form of entertainment. But at the same time, “Van Piece: Red” managed to collect almost a full hall, which is a rarity for the Ukrainian cinema distribution in 2022. So if you have the opportunity (and the courage) – definitely go.
Pros: colorful graphics, pathetic battles, excellent music, musical elements add freshness to the film. Cons: without knowledge of the One Piece universe, it will be difficult for the audience, the story is overloaded with unnecessary characters. Conclusion:
“Van Piece: Red” can be compared to the best Marvel movies – and that’s a compliment. This is a very beautiful anime feature film, not without its own unique ideas. Van Peace fans don’t even need to recommend it, because they will definitely watch it anyway. To everyone else, try to go at least for company. You will get a great show