One Piece Film: Red Antagonist Uta Breaks The Trend Of 'Gruff Villain Dudes' [NYCC]

"One Piece" is a sprawling franchise of nearly 25 years, kicking off with Eiichiro Oda's Weekly Shōnen Jump manga in July 1997 before getting a rollicking anime adaptation from Toei Animation. The manga series is known for breaking the World Guinness Record for most printed comic series by one author. "One Piece" follows the Straw Hat gang, lead by Monkey D. Luffy (Colleen Clinkenbeard), whose consumption of a Devil Fruit granted him awesome stretchy powers. Luffy is on a long quest to find the legendary One Piece treasure and claim the King of the Pirates throne.

Now "One Piece" is sailing toward its final arc just when you thought the voyage could go on forever in the endless sea. Commemorating the 1000th anime episode and sending signals of the end is another one of its theatrically released features, "One Piece Film: Red."

At the New York Comic Con panel (hosted by Toei Animation and Crunchyroll), fans were granted an exclusive first look at the English dub trailer where Luffy reconnects with his childhood friend, the singer Uta (Amanda Lee). Members of the Japanese crew and the English dub cast gathered at the panel to open the treasure box of information, and here's what we learned.


"Luffy is an enigma," says Luci Christian, the voice of Nami, so accessing Luffy's past through his reunion with childhood friend Uta is inherently fascinating. "Someone was wondering why Luffy was looking for a musician in episode 3. Now we know," said Ian Sinclair, the voice of Brook.

Without giving away much, Colleen Clinkenbeard shared that Uta represents what's going on in the world of "One Piece," where "there are good pirates and bad pirates." How the divide of the good and bad pirates affects the world is where Uta comes into play.

Director Goro Taniguchi wanted to take this film in a different direction than the previous feature installments, and writing Uta was that gateway to setting some new precedents:

"In a lot of the 'One Piece' movies, there're generally gruff villain dudes. And [Oda] wanted to give an important role to a female lead. And we thought we should make this lead female character sing, because Oda-sensei is really into music so I thought that would be a really good combination. Lo and behold, he was really into the idea and he was very involved in the movie and took a personal approach to this." 

The moderator went on to recommend the song "Genesis," which is playing on the top charts in Japan.

Producer Hiroaki Shibata reported that there will be seven vocal songs, with the composers all handpicked by Oda: "Oda-san would listen to [them] and give us feedback. It's safe to say there's an Oda signature on every song in this movie."

Shanks is in this one

Getting to know Uta is also an access to Red-Haired Shanks, a vital figure who inspired Luffy to become King of the Pirates. A major bombshell is that he is in fact Uta's father. Upon the writing of the film, executive producer Shinji Shimizu said they found there was no way they could avoid writing in Shanks. "[The writing] kept crossing with Shanks. There was no way to write [Uta] in without Shanks. Shanks is a very important character to Oda-san himself, so we have to treat him very carefully ... Oda said, 'Go for it.'"

Shimizu also revealed (or maybe fibbed): 

"Luffy is very different in this film. He doesn't fight as much. So I hope everyone can see the film and understand why. Luffy does not throw a punch. But I've been known to lie too. So I've been told from Oda-sensei that I had a Devil Fruit that's blabber blabber [lies]. So don't ask me any more questions. I'm going to put you under arrest."

This may or may not contradict the statement by Christopher R. Sabat, who voices the aspiring Greatest Swordsman Zoro, and teased: "There's a lot of butt-kicking."

As for the end of the journey, Shimizu said: "[One Piece] will end when it [the finale] comes in ... 3 years, 5 years, or 10 years I don't know. But the fact that Shanks is appearing [in this movie] speaks words."

"One Piece Film: Red" is coming to theaters on November 4, 2022.