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One Piece Film: Red's Producer Describes What It's Really Like To Work On The Legendary Franchise

At this point, it's no secret that "One Piece" is one of the most popular and highly-revered anime series of all time, held in high regard even within the upper-echelon of anime alongside shows like "Dragon Ball Z” and "Naruto." It's certainly one of the longest anime series out there, having aired over 1,000 episodes since it's premiere back in October 1999 — and even though the story of Monkey D Luffy (Mayumi Tanaka/Colleen Clinkenbeard) and the Straw Hat Pirates appears to be inching slowly towards a climactic finale, it's become clear that the series is still far from over.

Although there is still an immense amount of story left to cover before we enter the final arc of "One Piece," the next important milestone for the legendary anime series is the upcoming international release of the feature-length film "One Piece Film: Red," the 15th standalone film within the "One Piece" franchise. The film will see the return of Luffy's former mentor (and the previous owner of his iconic straw hat) "Red-Haired" Shanks (Shūichi Ikeda/Brandon Potter) as the two cross paths once again as their respective crews visit the concert of a famous singer named UTA (KAori Nazuka and Ado).

Considering the immense cultural impact of "One Piece" itself, as well as the massive story implications of this potential reunion of Shanks and Luffy, it's clear that this film will be under a lot of pressure to live up to expectations. Although some might find this kind of film daunting, for producer Shinji Shimizu it's business as usual — as he has been working on the "One Piece" anime since the very beginning, and claims that working within this legendary franchise is like constantly being on an adventure of your own.

Shimizu says that working like One Piece is like being a part of his own ship and crew

During an interview with CBR back in August, "One Piece" producer Shinji Shimizu recounted his experience working on "One Piece" over the years, going back to his very beginning of the anime. According to Shimizu, the experience was one that closely resembled the voyage of the Straw Hat Pirates themselves, as he formed a familial bond with his team that will never be broken.

"I was involved as the producer in those first six years, and we use this analogy when working on 'One Piece' of boarding the ship," Shimizu explained. "So, while I was captain of the ship at one point, I've since stepped off, but you're still in that circle of nakama, and I'm now boarding the ship again for the movie. You always feel like you're a part of this One Piece nakama circle."

Shimizu's reference to the term Nakama is incredible telling of just how close he has become to the rest of the "One Piece" team, as Nakama is a word which implies that one is a part of an extremely close-knit community, similar to a family. The term itself translates to friend, teammate, or comrade, and indicates that this close bond has been formed as a result of weathering hardship together. This exact idea is emphasized over and over again throughout the story of "One Piece" and within the makeup of the Straw Hat Pirates themselves, and it's certainly very interesting to know that working on the series parallels the adventure we see on-screen.