Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

One Piece Film: Red Finally Gives Us A Taste Of Shanks' True Conqueror's Haki

"One Pice Film: Red" premiered to Japanese theaters in August of 2022 and almost immediately reached some major milestones at the box office. A little over one month after it hit theaters, for example, "Film: Red" earned over 15 billion yen, placing it among some of the highest-grossing films in Japanese box office history, even beating out recent anime hit "Jujutsu Kaisen 0."

While this latest movie is effectively a non-canonical side story, its value to veteran "One Piece" fans lies partially in how "Film: Red" incorporates certain characters for the first time by including Red-Haired Shanks (voiced by Shuichi Ikeda in Japanese, Brandon Potter in English) and his pirate crew in a non-flashback storyline alongside longtime protagonist Luffy (Mayumi Tanaka and Colleen Clinkenbeard) and his shipmates.

Shanks' appearance in "Film: Red" is notable in and of itself, in that Shanks is introduced as a key character at the series' outset, but has yet to factor into the story of "One Piece" since then outside of some peripheral involvement. As it turns out, "Film: Red" not only includes a rare Shanks appearance, but demonstrates the power of his Conqueror's Haki for the first time as well.

Shanks uses his Conqueror's Haki to save Uta

Just after the big, climactic battle in "One Piece Film: Red," Naval Admirals Kizaru (Ryotaro Okiayu and Ray Hurd) and Fujitora (Ikuya Sawaki and Charles Campbell) attempt to approach Uta (Kaori Nazuka and Amanda Lee) and possibly apprehend Shanks as well, whose bounty is one of the highest of all living pirates. In response, Shanks unleashes a massive outpouring of energy that collapses every Navy grunt and even brings some Vice Admirals to their knees, as Kizaru notes when this happens.

While Shanks' use of his Conqueror's Haki doesn't significantly affect the two Admirals, they decide that a battle against Shanks would be unwise given that civilians are present, and wielding such great power in the midst of noncombatants may result in unwanted casualties.  

In this scene, then, Shanks' Conqueror's Haki is effectively a warning shot, meaning that the full range of his powers remains largely unknown. Nevertheless, Shanks' defense of Uta is the closest look at Shanks' strength from throughout all of "One Piece" thus far, be it in anime canon, a non-canonical side story, or the original comic book series.

What is Conqueror's Haki?

In the world of "One Piece," Haki is catch-all term for a few different kinds of extrasensory abilities that can only manifest in extreme conditions. Technically, the Skypiea Arc introduces Haki for the first time as a power the residents of its Sky Island call Mantra. Then, just before the time skip that bisects the first and second halves of "One Piece," retired pirate Rayleigh instructs Luffy on how to utilize Haki, and his lesson serves as readers/viewers' first proper introduction to Haki in its various forms.

Rayleigh teaches Luffy about Observation Haki, which allows its user advanced forms of perception; Armament Haki, which can bolster its user's attack and defense; and Conqueror's Haki, which is effectively an expression of willpower that can physically overwhelm those of weaker disposition.

Whereas hypothetically anybody can learn to wield Observation and Armament Haki, Conqueror's Haki is a rarity, available only to those lucky enough to win the genetic lottery, so to speak. Luffy and Shanks are both capable of wielding Conqueror's Haki, and Shanks even lets out a weak version of his Conquerer's Haki when he meets with Whitebeard just prior to the Marineford Arc. It's only in "Film: Red," however, that Shanks lets his Conqueror's Haki loose, giving viewers a look at the true extent of his power for the first time.

Shanks is a character defined largely by the mysteries that surround him

Tease though it may be, the inclusion of Shanks' Conqueror's Haki in "One Piece Film: Red" is significant in that it demystifies — even if just barely — a character shrouded in questions ever since his introduction at the start of "One Piece," and continuing through the nearly 25 years between then and his "Film: Red" debut.

A Reddit thread from September of 2022, for example, lists five options in a poll asking users to vote what they would most like to know about Shanks, each of which is a separate question raised about his character at some point in "One Piece." In the most-upvoted response in that thread, user False-AT wrote that they want to know, "Where is shanks, who is shanks, why is shanks, when is shanks, which is shanks?" referring to the how so little is known about his character overall.

Meanwhile, the director in charge of dubbing "One Piece Film: Red," Anthony Bowling, highlighted Shanks' involvement as one of the movie's highlights in an Anime News Network interview. "Fans are going to love what they get to see with him and his crew," Bowling said.

Though Shanks may not be the focus of "Film: Red," the fact that he actively engages in a fight alongside Luffy and his friends marks a "One Piece" first, imbuing the mysterious character with some much-needed context as "One Piece" inches toward its final stretch.