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One Piece Film: Red Takes The Anime To The Next Level With Its Social Commentary

When anime is done well, the genre can take viewers on a surreal adventure while also sharing important life lessons. This has long been one of the defining principles of Japanese animation rooted in the adventure subgenre. This category allows character odysseys that offer ample opportunities to explore social themes.

Of the numerous anime projects released in the last quarter of 2022, "One Piece Film: Red," the 15th film in the long-running series, has excelled at pushing boundaries in a genre that still sometimes relies on archaic trends from a male perspective. The feature is led by Uta (voiced by Kaori Nazuka Ado), a female singer who struggles with her identity thanks to perceived public pressures.

Placing Uta at the center of the movie doesn't detract from Monkey D. Luffy (Mayumi Tanaka) in his quest to reign over the pirates, but her plight in the film is highly compelling. According to Peter Debruge of Variety, "Uta loathes war." The character wishes to create a world free from violence. The Variety article compares her to Ultron from the "Avengers" movies, mentioning that her plan to bring peace comes at a massive cost. This adds a certain layer of complexity to an already nuanced character, a character the director and producers were thrilled to bring forth on the big screen.

Hiroaki Shibata says Eiichiro Oda found it significant to cast a female lead in the movie

In October, "One Piece Film: Red" director GorĊ Taniguchi, and series producer Hiroaki Shibata, spoke with Den of Geek about the franchise's 15th film. When the two were asked about Uta in the movie, Shibata specifically mentioned series creator Eiichiro Oda and shared, "This is a comment from Oda sensei himself, but he jokingly said one time that he's tired of drawing old men! There might be a grain of truth to that, but he really wanted to create a leading role here for a female that had great significance." Shibata then revealed how as the film neared completion, he started to pick up on what Oda was trying to achieve with the character of Uta.

The producer added, "Oda sensei has been writing the manga for 25 years now and every time that he writes a new chapter I definitely think that there's a commentary that he wants to make with it. There's always a certain message that needs to stay fresh." Hiroaki Shibata also divulged how Oda's writing of social commentary consistently changes as the years go on, along with the long-running "One Piece" anime series. The franchise's producer then shared how he felt "One Piece Film: Red" was one of the strongest entries in the series so far, which he attributed to the movie's social relevance and Uta in particular.