Please keep in mind that this review contains some mild spoilers, though I will attempt to keep them as broad as possible. I was also given a free copy of the release in exchange for this review. One Piece Film Red is finally available on Blu-ray for those who prefer their red films on disc.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. So the One Piece Film Red Blu-ray is a pleasant release, and I was interested how I would react to it. I was quite impressed with the film when I first saw it last year. Still, I couldn’t tell how much of my enjoyment stemmed from the film’s excellence or the relative novelty of a new side tale in the midst of the extended Wano arc. With this home release, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit and re-evaluate it, as the manga has long ago moved past Wano (though the anime is still knee-deep in the arc’s greatest moments at the time of writing).
Because Uta is a pleasant and intriguing character, the film is enjoyable. The pop idol aspect has the potential to be divisive, but she makes for an interesting enemy for the crew. It is extremely impossible to compete with the Straw Hat Pirates in anything resembling a fair fight, as they possess a bewildering array of abilities. Sure, Kaido is formidable foe in Wano, but he has been building up for years now, and aside from a large army of followers and the ability to transform into a fire-breathing dragon, he is simply outrageously durable. How many huge baddies that tank Luffy punches can we really throw at the crew before they all blur together and lose their impact? Kaido and Big Mom already fit that description, and any movie villain attempting to fill that role will fall short no matter how you slice it.
Uta’s melodic themes and illusion abilities are thus a nice change of pace. She challenges the crew in ways that are significantly different from the existing villains and the majority of those seen throughout the series. There’s also the added bonus of the film being set during a major pop concert, which allows for some good-natured exchanges between the main cast members. This unusual combination is refreshing, and I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, the second time around. Following the time jump, One Piece has featured a number of longer arcs with a larger emphasis on macro-scale narrative events, leaving less time for quiet and amusing side moments like these for the crew to enjoy. Seeing everyone together, having fun, goofing off, and so on, will always be appreciated.
In terms of the bodily release, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, having the Japanese audio turned on is a big help. The English voice cast is good, but the renowned Japanese voice cast is the main lure. They’ve been bringing these fantastic characters to life for decades. Despite my lack of familiarity with the series, it’s a pleasure to hear everyone continue to produce enthusiastic, amusing, and tragic performances. So simply having the film in its original tongue is reason enough for me to rejoice.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to get excited about. The supplementary features are limited for a two-disc bundle. I was expecting for some behind-the-scenes material, an interview or two, perhaps a featurette about the film’s production. Instead, the three Uta-centric episodes of the weekly anime are included, as well as some previews. That’s all there is to it. While these episodes are appreciated, I was looking for a little more flesh on the bone. Not to mention that I don’t think these episodes are particularly fascinating on replay. My main issue with Uta is her participation in Luffy’s history, which I believe fills that time and adds very little to either her or his character. Her relationship with Shanks is intriguing to me, but being a part of Luffy’s formative years feels like a tedious approach to gain a bond that wasn’t necessary.
These episodes bring the total viewing time to an hour and a half. However, they don’t add much in terms of actual value. It was a tremendous letdown when these were the only supplementary features available. This feels like a huge squandered opportunity, but it’s not necessarily a knock on Film Red.
This is a terrific way to purchase One Piece Film Red and add it to your One Piece collection, but don’t expect much more than what’s said on the tin. It’s a movie and nothing more.