As someone who has followed One Piece for basically the majority of their life, it’s surreal to think the franchise is still ongoing. With the series celebrating its 25th anniversary and with over half a billion copies of the series in circulation, Toei Animation is busy promoting the upcoming Western release of the latest film in the franchise, One Piece Film: Red, which will release in the States in less than a month. The film is already a massive success in Japan, but One Piece has never had as strong of a connection in the West thanks to a somewhat botched launch back in the early 2000s.
You wouldn’t be able to tell that though from the amount of talent that came onstage during the One Piece Film: Red panel as well as the fan reaction to them. The panel was divided into two distinct halves, with the first part featuring the director of the film, Goro Taniguchi, executive producer Shinji Shimizu, who came onstage dressed as a marine officer from the series, and producer Hiroaki Shibata. This part of the panel mostly delved into the behind the scene creative decisions of the film, as well as the amount of involvement from the original series creator, Eiichiro Oda.
This is the first time Oda has gotten involved in the creation of one of the franchise’s films, and his involvement was quite extensive according to the three men. Oda’s involvement ranged from supervising the final draft of the script, to creating original character designs for the new characters, to even directly handpicking the seven composers who wrote the seven songs featured in the film. Taniguchi also explained that Oda wanted there to be a movie that was more female-centric as opposed to the previous films, which usually had a formula of Luffy and his pirate crew fighting against a tough male baddie. Here, it’s not even clear what the conflict will be like, but Shimizu said that Luffy might not even throw a punch in the film. He then backpedaled quickly on that and said that he does have a habit of lying, but regardless of if his claim was true or not, the film is certainly going to be different from earlier entries.
After the Japanese creative talent left, a handful of the English voice cast entered and began to describe their thoughts on the film and voicing the cast for as long as they have. For most of them, they’ve been voicing their roles for over 16 years, an insane amount of time for any ongoing acting role. But the cast remarked on how the show only seemed to grow in popularity in recent years. Chris Sabat, who voices Zoro, proposed the idea that COVID may have had a hand in it, giving people a new show or series to get into during extended quarantine times. It’s certainly plausible, but the simple truth may just be the series is that good.
While the only new footage shown off from the film was of a trailer of the English dub, the audience did get to see a close-up of the new outfits that the characters would be wearing throughout the film. Ian Sinclair, who voices Brook, jokes that he wished he had the wardrobe his character did in the film. Sonny Strait, who voices Usopp, was just happy with the fact that his character was in a full KISS costume for the film as a fan of the band. He also remarked that his character has daddy issues, given that Usopp’s father left him as a child and his character does appear in the film. Strait also teased that they may have some minor interaction, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
If you’re a fan of One Piece, there’s a pretty good chance that One Piece Film: Red is going to be a great time. The film is full of fanservice according to the cast, but it’s yet to be seen just how approachable it will be to newcomers given that the film is going to have a special focus on Shanks, a very sparingly used character that’s almost sacred to fans of the series. Only time will tell, but fans will definitely have plenty to look forward to when One Piece Film: Red releases on November 4th in the States.