How One Piece Movie: Red Breaks One Piece Rules

This movie is really beautiful and there are some really creative uses of 3D CGI in Uta’s performance. How did you make those decisions and figure out the look of the film?

SH: It’s a movie loaded with music, but that doesn’t mean the story isn’t as important. It’s a good balance between character, emotion, energy and performance and what’s the best way to translate that to the screen. This is where Toei has experience that could help us. In terms of 3D, dancing and singing, there’s a show called Pre-cooking [Pretty Cure] and for ten years they have been building this arsenal of techniques and knowledge little by little. So when it came time to finalize the music and performances we wanted, it was up to us mo-capping dancers to get the choreography right. Of course, we couldn’t use 3D as given by the look and feel of A playso Director Taniguchi-san and Deputy Director AD both worked really hard to then use those mo-cap assets and other 3D components to make this hybrid experience more of it.

Taniguchi-san, you made the 1998 A play OVA, Beat him! The Pirate Ganzak and are technically the first person responsible for animating Luffy. Can you talk about that original opportunity and what it was like to come back into character and into this world nearly 25 years later?

GT: Interestingly, the 1998 OVA was my first time directing a project. When I finally got on board One Piece Movie: Red as a director, it almost felt like we were coming full circle in a weird way and going back to my roots and where I came from. I knew a lot of the same people and crew would be working together on the film and part of me was excited and nostalgic to have this reunion, but part of me was also anxious about what the weather might have done to our dynamic and what else has changed over time. It was a mix of emotions for me, but once we got into production it became clear that there was a lot more that hadn’t changed – in a good way – and we could immediately merge as a team and come back to it.

Do you think this is the last time audiences see Uta or could she return in the future?

SH: Honestly, she’s a character that Oda sensei came up with and developed himself, so whether or not she’ll come back is something that even I don’t know from watching the movie alone. What I can say is that during the end credits, everyone sings Uta’s songs and there is a certain energy. My belief is that therein lies the answer to this question.