Is ‘One Piece Film: Red’ Canon?
The answer makes your head hurt
In the 25 years of One Piece‘s existence, one of the golden rules is that none of the fifteen (fifteen!!) movies are series canon. However, whenever mangaka Eiichiro Oda is involved — which first happened for Strong World — that line can get a little murkier. The latest (spectacular) film, One Piece Film: Red, is the murkiest of all. The short answer to, “Is One Piece Film: Red canon?,” is no. The long answer is, “No, but parts of it are.” The emotional reaction to the canon factor after seeing the film is “??!!?!?!?!” Let us address these points one at a time.
As a whole, One Piece Film: Red continues with that golden rule: its events aren’t canon. Even if we weren’t explicitly told this, it’s rather unavoidably the case considering who is in the film. Jinbe is with the Straw Hats, so if it was canon, it would have to take place after Wano. But Big Mom and her pirate crew are also very much still at the top of their game in Red, and I’m going to take a wild guess (as an anime-viewer) that’s not the case after Wano.
However, that doesn’t mean One Piece Film: Red doesn’t introduce canon elements. Whenever Oda is heavily involved, this tends to be the case. The One Piece film Oda was previously most involved with was Strong World, which is not canon but did introduce Shiki the Gold Lion, who does exist in series canon. And One Piece producer at Anime Expo said that Oda was even more involved with Red than Strong World. So as you might expect from all of that, Red introduces a rather major canon character: Shanks’ daughter, Uta.
It’s series canon, then, that Shanks has a daughter who Luffy hung out with on Windmill Island when they were kids. And therein the murkiness begins. We don’t know if the anime companion episodes 1029 and 1030, which dive into Luffy and Uta’s childhood together, are canon. But they very well could be, because they introduce information which enriches what One Piece has already established. Namely, why Luffy wanted a musician on his crew so badly from the get-go.
[Minor spoilers for One Piece Film: Red ahead]
There are also blips in the film which contain canon elements. For example, I think I can tell you without incurring major spoilers that Uta isn’t Shanks’ biological daughter. And, related to that, the Gorosei also throw out what may or may not be Shanks’ last name. This teasing of future canon elements has become A Thing in One Piece films, I suppose. Stampede, the previous one, announced that the final island, “Raftel” (pronounced in Japanese “Rafuteiru”), should actually be transliterated as “Laugh Tale.” But still: murky!
And then there’s the fact that Red is actually incredibly satisfying in how it builds and resolves the relationships between its three major characters: Uta, Luffy, and Shanks. After watching it, I was kind of disappointed it wasn’t canon. But I was also like, “You guys. Are we sure this isn’t canon?!”
I know it can’t be. I already proved that. But the weird, sort of infuriating part is that if they’d just left out the Big Mom Pirates, there could have possibly been actual space in actual One Piece canon for Red. Maybe. I have so much more I want to say on this topic, but my Spoiler Code of Honor prohibits it. For now.
Image credit: Toei Animation
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