Luffy and Uta as kids from One Piece Film: Red

Fans Are Dying to Know More About Uta, Shanks’ Daughter (??!!), in ‘One Piece Film: Red’

When One Piece Film: Red was first announced, the hype was immediate. From the very first teaser, fans knew that the film was heavily tied to Shanks—Luffy’s idol who gave him the iconic Straw Hat, and who also happens to be one of the Four Emperors. We also knew the film would be music-related and feature someone named Uta (“uta” means “song” in Japanese). When, in the second trailer, it was revealed that Uta is Shanks’ daughter, everyone’s minds were blown. Curiosity about Uta, the idol daughter of a Pirate Emperor, skyrocketed. And, honestly—of course it did! That’s kind of a major information drop!

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Red‘s release only made Uta more popular. And in her own right, too—not just as Shanks’ daughter. Even the director of the film said that the extent of her real-world fanbase surprised him. So what’s her deal?

Uta’s parentage and history

Some spoilers ahead for One Piece Film: Red, but I’ll stay away from major plot spoilers

Yes, Uta is Shanks’ daughter. Prior to Uta, no mention has ever been made of Shanks’ progeny. So her very existence is a huge deal. But you learn during One Piece Film: Red that Uta is not Shanks’ biological daughter. Shanks found Uta as a baby among some loot, during his early days of captain-ing—very much like how Roger found Shanks in a treasure chest at God Valley.

And so, as Shanks and the Red Hair Pirates began to make themselves known, Uta grew up on their ship as the crew’s resident musician. She considered Shanks both her father and her captain. This also means that Luffy and Uta knew each other as kids in Windmill Village, Luffy’s hometown. Notice that in these flashbacks with Uta, Luffy doesn’t have the scar under his eye yet. Luffy gave himself that scar to prove to Shanks that he was tough enough to join the Red Hair Pirates, just as they were about to set out to sea. By that point, Uta had … uh … been dropped off elsewhere.

There’s about a fifteen year gap between Uta and Luffy’s childhood in the East Blue and the present day. Uta spent those fifteen years on the island of Elegia, studying music in some serious isolation with a nice man named Gordon. One day, some Transponder Snails with the ability to send out video washed up on shore, and Uta suddenly had the ability to share her music. She became a pop star quite quickly.

She “streamed” songs and dances via Video Transponder snail, until the song “Shin Jidai” (as in, the video above) became her breakout hit. The immense popularity of the song enabled her to organize her first-ever live concert, which is the setting of One Piece Film: Red.

What Uta will bring to One Piece

For me, one of the really fascinating things about One Piece Film: Red is how Uta serves more-or-less the exact same function within the real world and the world of One Piece. One Piece has never had an idol character before, and the people love it. A very healthy stream of virtual idols have sprung forth from Japan, the most famous of which is Hatsune Miku. Uta is essentially … well, a virtual idol, creating just as big of a fan base in the real world. There are seven tie-in Uta songs for the film, which is unprecedented for a One Piece movie. It’s a fascinating fourth wall-breaking endeavor, when you think about it.

The voices behind Uta

To un-blur the lines of reality and fiction a little bit, the real-life singing voice behind Uta is a famous Japanese singer named Ado, who broke onto the JPop scene during the pandemic. To re-blur them again, Ado is a pseudonym, and neither her real name nor her physical likeness is known. When she plays concerts, she does so in silhouette. All of her press figures are of an anime-style avatar. (Oda seemingly drew a picture of her avatar for Red.) Ado’s press at the time of Red‘s release claimed her to be 19. If that’s true, you will find me in a corner, reflecting on my life.

Uta’s speaking voice comes courtesy of a different actress, Kaori Nazuka. Eagle-eyed anime fans might put together that Nazuka played Nunnally in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, which shares its director with One Piece Film: Red. (This, by the way, made me lose my shit. My only non-One Piece figure is of ol’ Lelouch. I cannot recommend Code Geass highly enough.)

In the English dub, Uta’s voice actress is Amanda Lee, better known as the YouTube star AmaLee. Lee has also voiced Marin in My Dress-Up Darling and, funnily enough, the idol Rui Nikaido in ODDTAXI.

Is Uta canon?

Like every other One Piece movie, the events of One Piece Film: Red are not canon. However, Uta’s existence is. She’s actually appeared in the manga, as a shadow in Shanks’ memory. This kind of thing has happened before with Shiki the Golden Lion, the antagonist of One Piece Film: Strong World. But in actual One Piece canon, Shiki was a member of the legendary Rocks Pirates and the only person to break out of Impel Down before Luffy got in there.

However, the fact that Uta’s existence is canon while the film is not is … confusing. But that’s another (very spoiler-heavy) conversation entirely.

(Featured image: Toei Animation)


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Author
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.