Luffy watching Uta's concert in One Piece FIlm: Red

Yes, Luffy’s Gear Five Is in ‘One Piece Film: Red’

[Spoilers for both the One Piece manga and One Piece Film: Red ahead]

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Historically speaking, One Piece movies tend to show off whatever hot new moves the characters had recently developed in the anime and manga. When in doubt, they typically lean towards where the anime is, as opposed to the manga, which is further ahead in the story. But One Piece Film: Red has a bit of an issue therein. What happens when the gap between the anime and the manga is shrinking, but within that gap, the manga introduced something so huge that there’s no way fans won’t want to see it? But which would constitute a gigantic spoiler for anyone who’s only watching the anime? Red came up with a compromise—and it’s goddamn genius.

So, for you manga-readers: yes, Gear Five is in Red. But it’s the coyest feature of a major attack I have ever seen in anything shounen. It very much feels like director Gorō Taniguchi and his team are winking playfully at you. I freaking loved it.

Gear Five is done in such a way that it’s not really a spoiler for anyone watching Red who’s only caught up on the anime. You have to pay close attention to Luffy in one of the flashiest, most chaotic, most emotional scenes in the film. There’s no frontal full-body shot of Luffy in Gear Five. There’s no “LOOKEE GEAR FIVE” moment. And contrary to all shounen protocol, Luffy doesn’t announce it, either. He just kind of… slips into it from Gear Four.

It’s a huge freaking tease. Seriously: if you’re not really looking for it, you might miss it entirely. I was looking for it, and I missed the transformation itself the first time I saw the film. (I caught the aftermath, though, and felt excited as all hell.)

Which is why I think it’s a perfect compromise between anime watchers and manga readers. Gear Five is definitely there, and it’s the first time it’s ever been animated. And it’s animated beautifully, because the whole film is animated beautifully. So manga readers will be pleased. And anime watchers who watched closely will come out of the theater wondering, “Huh. Why was Luffy all white for a second there?”

That being said, Gear Five is on the cover of the new volume of One Piece. Even if you’re still not caught up on the manga (hello, hi), it’s hard to not know it exists. Especially if you live in Japan and the new volume of One Piece is displayed on the magazine shelf of every single convenience store.

The Gear Five cameo is one of the many risky stunts that Red actually pulls off. Gorō Taniguchi, I say — cheers to you, sir.

Image credit: Toei Animation

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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.