I went to see the new ONE PIECE movie on Monday, One Piece Film Red to give it its full title. I was excited to watch it on the big screen. I was also making the most of something pretty rare over here: an early release for a movie in Japan! Well, it is a Japanese movie so I guess there are no surprises there. We usually have to wait weeks if not months for the majority of movies from other shores.

So how was it? Well, it was bright, colourful and very very musical. In fact I thought it was a musical as it features seven songs by the young Japanese singer Ado. It felt like a series of music videos set in the One Piece universe. The songs are performed by new character “Uta” which means “song” in Japanese. Here’s the brief synopsis of the film:

“Uta is a beloved singer, renowned for concealing her own identity when performing. Her voice is described as “otherworldly.” Now, for the first time ever, Uta will reveal herself to the world at a live concert.”

So the movie is basically the One Piece characters watching Uta’s LIVE Concert, which leads to some backstory about the new character and some rather confusing battles. The animation uses a mixture of traditional 2D and CGI, especially during the musical numbers. The effect verges on psychedelic at times. Ironically mushrooms play an important part in the story, but no spoilers here.

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Tokyo Godfathers (2003) Directed by Satoshi Kon

I watched this Japanese animated movie last night and really enjoyed it. I was looking for a “Christmas movie” to watch and chose this because it takes place over Christmas and New Year. It was directed by Satoshi Kon, who is probably better known for his 1997 animated psychological thriller Perfect Blue. He also made Paprika (2006), another memorable animated movie that some say Christopher Nolan “borrowed” from for Inception (2008). I recommend them both. In researching the film, I learned that Satoshi Kon died of pancreatic cancer in 2010. He was only 46 years old.

Tokyo Godfathers tells the story of three homeless people and their experiences after finding an abandoned baby during one cold winter in Tokyo. Gin (pron. with a hard “g”) is a middle-aged man who has had problems with gambling in the past. Haru is a gay man who used to work in a Tokyo nightclub. Midori is a teenage girl who left home after fighting with her father. They exist as a kind of “pseudo-family” doing their best to survive on the streets of Tokyo. They are each believable characters who made me care about their stories.

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