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It’s shonen time: Illustrators and manga fans speak about the much-awaited 'One Piece Film: Red'

Updated on: 15 October,2022 09:38 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shriram Iyengar |

The theatre release of the much-awaited anime, One Piece Film: Red, marks a key moment for readers of the series and manga in India. We speak to illustrators and fans to understand its pull

It’s shonen time: Illustrators and manga fans speak about the much-awaited 'One Piece Film: Red'

A cover from Eiichiro Oda’s manga series, One Piece, featuring Monkey D Luffy (centre). Pic Courtesy/ Jump

In 1997, when Windows ’95 was still the biggest thing on the scene, Eiichiro Oda began the first weekly run of a shonen (for young boys) comic series in Japan. Twenty-five years and 103 volumes later, One Piece, is now into its final arc.

For Indian fans, the release of the latest One Piece Film: Red in theatres across major metropolises in India on October 7 has raised the profile of a splintered anime community. Anime and manga fans and illustrators speak to us about the series, the film and the magic of the genre.

Rise of manga
Nikhil Ravikumar, 28, CEO, Pop Circuit

The film was a celebration for Chennaiite Ravikumar, who organised a meet-up (below) for over 600 fans to watch a screening on October 9. “In India, the anime community is splintered into separate city-based groups. We realised how much of a unifying force the series can be,” he tells us. The film is also a marker of the commercial viability of anime in India. “In August, we also had Jujutsu Kaisen Zero release in theatres, which made theatre owners and distributors sit up and take note,” he says. Talking about the film, Ravikumar says that it is a “gateway” for new readers. “There are no actual spoilers in the film about the plot to come in the future,” he assures us, adding, “One Piece is specifically known for its world -building. Its world is  rich, and everything exists in this universe — technology, magic, politics, baseball and samurais,” he sums up.

Changing demographic
Sanidhya Chowdhury, 25, illustrator and graphic designer

Chowdhury believes One Piece stands out for its continuity over two decades. “I don’t think the makers plan to end it either. Fans also want to keep it going,” he says. As a fan, he thinks that it is interesting that the film focuses on the character of Shanks rather than its hero — Luffy. “The exciting thing is the animation and the lighting, as well as the presence of Toei Animation studio,” he says. As an illustrator, he remarks, “Oda’s characters have an old-school style of big eyes, goofy natures and weird character shapes. The animation has improved. But the style and character design has remained consistent. That appeals to me.”

The art evolution
Vishnu M Nair, 29, illustrator and designer

For Nair, it is Oda’s slow evolution as a manga artist that fascinates him. “Manga art is generally heavily rendered to get the depth of richness through textures,” he says. There is a certain boldness and comfort in each stroke that captures the motion lines and elasticity of the series’ panels, he adds. Aside from the technical details, the world-building and complexity of Luffy’s world in the story is an added bonus. “The decision to build the film’s story around Shanks is probably because he will play a bigger role in the final arc. He has been an aloof character throughout the stories,” he notes.

Improved accessibility
Malav Shah, 24, student

For Shah, the fascination with Oda’s series started in school. Since then, the MBA student has gone on to collect 100 volumes (right) of the series. “It has a nostalgia that makes it special,” Shah explains. He attributes the growing popularity of the genre to the rise of OTT and Internet accessibility. Shah points out that the price of Shonen Jump online has also come down considerably. “It is easier to access their entire library online,” he notes. As for the film, the 24-year old points out, “Traditionally, anime movies do not move in the same direction as the comic series,” but adds that they are still part of the canon since this time Oda has created the characters himself.

An anime future

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures and chief of strategy, PVR Ltd
Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures and chief of strategy, PVR Ltd

Anime is no longer a niche product but a growing genre in India, evident by the sprawling consumption of anime films as well as series on all digital platforms. We had a fairly concrete idea that this film is going to be embraced by veteran and newbie anime fans across the country. 

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