One Piece Film Red Producer Shinji Shimizu Unpacks Shanks' Past and the Anime's Future in Exclusive Interview

It has been more than 20 years since One Piece was first brought to the screen, and the Straw Hat pirates have never been bigger than they are today. Luffy and the gang have seen fans through some wild adventures, and their next voyage is on the horizon. After all, One Piece Film Red will come out this August, and ComicBook got the lowdown on the movie recently from producer Shinji Shimizu himself!

We got the chance to speak with the beloved producer at Anime Expo this month, and it was there Shimizu walked us through their love for One Piece. So if you want to know more about the anime's history and why One Piece Film Red is his favorite movie to date, read on…!

You've been with One Piece since the anime began and have seen the series evolve over the years. Can you tell us how you got introduced to the project? And how your involvement with One Piece has changed over the years?

Shinji Shimizu: When One Piece was first serialized, it immediately shot to the top of the Shonen Jump's line of manga. As an anime for One Piece got underway, I was asked to come on and oversee the series. 

One Piece has well over a thousand episodes to its name. Is there a certain arc or saga from the anime that stands out to you the most? Or that you are most proud to have worked on?

Shimizu: I might be a little biased because I was heavily involved in the production side of it, but the Alabasta arc is my favorite. The battle between Luffy and Crocodile was great. 

You have worked extensively with Eiichiro Oda-san over the years on One Piece. What are some of the most important things you've learned from the creator?

Shimizu: Oda-sensei is, of course, a really, really hard worker. He pulls all-nighters after all-nighters to write, to illustrate, and to write the manga some more. I think he's a genius in his own right. But what makes him very remarkable is the fact that he doesn't consider his current level of hard work to be hard work. He genuinely enjoys it. So it doesn't feel like it to him

On One Piece, you've overseen everything from planning to production and beyond. What is the most rewarding part of your job working on the anime?

Shimizu: Oh, I think the animation of One Piece has many moving parts in its own right. It is quite interesting to see. But being able to take in everything from planning and producing perspective, I find that very enjoyable. 

Over the years, you've worked on a number of One Piece movies. Which film stands out to you as your favorite?

Shimizu: That's an easy question. It's Red, of course. After that, I would say I really enjoy Dead End Adventure. 

Looking at One Piece's films, is there a moment or project you are particularly proud about? 

Shimizu: I'd have to look at Strong World. That's because Oda-sensei was personally involved in the writing of the script and scenario, so all of our team members of course worked very well. The minute you saw the movie completed and it was on the big screen, that was a big moment for all. 

And on the other hand, are there any moments working on One Piece's movies that tested your team in an unexpected way?

Shimizu: I'd say One Piece: Stampede was challenging. The schedule was very tight but thank goodness, the movie did quite well for itself. 

One Piece Film Red is the next movie slated to join the anime. Without spoilers, what do you think this movie has that sets it apart from those before it?

Shimizu: So with One Piece: Red, the biggest difference with this film is that Oda-sensei really wanted to have a female character so that's something that I would say sets it apart. That's honestly one of the biggest differentiating factors, I would say.

Can you speak a little about how One Piece Film Red came about? Was there a specific pitch or idea that got the film rolling?

Shimizu: One Piece, the manga, this year marks the 25th year since it started serializing. And even for the animated series, it's been 23 years. So the average age of the fan, I think, has gone up considerably over the past 20 or some odd years. We have 1000 episodes. So, audiences in a younger demographic, they may know of One Piece but they don't fully know the series or have the chance to get to fall in love with its characters. This new movie, I would say is, a chance for new, younger audiences to find a touch point with the franchise.

With One Piece Film Red, what would you say you are the most excited about in this film?

Shimizu: The answer is its music. I think that's one of the biggest components in this film. One Piece films of past didn't necessarily have a huge focus on their musical component. I think it'll really appeal to the existing One Piece fans, but this music will also expose the series to a new generation and demographic that never really got to experience One Piece. 

One Piece is in the middle of its Wano saga and released some truly impressive episodes. It seems the anime is getting more popular by the day, so as someone who has been with One Piece since day one, what are you most excited to see the anime do in the next few years?

Shimizu: When it comes to legacy, I would say that God only knows. Or in this case, only Oda would know. It's been announced in Japan, but Oda is taking a one-month break and he's going to resume the manga towards the end of July. He is going go into the final arc soon, so with all of the secrets and the different subplots that have been brewing over all these years, it's all going to start moving towards an end. I think that we will have to wait and see how it goes.

And as One Piece enters its final arc, the fervor surrounding the series will reach an all-time high. How do you think the series' legacy will be viewed generations from now once Luffy's adventure has ended?

Shimizu: I hope the audience will feel this once the series moves into its final arc. What I believe is that One Piece will be one of the biggest and the best comic book franchises on the market once it has completed its final arc. I say this because I've spoken to Oda-sensei and he's hinted at the direction of where the manga is going. This series is something that has been serialized with its TV anime, of course, there's a manga release once a week. So, the idea that it's going to end – we're really going to savor that final arc together leave fans with the best comic book the market has ever seen. There's gonna be a lot of surprising themes and choices. But I can't tell you any more!

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