Luffy and the straw hat pirates are sailing to new heights with One Piece Film: Red, but not everyone feels so sanguine about its continued success. 

one piece volume 104

Joy Boy returns in Eiichiro Oda’s cover art to ‘One Piece’ Volume 104 (2022), Shueisha via digital issue

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Since the series began serializing in the pages of Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump in 1999, creator Eiichro Oda has since day one depicted its worlds numerous and various pirates, including the Straw Hats, as rebels against the world’s oppressive authoritarian World Government.

One Piece 1065 color

The cast of One Piece Film: Red assembles in Eiichiro Oda’s color spread for ‘One Piece’ Chapter 1065, “Six Vegapunks” (2022), Shueisha via digital issue

However, it seems that Japanese human rights lawyer Hajime Kambara missed the memo regarding arguably the themes of freedom in the world’s most popular manga, as after taking his daughter to see the film on November 12th, he found himself appalled at what he perceived was a regressive story.

Uta shows off the abilities of her Sing-Sing Fruit in One Piece: Film: Red (2022) via Toei Animation

“My daughter accompanied me to see the movie One Piece for the first time,” Kambara recounted on November 12th. “Which was filled with the right-wing’s favorite counterrevolutionary ideology: ‘If the people want peace, the opposite will happen.'”

“The story is about a bunch of men who look like bodybuilders, and they just keep on violating each other,” he added. “I guess the author (Eiichro Oda) is anti-feminism and anti-democracy.”

Kambara tweet

Hajime Kambara Twitter

“Even though the beginning of the film depicts the people suffering from the war, it does not show any resolution in the end,” Kambara then acknowledged.”If there is an ideology in this film, it is at best a chivalrous one, i.e., a gangster’s ideology.”

“Anti-revolutionary ideology and chivalry, anti-feminism and anti-democracy,” he described the film. “Japanese society is truly hopeless when it comes to the popularity of such anime.”

Kambara tweet 2

Hajime Kambara Twitter

The lawyer then began to compare not just Film: Red, but the entirety of the anime medium to Disney’s animated offerings, arguing that “while Disney has many works that are suitable for children but can be appreciated by adults, Japanese anime is really bad.”

“This is probably because the values of the creators are stuck in the Showa era (1926-1989),” he said. “In the process of a country’s decline, even at the level of ideology and values, there is a regression and corruption. This is not just a problem of anime, but a problem of the decline of Japanese society as a whole.”

Kambara tweet 3

Hajime Kambara Twitter

Unsurprisingly, Kambara was met with an overwhelming wave of backlash from Japanese fans, as they felt that his opinion was both disingenuous and ignorant of the very spirit of One Piece.

Brook and Soul Solid slice through Uta's attackers in One Piece Film: Red (2022), Toei Animation via YouTube

Brook and Soul Solid slice through Uta’s attackers in One Piece Film: Red (2022), Toei Animation via YouTube

In turn, the lawyer returned to the topic the next day to push back, “I get comments on this tweet that I should read the original manga, just watch the movie, but I’m giving my opinion of the movie, so why do I need to read the original story?”

“If the original story and the movie are different, why don’t people who like the original story protest the movie?” he further inquired.

Kambara tweet 4

Hajime Kambara Twitter

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“In the original story, there’s a counterargument that pirates are anti-authority,” Kambara acknowledged. “But at least in this movie, the pirates and the navy were pretty familiar with each other.”  

“Uta is the revolutionary in this movie, right?” he added. “Uta’s revolution is destined to lose popular support because it is self-righteous. The pirates may be anti-authority, but shouldn’t the film as a whole be understood as anti-revolution?”

Kambara tweet 6

Hajime Kambara Twitter

Ultimately, Kambara closed out his complaints by taking issue with how all “the pirates are macho anyway”.

Kambara tweet 7

Hajime Kambara Twitter

“They all have bodies like bodybuilders,” he complained. “The master of the pirates (Uta’s foster parent) is a man of the Showa era (Ken Takakura type).”

“It’s a mystery why this kind of stereotypical, macho, male chauvinism, Showa-era look is still popular,” he concluded. “After all, hasn’t time stopped in Japan since some time in the Showa period?”

Trafalgar D. Law accompanies his crewmate Beppo to Uta's concert in One Piece Film: Red (2022), Toei Animation via YouTube

Trafalgar D. Law accompanies his crewmate Beppo to Uta’s concert in One Piece Film: Red (2022), Toei Animation via YouTube

One Piece Film: Red is now playing in select theaters.

[Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article featured a grammatically confusing headline. It has since been updated for clarity.]

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