Japanese artist Ado, who sings the part of Uta in the hit movie “One Piece Film: Red,” thought she was being pranked after learning that she would be performing the singing voice of the film’s complex antagonist.
In an email interview with NextShark through an interpreter, Ado admits that, initially, she could not believe she would be the singing voice of Uta in this year’s highly anticipated “One Piece” film.
“I really didn’t believe it was true, to the point that I thought that there was a hidden camera somewhere shooting me reacting to a ‘Let’s see how Ado reacts when she first discovers she’s been offered the singing part for Uta’ set up,” she tells NextShark.
The critically acclaimed film
“One Piece Film: Red,” directed by Gorō Taniguchi, is the15th installment in the movie series of the long-running “One Piece” franchise created by Eiichiro Oda. The movie, which first premiered in Japan on July 22, was well-received by critics and fans alike, scoring a 93% critic score and a 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.
The film follows the Straw Hat pirates as they attend the concert of the “World-Famous Diva” Uta, who also happens to be the childhood friend of series protagonist Monkey D. Luffy.
Uta developed her singing talent on Red-Haired Shanks’ ship as his crew mates, known collectively as the Red-Haired Pirates, would often sing to her when she was a baby to calm her. Coincidentally, Ado was also exposed to singing at a young age, much like the character she performs.
Born in Tokyo in 2002, Ado’s introduction to music was through Vocaloid, a singing synthesizer software released in the late 2000s that rose to popularity through the character Hatsune Miku. Ado then became swept up in Utaite, a Japanese term usually used to describe someone who covers Vocaloid songs using their real voice.
The singer chose the name Ado after she came across the terms “Shite” (the main/lead actor) and “Ado” (the supporting lead) while studying the traditional Kyogen (comic theater) play “Kaki Yamabushi (The Persimmon Thief)” in elementary school, she explains to NextShark. “I thought that ‘Ado’ sounded so cool, so I decided to use it.”
“Later on, I found out that the main meaning behind ‘Ado’ was being a ‘supporting role.’ Since then, my heart and soul have been dedicated to doing all my activities and [also] through my song, with the hope of being a support to people. I’m happy if I’m able to achieve that through the presence of Ado.”
When asked if the similarities between herself and the character helped her sing the part of Uta, Ado says, “I felt that there are definitely some similarities between us. Not for every song, but depending on the song when I sang, I considered the overlap of Uta’s emotions, feelings and enthusiasm with mine.”
The trailer blew many fans’ minds, considering that Shanks is one of the most mysterious characters in the series and has only appeared briefly in several arcs, with his most notable appearance being at the endof the Reverie Arc.
“The ‘One Piece’ film series started before I was born, and I think that there have been many shocking reveals since then. But in the history of the series, I feel the reveal of Shanks having a daughter is the most shocking of all time,” she tells NextShark.
“One Piece Film: Red” opened strong in North America on Nov. 4, earning over $9 million domestically during its debut weekend. It reportedly maintained the No. 1 spot in Japan’s box office for 11 consecutive weeks before dropping the week after that. The movie eventually retook the No. 1 spot in its 13th and 14th week.
Ado’s music and her rise to prominence
Beyond the movie’s earnings, the film’s soundtrack has also been widely recognized. Ado’s song “New Genesis (Shinjidai),” the film’s theme song, toppedApple Music’s Global Top 100 chart in August, while six of her songs from the film’s soundtrack dominated Billboard Japan’s Hot 100 that same month.
“Uta is known as a ‘world-famous songstress’ loved by many [in the film]. I couldn’t believe that this actually became reality,” Ado says about her chart-topping achievements. “It’s the moment when fiction becomes non-fiction, and it’s amazing what happens when animation links up with reality.”
Ado, who represents herself with an avatar, first rose to popularity through her collaborations with music producers in the Japanese pop scene. Her fame catapulted even more following the release of her debut single “Usseewa,” which became a massive hit in Japan for its controversial lyrics that criticize Japanese society and modern corporate culture.
“I reminisced on the times I had the same kind of anger conveyed in ‘Usseewa,’” Ado toldThe Japan Times in 2021. “I tried to think of times when I was pressured by my family and other people I know. But I also drew from the anger I have toward myself. That’s what I thought of when singing the song.”
Ado released her first full-length album in January titled “Kyougen,” which includes other popular singles such as “Readymade,” “Gira Gira” and “Odo.”
Her songs have become so popular internationally that many of her fans from around the world have started posting reaction videos to her singles, including Bang Chan from Stray Kids.
In the 156th episodeof his weekly live broadcast “Chan’s Room” in May, the 25-year-old K-pop star noted that Ado’s song “Odo” is “amazing,” adding that it made him “want to keep listening to it because something unexpected keeps coming up.”
What is next for Ado?
Following her success, American record label Geffen Records announced its new partnership with the Japanese singer. Some of the most famous artists who have released albums under the label includeOlivia Rodrigo,Snoop Dogg and Elton John.
“We’re very excited to welcome Ado to the Geffen family,” Tom March, president of Geffen Records, said in a press release. “Her music from ‘One Piece Film: Red’ has taken the world by storm and we’re looking forward to starting our partnership as the film opens here in the U.S. in November.”
“I’m so honored and excited to join the Geffen Records family. I’m looking forward to connecting with my fans internationally. Much love and thanks to all,” Ado said in the press release.
When asked what her fans can expect from the partnership, Ado tells NextShark, “In the future, in addition to Japan, I’d really like to expand my activities internationally. I’d like to perform in concerts, at music festivals and various events, which I hope people can enjoy and love.”
Many people might not know this, but NextShark is a small media startup that runs on no outside funding or loans, and with no paywalls or subscription fees, we rely on help from our community and readers like you.
Everything you see today is built by Asians, for Asians to help amplify our voices globally and support each other. However, we still face many difficulties in our industry because of our commitment to accessible and informational Asian news coverage.
We hope you consider making a contribution to NextShark so we can continue to provide you quality journalism that informs, educates, and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way. Thank you for supporting NextShark and our community.