April 19, 2024

One Piece is a sequence constructed on lofty guarantees. Chief amongst them: that its hallowed treasure, which nonetheless has but to be revealed because the sequence started 26 years in the past, will likely be well worth the journey; that protagonist Monkey D. Luffy will sometime fulfill his dream of turning into the king of the pirates; and that its long-running manga sequence and intimidatingly lengthy anime will finally finish on a satisfying observe. The discharge of Netflix’s One Piece live-action sequence provides yet one more promise to the sequence’ tab—the promise that, in being tailored to stay motion, it should emerge as one of many good ones, avoiding the dismal destiny of so many anime which have made that journey earlier than. The present doesn’t fully reach maintaining this promise, but it surely makes an honest if uneven first impression, beckoning long-time followers and newcomers alike to remain aboard and see the place it may go subsequent.

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The live-action anime seas are treacherous waters for anime followers who’ve, both earnestly or out of morbid curiosity, watched as sequence like Dragon Ball Z, Avatar: The Final Airbender, Fullmetal Alchemist, and most lately Cowboy Bebop, capsized below the burden of their very own misguided ambition to recapture the magic of their supply materials by throwing actual individuals into the combo. These experiments, for lack of a greater time period, led to the consensus that any subsequent live-action variations could be doomed to fail as a result of the grand worlds, battles, magnificence and kineticism of anime can’t be reproduced in a live-action format, no less than not with out trying low cost and uninspired by comparability.

One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda has been greater than conscious of followers’ trepidation that the One Piece live-action sequence may effectively besmirch his magnum opus’ legacy by turning into yet one more instance of live-action drivel. Stoking these fears was the truth that producer Marty Adelstein’s Tomorrow ITV Studios additionally did Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop, which was promptly canceled after its first season. Nonetheless, Oda promised that the variation, on which he serves as an government producer, wouldn’t “betray” followers who’ve been supporting the sequence for the previous twenty years, and pressured that the present wouldn’t launch until he was satisfied with it.


The primary season of the One Piece live-action sequence, which covers the key story beats from the beginning of the manga’s opening East Blue saga up till the conclusion of the Arlong Park arc, sees Luffy assemble his pirate crew as they set sail to seek out Gold Roger’s titular hidden treasure. The present covers lots of floor, particularly when you think about that it’s condensing what could be 93 chapters (or roughly 17 hours of anime) into eight hour-long episodes. The result’s an often clumsy present that opts to streamline main story beats by dual-tracking arcs collectively in a single episode, thus giving followers who felt intimidated by the manga and anime’s lengths a gateway into Oda’s grand world.

And whereas it leaves a bit to be desired, the Netflix One Piece is likely one of the uncommon well-made live-action anime variations. The present is stuffed with coronary heart, from its vibrant set and wardrobe designs to the disarmingly charming found-family dynamic that the live-action crew so successfully exudes.

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Picture: Netflix

What Netflix’s One Piece live-action sequence does proper

What shocked me most about Netflix’s One Piece live-action sequence is the way it deviates ever so barely from being a rote, SparkNotes abstract of the supply materials’s first main arc by including its personal authentic wrinkles to Oda’s epic, permitting one of many sequence’ subtler relationships—that between Admiral Garp (Vincent Regan) and marine recruit Koby (Morgan Davies)—to take heart stage.

All through the season, the present balances this thread with the cat-and-mouse chase of the Marines pursuing the Straw Hats as they sail towards the Grand Line. Whereas manga and anime One Piece enjoyers like myself know the pair ultimately develop an unbreakable bond, we by no means get to see how the connection between the fearsome admiral and the previous pirate takes root exterior of some stray manga panels interspersed between latter arcs within the sequence. Fortunately, the Netflix sequence is greater than prepared to dedicate time to depicting the common-or-garden beginnings of their healthful friendship.

All through the live-action sequence, Garp instills company in Koby by instructing his subordinate that he ought to get out of his personal head and belief his intestine instincts. In one of many earlier episodes, Garp instills this lesson in Koby over a recreation of Go, which Koby proceeds to finest Garp in after accepting his recommendation. Whereas innocuous on the floor, this scene serves to fill within the anime’s gaps in Koby’s sudden and superior character growth, as he goes from being a timid coward to one of many Marines’ bravest heroes.

This all involves a head when Koby chooses to defy Garp’s orders to detain Luffy as a result of he believes his pal is an effective pirate—one thing marines are indoctrinated into believing doesn’t exist. As a substitute of chastising Koby, Garp praises him for being trustworthy with himself and doing what he thought was proper.

Quite than feeling like filler or glorified fan fiction, Garp and Koby’s conversations construct upon the sequence’ long-running theme about throwing warning to the wind within the pursuit of 1’s dream. For Koby, that dream is being marine.

Whereas the sequence does an distinctive job of characterizing the dynamic of the Straw Hats’ burgeoning camaraderie, Garp and Koby’s flourishing relationship steals the present, and instilled a want in me to see different relationships explored extra deeply within the live-action sequence, ought to it get renewed for a second season.

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A One Piece live action still shows the Straw Hats setting sail for the Grand Line.

Picture: Netflix

Netflix’s One Piece suffers from rising pains, however they aren’t deal breakers

That’s to not say that Netflix’s live-action sequence doesn’t make some sacrifices alongside the best way. Within the present’s barely brisker pacing, which mixes each origin tales and early character-defining arcs for characters like Sanji and Zoro, you miss moments of character growth for Usopp and Luffy, who come off as one-dimensional bystanders to no matter scenes they accompany. That is notably disappointing contemplating their manga and anime counterparts play a extra energetic function of their crewmates’ arcs by having salient conversations about how their associates are feeling. As a substitute, the live-action pair are sometimes delegated to onlookers who both incessantly remark about how robust their associates are or, worse, quip like Marvel heroes.

Whereas the CGI within the live-action One Piece sequence is on par with what you’d see in Netflix’s Witcher sequence, I couldn’t assist however really feel a twinge of disappointment at any time when the present tried to recreate Luffy’s rubberman combating type. Thoughts you, my disappointment wasn’t with how uncanny it regarded, however how sparingly the sequence showcased Luffy’s satan fruit powers. At any time when he really fights utilizing his rubber man talents, it’s contained briefly, tight digital camera pictures, as if the showrunners had been self-conscious about how goofy it’d look to viewers. If something, the sequence would’ve benefited from hanging on pictures of Luffy going wild together with his rubber man antics, particularly contemplating the good first impression the present makes by displaying how efficient Luffy’s Tom and Jerry-esque punches are at knocking people out.

As an entire, the primary season of Netflix’s One Piece live-action sequence is a satisfying begin, one which’s devoted to the supply materials whereas including its personal recent, welcome insights. Whether or not the present’s success ultimately leads its live-action crew to sail to the sands of Alabasta, the clouds of Skypiea, or the impenetrable fortress of Enies Foyer has but to be seen, however I hope to witness its efforts to stay as much as its promising first season.