The One Piece Live Action adaption is finally here! Netflix’s adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s manga of the same name, ‘One Piece’. From positive reactions at fan events over the past week, the show has finally released on Netflix and now we have a chance to watch it, and see what we think! Will this Live action adaption be the one to break the curse of anime adaptions? Well from the first episode alone, it looks to have done it!
The series follows the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates, as they explore the dangerous oceans, lands and beyond in search of the “One Piece“, a fabled treasure that will make their captain, Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy), “King of the Pirates”. But the Navy is on their ship’s tail and they are not the only crew searching for the One Piece. Armed with skills and unbreakable friendship, the Straw Hats are ready for the journey and even more ready to fight for their dreams together.
Monkey D. Luffy
Though the series may follow the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates, it all leads back to the captain, Monkey D. Luffy. Iñaki Godoy plays Luffy in such a faithful way, while still adding his own twist to the character. The essence of soul of the character is there; his playful attitude, love of freedom and his emotional intelligence when dealing with people.
Iñaki Godoy however also brings an almost sassy quality to the character of Luffy. When asked by Alvida (Ilia Isorelýs Paulino) “What kind of monster are you?” upon finding out his rubber-like abilities, Iñaki‘s Luffy replied “The Stretchy Kind” in a cheeky way. This feels like Luffy in a very faithful way, while being a fresh take on the character for long-time fans.
In this very first episode we are imparted with everything we need to know about this character. His idea about what it means to be free. Luffy has the ability to make people follow their own dreams and find their own freedom. His interactions with Koby (Morgan Davies) are a highlight of this episode.
Pirate-Hunter Roronoa Zoro
Episode one also introduces us to two other future Straw Hat Pirate members. Pirate-Hunter Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu) and Cat Burglar Nami (Emily Rudd). Their use throughout this episode was a very well balance of original content and pre-existing content. The Original Content with Zoro was handled extremely well, as it was even mentioned in the manga series. Zoro being recruited by Mr. 7 of an organisation called Baroque Works.
Mackenyu‘s scenes as Zoro beautiful to watch, as they usually involve some sort of sword fighter which is done so well. As an actor, Mackenyu brings an air of mysteriousness to the Pirate-Hunter. This works extremely well for his introduction. However we still get scenes of his good natured spirit, eating a young girls food off the floor to cheer her up, and protecting her from corrupt Marines.
Cat Burglar Nami
Nami (Emily Rudd) also gets introduced in this first episode, with us first seeing a scene which is adapted from the manga. Stealing a ship from some pirates drifting by, showing her skills as a thief. We see this multiple times throughout the episode, scoping someone out in the bar to steal their clothes, and just her aptitude of coming up with lies on the spot. It is interesting that Nami is looking for a map to the grand line, with her originally stealing this from the Buggy Pirates.
It is nice that they connect this, by having the Buggy Pirate member Cabaji (Sven Ruygrok) present at the Marine Base. We also get a final scene with him reporting back to the terrifying Buggy (Jeff Ward). Emily Rudd plays Nami in a great way and I look forward to future episodes with her in.
Peacemains and Morganeers
A very nice element incorporated into this episode is not only the idea of good Pirates and bad Pirates, but good Marines and bad Marines. An original draft of ‘One Piece’ had this concept with names given to them, with Morganeers being bad Pirates, and Peacemains being good Pirates. This would be where Captain Morgans name originally comes from. It is nice to hear this address by Luffy, especially when talking with Koby about his dream of becoming a Marine.
A very interesting addition to this episode, is the early introduction of Marine Vice Admiral Garp (Vincent Regen). We see him present at the execution of Gold Roger (Michael Dorman) at the very beginning of the episode. This sets him up as essentially the face of the World Government and the Marines for this season so far. So to introduce him at the end of the episode, telling him about a Pirate with a Straw Hat, sets him up as a threat to our characters.
This is done well, giving him a purpose to be introduced this early in the season. It will be interesting to see how Garp develops over the season, as the one hunting our Straw Hat Pirates. Vincent Regen brings a lot of authority to the character of Garp. It will be interesting to see the other side of Garp which fans of the series know so well. Garp being introduced this early in the series may put some existing fans on the backfoot, but so far, I think his introduction is warranted and has purpose.
The directing of this episode for the most part was very good. The director, Marc Jobst, has done a number of interviews talking about his time directing on ‘One Piece’. The directing shone in action scenes and in scenes setting up locations.
The biggest issue I had was with some of the cinematography, which at times was amazing, and other times was a little off putting. Closeup shots of our characters, such as Zoro in the Yard and sweat dripping down him, were done extremely well. Setting up how our character feels and making us uncomfortable as well.However some shots, seen noticeably with Lucky Roux (Ntlanhla Morgan Kutu) in Luffy’s flashback, which zoomed in on a character reaction did not work for me.
From the first episode alone, the writing has been very well done. It has managed to fill a lot of story into such a small amount of time, and yet the pacing feels fine. We still get intimate moments with our characters which fulfill big emotional beats, that still work, despite the quick pace. The fact this episode was able to get so much in, is amazing.
This isn’t even to talk about all the great world-building that this episode manages to do. Setting up the current situation of the world and alluding to the political powers in play is done efficiently and well. The show not only manages to set up the One Piece world, but also relishes in it. We get references and little nods to stuff One Piece fans know all about. Sixis island, the island which Zoro fights Mr. 7 was originally introduced in the Ace light novel. It will be amazing to break this show down, and see what the writers have poured into this, from their love of the series.
The biggest trepidation for fans coming into a live action adaption of ‘One Piece’ would always be the visual effects and CG. Our main character is a rubber man who can stretch his limbs. On a TV-Budget this could come off as cheap and effect our enjoyment of the show. For the most part, all the effects of Luffy stretching his limbs in the first episode look extremely good.
It is meant to look unnatural, this is someone doing unnatural things. So for me at least, none of the effects took away from my enjoyment of what was on screen.
From the first episode alone, this sells that ‘One Piece’ can work in live action and be faithful to the source material without being a straight one to one adaption. Is it perfect? No. There are still issues with the story, but for what it sets out to do, ‘One Piece’ is successful. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of this season pans out!
One Piece is a fantasy adventure streaming television series developed by Matt Owens and Steven Maeda for Netflix. The series is a live action adaptation of the ongoing 1997 manga series of the same name by Eiichiro Oda. The series features an ensemble cast including Iñaki Godoy, Mackenyu, Emily Rudd, Jacob Romero Gibson, and Taz Skylar.
One Piece is on Netflix with 8 episodes of Season 1.