We are truly living in the age of pirates, particularly the Straw Hat variety. This month is big for Eiichiro Oda’s Shonen Jump hit, One Piece. The almost 25-year-old anime, now on its 1071st episode and more popular than ever, will adapt a fan-favorite event. The manga is on its 106th volume. Now, on August 31st, we set sail for a horizon yet unseen for the series: live-action. The adaptation was announced back in 2017 and confirmed for Netflix in 2020. Now, it’s time we saw the Straw Hats in a whole new way. So eat a Devil Fruit, chart some maps, and set sail with us as we look at what to expect from this anticipated adaptation!
What is One Piece?
For those who might not know of the series, One Piece follows a group of ragtag pirates called the Straw Hats who are on a quest to chart the Grand Line and find the most valuable treasure in all the world: the One Piece. It’s said that whoever finds Gol D. Roger’s elusive chest will become the next King of the Pirates. The protagonist, Monkey D. Luffy, given the rubber-like powers of the Gum-Gum Fruit, leads his crew on the Going Merry to explore uncharted waters, gather new crew, and defeat anyone who gets in their way.
Hollywood and Anime Adaptations
Anime adaptations have been slippery slopes. Almost every single time Hollywood has tried to bring these shows to the big screen, it never works. Movies like Dragon Ball: Absolution and Ghost in a Shell were disasters, with both critics and audiences turning away. Netflix themselves struggled to adapt some, as they did with Death Note and, most recently, Cowboy Bebop.
For some, it’s forgoing the art form that makes the series so special and making it live-action. Others, it’s shortening a story told over dozens of episodes into two hours and getting rid of essential material. Up to the first few announcements, many feared that One Piece would be another soulless cash grab. As time went on and more was revealed, it seemed like this would be faithful to its source material. The cast and sets were praised when announced to the public. The trailers then proved to fans that we may be in for a good time.
The show was developed by Matt Owens and Steven Maeda. Owens is most known for writing episodes of TV shows such as Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D and Luke Cage, while Maeda worked on The X-Files and the first two seasons of LOST. Executive producing the project is series creator Eiichiro Oda. As One Piece is the most-sold manga series in history, he wanted to ensure that the product was one he would be proud of. The show was filmed partly in Cape Town, South Africa.
Netflix’s One Piece will cover the East Blue arc over eight hour-long episodes. In the manga, this is volumes 1-12, and in the anime, it’s episodes 1-61. It’s okay to have not read or watched the manga/show to understand its adaptation. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out prior to the show’s release. While what has been seen is extremely faithful, it won’t be 100% true to the material. Plus, the source material/s are very good, and you can see where the Straw Hats go next if your hankering to know. This arc acts as an introduction to our five initial crew members and how they come together to find the One Piece.
The Straw Hats
The cast has been one of the highlights of the adaptation. Oda played a big part in selecting who would portray the Straw Hats. He wanted the characters to match his original visions for them, with factors such as country of origin and appearance. From what the trailers have shown, all of them shine. Iñaki Godoy’s turn as wannabe King of the Pirates Monkey D. Luffy looks to be a star-making role for the young Polynesian actor. Makenyu fits swordsman Rononoa Zoro perfectly, down to his green hair and sword skills. Emily Rudd as pickpocketing navigator Nami, Taz Skyler as powerhouse kicker and chef Vinsmoke Sanji, and Jacob Romero Gibson as goofball sharpshooter Usopp round out the main cast in amazing fashion.
At first glance, they look like cosplayers in their costumes. Over time, it starts to grow on you, mainly when they act. Iñaki, in particular, has a very simple outfit, the same as in the first few seasons of the show. However, when he performs, we see the character of Luffy emerge in his quips and mannerisms. The chemistry between the cast members is also present, both on and off camera. While it may be different that what fans are used to, it still feels like One Piece, and that’s a huge compliment. Additionally, for those who want the original voices, the Japanese dub will be done by the anime cast.
Several fan-favorite characters are introduced this season, such as master swordsman Mihawk (Steven Ward), Luffy’s red-haired idol Shanks (Peter Gadiot), Navy wannabe Koby (Morgan Davies), and Chop-Chop Fruit-using clown pirate Buggy (Jeff Ward). While there will be several enemies, the main one will be Fishman Arlong and his gang of pirates, who’ve terrorized Nami’s hometown. It will be interesting to see the approach Netflix will have to the story, as this acts as the coming together of the Straw Hats.
That’s all there is to know about Netflix’s One Piece! What are your thoughts? Are you excited to see it on August 31st? How do you think it will do? Will it break Hollywood’s bad streak of anime adaptations? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and leave a like if you want more content like this. Until next time, Straw Hats!