Just like in any adaptation, there are bound to be changes made when recreating an original work. Whether that be from book to movie, or in the case of One Piece, from manga to anime to Netflix live action series, the way the story is told will never be exactly the same as it was in the original. Some critics would argue that this makes the adaptation worse or betrays the original, and sometimes the changes do that. However, in the case of the One Piece Netflix adaptation, a betrayal is not a word that can be used to describe it. This article will highlight the major differences in the live action vs. anime of One Piece and should not be considered a series review. If you are looking for a review, check out the official TGON One Piece Review here – I agree with every word of it.
For a quick overview of One Piece as a whole, the manga has been being produced since 1997 and the anime since 2004. There are hundreds of volumes in the manga and nearly 1100 episodes in the anime, plus over a dozen movies – the latest movie being One Piece Red, which was in American movie theaters in Summer 2022. The eight episodes of the Netflix adaptation cover the first 45 episodes of the anime. although, it was really supposed to cover the first 61, it unfortunately does not as it does not cover the Logue Town and Warship Island arks that are encompassed in the first 61 episodes. As an avid fan of One Piece for many years myself, I hope these two arks are covered in season 2 of the Netflix adaptation because it develops all the characters and setting a lot, as well as foreshadows important future events.
Now, let’s jump into the differences between the live action and anime (some spoilers):
Netflix Episode 1 – Romance Dawn: More so than any of the other episodes, this episode sticks most closely to the story as the anime portrays it. The biggest difference is how Monkey D. Luffy (the main character) meets his first crewmate, Roronoa Zoro, and the fact that Luffy does not meet his second crewmate, Nami, until their encounter with the Buggy Pirates in the anime. In the live action, Luffy meets Nami during their encounter with the Axehand Marines and they both save Zoro, something that does not happen in the anime. Luffy meeting Kobe is something that is very consistent with the anime though.
Netflix Episode 2 – The Man the Straw Hat: There are more differences in this episode, but the major one is Kobe’s meeting with Vice Marine Admiral Garp. In the anime, this does not happen until episode 50 and when it does happen, Garp is a much more relaxed character than what is portrayed in the live action. Also, the fight with the Buggy Pirates is much different than what happens in the anime, which culminates into another fight around episode 58 through 60.
Netflix Episode 3 – Tell No Tales: This episode is when Luffy, Zoro, and Nami meet their third crewmate, Usopp, in Syrup Village. The core of the story stays the same as the anime, but how it plays out is much different. The crew does meet Kaya and her butler Klahadore in both versions of the story, but Klahadore never poisons Kaya in the anime and the Straw Hat Pirates (Luffy’s crew) do not find out Klahadore is an evil pirate until much later. Also, Kaya is not the owner of a shipyard in the anime.
Netflix Episode 4 – The Pirates are Coming: This episode houses the first major fight in the Netflix adaptation. However, the Straw Hat Pirate vs. Klahadore Pirate fight happens at Kaya’s Mansion, not on the shore of Syrup Village like in the Anime. Also, Kaya’s finance manager is murdered in the adaptation, but not in the anime. Finally, Klahadore Pirates’ co-captain, Jongo, is never met in the Netflix version.
Netflix Episode 5 – Eat at Baratie!: The Straw Hat crew in Luffy, Zoro, Nami, and Usopp meet their fourth and final crewmate here in Sanji. This is consistent in both the live action and anime, however, the entire Baratie ark is much different. In the Netflix version, a shipwrecked pirate happens upon the Baratie and Sanji gives him free food, then nothing else happens. In the anime, this pirate Sanji fed brings his captain back to the Baratie which triggers a sequence of events with the Don Krieg Pirates that lasts about 12 episodes. The Don Krieg Pirates are completely skipped over in the Netflix version without a single mention, making this the biggest difference between the Netflix version and anime.
Netflix Episode 6 – The Chef and the Chore Boy: Luffy becomes indebted to the Baratie and head chef Zeff in this episode because he does not pay his food bill. In the anime, the Straw Hat crew pays this off by running off the Don Krieg Pirates. In the Netflix version though, the main antagonist, Arlong comes to the Baratie then and Luffy fends him off. Also, Arlong reveals he kidnapped Buggy from the second episode and that is why he came to the Baratie, but in the anime, Buggy and Arlong never meet.
Netflix Episode 7 – The Girl with the Sawfish Tattoo: This episode is the first time we find out about Nami’s past and there are not too many differences between the Netflix version and anime here. Nami left the Baratie to side with Arlong Pirates, who she has been working with all along. Luffy decides to follow her because he believes she does not want to be an Arlong Pirate. The differences in this episode are how Nami’s background is portrayed and how the fights with the Arlong pirates play out.
Netflix Episode 8 – Worst in the East: The final fight between Arlong and Luffy happens in this episode and wraps up season one of the Netflix live action One Piece. The big difference here is that fighting with Arlong is somewhat underwhelming. In the anime, the fight lasts like 12 episodes because the Straw Hat Crew must beat Arlong’s crew and save Luffy before they can fight Arlong. In the Netflix version though, saving Luffy never happens, and the fights with Arlong’s crew only last a few minutes.
Episode 8 of the Netflix version does highlight an ongoing inconsistency throughout the entire series, which is that Garp, Kobe, and the Marines pursue Luffy and his crew throughout all episodes 3 through 8. This never happens in the anime because Luffy is still an unknown pirate throughout the beginning of the anime series, therefore he never attracts the attention of Garp, who is hunting much more well-known pirates. In the anime, Garp and Luffy do not meet until around episode 150 or later.
Despite all these differences, the 8 episodes of the live action One Piece on Netflix is still a great introduction into the world of One Piece. The main plotline of chasing dreams and defying the odds to do so is still an undeniable focal point in the Netflix series. This is why it has been within the Top 3 TV Series of Netflix for almost two weeks now. As many fans are, I am excited to see what season 2 of the series has in store for us, even if it is a few years away from release. If you cannot wait for that, just watch the anime that is closing in on 1100 episodes. Netflix has the first half of the anime episodes, and other anime streaming services have the latter half. The world of One Piece is huge and welcomes everyone aboard!