The “One Piece” live action show has finally arrived, and fans all over the world are watching the masterpiece in a new light. This Netflix adaptation is an entertaining ode to the original that makes the story more digestible for new and old fans alike.
Episode one displays the first arc, Romance Dawn, which sets in motion the story of a band of pirates who have different goals but share a desire to work together in search of the One Piece. The audience gets a glimpse of the main characters Monkey D. Luffy (Inaki Godoy), Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu) and Nami (Emily Rudd). At first, I was skeptical about how the live action could capture the magic of the “One Piece” franchise, but after viewing episode one, all my fears were assuaged. Godoy plays a lively, kid-like Luffy and captures the character’s sense of friendship and adventure. Mackenyu was built for the role of Zoro: quiet, reserved, fierce and with excellent delivery of verbal punches. Rudd plays the thief turned navigator, maintaining Nami’s iconic sassy charm and cunning nature. The costumes are on point, from the outfits to the makeup, even Zoro’s green hair. The set designers also did a fantastic job with replicating the environment of the show’s setting, from the ships to the towns, and best of all, the opening scene of Gol. D. Roger. Episode one started the series off with a riveting beginning that is sure to entice the anime’s fans and new watchers alike.
Continuing with the series, the audience is introduced to more lovable characters and memorable villains. Ussop (Jacob Romero), is still the lovable boy who cried wolf we all know, and the actor is able to capture his mischief perfectly. One thing the directors could have emphasized more is Ussop’s duality between being a great warrior of the sea yet a coward in the heat of battle. Sanji (Taz Skylar) comes alive due to the actor’s looks and pompous portrayal. Buggy the Clown (Jeff Ward) has the best acting in this entire series, played like he is Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, but adding that humor and cruelty to one of the most iconic villains in the show.
In terms of the plot, 45 episodes of the anime are condensed into 9 hours. A couple of shortcuts were taken when it comes to character development, but this was the right move. There are two groups of people who are watching: those who have seen the anime and those who have not. Previous viewers of the animated “One Piece” do not need to see everyone’s story retold, and those who have not seen the anime are only looking for the SparkNotes version since the original anime is over 1000 episodes.
Major scenes, such as the fights with the marines Kuro and Buggy, were executed very well. The special effects for some of the more fantastical abilities — such as Luffy’s rubber powers and Buggy’s limb detachment — looked realistic, without the corniness of many other live action anime. Zoro’s sword fighting skills are by far the best part of the anime, and the creators did a great job visually recreating his character, from his acting to replicating his iconic fighting style.
Despite everything this live action has to offer, some of the main plot strays from the original anime. For example, Nami had almost zero fighting skills in the anime, but in the live action, she is an intense battler. Additionally, the story between Ussop and Kaya is a great one, but why is there a romantic connection between them in the live action? We might have all wanted it to happen, but there was no love story going on between these two in the anime.
While people are very divided about the creation of live action anime adaptations, you should give the “One Piece” live action a try. It is a fresh, new take on the series and definitely worth your time. Live actions may have earned a bad reputation in the past decade, but putting that bias aside lets you go on an adventure with the Straw Hat Pirates and watch a show with an intriguing plot and a lovable cast.