Entertainment September 8, 2023
Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece is one of the most popular anime franchises to ever set sail. It has grown from its humble beginnings with a few manga volumes and 24-minute-long anime episodes to one of the longest-running series to date.
The popularity of One Piece has reached such a fever pitch that it has finally received its own live-action adaptation on Netflix. While initial reactions to early concept art and trailers may have been of skepticism and confusion, those who’ve watched all eight of the roughly hour-long episodes have changed their tune.
Showrunners Matt Owens and Steven Maeda take the helm in building up Oda’s massive world with fresh, new talent. They casted Iñaki Godoy as the lead character of Monkey D. Luffy, a brash, impulsive, and kind young pirate in search of the titular One Piece, an elusive and mysterious treasure belonging to the legendary pirate Gol D. Roger and sought after by all pirates. Talented and seasoned actors were also cast to play some of the anime’s most colorful characters.
Iñaki Godoy as the lead was definitely a great casting choice. Luffy’s youthful vigor, optimism, iron will, and curiosity are channeled perfectly in Godoy’s acting. He’s a pirate, but he’s known for being generally good-hearted and protective of his crew.
A straw hat captain like Luffy is nothing without the Straw Hat Crew. His pirate crew is an interesting group with very unique characters, and the rag-tag bunch of characters Luffy meets in his journey also adds excitement to each episode.
Mackenyu plays the pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro, Emily Rudd is the quick-thinking navigator Nami, Jacob Romero Gibson is the wily, boisterous Usopp, and Taz Skylar plays the suave, stylish chef Sanji. These characters make up the Straw Hat Pirates, a bunch that will definitely grow on you with each passing episode. They all have their own backstories, motivations, and most of all, dreams that they each wish to achieve.
It won’t be smooth sailing for the Straw Hat Pirates, as many trials will come their way. From the relentless Marines, to fellow pirates with ignoble goals, Luffy and his crew will surely have a thrilling and dangerous quest to find the One Piece.
One Piece checks all the boxes when it comes to delivering emotional storytelling, compelling characters, and more importantly, fast-paced action.
It’s a tall order to bring a live-action adaptation of a beloved anime series to life, but with Western sensibilities. One Piece manages to be loyal to the source material while deviating just enough to spice things up in the series. The casting of actors is one example.
It doesn’t matter whether the main cast or a minor character is on screen, their scenes will get you hooked and keep you invested in the show. It’s refreshing to see Eiichiro Oda’s larger-than-life creations grounded just a bit to fit the real world. There are regular, everyday humans and there are deep-sea oddities–and all of them manage to coexist in the story.
It’s also difficult to recreate the outrageous action sequences one would see in their favorite anime, but One Piece still manages to meet everyone halfway. The audience gets to see earth-shattering finishing moves with well-choreographed action scenes and impeccable storytelling all throughout. No punch is thrown meaninglessly. Every hit seems to have more weight, thanks to the characters’ emotions behind it.
It’s not everyday that the creator of a massive anime franchise gives his own personal stamp of approval to a modern adaptation. They give the greenlight, or even share a nice anecdote or two, but Eiichiro Oda actually approves the adaptation.
He is very protective of his work, with 1,070 episodes and 105 volumes to date. It’s quite the miracle that fans are seeing a live-action adaptation. He has been working closely with showrunners Matt Owens and Steven Maeda since the start, and has nothing but kind words to say about the series.
In a recent Netflix featurette, Iñaki Godoy visits Oda, gifting the mangaka with some One Piece artwork he drew himself along with a heartfelt letter. The emotional meeting between fan and creator was a sight to behold.
“I feel like this role was meant to be, and I want to play Luffy for a very long time,” Godoy said. Oda replies, “I really hope you do. I can’t imagine anyone else playing this role.”
Coming from a man with high expectations and having the utmost care for his body of work, this level of approval and support is a compelling enough reason to give this series a spin.
Get ready to set sail with Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates with One Piece now streaming exclusively on Netflix. Subscribe to Smart’s Signature Plans to watch Netflix uninterrupted with a complimentary Mobile subscription and generous data allocation. You also get to enjoy Unli-All Net Calls & Texts, Unli Landline Calls, and rewards and privileges exclusive to Smart subscribers.