I love One Piece. As of this article’s publishing, I’m caught up on the manga — and it’s one of the longest out there. So when I say that Netflix’s live-action adaptation sets a new standard that all anime adaptations should aim for, I say it with some confidence.

The opening scene with Gold Roger is no less than perfect. The casting, the scale of the crowd, and the characters in the crowd that act as easter eggs is almost a 1-to-1 adaptation of the anime. Going into the show, I was skeptical because of all the failures over the last decade and a half in adapting anime to live-action. But with the first scene, the director showed they were really going to bring the energy and feel of an anime to this adaptation. They didn’t disappoint.

The Characters

Netflix's One Piece Garp's speech to Marine

My highest praise goes to the cast and the casting director; every actor conveys all the quirks of their character. In the eight episodes currently released, One Piece shows how the main protagonists, the Straw Hats, join together. You also watch them go up against iconic characters like Buggy and Arlong. The character relationships helped sell the show for me. It’s just a two-minute scene, but watching Shanks and Mihawk celebrate Luffy becoming a pirate was wonderful.

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Luffy

Luffy is a charming, happy-go-lucky type of character. In any adaptation, his most obvious character trait is his ability to win people over; and in this one, we get to see him do it right off the bat. Iñaki Godoy was perfect for capturing Luffy’s personality.

Zoro

Zoro is the non-nonchalant swordsman that Luffy eventually recruits. Zoro is one of my favorite characters from the manga, and Mackenyu is amazing at getting Zoro’s personality right in this show.

Usopp

Live-action Usopp is very true to his manga/anime counterpart — cowardly, weak and always trying to avoid confrontation. He’s the comic relief in a lot of situations, but I’ve found that his character does grow on you. All the Straw Hats have their own quirks, and Usopp is a unique treat.

Sanji

Taz Skylar stars as Sanji. This character was always a bit more serious than I would like; but once you see Zoro and Sanji work together, the clash of their personalities immediately helps the character fit in the story. From his cringey love for any woman that he meets to his serious moments, the live-action show is capturing the character well.

Nami

Nami’s character is a tough one to bring to life. But Emily Rudd nails “Cat Burglar” Nami’s eccentricities, internal conflicts, and complexities.

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Perfectly Adapted Sets and Effects

Ussop from Netflix's One Piece

But, the series also understands that a live-action adaption can’t be as over-the-top as the manga and anime counterparts. For instance, it tones down the silliness in just the right ways. The props and set of the show, meanwhile, are realistic and believable, but still magnificent. They mix CGI and practical effects; and the behind-the-scenes footage of the Go Merry and the Baratie being built was amazing.

This willingness to take considered, purposeful departures from the source materials really shows that Netflix wants this show to succeed, and is learning from its past live-action adaptation failures.

What Sets One Piece Apart

Luffy sitting on ship prow in Netflix's One Piece

Netflix’s One Piece proves that live-action adaptations of anime have potential, at least for one (excellent) season. The cast perfectly depicts each character’s quirks and personalities. The show developers, Matt Owens and Steven Maeda, are clearly nerds passionate about anime, and serious about exercising considered creativity in a live-action adaptation.

Moreover, it’s a show perfectly enjoyable for people who have no familiarity with the original material. I watched the show with my partner; the extent of her prior knowledge was my ramblings about the latest manga chapter. But she enjoyed the show all the way through. There are rare low points, like the blooper with Zoro’s sword. But overall, seeing what a live action adaption can be makes me excited to see whats to come.

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One Piece is streaming now on Netflix.

THE GOOD
Excellent casting
Carefully considered changes
Enjoyable for old fans and newcomers
THE BAD
A few rare low points
10
Essential

Review Summary

Netflix’s One Piece proves that live-action anime adaptations can work wonderfully.

Strangely Awesome Games Staff
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