Historically, anime adaptations haven’t had the best luck on mainstream screens - but One Piece is here to change that.
Live-action films have been and gone without much fanfare, while series have quickly been cancelled before digging into the real story.
Following the journey of Monkey D Luffy (Iñaki Godoy) as he tries to become the King of the Pirates, viewers are introduced to a never-ending world of fearsome captains, hidden-away islands and boats bigger than most houses. In short, it’s a pirate lover’s dream.
Luffy’s makeshift crew is better known as the Straw Hats, comprised of feisty navigator Nami (Emily Rudd), wannabe captain Usopp (Jacob Romero) and the infamous pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu).
When the team starts to work together, they quickly run up a list of enemies that spans every unexplored inch of the open waters.
Like the high-octane action, One Piece has bucketloads of charm, charisma and empathy for its story.
Though the Straw Hats seem reluctant to work alongside Luffy’s insufferable optimism, the group can’t help but make audiences instantly fall for them. Each has its own history and hidden treasure trove of personal secrets, slowly being revealed throughout the show’s eight-episode arc to great effect.
As expected, it’s Luffy himself who’s at the heart of the operation. Without his dream, which feels as though it’s doomed to fail, the crew wouldn’t set sail with the hope of better things ahead.
In a TV landscape that feels rife with deep crime dramas, tragedy and frequent bad news, it’s incredibly refreshing to watch a show that has so much heart wrapped up in its meaty storytelling.
Even before viewers are invested in Luffy’s quest, the One Piece visuals are a sight to behold.
From the opening moments of episode 1, the show makes clear that it hasn’t come to tell the franchise’s tale half-heartedly.
There’s an impeccable amount of detail packed into every frame, from labels on beer bottles that tell us more about a world we think we already know to expertly crafted boats that effortlessly reflect their captains’ bravado.
The attention to detail is something that both first-time viewers and hardcore fans will be able to enjoy. Easter eggs reveal themselves at every turn, while the sheer scale of One Piece’s visual beauty is full of life and clearly skilled passion.
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Even though pirates run rampant threatening to harm anyone in their way, it’s a world that many will want to get lost in.
With so much source material - thanks to the popularity of both the original manga and the 1990s anime series - the new iteration of One Piece should probably be difficult to follow.
In fact, the series starts from scratch in an entertaining and accessible way, reintroducing viewers to a version of Luffy and the Straw Hats they haven’t seen before. The gang of pirates are finally fleshed out into real people, problems and all.
Fans can expect a few significant changes from both the manga and anime episodes. Scene sequences have been swapped around, relationship dynamics have been hardened and plot points have been tweaked.
Even if viewers want the live-action series to be a play-by-play of the source material, each change has certainly been made for the better.
It’s easy to make an adaption of something that is already a success, but Netflix’s One Piece proves that it has its own sense of purpose. Every character, design and plot decision elevates what people might already know about the world, offering up a brand new way to view our favourite open-seas pirates.
Read more One Piece:
- One Piece release date: Latest news for live-action Netflix series
- One Piece creator asked for changes to Netflix live-action series
- One Piece director promises a more "spooky" live-action series
- Meet the cast of live-action One Piece on Netflix
- How to watch One Piece in order
Thankfully for us, One Piece rarely makes a mistake - but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Episodes that have a purpose or a destination move at a fresh and brisk pace, but those that don’t can sometimes feel bloated.
That’s not a surprise, given that there are over 1,000 manga chapters and anime episodes to take inspiration from. With so much content to try and cram in, some scenes linger too long in areas that they don’t need to - a little like Luffy whenever he frequently overstays his welcome.
If fans are looking for the One Piece world to be lovingly refreshed, they’ve come to the right place. Not only has the creative team clearly poured all of their time and energy into their craft, but the cast meets them halfway by delivering performances that feel assured and well-grounded.
One Piece is a show that reminds us to dare to dream while doubling down with the confidence to follow them. It’s an epic overall result, and one that will leave Netflix walking the gangplank if they eventually choose to cancel it.
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