To be crystal clear, I’ve never watched the One Piece anime or read the manga. It’s not that it wasn’t my thing. It was a combination of not having access to the funds to access the content in the first place and knowing that there were wayyyy too many manga and episodes in the anime. And when Netflix announced the live-action adaptation, I knew I had a chance to access it in a way that felt more easily digestible. But I was still wary. Live-action adaptations sometimes don’t fare well. And you don’t have to watch or read something to realize, “There’s just something so wrong, pandering, and weird about this.” That’s not what happened with One Piece. I love this show from episode 1×01.
I love Iñaki Godoy‘s Luffy. I love how he’s a chaotic mess with a heart of gold who likes getting into trouble and finding his way out of it. And in 1×01 you get to see different sides of him that manage to show how much he truly believes in his capability to make his dreams come true. And you see that manifesting in the way he treats others, especially Koby when it comes to his dreams of becoming a Marine. In a real-life world where even basic necessities feel inaccessible, it’s really nice to see someone with this joy inside of them that propels them forward and into their dreams. That’s not to say he isn’t perfect. He doesn’t know when to draw the line and just because he can survive bullets doesn’t mean others can. But he’s starting to build a crew. And hopefully, they can reel him back when the time comes.
Talking about the crew…why are they so swoon-worthy?! Emily Rudd, who plays Nami, has this presence about her that draws the eye. And she knows how to use her circumstances and her power to get ahead. But I might be a little biased because I’ve sat down with Rudd to talk about Nami (and her Clueless-looking outfit she wore that day) and the sheer excitement she had at playing this character. The same thing can be said for Machenyu‘s Zoro. Except I was too flustered to approach him then and it would become even more true if I met him again. He knows how to transform his character into this deadly force that looks unassuming at first glance. Then you end up sliced up thanks to a third sword. With Godoy’s Luffy, I think they can make this show work.
Design-wise, I loved the world we stepped into with One Piece. I have no idea where they are or what’s truly going on with this mythical treasure. But the clothes are on point, making every character unique and also making me go on Google to see if anyone has photos of the anime or manga that match up to this. The same thing could be said for the set design in general and the pirates, the music chosen, and the CGI. One Piece was made with love before by its creator Eiichiro Oda and I feel like there’s a quality of the Netflix adaptation that kept that magic. And they did it in a way that felt accessible to anyone who has never heard of One Piece but totally wants to check out the show after watching 1×05.
My biggest hope is that the Netflix live-action adaptation of One Piece acts as a gateway for those who have never watched anime. Hell, I might even give this anime a chance after how much I loved these characters in the one episode. And it might work against me. I might hate the live-action after watching the anime. But I’m willing to take the risk because I love the characters, action, and background that I’ve learned from our nearly complete crew of Luffy, Zoro, and Nami. And I’m willing to take a chance to learn more about them, what people are shipping (yes, I’m aware this show has no “true” romance, and what this community is about. Because anime is an untapped market for many with some of the wildest and greatest storylines you’ll ever see anywhere and a vibrant community along with it.
One Piece season 1 is available now on Netflix.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, One Piece being covered here wouldn’t exist.