A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

‘One Piece’ review: Netflix delivers a strong start to a promising concept

Courtesy One Piece Netflix Instagram
Netflix’s latest adaptation sets sail with a strong start.

Japanese animated shows are one of the most popular types of media, garnering fierce fanbases. When Netflix first announced the live adaptation of “One Piece” in 2017, fans of the original franchise didn’t know what to expect.

“One Piece,” written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda since July, 1977, is already one of the most iconic Japanese animation/manga franchises of all time. It spans 106 tankōbon volumes, with over 1,050 chapters in the manga and the animated counterpart also containing a whopping 1,071 episodes. The amount of content in Oda’s world is extremely vast.

What makes “One Piece” so unique and popular as a franchise is the lighthearted, almost goofy feel of the world it exists in. The main character Monkey D. Luffy’s ability to stretch his body like rubber, as well as his overly friendly demeanor in contrast to his absolute lack of common sense, make him the right character to sail the various seas, from the East Blue to the Grand Line.

The manga, and eventually the animated show, did a great job showing mature concepts and story plots, seemingly insurmountable enemies and new challenges, but it always stayed true to itself, no matter the story arc. The show didn’t take itself too seriously, and the characters and stories alike always maintained their goofy demeanor, even those with serious undertones.

After the events of COVID-19 halted many major productions, the show began filming in January 2022. The cast was publicly announced two months prior, in November.

Myself and many others found the initial production very promising after the actors were revealed, many of us loving the casting of Luffy, played by Iñaki Godoy, who Oda himself had a big part in selecting. In a letter, Oda stated, “My biggest worry about the One Piece Live Action adaptation was whether we would be able to find someone like Luffy. I watched a lot of various auditions and when I found Iñaki, I laughed. He was just like the person I drew in my manga. I intuitively thought, ‘That’s Luffy.’”

The show was fully released on Aug. 31, 2023, and immediately skyrocketed into the No. 1 spot in Netflix’s weekly Top 10, garnering an astounding 18.5 million views its first week on the streaming platform alone. IMDb also showcased a score of 8.5/10 for the eight-episode series.

The series was well-received. As a “One Piece” fan myself, I, like many others, initially had my reservations, but was absolutely hooked upon seeing the first episode. The biggest concern many people had had to do with the nature of the show and how it would work in live action. “One Piece” isn’t exactly known for having characters with realistic appearances and abilities, but the production crew gets around these issues with decent special effects and simple yet eye-catching fighting sequences.

The actors really do their animated counterparts justice. Luffy is just as goofy and unaware as any “One Piece” fan would expect, and his supporting cast of fellow “Straw Hat Pirates” follow suit. Zoro is a stoic, badass character who somehow makes using three swords at once look cool rather than over the top; Nami is a deceptive thief with a heart-wrenching backstory; Sanji is a suave guy who cares more about cooking and winning the affections of women over anything else; and Usopp is a lovable liar with lofty ambitions. Admittedly, Zoro seems to deviate the most from his animated counterpart, being much more serious and almost emotionless in this live-action, which takes away from his personality a bit.

The show does a great job of setting pace and emotion. It doesn’t follow the exact same story as the source material, instead covering the same major plot points, but organizing them in a way that is fresh and more suited for a live-action series. One episode is a goofy adventure, the next is an emotional storytelling experience that boils over in some well-shot and edited fight scenes.

The twists in the live adaptation of “One Piece” are compelling enough for me to recommend it to any fan to watch, as it offers a different experience than simply watching the original anime.

This show may do a better job of introducing the world of “One Piece” to someone who isn’t familiar with it. It’s fresh, the story is easy to follow, and the character cast is studded with whimsical and fascinating people. The show also focuses on characters, such as Luffy’s first on-screen friend and aspiring marine, Koby, who didn’t get as much time in the original show.

This show’s humor absolutely caught me off guard. “One Piece,” by its very nature, is a silly and fantastical show, filled to the brim with comedic nods and running gags, something myself and many others thought the live action wouldn’t deliver. However, I was pleasantly surprised and found myself laughing frequently, especially with Luffy and Zoro’s scenes. That itself elevated the show for me beyond just a cheap adaptation.

I give this show a rating of 8.3/10. Sure it isn’t the same exact story of the original and it has its flaws, but I believe following its own story path is the right path to take. It allows for a new, fresh outlook on the world of “One Piece,” one that lets people either bask in the nostalgia of the show or dive into the series for the first time.

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About the Contributor
Jonathan Cangson
Jonathan Cangson, Reporter
Jonathan Cangson (he/him) is in his fourth semester of The Oak Leaf as a reporter and editor focused primarily on sports coverage and social media coverage. He hopes to graduate soon with his associates in Journalism. He also hopes to become a broadcast journalist and commentate for a company like ESPN or Sky Sports. He likes to play with his dogs, hang out with friends, and watch Arsenal FC and the Golden State Warriors.

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