On August 31, the live-action TV adaptation of One Piece was finally released to Netflix subscribers, arriving over three and a half years after the streamer officially ordered the eight-episode season. While Netflix’s previous attempts to adapt anime with Death Note and Cowboy Bebop didn’t go well, this new show was thankfully spared a similar fate. In addition to earning positive critical reception from professional reviewers and audiences alike (including myself), One Piece also became the platform’s #1 show in 86 countries within its first four days of availability.
With such massive success so early on, it seems logical to assume that these versions of Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates will return for another season of adventures, especially because the scripts have already been written. However, if One Piece Season 2 is indeed greenlit, there’s a specific concern I have out it and other future seasons, assuming those are on the table too. I’m wondering how the show will be able to realize primarily CGI protagonists in a cost-effective way. Because while One Piece Season 1 sees Luffy being joined on his journey to the Grand Line by humans Zoro, Nami, Usopp and Sanji, as the manga/anime has progressed, these five have been joined by characters who will be challenging to bring to life in a live-action setting.
Tony Tony Chopper
One Piece Season 1’s ending laid groundwork for what’s to come if the show continues, including an alliance between Buggy the Clown and Alvida, as well as a not-so-subtle tease for the antagonists Marine captain known as Smoker. Then there’s Tony Tony Chopper, who wasn’t referenced in any way, but it stands to reason he’ll be introduced in Season 2 since he’s the next character who joins the Straw Hat Pirates. As you can see above, Chopper is an anthropomorphic reindeer who serves as the crew’s doctor.
Realizing Chopper’s normal form will be hard enough in the live-action One Piece, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how much shorter he is compared to his crew-mates. But it gets even more complicated, because thanks to eating the Human-Human Fruit, he has the ability to transform into a human or human-reindeer hybrid, and he’s been able to access further transformations through the Rumble Ball drug. Now obviously we wouldn’t see these other forms as much as his normal short-statured self, but nevertheless, I can’t help but wondering if Chopper will need to be extensively tweaked in order for him to work in live-action.
Although Franky is a human like Luffy, Zoro, Nami, Usopp and Sanji, he’s certainly not a normal one. Rather than gaining a special power from eating one of the Devil Fruits, Franky is a cyborg, as it became necessary to rebuild parts of his body with scrap metal after he was extensively injured. Although he was initially an adversary to the Straw Hat Pirates, he later joined the crew to accomplish his dream of sailing a ship he built around the world (spoiler alert, the Go Merry is eventually destroyed and replaced with the Thousand Sunny).
Franky’s cyborg enhancements will already be difficult to pull off given that the man is capable of transforming himself like… well, a Transformer. But I’m also concerned about is his massive size, as he towers over nearly all of his allies. Because Franky is still mainly human, I’m wondering if the One Piece live-action show will opt to have him be more normal-sized in order to avoid this potential size problem. If not, then fingers crossed this gigantic cyborg doesn’t come off as looking too weird.
Here we have another Straw Hat Pirate whom has been gifted with a Devil Fruit power. Brook, who serves as the crew’s musician, was originally part of the Rumbar Pirates and was briefly their captain, but he died during a battle. Because he ate the Revive-Revive Fruit beforehand though, Brook was resurrected, although by the time his soul returned to his body, it’d been reduced to an afro-covered skeleton. From there, he drifted out at sea alone until being found by Luffy and his allies. Brook has also figured out how to separate his soul from his skeleton to travel around non-corporeally.
So here we have a walking and talking skeleton with an afro who, while not as tall as Franky and the final character on this list, is still packing some major height. If the live-action One Piece wants to keep Brook undead, and doing anything differently would go against the spirit of the character, then there are two choices. Either keep him as his skeleton-y self, which will be quite the CGI/motion capture feat to pull off on a regular basis, or make him look more like a zombie, which could still involve some CGI, but now rely more on practical effects.
Finally, there’s Jimbei, the fish-man who fills the helmsman position for the Straw Hat Pirates. In addition to boasting the enhanced physical abilities that are the norm with fish-men, he can manipulate water and also communicate with fish, which is usually a power reserved for merfolk. Jimbei was originally a member of the Sun Pirates and took on the captaincy following his predecessor’s death, but he disbanded the crew after becoming one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea. Years later, Jimbei teamed up with the Straw Hat Pirates, and while he initially turned down the offer to join their crew, he later changed his mind, requiring him to give up his Warlord status and cut ties with the Big Mom Pirates, with whom he’d been affiliated with beforehand.
Some CGI may have been used on Arlong and the other fish-men in One Piece Season 1, but they were most realized through makeup and prosthetics. Those alone won’t be enough with Jimbei, as he’s the biggest of the Straw Hat Pirates, not to mention pretty wide. There’s no way an actor could simply be made to look like Jimbei, so unless the Netflix show wants to make him look more like a conventional fish-man, he’ll have to be entirely CGI/motion capture. As with Chopper, Franky and Brook, that would be an expensive proposition.
While Chopper’s introduction seems like a good bet for One Piece Season 2, it will presumably take longer to bring Franky, Brook and Jimbei into play, but that doesn’t make my concerns about using these four any less valid. It’d be one thing if One Piece was being adapted into feature films that each came with a blockbuster budget, but as a TV show, the resources need to be spread over eight episodes, and there’s already a lot to ask from the live-action One Piece from its elaborate production design, existing action sequences, etc. If workarounds can be found with these characters, then I’m interested to see what these changes look like. If the show’s team decides to keep these characters’ looks as faithful as possible, then good luck to them for accomplishing that within these financial constraints.
Keep visiting CinemaBlend for more One Piece coverage, and don’t forget to look through the other best shows on Netflix that can be streamed now. You’re also welcome to see what shows the streamer has coming up with the Netflix TV schedule, or get the lay of the entire small screen land with the 2023 TV schedule.