I am pleasantly surprised by the One Piece adaptation because it is everything I could have wanted in a live-action show.
Anyone who knows me knows I like anime. From some of the iconic Studio Ghibli movies to the best anime of 2022, I am always on alert for some of the best stuff out there, and that includes anything to do with One Piece.
One Piece is an anime – and manga – that has been going on for years. It has a dedicated fanbase and so many story arcs that it's almost hard to track how much time has passed. So when it was announced that Netflix would somehow adapt One Piece into a live-action, I was excited but… also wary.
As discussed below, Netflix doesn't have a good track record regarding its live-action manga adaptations. But the One Piece live-action series was everything I hoped it would be – and then some. I binged the entire thing – and I need to discuss it.
They Did The Source Material Justice While Also Adding Its Own Flare
One of the biggest complaints fans might have when watching a live-action adaptation of a manga or anime is that it deviates from the source material far too much. Too many changes are added, where it doesn't feel like the original material. Death Note is an excellent example of that – the anime itself is a brilliant one to begin on, but the live-action changed so much.
Netflix's One Piece: Quick Things To Know If You Haven't Read The Manga Or Watched The Anime
But with the One Piece live-action adaptation, they stuck to the source material and much more. It was like I was watching the first episode of One Piece again, but somehow, it almost flowed better. The fight scenes are almost reminiscent of Henry Cavill on The Witcher, making them electric to watch, and it's paired with the same story from the manga and anime that fans hold so dear in their hearts.
The story remained relatively the same. Sure, there were changes – such as Buggy becoming a much more significant part of the story than in the anime (which we'll get into in a bit), but they were all for the better. I loved every second of it.
And The Special Effects Just Added To The Quirky World Of One Piece
I was also very nervous about the special effects in this show. One Piece itself is a fantastical anime. While there are plenty of grounded fights on pirate ships, there are also magical powers that would arguably be hard to bring to a live-action series because they're so unique – Luffy's rubber ability, for example, is something I had no idea how they were going to bring to the screen.
But they did it. They did it and more. Luffy's rubber abilities admittedly looked a little goofy because it's meant to be that way, but it fits within the world of One Piece. Even the way Buggy's body separated looked so wild, it worked so well simultaneously. Everything was perfectly done. Nothing stood out in a bad way.
The Casting For The Straw Hat Pirates Was Quite Literally Perfect
The One Piece cast offers the best possible casting. Everyone's part is perfectly cast, and it's fantastic.
Emily Rudd was terrific as Nami (who has had serious growth in the One Piece anime). Mackenyu was fantastic as Zoro. Jacob Romero Gibson is perfect for Usopp (and honestly made me like him more than the regrettable Usopp from the anime), and Taz Skyler made me love Sanji even more.
But man, the standout was Iñaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy. He embodied what it was like to be Luffy, that same chaotic energy and that genuine sweet nature. I mean, even the creator of One Piece met Godoy and said he could not imagine someone else in the role. I need to see more of them in a possible Season 2.
And The Villains Were Even Better
Something else I loved about this series was that the villains were a much bigger mainstay this time – and all of them were perfectly cast, too! There isn't a single miss regarding the cast list for this live-action adaptation.
Everyone was so well-cast and fit the role, from Alvida to Arlong to Dracule "Hawk-Eye" Mihawk. But Jeff Ward as Buggy the Clown? I need to see more of him.
Including him more in the live-action show was such a perfect decision. It's a story change from the original anime and manga, but it makes so much more sense, given his eccentric attitude and fun storyline. And now, we get to see more of him if there's a Season 2. I don't know if you've been on TikTok lately, but Buggy is taking over – and not in the way I expected. People love this villain – and honestly, so do I.
The Music Was Well-Adapted And Fit The Scenes
Anime music is so essential in so many ways. It sets the scene for some of the best anime out there. I can't think of the anime series Attack on Titan without thinking of its intro themes, or even Jujutsu Kaisen, because they're so iconic nowadays. Trying to emulate One Piece's classic soundtracks is a daunting task.
But thankfully, the music team did such an excellent job. They even got the theme from the first season, "We Are!" included in the score. Everything fit the show's atmosphere well and made it even better in several ways.
And The Sets Were Everything I Wanted And More
I could go on for hours about the sets in One Piece. I haven't seen sets like this for a pirate-themed media project this awesome since the first Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
It felt like each scene was ripped right out of the anime or the manga, with so much love poured into all the areas. I felt as if I was in Shells Town. Luffy's ship, Going Merry, was perfectly recreated. Even The Baratie was so realistic that I was jealous I couldn't go there to eat the food myself. So, so well done.
If there is a Season 2 of One Piece – and quite honestly, I think there will be because of how popular it's gotten – keep this production team, this cast, and anyone else involved with this show.
Without a doubt, more streaming companies dedicating the time and effort to produce shows like this could yield a plethora of outstanding live-action manga adaptations. Live-action isn't needed for every anime, but numerous genres, such as the best soccer anime or the best horror anime, have the potential for success when a team commits like they did for this series.
One Piece is an excellent example of that. And when this show inevitably gets a Season 2, I'll be the first to watch.