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Home > Netflix’s One Piece: A Review

Netflix’s One Piece: A Review

Netflix’s One Piece: A Review

A Piece of Treasure Or a Piece of...

Arguably one of the most well known (and longest) franchises in anime and manga, One Piece can safely be considered a pop culture staple. As one of “the big three” in Shonen Jump, a manga publication, One Piece was partially responsible for so many people entering the world of anime and manga. Consisting of 1074 episodes, One Piece proudly sits on the list of longest-running anime. Naturally, when it was first announced that this beloved series would receive a live-action adaptation (and by Netflix no less), many fans were in an uproar. The pressure to do right fell on director Marc Jobst and writers Matt Owens and Steven Maeda. 

Plot 

For the most part, the live action adaptation follows the original enough where everything is recognizable to old fans. The major plot points, for the most part, stay the same. The central cast is composed of Luffy, Zoro, Nami, Usopp, and Sanji. The manners in which these characters are introduced also remain the same. Something important worth noting, however, is the fact most of the earlier arcs are jam-packed into single episodes. 

Arcs that took multiple episodes in the anime are seemingly squeezed and trimmed to fit into more digestible bites. There are two ways of viewing this decision. First, since the anime itself is currently at four digits, it would be impossible to expect every single episode to make it into the live-action. That being said, by squeezing everything into single episodes for arcs that would typically last dozens of episodes in the anime, viewers miss out on character development. This is also true for some of the side characters as well, since some of these characters don’t appear at all. One particular such character is Jango, who was arguably one of the coolest villains in the early portion of the anime. While the anime has more than its fair share of filler content, cutting the wrong material comes close to disaster. 

Characters/ Design

It goes without saying that a series as big as One Piece has had its fair share of memorable characters, from villains that fans love to hate and side characters with unforgettable backstories. Arguably the most crucial aspect in bringing this series to the big screen involves treating the characters right. This is something that plenty of other live-action adaptations, especially from Netflix, tend to get wrong. The translation of a character from anime to live-action can be very difficult, as a screw-up could lead to the character ending up cheesy or corny. Luffy, for example, comes off as a cringe in many of the live-action scenes. This is somewhat forgivable, since the anime version is equally cringe. Other characters, such as Zoro, are actually well-cast and portrayed successfully. The actor behind Zoro, Mackenyu, does a great job of bringing this character to life. From his gruff personality to his unique and funny dynamics with the other characters, this Zoro is able to meet fan expectations of the character. Some of the other characters, however, are hit or miss. This is especially true of some of the villains in the live-action. Previously mentioned, Buggy the Clown feels more like someone impersonating Jared Leto if he were to play Buggy the Clown.

Netflix’s One Piece: A Review

On the flip side, the live-action series did a wonderful job with bringing character designs into the real world. Characters like Arlong are brought to life with the smart use of prosthetics without an overreliance on CGI. Other characters with cool and unique designs, such as Marine Captain Morgan, who has a literal jaw of iron, is faithfully brought to life in his design. It would be worthwhile to see this show continue if simply to see character designs being brought to life.

Choreography/Aesthetic

Anybody who has watched a live-action adaptation made by Netflix will have noticed a sort of similarity shared amongst all of them. No matter what series the adaptation may be based on, they inadvertently end up sharing a similar aesthetic with one another, which doesn’t always line up with the original anime itself. The lighting, for example, always makes it feel like the viewer is watching a Snyder-era DC film. Another odd aesthetic choice is the footwear for some of the characters. While it may seem like a nitpick, it can be genuinely distracting to see a pirate wearing a pair of sneakers. In the first episode, one of the characters can literally be seen wearing a pair of Pumas. While the anime and manga are set in an alternate universe where snails are used as telephones, the series still gave off a pirate aesthetic. Seeing random characters wear sneakers like Converse and Pumas make the show feel more like a glorified footwear ad. Coupled with the weird light and the overall aesthetic feels like a post-apocalypse show starring pirates.

One thing in particular worth mentioning was the choreography and action scenes. One Piece is known for having incredible fight scenes and characters with unique powers. Going into the show, it’s easy to expect there to be an overuse of CGI. That’s actually not the case this time. While CGI is definitely used throughout the show, it is done so tastefully. In addition to this, well-thought-out choreography and smart use of hidden wires help create fun-to-watch action scenes.

Final Rating 

Recommending this show to any particular audience is difficult. Fans of the anime may feel put off by the fact that this adaptation was helmed by Netflix. This is obviously a reasonable reaction given their track record with other well-established series. On the other hand, this series isn’t good enough to recommend to a general audience either. Within the scope of Netflix’s collection of live action adaptations, One Piece stands on top and is certainly the most watchable. Granted, being the best of the worst isn’t much to brag about. Based off of the first season, which at least managed to capture the spirit of the anime, a second season with incorporated feedback from fans may actually work. The series is currently streaming on Netflix in its entirety. One piece of simple advice? Give this show a shot.

Netflix’s One Piece: A Review

One Piece (2023) Official Netflix Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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A lover of gore and over the top violence, no movie can make my stomach squirm. The only thing better than a bloody death scene is a well choreographed stunt. Whether it be action or horror, if it has blood in it, then I've likely already seen it.
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Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.