Is One Piece as good as people are saying? Yes, it most certainly is.
While I have personally been a fan of anime since the 1970s, I fully admit that I have never dived into Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece. The character designs weren’t particularly to my taste, but I had nothing against the property since I had never even sampled it. I even knew the general gist of the story, and due to the longevity of the series and its inescapable presence, I even learned most of the characters’ names.
With all of this in mind, I went into Netflix’s live-action adaptation with some trepidation. The series didn’t seem to be to my taste, but I was willing to give it a shot.
I can tell you with some certainty, Netflix’s One Piece is for everyone. Even if you have never tried an anime in your life, this series will have something that appeals to you.
If you are unfamiliar with the premise, years ago, the Pirate King, Gold Roger, was being executed. Before he died, he told the assembled crowd if they could find his treasure, they would become the new Pirate King. This launched the Age of Pirates as everyone set sail for the Grand Line to locate the One Piece.
In particular, this idea caught the imagination of a young boy, Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy), who was determined to become King of the Pirates. He eventually sets off on his grand adventure, and as the first season progresses, Luffy picks up new friends who will form his crew, The Straw Hat Pirates, through his warm-hearted nature and fierce loyalty to his friends and their dreams.
And beyond that, I don’t want to give too much away because it is a joy to discover the story as it progresses. As I said, I knew the broader strokes of the story, but I didn’t know things such as the meaning behind Zoro’s (Mackenyu) three swords or Nami’s (Emily Rudd) tattoo. Each of these characters is intriguing on their own, and a seemingly wholly mismatched set of personalities. There seems very little chance any of them would meet each other, let alone become friends, if not for the infectious nature of Luffy’s exuberance.
The World of One Piece
While these characters are the main stars of the show, there is also something that has to be said for the world. Animes are known for having very fleshed-out worlds, but it’s one thing when it’s just paint on acetate or a file in a computer, compared to building a physical world.
While previous live-action anime adaptations have tried to force the stories into a more realistic world, the live-action One Piece ran headfirst into accepting the absurd nature of some of the designs. I would love to get a full explanation of why giant snails have phones on their backs and are the means by which people communicate. But in a show such as this, you just accept it.
This is very clearly not our world, and no one is ever puzzled by the things they see and the situations they run into. There are Devil Fruits seemingly all over the place, and if you eat one, you get powers, but the seas will reject you. People are fine with this.
By fully embracing the odd nature of this world, the viewers are immediately pulled along and accept it as well. There is no need to explain the snail phones because that’s just how this world is. Either you accept it as well, or you just move on.
There is no word as of yet as to the chances for a One Piece season 2, but I am very ready to jump about the Going Merry once again and set sail for the Grand Line with the Straw Hat Pirates.
Disclaimer: We watched all eight episodes of One Piece before beginning this review.