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Netflix’s Live-Action ‘One Piece’ Adaptation is a Fresh Adventure Across the Sea – Review

*This review was published during the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. At GoC, we fully support the creatives who are part of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

After creating plenty of anticipation through an elaborate marketing campaign, Netflix’s live-action adaptation of One Piece is finally available to stream on their platform, and thankfully, the series packs enough adventure and laughter to allow a new generation of viewers to join Luffy’s (Iñaki Godoy) journey. With impressive action sequences, likeable characters and a faithful transition from the manga to the small screen, the live-action version revolves around its main character’s enthusiasm, with the supporting cast adding to the unique energy the show provides. Even if it feels different from the material that came before it (which might be the point), the search for the titular device is on, and everyone wants a piece of the pie.

(Courtesy of Netflix)

Luffy had wanted to be a pirate ever since he was young, talking to several pirates while trying to convince them that he was more than ready for the challenge of living on a ship while looking for new bounties to collect. However, his lack of experience and the fact that the constant stealing and travelling weren’t the ideal life for a child, nobody wanted to take him with them. But when the boy grabbed a bite from the mysterious Devil Fruit, his body became similar to rubber, allowing him to stretch and move in peculiar ways. With nobody to turn to, mixed with his new powers, Luffy became the sort of pirate he would’ve loved to meet when he was younger, and his journey was about to begin.

Two decades before the events of the series took place, Gold Roger (Michael Dorman) hid his treasure far from where anyone could find it, promising a life of fame and fortune to whoever discovered it. The idea behind the myth motivated Luffy to find himself a crew of people willing to join him in the impossible task, with the entirety of the pirate community going after the same thing he wanted to find. Godoy’s sincerity as Luffy makes the journey easy to navigate, with his undeniable charisma making viewers appreciate him as much as the other characters grow fond of his character. Godoy adds to Luffy the optimism the character needs, smiling and charging on against any situation life threw at him.

The main characters that support Luffy in this story are Nami (Emily Rudd) and Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu). What makes the trio work so well is how different their personalities are without forcing them to get along right away. Each of them has their reasons for being present on the fateful day where they all meet, and the writing behind the show never forgets that they didn’t want to be friends in the first place. With Nami wanting to find the map to the One Piece and Zoro on a spiritual journey of growth, their tough personalities will clash with a lonely protagonist who only wants to find a place where he feels like he belongs. The organic way in which the trio becomes friends heightens the sincerity of the adaptation.

One Piece Netflix - Review
(Courtesy of Netflix)

That said, at times this adaptation suffers from what several Netflix productions have to deal with, including uneven pacing and playing it safe with its outlandish concepts. But overall, One Piece knows that the main hook for this dangerous quest is the heart that can be found within its characters. Iñaki Godoy shines as the most optimistic pirate found in the East Blue.

Despite the pacing, the enchanting performances, impressive action and a fantastic quest in a world full of pirates, One Piece is an adaptation with a lot of potential. Netflix seems to appreciate the vast vault of source material they have at their disposal with this property, and if subsequent installments turn out to be as charming as this one, Luffy will grow into a powerful hero at his own time.

Eiichiro Oda’s masterpiece is still going, with new volumes of the manga being released every once in a while. That means that, if this adaptation continues to be a successful experiment for Netflix, One Piece could expand into an unforgettable franchise. However, something of that size won’t last for long if it doesn’t have the correct foundation. Fortunately, the first season of this adventure across the East Blue is fun, explosive and emotional, appearing as youthful and vibrant as its unique protagonist. It remains to be seen if Luffy and his friends are capable of coming back for more adventures, but for now, the sun shines bright for One Piece.

One Piece is now streaming on Netflix.

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