By Kemar Noel
This review contains minor spoilers for the “One Piece” live-action.
At the end of August Netflix released a live-action adaptation of the popular long-running comic series One Piece.
“One Piece” is a series that has been around for over twenty years, with the earliest forms of the manga starting serialization in 1997. Very popular globally, the manga is one of the top 5 most-selling comics up there with the likes of Superman, Spiderman, etc.
“One Piece” is a story about Monkey D. Luffy, a character who dreams of being the king of the pirates, a title given to the one who can find the greatest treasure, by the previous king of the pirates, Gol D. Roger.
During his journey to become the king, Luffy visits various islands with various social constructs, mysteries and treasures, while finding clues and amassing a crew to help him. While fighting his way through the sea and saving the occasional kingdom from the corrupted members of the world government or pirates, he continues his journey with his friends to find the “One Piece.”
The live-action adaptation made many changes to make the story easier to follow and more immersive for the average enjoyer.
The first season of “One Piece” introduced us to a few of Luffy’s crew members, later known as the Straw Hat Pirates. The members include Zoro (swordsman), Sanji (cook), Usopp (sniper) and Nami (navigator). We are also introduced to Koby, a soon-to-be marine. The show gave every one of these characters depth and meaning throughout the first season.
In the first episode, we are shown how it all begins over twenty years before the current story takes place, with Gol D. Roger making his speech, jumpstarting the pirate era. The majority of the first episode takes place on Shell Island after Luffy saves Koby from the tyrant pirate, Alvida.
While on the island, Luffy meets Zoro and Nami. Zoro’s actor, Mackenyu, completely nails his role, whether in fight choreography or standing. Our soon-to-be crew has some conflicts with the marines on this island, who seem to be corrupt.
After a heated battle, the Straw Hats grab their treasure and sail out. Koby, on the other hand, chooses to stay. Koby’s dream is to be a Marine, and after finally coming to terms with the fact that there are both good and bad spectrums to pirates and marines, he can steel his resolve.
The episode ends with Luffy’s crew being captured by Buggy the Clown to steal the map the Straw Hats stole to the Grand Line.
The show introduced newer plot threads like Buggy the Clown being more active with the Straw Hats, added and altered scenes with Shanks and more.
With a series like “One Piece” that has been going on for decades and has many fans from each corner of the globe, a live-action adaptation is something people had little faith in. Most fans greeted the announcement of the “One Piece” live-action adaptation with skepticism due to Netflix’s track record for anime adaptations.
“One Piece” series creator, Eichiro Oda, gave fans faith by being involved in the show’s making as an executive producer.
The series surpassed people’s expectations and became even more popular than most expected. In just a few days, it became Netflix’s number one in 86 countries, beating the likes of “Stranger Things” Season 4 or the “Addams Family” spin-off “Wednesday.”
Rotten Tomato Critics also had many positive things to say about the series’ first season.
“The series is a sprawling, elegant work, one that carefully crafts its world and characters to ease newcomers into the ‘One Piece’ lore while never losing the spirit of its original anime artform,” Daily Beast’s Coleman Spilde said in a statement.
The first season of “One Piece” is available on Netflix and has eight episodes to its name. I may have a recency bias, or maybe it is because I am familiar with the source material, but I recommend that everyone try this show.
I rate it as a solid 9/10.