Netflix’s One Piece Review: A Promising Voyage

Plot

Monkey D. Luffy is on a quest to find the One Piece, the ultimate treasure, to fulfill his dream of becoming the Pirate King. Along the way, he assembles a diverse and loyal crew of individuals, each with their own unique talents and abilities. Together, they navigate the treacherous waters of the Grand Line, facing off against formidable foes, including Marines, monstrous creatures, and rival pirates, all determined to thwart their ambitions. Luffy’s unwavering determination, his signature stretchy abilities from consuming a Devil Fruit, and the unbreakable bonds he forms with his crewmates drive this epic adventure as they seek the fabled treasure and the title of Pirate King.

Characters/ Roast

Monkey D. Luffy, Iñaki Godoy is a young and energetic man whose body gained rubber-like properties after consuming a cursed Devil Fruit. His lifelong ambition is to embark on the perilous journey through the Grand Line to locate the fabled One Piece treasure and ultimately claim the title of Pirate King. In the live-action adaptation, Luffy’s character is faithfully represented visually, even though the actor may not be of Japanese descent. This raises questions about Luffy’s original ethnicity, possibly aligning him with the Latin-x community.

In contrast to his anime counterpart, Iñaki Godoy portrayal of Luffy in the live-action series is characterized by a more subdued goofiness, a less annoying voice, and the absence of flip-flops as battle attire. Nevertheless, Luffy retains his ability to befriend peculiar individuals he encounters along his journey.

Overall, the live-action rendition of Luffy is ok. While some of his dialogues and fight sequences could have been improved, his performance remains commendable. If the actor can successfully cross the border, it’s safe to say he has the potential to find the Grand Line.

Roronoa Zoro, Mackenyu is a stern and determined demon pirate hunter who wields three swords and aspires to become the world’s greatest swordsman. Witnessing Mackenyu bring Zoro to life on screen felt remarkably fitting, particularly considering his extensive experience in various live-action adaptations. He appears to have found his niche in this role.

Most of the best fight sequences in this series center around Zoro. Given his lifelong dedication to swordsmanship, it was humorous to watch him endure a stab from Mihawk’s toothpick-sized sword. Zoro transitioned into full samurai mode, seemingly accepting his imminent demise at the hands of Mihawk. This allowed Mihawk to leave a massive scar across Zoro’s chest, nearly taking his life. However, Zoro’s determination prevailed, leaving him with just enough strength to raise Kuina’s sword high, vowing never to taste defeat again until he surpasses Mihawk. Then passed out adding to the Japanese bravado campiness.

If Netflix continues this series, it would be cool to see whether Zoro fulfills his vow or faces defeat once more.

Nami, Emily Rudd is the skilled thief and navigator of the crew. Her loyalty seems to shift abruptly from being a devoted crew member to sacrificing her comrades, only to return to their side shortly after. Her character deserved the side-eye like most westernized women.

However, Nami’s redemption arc, delving into the reasons behind her actions and her strong desire for freedom from Arlong’s control, was like watching a story about breaking free from slavery. It was a compelling narrative element that added depth to her character.

Regarding the casting choice for Nami, pre time skip before the boob job they could’ve done a lot worse

Usopp, Jacob Gibson takes on the role of the sharpshooter and storyteller who aspires to live out the adventures he’s always recounted. Usopp’s knack for spinning tall tales, perhaps influenced by a touch of a neurological disorder, adds a relatable, human dimension to his character. Notably, his exaggerated Pinocchio-like nose is gone, and the actor’s appearance suggests an East or North African heritage, which lends a realistic touch to the character.

One minor criticism I had regarding Usopp was his infatuation with Kaya, the wealthy heiress who, to be frank, was horribly casted. While I understand she was his friend and poisoned, the actress’ appearance seemed below average, and a bit of makeup might have gone a long way in preventing her from looking somewhat rough.

Sanji, Taz Skylar takes on the role of the chef who puts his passion into everything, whether it’s preparing exquisite dishes or facing off against enemies with his feet. Sanji is the only one sporting a suit while cooking gourmet meals on the Baratie, obviously wouldn’t stay there forever. His backstory about how he and Zeff met added a touching layer to his character. If they ever decide to create a live-action adaptation of Flapjack, young Sanji and Zeff could easily pass for Flapjack and Knuckles. After being lost at sea for months and surrounded by men, I suppose anyone would develop horny tendencies. Sanji was a flirt but didn’t seem overly thirsty. One thing that stood out was the actors chin, resembling Moonman or the Crimson Chin. The distinctive eyebrows from the original character design aren’t here.

Koby, Morgan Davies starts as a deckhand for Alvida but eventually joins the Marines. Koby’s extended presence in the series compared to the anime was weird. He wasn’t just a diversity checkmark; Koby proved to be genuinely useful and wasn’t a chore to watch on screen. The development of Koby and Helmeppo’s bond in this 8-episode run felt somewhat rushed and cheesy at times. Koby’s androgynous appearance seems to align well with Netflix’s style, leaving one to wonder about their plans for Koby in future seasons and what twists and turns might await his character.

Villian’s

Alvida, Ilia Isorelýs Paulino, is a strikingly large and beautiful woman who wields a formidable mace and captains a crew of rather unimpressive pirates. She had Koby under her influence until Koby decided to switch sides and join Luffy, leading to a fight sequence that lasted less than two minutes.

Morgan, Langley Kirkwood, is an iron-jawed Marine officer known for his distinctive axe hand. However, his intelligence seems a bit lacking, as evidenced by his failure to recognize that Nami wasn’t a Marine, especially considering that Luffy was free and not in custody. Furthermore, his belief that he had defeated Kuro of the Thousand Plans is rather perplexing. Eventually, he found himself in a tight spot when he was double-teamed by Zoro and Luffy.

Buggy, Jeff Ward, is a clown-like character who consumed a Devil Fruit known as the Chop-Chop Fruit, granting him the ability to detach and reattach his body parts at will. Despite having a power that makes him virtually unkillable, Buggy is more of a jokester than a serious threat. The actor playing Buggy did a decent job in the role. It’s worth noting that Buggy’s sinister intent to drown Luffy, even though both of them can’t swim, adds an element of dark humor to his character.

Kuro, Alexander Maniatis serves as Kaya’s butler but is secretly a pirate with intentions of acquiring her wealth. The actor captured Kuro’s mannerisms effectively, but his appearance seemed akin to someone wearing a budget cosplay with an ill-fitting wig. The actor’s noticeable hairline issue was quite distracting, and if he were cast in Big-O, it might have been more fitting. Kuro’s fight with Luffy left much to be desired in terms of choreography and execution. On the other hand, Zoro battling Kuro’s henchmen on the stairs had a reminiscent vibe of the Matrix Reloaded, which was a positive aspect. Luffy disposing of this character by giving him head out the window seemed fitting for someone playing the role of a butler.

Arlong, McKinley Belcher III, is a fishman driven by the desire to enslave humans in retribution for the oppression his people endured. In a way, Arlong resembles the Magneto of this universe, advocating for enslavement as a means to make those responsible for his people’s suffering experience a similar fate. While I may not agree with all his actions, I can empathize with the source of his motivations.

Arlong’s initial encounter with Luffy resulted in a brutal beating, nearly leading to Luffy becoming fish food. He then callously tossed Luffy into the water, by Nami’s request, as she was working for Arlong at the time. Arlong assigned her the seemingly impossible task of amassing 100 million berries to buy her and her village freedom and sabotaged her efforts. His actions were ruthlessness.

News of Arlong’s deeds reached Luffy, leading to a climactic rematch. In this fierce battle, Luffy realized he was outmatched and decided to bringdown Arlong Park. The fight against Arlong brought out some of the best fight scenes in Luffy’s on screen presence, Luffy finally unleashed his Gatling technique, followed by a monumental finishing move where he raised his foot skyward, bringing it crashing down on Arlong’s head, rendering him unconscious.

One Piece Thoughts

Netflix has finally delivered an anime adaptation that stays true to the source material without causing cringe. It took numerous live-action attempts, which often ended up as failures, to reach this point. The sacrifices made in those previous attempts were not in vain.

Given that the One Piece anime and manga have surpassed the 1000-episode and 95+ chapter mark respectively, newcomers might find it daunting to catch up. This series successfully condenses 44+ anime episodes and 95+ manga chapters into just 8 episodes, wisely removing filler and gratuitous beach episodes.

One of the highlights of this adaptation is witnessing the original Straw Hat crew coming together once more. For those who last watched the anime on 4Kids in the mid-2000s, this is a nostalgic treat. The shounen genre, with its characters calling out their attacks and employing fishman kung fu, serves as a reminder of the inherent corniness in such shows. While One Piece may not be Shakespeare, its vast and whimsical world, translated decently in this adaptation, is a strong point.

Casting choices for characters like Garp, Zeff, Shanks, Mihawk, and others were solid, and the diversity in the world of One Piece makes it immune to complaints about race-swapping characters. It’s a welcome evolution from the past when many anime characters were often portrayed as Caucasian with dyed hair. Today, diversity is embraced, and that’s a positive change.

However, with Netflix’s track record, there’s concerns about the second season potentially facing issues and getting canceled by season 3. Netflix is vast, it’s not immune to predictability.

In conclusion, whether you’re a new fan or a die-hard follower of the never-ending One Piece saga, this adaptation is recommended viewing.

Netflix One Piece 5.5 out of 10

Book

Wolf Iin The Flesh On Sale