The Journey To One Piece & Why Hollywood Should Pay Attention

When the announcement of a One Piece live action was first announced in January 2020, most were quite dismayed and very skeptical by the absurd thought of seeing such a vast and imaginative world becoming live action, aside from an occasional live action product advertisement in Japan. It was the sort of reaction that usually had the response of: Alright. Let’s see how quick this gets cancelled, or how bad of a disaster this will be. After all, we still had Cowboy Bebop that was yet to air. Maybe that would turn out ok?

Unfortunately, things happened leading up the release of the live action adaption of Cowboy Bebop on Netflix. Not everyone involved seemed to have the love or understanding of the source material, and it showed in the end product. Netflix Cowboy Bebop first aired on November 19th, 2021 and was cancelled December 9th, less than 3 weeks later.

And so we were left with yet another live action series/movie that felt out of place from the source material. That didn’t seem to bode well for One Piece. And when the Showrunner Steven Maeda started making comments in September of 2021, comparing One Piece characters to U.S. political figures, that felt like a sure sign it was headed in the same direction most modern day adaptions lead into.

But that was the last time anyone heard anything politically motivated or controversial surrounding the production, writing, and actor perspectives related to One Piece. I’ve always suspected that Maeda got a talking to, either by those around him, or Oda maybe wasn’t happy about the noise he was starting to hear.

Construction on the life-size version of the Going Merry, taken in July 2022

After that, if you followed the One Piece social media pages or kept up with the news in the official Netflix One Piece Discord server, you would start to see evidence that things were different. There were actual ships being built and actual locations being constructed. Costumes were looking very familiar. Actors were chosen who, by all accounts, looked like their character counterparts. As Oda described the characters back in 2015, if the Straw Hat crew were real, the nationalities of the main cast would be:

Luffy from Brazil
Zoro from Japan
Nami from Sweden
Usopp from Africa
Sanji from France

Photo of actors dressed as Marines, shared May 2023

Once the sneak peak trailer came out, then we all started to get an idea of what the actors were like. And that’s part of what feels different and it’s kind of… nice. Whether the show will be good or not, it’s just nice not to feel upset, frustrated, disappointed, or insulted by anyone working on the series, speaking of the fans or the source material in such a holier-than-thou attitude, and with such disdain.

Wealth Fame Power song from the Netflix series:

The cast of One Piece have been on a campaign tour to hype up and get people excited or interested to watch something that they seem genuinely excited for. You could say this is all just them acting the part, but upon looking at the behind the scene videos of them practicing or just being their goofy selves, they really do seem like they are having the time of their lives.

See some clips in these videos:

Here is a Netflix Playlist that includes Eiichiro Oda meeting the actor of Monkey D. Luffy, Iñaki Godoy. It has been reported a number of times that Oda chose who was to play who, as well as Oda seeming to confirm it himself in this video of his heavy involvement in the casting. This would be the first time he met Iñaki in person. Back while they were still filming in South Africa, Oda had planned on flying over to Cape Town, South Africa to be there in person in the making of his story. However, he was unable to travel due to Covid restrictions in Japan. I’m sure finally seeing the actor playing a character he created face to face meant a lot to him (as well as for Iñaki getting to meet the creator of One Piece!).

As for why Oda has his face hidden (as well as people in another video in the playlist, at the offices of Shueisha Games, which is the place where the manga is published and also the place where the creation of the anime series is made), some have said it’s for privacy. Others say it’s just part of the mangaka culture of not wanting their faces to be worshiped more than their work.

As you can see in these videos, their enthusiasm and excitement is infectious and you just can’t help but smile. There is no rage. There is no controversy. There are no insults. No politics. No man bashing. You see Hollywood? Positive marketing can be done. It still gets the word out. It makes people more curious. Maybe still cautious. But with everything that’s been seen throughout the past few years of work on the series, you can genuinely feel the love for the source material and respect towards Eiichiro Oda. And that is what matters most.

At the premiere of the first episode in Japan:

Even fans in Japan are cautiously optimistic. When the casting had been announced, many in Japan were skeptical and unsure of what to think. But after the official trailer came out, the skepticism was changed to a bit more excitement.

“I had so many worries about the adaptation, but after watching this, I can’t wait to see it!”
“I like how they’re balancing loyalty to the source material and creating a natural, realistic atmosphere.”
“I really like how it looks like instead of being a live-action anime, it’s like they’re going for what it’d be like if the world of One Piece existed in our reality.”
“They aren’t going overboard on the setting or characterizations, but they’ve got a firm grasp on what makes them special, It’s a good balance for a fantasy story.”
“When you adapt anime to live-action, it’s always going to feel at least a little like cosplay, but I think they’ve done an incredible job making it look this polished, so I’m looking forward to watching this.”
“At first, I thought that Luffy felt like a totally different character, but watching this trailer, he’s won me over.”
“I totally like how it doesn’t feel like a shonen manga, but a pirate series for adults.”
“I’ve seen a lot of live-action adaptations of anime, but this is the first time a trailer has me this excited about watching one.”
“My initial impression is that I don’t hate it, so that’s a big win for it so far.”
“I’m worried about some of what I see in the acting and fight choreography, but this video still has me wanting to check the series out.”

Reviews from those who have seen it are saying it’s good. And maybe it is. After all, it’s been consistently reported that Eiichiro Oda was heavily involved from the very beginning of this project. From choosing the actors to requesting many re-shoots when he wasn’t happy with what he saw, to which the production agreed to. He felt that “numerous scenes weren’t good enough to put out into the world”. He pointed out in a letter he released last week that, “there were so many things that had to be done to keep things from looking too unnatural in live action.” He includes paying attention to how the dialogue sounded on paper to how the actors said it on screen.

Official theme My Sails Are Set (feat. AURORA) song is also available on Spotify:

Personally speaking, as someone who has sat through and watched the East Blue arc 3 or 4 times over the years, I am cautiously excited. I’m not saying I think it will be great, but I don’t feel put off by it as I did with Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop. I’ve never bothered to watch any episodes of the 2021 series. Only clips on YouTube, and even then, not very many.

The East Blue Arc is just a very well written opener for a story, and when the arc gets to a very specific moment, that’s when I knew this was not just some silly pirate adventure story. This was a story with heart. And it wasn’t shy about going into dark places. I am most certainly curious to see how they translate the essence of One Piece from manga and anime to live action.

Again, Hollywood could stand to pay attention to how this series was treated, especially in the marketing. But will they? With all the strikes going on, maybe someday we’ll start seeing the changes that shows respect to the source material, the creator of the source material, and respect to the fans. The world has enough politics, uncertainty, and animosity to contend with, we don’t need more piled on.

To end this off, here is a clip that was posted on the Youtube channel Everyeye Plus: Film al Cinema, Serie Tv e Anime, based in Italy. The one minute clip posted this morning is of Sanji on the Baratie ship preparing a dish before being scolded by Chef Zeff.

Whether Netflix’s One Piece is campy, or actually good, it’s hard to deny the feeling of authenticity coming from those who have worked on One Piece. Will this be a turning point? What do you think? Are you interested in checking out the show? Will you be sharing it with anyone who typically does not go for animes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! strives to be an apolitical, balanced and based pop culture news outlet. However, our contributors are entitled to their individual opinions. Author opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of our video hosts, other site contributors, site editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. This website contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. We disclaim products or services we have received for review purposes, as well as sponsored posts.

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Sarah Leone
Sarah Leone
An independent artist who loves to mix things up between traditional and digital art. She has a love for all things anime, animation, and manga. Oh, and cats. Can't forget the cats.

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