Our reviewer has been reading the original One Piece manga since the beginning, and finds a lot to love in Netflix’s adaptation.

After punching out of work, there’s no way our Japanese-language reporter Anji Tabata likes to unwind more than curling up on the couch and streaming whatever the latest series to catch her attention is. And this week, that meant watching Netflix’s live-action adaptation of anime/manga smash-hit One Piece.

Netflix’s One Piece was announced a few years ago, and Anji has spent most of that time oscillating between wanting to see how it’ll turn out and wishing the adaptation wasn’t actually happening. She’s a very big fan of the original manga, having read all 106 volumes of the original manga series so far, and between the unimpressive record Hollywood has adapting anime into live-action and One Piece not seeming like an especially easy series to adapt, Anji was braced for the possibility that this might end up being another adaptation that fans will want to forget about ASAP.

But after watching all eight episodes, she’s been thoroughly one over and absolutely recommends watching the Metflix One Piece, for the following four reasons.

1. It’s a highly realized recreation of the source material that you can feel a lot of love went into

“The first thing that surprised me was how great a job they did recreating the look and feel of One Piece!,” Anji says. “I’m guessing it might partly be because of the involvement of the manga’s publisher Shueisha and the original series creator Eiichiro Oda being an executive producer, but you can feel the deep love that the production team has for One Piece. I got so excited seeing so many elements, from the scenery to the pirate ships to the fights, that reminded me of the manga.”

“What impressed me the most, though, was the cast. Compared to the characters in the original manga, some of them don’t have the same facial features, and there are other little differences from the source material, but watching the Netflix One Piece, it really felt like Luffy, Zoro, Nami, Sanji, and Usopp were the people on screen. Especially with Usopp, they didn’t give the actor the character’s long nose with CG or anything, but even without it, he felt totally like Usopp.”

2. It’s a good recap of the first part of the One Piece story

“The Netflix series has eight episodes of about one hour each, and they cover from the start of Luffy’s voyage through the Arlong Park arc. In the manga, that plays out over about 11 collected volumes, but the live-action One Piece leaves in the essential scenes, while condensing the rest of the story down and making it easy to follow. For people who are familiar with the source material, it’s interesting to watch it and think about how those are the critical beats that connect the parts of the overall narrative, and I think it’s also an enjoyable for people who haven’t read the manga and are experiencing the story for their first time this way.

3. The older men are handsome and cool

“I already talked about what a great job the cast does portraying the characters, but I was floored by how cool the older male characters are! If I had to describe the manga’s Garp, Luffy’s grandfather and Marine vice admiral, in a single phrase, it’d be ‘rugged middle-aged guy, but his live-action version is a definite dandy! He’s a handsome, mature man, and looks like he came out of a magazine.”

“Sanji’s mentor Zeff, in the manga, is a stubborn but kind older guy, but he feels extra dignified in the Netflix series! Even his braided mustache, which looks kind of silly in the manga, looked really cool to me in live-action.”

4. The Japanese-language dub is totally worth watching too

“I very much enjoyed watching it with English dialogue and Japanese subtitles, but I got emotional in one more way watching the Japanese dub. Why? Because the same vice actors from the One Piece anime reprise their roles. Hearing those familiar voices come out of the characters’ mouths, it really felt like Luffy and the others were alive in the real world.”

▼ Japanese-dialogue preview video for Netflix’s One Piece

“I am extremely satisfied, and was extremely moved,” Anji concludes. “This is a series fans of the original manga and One Piece anime should check out!”

Photos: Casey Crafford/Netflix © 2023、Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
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