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One Piece Review: Beloved Japanese Saga Lands on Netflix

The transition of beloved, long-running stories to new mediums often elicits mixed reactions from fans and newcomers. “One Piece,” a decades-spanning manga series turned anime and now a live-action series, seems to walk the tightrope between satisfying its devoted fanbase and attracting newcomers.

The live-action adaptation brings the eccentric world of “One Piece” to life, offering an opportunity for hardcore fans to see their beloved material in a new light while intriguing newcomers with its unique pirate-centric, superpower-infused fantasy.

Story and Characters

In its essence, “One Piece” shares similarities with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. It revolves around a group of endearing outlaws in search of the elusive treasure that will crown its discoverer as the King of the Pirates.

However, the series takes a whimsical approach, with the protagonist, Monkey D Luffy, being more VeggieTales than Jack Sparrow. Luffy, portrayed by Iñaki Godoy, is a cheerful dreamer with a stretchy, superhuman ability.

He’s joined by the reluctant pirate-hunting swordsman Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu) and crafty thief Nami (Emily Rudd), whose backgrounds unfold over the eight-episode season.

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Performance and Style

The live-action adaptation introduces a mix of performances, with some actors embracing a live-action cartoon-like enthusiasm while others opt for a snarkier tone. Iñaki Godoy leans heavily into Luffy’s boyish charm but sometimes appears mono-expressive.

The show’s style mirrors a woozy, Gilliam-esque sensibility, featuring fish-eye lenses and constant handheld low-angle close-ups. While it lacks the visionary thrills of vintage Gilliam, its garishness sets it apart.

The overall creativity competes with the production’s budget, resulting in varying levels of quality in settings and details.

Character Growth and Plot

As the season unfolds, Luffy’s crew expands to include Usopp (Jacob Romero Gibson), a marksman with pirate heritage, and Sanji (Taz Skylar), an ambitious chef/martial artist.

The show’s contemporary streaming style dedicates ample time to backstory and setup, limiting episodic adventures, despite the ensemble’s potential for a quest-of-the-week format.

Themes and Emotional Impact

“One Piece” attempts to explore themes of generational power transitions and the importance of following one’s dreams.

However, it sometimes comes across as somewhat shallow, especially compared to the recent “One Piece Film: Red.” The Netflix series lacks the same emotional depth, possibly due to the choice of villains and storytelling.


“One Piece” in its live-action form exudes conceptual eccentricity and Hot Topic optimism, making it a strangely enjoyable experience despite its shortcomings. While it may not be considered truly exceptional, it certainly isn’t dull. Embracing the peculiarities of Monkey D Luffy’s world is an adventure in itself.

“One Piece” as a live-action series manages to capture the essence of the beloved manga and anime while introducing its unique charm to a new audience.

6 Compelling Reasons To Watch The Live-Action Adaptation of “One Piece”

  1. Unique World-Building: “One Piece” offers a one-of-a-kind universe filled with fantastical elements, pirate lore, and superhuman abilities. Watching the live-action series allows you to immerse yourself in this rich and imaginative world, where anything is possible.
  2. Character Development: Follow the journey of Monkey D Luffy and his diverse crew as they embark on adventures, face challenges, and grow as individuals. The series delves into their backstories and relationships, making it a character-driven narrative worth exploring.
  3. Diverse Cast: The show features a diverse cast of characters, each with their own quirks and abilities. From cheerful dreamers like Luffy to cunning thieves and fierce warriors, the variety of personalities ensures there’s someone for every viewer to connect with.
  4. Visual Spectacle: Despite its occasional budget limitations, “One Piece” in live-action offers a visual spectacle with its unique art direction and creative use of effects. The show’s distinct style, inspired by Terry Gilliam, sets it apart from other series, making it a visual treat.
  5. Adventure and Mystery: The series is packed with thrilling adventures, mysteries, and quests that will keep you engaged throughout the season. Whether it’s treasure hunts, epic battles, or uncovering hidden truths, “One Piece” promises an exciting and unpredictable journey.
  6. Nostalgia for Fans: If you’re a long-time fan of the manga or anime, watching the live-action adaptation provides a fresh perspective on the beloved story. You’ll enjoy seeing familiar characters and moments reimagined in a new medium while appreciating the effort to stay true to the source material.

“One Piece” in its live-action form offers a unique blend of world-building, character development, visual spectacle, adventure, mystery, and nostalgia that makes it a compelling series to watch for both fans and newcomers alike.

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