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One Piece!!! The name reverberates around the globe with the frequency of human heartbeat as one of the most popular manga/anime of all time. As one of Shonen Jump Big 3 along with Naruto and Bleach, it can be argued One Piece is most probably the GOAT of anime. An anime that has stood the test of time through genre revolutions, teething competitions, and preferential changes is worthy of being the best of the best. The clout has decreased a lot over the years but even then challengers are nowhere to be found. The decades-spanning animated series has finally been adapted into a live-action by Netflix.

How is the live-action faring?!! It’s a massive hit, a Blockbuster of a series. Netflix has finally done something worthwhile in regard to the live-action adaptation of anime and in doing so changed our perception of the ridicule of such projects to a more appreciative one. Now, does that mean One Piece live-action is picture-perfect?! Hell no!!! It is flawed to the core and as a fan of One Piece anime, a lot of what has been shown does not sit well with me. Does that mean it is a failure? Not in the slightest. It is a success but definitely fails to trump the anime and that was to be expected to be honest.

Just last week I was writing about how Rurouni Kenshin 2023 the remake of the legendary Rurouni Kenshin aka Samurai X anime is a promising one but at the same time, it leaves a lot to be desired. Similarly, One Piece live-action leaves a lot to be desired if you’re an anime fan. And, there is a valid reason for the shortcomings. The crazy-ass imaginary world created in anime simply cannot be recreated in real life; let’s just face it and move on. I know what you will say. It’s difficult for me to move on as well and I end up comparing the live-action with the anime at every turn.

ONE PIECE | Official Trailer | Netflix

One Piece In A Nutshell

A question for all, “Who is the mightiest pirate in the seven seas?” And the resoundingly loud answer to that question is, “Monkey D. Luffy!” Suckers of the original source material or manga should already be aware, the story follows the queer yet thrilling adventures of the seemingly carefree and almost scary optimist. Our first encounter with Luffy is when he comes out of a barrel inside a Pirate ship with ragged clothing and a hand-me-down straw hat. But the rubber-skinned teenager isn’t going to let that slow him down. He has one dream: finding the so-called ‘One Piece’, an elusive treasure left behind by the infamous pirate, Gold D. Roger.

Throughout the series, Luffy recruits a band of misfit ragtags later known as the Straw Hats convincing them only with his simplicity and straightforwardness to accompany him on his adventures. The mighty swordsman Roronoa Zoro, sexy navigator Nami, shit-talking sharpshooter Usopp, and perverted blonde with immense talent in cooking Sanji are his crew. Together, they traverse the dangerous seas of East Blue, hopping from place to place, and face more formidable enemies than one can shake a peg leg at. But will they ever find the treasure? And will Luffy ever meet his destiny as king of the pirates?

The plot that you see is quite symmetrical to the original source material. However, One Piece live-action has made many changes some very major ones. From character representation to sequence depiction these significant differences cannot be unnoticed. Some of the changes made sense and came on as welcome additions to the show. And, some changes made me feel like they are out to ruin the series in full force. Well, that is my skepticism speaking as an anime fan. The people who are here to enjoy just the live-action may find these things rather entertaining.

One Piece - Poster - Deshi Geek
One Piece – Poster – Deshi Geek

The Positives To Look For

When the proceedings started with the sequence of Gold D Rogers’ execution I was simply pleased. That was an excellent way to begin the story. ‘Impressive’ was the word flowing along in my mind. Well, this happened most probably because Oda-sensei was directly involved in the production. It is a huge plus point for the show but even the creator could not save the lauckluster crowd performance that followed. Ooops, this section was supposed to be the positives! My bad! The individual performances were decent though.

The ambience of mind-boggling fantasy that the anime presents was recreated in One Piece live-action somewhat. I simply loved the visuals and scenic beauty that was on the show from the very beginning. Set designing and location selection could not have been more perfect, to be honest. The instrumental of ‘We Are’ in the background when ‘Going Merry’ sets sail is no less than epic. And, for the first time ever Netflix got its shit together in regard to CGI and VFX rendering. I could definitely feel the joy of watching a breathtaking fantasy-adventure flick in its true essence and that being a live-action, not an anime.

To name one aspect that can take this series through the roof and set a standard is the combat sequences. The fight scenes are excellent and that can be viewed as an understatement. Clever n’ precise framing, ingenious camera movements following the characters n’ clashes, and perfectly synchronized choreography make the show a contender to rival any Jackie Chan films (Just kidding). Luffy’s ‘Gum Gum’ moves, Nami’s acrobatics with the staff, Sanji’s high-flying kicks, Usopp’s sharpshooting moments, and especially Zoro’s katana combats were on display to my utter amazement. However, the BGM in these scenes were not at all fitting.

ONE PIECE | Official Teaser Trailer | Netflix

The Rumbling Demise

Where do I even begin to describe the shortcomings of One Piece live-action? There are so many that it may take an entire article to cover, but for now, I am listing a few. Let’s start with the entry of Captain Alvida because the story of our protagonist Luffy starts on her ship. Now, if I am to compare both versions it will be a sin I’m ill-afford to commit. The Netflix version is so far from the original sensual Alvida that I had to Google to fend off my confusion. To the One Piece anime fans who plan to watch the Netflix series, “You shall be forgiven for thinking she’s the younger version of Big Mom!”

When you think of One Piece you think of Red Hair Shanks with three scar marks on his left eye, his uncommon red hair, a domineering presence, a menacing look, and a sense of alpha aura. However, the Netflix Shanks is mediocre, devoid of any of the distinct characteristics of the original, and boringly comical. I mean if you turn the iconic character of Shanks into a lame clown you’re lacking severely. On the other hand, the live-action version of Mihawk is barely passable. I know many of you will disagree on this one, but let’s be honest, the anime Mihawk is way cooler and more charismatic.

One Piece live-action Zoro is as flat as a wood plank and one-dimensionally mundane on top of it. That is what happens when you try to unwind a character in one season of eight episodes which took years to develop. People are clamoring about how hot Zoro is in the show without even realizing the original character was butchered to the core. Then the showy Sanji that many liked lacked the depth of perverted genius like glitter that the original displayed. The portrayal of Nami is far better than any other major characters in my opinion but even she pales in comparison to the anime version.

I was lost in trying to find the long nose of Usopp which is one of his trademark features. Not able to find it I was disappointed and tried to console myself in thinking that Netflix might have run out of budget for a prosthetics expert. However, when I saw Arlong and Buggy looking awesome with all the makeup and prosthetics the need for Usopp’s long nose became more glaring. Well, whatever. It couldn’t be more frustrating from the fact that Koby had more screen time than him overall. Why is that? I asked myself! It’s the Netflix inclusion politics baby (Not Getting Into Details Here).

The most disappointing part of One Piece live-action for me is the main man Monkey D. Luffy. Don’t get me wrong! Inaki put on a stellar performance and this version of Luffy deserves all the praise it is getting. However, that is not enough Oda-sensei. You should have known better than anyone that it is literally impossible for any actor on this planet to recreate the insanity-induced yet glaringly lovable anime version in live-action. Even prime Heath Ledger who gave the ‘Joker’ character a new identity would have failed at it. I may be being harsh but it is the truth.

One Piece - Scene - Deshi Geek
One Piece – Scene – Deshi Geek

One Piece Live-Action Is Entertaining

Despite all the flaws and shortcomings, One Piece live-action is a fairly entertaining show. Netflix has finally delivered a good adaptation that was previously unheard of. The involvement of creator Oda was the masterstroke in this case. Hopefully, in the upcoming seasons, they will fix the issues of the first season and vastly improve upon it. If they can pull it off then a new wave of successful adaptations of anime/manga titles may come along and cater to all even to those who do not watch anime or read manga.

That being said One Piece live-action season 1 is a non-success in my eyes. But, I still would recommend it. Watch the series and decide for yourselves if it is a success or a failure in regard to the question, “Has One Piece live-action done justice to the original source material?” Your answers might be different from mine which is a firm ‘No’!!!

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Reading and writing are my muse. Expressing myself through my writing is the purpose of me being here. The hope is to satisfy the readers with my penned pieces!!!

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