Overall Rating: Pretty good
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
Synopsis: In the newly released Netflix series the protagonist Monkey D. Luffy is an optimistic young pirate determined to find the One Piece. He sets off to gather a loyal crew needed to navigate the vast oceans. His adventure begins when he helps Koby, a deckhand forced into servitude, escape an undesirable situation. Later, in Shells Town, Luffy meets and forms an alliance with Roronoa Zoro, a famed pirate hunter, and Nami, a master thief.
The live-action adaptation of “One Piece” has finally been released, and before watching it, I was a little worried about how it would turn out. Live-action anime media hasn’t had a good track record for a while with things like Netflix’s “Death Note” movie and “Cowboy Bebop” series disappointing fans of the original work. However, it has been reported that Eiichiro Oda (“One Piece’s” author) would be heavily involved in the decision making of the show, and as a long time “One Piece” fan, that gave me a bit of hope that maybe they won’t drop the ball on the adaptation. After watching it, I can confidently say that it was pretty good, but not without flaws and things that bothered me, as someone familiar with the manga and anime. The review will also remain spoiler free until the end section.
Something I’ve noticed is that they’ve changed the characters a little. The main one that disappointed me was Roronoa Zoro, my favorite character. In the manga, Zoro was expressive and showed a lot more personality compared to the live-action Zoro, who was more stoic and edgy. He never smiled and lacked charisma. The series as a whole, felt rushed. The pacing wasn’t that bad, but they cut a lot of stuff out and made changes that streamlined arcs.
I was also not impressed with Arlong’s character. I prefer the original design of Arlong with his large figure, relaxed unbuttoned shirt, and his nose in the manga and anime is much more appealing. Arlong’s nose originally was jagged and in a zig zag shape with a point at the tip. The live action replaced it with this ugly, boney nose that wasn’t as menacing as the original. In fact, Arlong’s original attitude and design was also more menacing than the live-action counterpart. In the original, he had an intense and scary stare and a more relaxed attitude.
I do, however, appreciate the change in the final fight of the show. Instead of dragging it out, like they did in the anime and manga, they made it fast paced and tighter, which I feel is better than the animated adaptation. I also liked the physical sets they built. Apparently they built all their sets, and they’re all practical, unlike modern media overusing CGI. It feels more real and like it’s actually there. Something I didn’t mind is that they seemed to Americanize the show a bit more – like they tweaked the tone of the show to make it more dramatic and less goofy. It seemed like the right move for switching from animation to live action. The show also hit me in the feels a little bit. Though it does feel like they’re flying through the East Blue saga a bit, it still made me feel a connection with the characters.
They also made the fight scenes a lot quicker and faster paced compared to the anime where it was more drawn out. The fight scenes are pretty fun and cool, especially Zoro’s and Sanji’s. Something minor I also enjoyed were the different outfits Luffy and the crew wore throughout the show. In the original manga, Luffy only wears the red vest until he enters the Grand Line. It’s nice to see everyone in different and unique outfits.
All in all, the live action show isn’t bad. I’ve seen a lot of people online get attached to the story and characters just because of the live action. It’s a lot more inviting than watching 1,070 episodes of the anime or reading 106 volumes of the manga, and that’s probably why more people are joining in the “One Piece” hype. I enjoyed the show despite the gripes I had with it — mainly with Zoro — and I recommend it if you’re curious about one of the most famous pieces of Japanese media that’s been going on since 1997.
Cameron Ching is a senior at Kalani High School. He likes to follow manga, anime and superheroes in general including “One Piece,” DC and Marvel. He also enjoys video games and music from the ’70s and ’80s.