One Piece Review – IGN

One Piece’s Live-Action Adaptation: A Mixed Bag of Fan Service and Missed Opportunities

One Piece has earned its place as one of the all-time best shōnen anime series. With its humorous yet thematically rich story, epic action sequences, endearing characters, and even godlike beings, it has captured the hearts of millions. But when it comes to translating all of that into a live-action adaptation, Netflix’s take on the beloved pirate adventure falls short.

In its first season, Netflix’s One Piece attempts to condense Eiichiro Oda’s extensive and intricate manga into just eight hour-long episodes. The story still revolves around Monkey D. Luffy and his crew’s quest for the legendary treasure known as One Piece, but the adaptation tries to cram in too much content. Luffy’s origin story, the formation of his crew, and their initial journey on the Grand Line are all compressed to fit the limitations of a live-action series. Fans of the anime and manga will recognize this as the East Blue Saga, a story told across numerous episodes and chapters. Trying to compress all of it into a Netflix show proves to be an impossible task.

Unfortunately, Netflix’s adaptation doesn’t fully commit to its new structure. It teeters between telling an abridged story and indulging in fan service. Backstories are shared through flashbacks, but the crucial moments that flesh out the characters’ adult selves are missing. Important lines lose their impact due to either hints or omissions in context. The quick pace prioritizes big moments over character development, resulting in interactions that feel unearned. This adaptation struggles to find its own identity as it constantly tries to be the anime.

Despite these flaws, the show manages to entertain. The first season succeeds in establishing the unique elements of the One Piece world, including the ever-shifting power dynamics among pirates and governments and the harshness of a planet dominated by vast oceans. The action sequences are delightfully over-the-top, reminiscent of a violent version of Peter Pan. The visual effects for Luffy’s stretchy abilities, sea creatures, and bizarre phenomena are visually impressive. However, the practical effects, particularly the pirate ship sets, steal the show. Adventure, which has always been a defining feature of One Piece, is expertly conveyed in this adaptation.

The talented cast also contributes to the show’s charm. Iñaki Godoy’s portrayal of Luffy is surprisingly believable, capturing the character’s clueless yet heroic nature. Jacob Romero brings Usopp to life, imbuing both his tall tales and selfless actions with resonance. Mackenyu looks the part of Zoro but falls short in delivering a multidimensional performance. Taz Skylar shines as Sanji, effortlessly transitioning from reluctant warrior to a compassionate yet abrasive ally. However, it is Emily Rudd’s portrayal of Nami that truly stands out. Her portrayal effortlessly balances the navigator’s tough exterior with hints of past trauma, and her emotional displays breathe life into the character.