Can Netflix’s Live Action One Piece Series Work?

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Just like many of you who are reading this, I’m a huge fan of One Piece. I grew up reading it through school and continue to read it weekly. If you never got a chance to check out my Top 5 favorite manga series then I’ll tell you now that One Piece was number one for me. Keep that in mind when reading this because I’m also trying to be a realist while also balancing my love for the series. Let’s ask the question though, is Netflix’s live action One Piece series a good idea? Of course when I first heard this I was very excited because of the possibilities, but realistically is it a good idea? Are we going to run into a project that feels more like The Last Airbender movie or even the Death Note movie? 

Right off the bat, this has many differences than either of those two projects, one being that they’re giving this first season 10 episodes rather than making a movie. That tells me that they at least don’t want to rush whatever story it is that they’re telling like those two movies did. Now Death Note could have been done well as a movie, but One Piece doesn’t hold up as a live action movie. There’s just too much content and while the animated movies work, it’s mostly because they’re appealing to the fans that already know who these characters are. You could make a live action One Piece movie, but it will inevitably hurt by not having enough time to set up and explain this world. Going with a series certainly gives them plenty of time to flesh out the story, world, and characters. Now I think it’s safe to assume that they don’t intend on making just one season if they can help it, rather they would likely be intending on making multiple seasons pending on its success with viewers and ratings. 

With that in mind, we actually get to the important part of the question, is it a good idea? Look, as a fan I want to just jump in the air and say hell yes they should do it and that it could be the next Game of Thrones. Well, it could potentially be that, but there are still a lot of worries I have for that actually happening and whether or not it’s ultimately a good idea. Let’s break it down to a few points starting with the story. The story itself I won’t go into too much because I’m assuming if you’re reading this then you know generally what One Piece is about. In the simplest terms, it’s a pirate adventure. Now the problem with the story is that it comes from a manga/anime depending on which you prefer. What I mean by that is that the story is also affected by the characters and the overall world.

You have a main character who has the ability to stretch like rubber or a clown that can break his body apart into pieces. Okay, that wouldn’t be too bad if they have enough of a budget. Then you also have the fact that there are giants and also a talking reindeer who can turn into different forms of himself. Visually there’s a lot that can go wrong with this. Better yet, depending on how they choose to go about adapting the source material, there may be a fish man pirate crew. Maybe not the best thing to sell to an audience. Bottom line is that when it comes to characters and the overall world like the different species or Devil fruit abilities, the show has an uphill battle. Now I’m not saying that it can’t work, but it’s going to be extremely difficult to pull it off in a way that is both appealing and worth putting the money in to make it. 

Now I haven’t seen every single Netflix series out there and I don’t know the cost of every project, but I do think that The Witcher was a testament to what they can do when really diving into a project with a lot of source material and some fantastical visuals. The Witcher May be their most ambitious project to date with everything involved on the project. However, I feel that if they choose to go balls to the wall dedicated with the One Piece series, it will end up being their most ambitious project. I’ll be honest, as a fan I don’t want to see some half ass version where they didn’t want to spend the money needed. I don’t want a situation where I end up disliking the project because they didn’t want to spend the money to do it justice. I never asked for a live action series of the manga because I knew how much it would take to do it right, but given their recent track record with projects like The Witcher, I feel that they’re not going to half ass it. 

The next question I’m wondering is how they’re going to go about doing the story. 10 episodes certainly give you plenty of time to tell a good story and to develop the characters, but what story are they going to be telling? Are they going to play it safe and do a season that has a definitive ending in case they don’t move forward with a season 2? I’m not sure. A lot of where they go with the story depends on how they’re approaching the project as a whole in the future including future seasons. There’s a chance that they beer away from the manga and tell their own version of the story with the familiar characters. While that can work, I think that it’s a bit risky given the fanbase, but at the same time they need to do something that’s going to actually work and not appeal only to fans. I think there’s a way that they can adapt the East Blue saga as the entirety of season 1 and I think that should be the way they go, but again it depends on whether they can actually pull that off without it feeling rushed or feeling like The Last Airbender.

There’s a lot of thoughts I have to whether or not this will actually work and I’m incredibly nervous because of how big a fan I am. Eiichiro Oda has held on to the rights to his series for a very long time and it would seem a positive point that he chose now to make a deal with Netflix. I feel that he has confidence in the company to do the series justice and that certainly gives me a little more hope, but we’ll just have to see. Another aspect that I’m not going to get into too much is how they go about casting the project. Do you go with an all Asian cast? I think that you could, but Netflix will likely try to get known American actors mixed with an Asian cast. Ultimately there’s just a lot of possibilities and factors put into how they’ll figure this series out. 

Do I think it’s a good idea? Yes and no. It has incredible potential of being the next great series very much in the vein of Game of Thrones but with more fun and adventure. There are many great characters that they can introduce and a lot of awesome visuals if done right. I think that it’s incredibly risky and bold to tackle this project, but The Witcher gives me more hope than I had before. I think this project could end up being disastrous while also feeling it could be an incredible success. I think as more information comes out about the project, we’ll get a better sense of how their approach will turn out. Again, as a fan, I’m very excited to see if they can pull it off. As fans though, I think we need to be aware of the possibility that this doesn’t work. What do you all think? 

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