One Piece in "live action": Netflix delivers a fun and spectacular trailer

One Piece: Netflix has (finally) succeeded in adapting a manga into “live action” (review)

The show adapted by Eiichirō Oda is not a great series, but it is excellent entertainment, a fun comedy that respects the original work, while adjusting it to its new format. The jump was somersault and the landing was undeniably mastered.

The anxiety level was at its peak on Friday among Monkey D. Luffy fans. When launching season 1 of One Piece on Netflix, the sailors of the Straw Hat Pirates were sweating profusely as they barely dared to look up at this “live action” version of Eiichirō Oda’s cult manga – just the biggest manga in history. It must be said that in recent times, anime adaptations have rarely sparked enthusiasm. With in mind the enormous failure of the film Death Note (2017) or the terrible flop of Cowboy Bebop (2021), a costly industrial accident, the streaming platform seemed to persist – for unartistic reasons – in a genre that hardly suited it.

With this preamble in mind, this version of One Piece Today is a little miracle!

Beyond expectations, the live action series was able to capture the zany essence of the original work, readjusting it for the greatest number of people. The feeling is charming, undeniably fun as hell. In a perfectly assumed cartoonish atmosphere, the series does not seek to be a great drama. Above all, it wants to be great entertainment. A strange mix of action and comedy, fantasy and buffoonery, somewhere between Pirates of the Caribbean And Scott Pilgrim. Visually, the result is quite breathtaking, the scenery impressive, the fights spectacular and the series has done justice to the unique decorum of the world of One Piece. It must be said that Eda did not let the producers do anything. He stuck his nose everywhere, followed the development to the point of sometimes demanding reshoots. And we imagine that he also helped choose Netflix’s Luffy. Iñaki Godoy is not for nothing in the happy outcome of this live version. The Mexican actor knew how to immerse himself in the sweet contagious madness of the young pirate perched on One Piece. Enough not to lose fans along the way. Enough to obtain validation from readers of the manga or aficionados of the original anime?

Probably not. Because the series inevitably abandons certain aspects of the comics and does not seek to methodically reproduce each panel of the comics. Showrunners Matt Owens and Steven Maeda followed the basis of the first 100 chapters, but dared to make some changes – with Eda’s agreement – in the unfolding, in the circumstances. “Adapting a manga is an almost impossible task“, explains Maeda in Variety, justifying his liberties. “For me, the series must be a bridge between people who know the work and those who do not know it. This is the only valid reason to make such a series: it must offer something that die-hard fans will appreciate and recognize, while succeeding in attracting new spectators who will ask: what is this crazy pink pirate ship?”

A subtle balance that few live action versions have achieved in recent times – ask the film The Knights of the Zodiac. However, adaptation in the flesh is far from being an aberration in itself. It is even part of the DNA of the manga and anime. The first dates back to 1961, with Sennin Buraku, a weekly strip – launched in 1958 – telling a love story in medieval China. Fact, One Piece is not the first to have been able to move into “live action” with honors. Far from it. Japanese cinema did not wait for Netflix to open such a gateway that certain recognized authors – such as Takashi Miike or Hideo Nakata – have already successfully taken. But these films have only rarely been exported to the West where, when we think of “live action adaptation of a manga”, we first think of Dragonball Evolution (2009). A reductive nonsense that tends to make people forget successes like Alita: Battle Angel by Robert Rodriguez, brilliant reinvention of Gunnmor the underside Ghost in the Shell worn by Scarlett Johansson.

Yes, it is possible to make a good live action manga adaptation, even in Hollywood. One Piece is a new example today and the massive success that awaits Luffy in the coming weeks on Netflix could even open the door to future projects. We know that Warner dreams of an American version of The attack of the Titans, in live action. Japanese cinema did not wait for it and has already delivered its own, in 2015…

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