One Piece – TV Review

I may not possess an in-depth familiarity with the world of anime. However, I have watched my fair share of anime series. I tend to gravitate towards stories abundant in action yet harboring profound meaning. Works like Psycho-Pass, Sword Art Online, or Hellsing have been enjoyable journeys for me. Nevertheless, I am aware that they do not occupy a place among the classics. When the subject of anime arises, One Piece usually comes to mind first. This ongoing anime, since 1999, has reached a staggering 1081 episodes. Despite numerous recommendations and even the fact that a friend of mine named his cat Luffy, I have never mustered the courage to start the series due to its sheer length. This is precisely why TV Shows like these exist. Many series and films manage to guide the audience, particularly those unfamiliar with the source material, toward the origins from which they are adapted. I can confidently say that, following Netflix’s adaptation, I will seriously consider diving into the world of One Piece.

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Let’s briefly touch upon the premise… As the Pirate King is captured and executed after many years, he informs all who bear witness to his demise that his treasure is hidden somewhere. This proclamation sets off a race across the universe as everyone seeks to find this magnificent singular One Piece. Among them is Luffy. He embarks on a journey to find the fabled treasure and become the Pirate King. However, there’s a catch: he lacks a ship that can carry him to the far reaches of the world, and he lacks a crew to accompany him on that ship. Hence, before he can aspire to be the Pirate King, he must first become a pirate in his own right. And, of course, he must gather all the missing pieces.

I have no prior knowledge of One Piece. While I may have a basic understanding of its premise, I remain blissfully unaware of its plot and progression. I watched the series as a complete outsider, detached from any prior knowledge or context. I do not know what fans of One Piece think about the series, but I am confident that the show will captivate individuals like myself, who approach it with no prior understanding of the subject matter. Given Netflix’s tendency to tamper excessively with many anime adaptations, I had concerns about One Piece. After all, we’re talking about a platform that had the audacity to portray the iconic L from Death Note as a Black character. However, they seem to have either learned their lesson or taken note of Amazon’s misadventures with “The Rings of Power,” as they have opted to present the anime as it is, without significant alterations.

First and foremost, the character designs are truly remarkable. Iñaki Godoy, who portrays Luffy, is an exact replica of the anime character. He has captured Luffy’s occasionally annoying grin so beautifully that I can confidently say it is the most successful casting I have seen in recent times. Emily Rudd’s portrayal of Nami and Mackenyu’s Zoro are also highly accomplished. I am certain that Emily Rudd will amass a substantial fan base after One Piece. Alongside Iñaki Godoy, Taz Skylar’s Sanji is a carbon copy of the anime character. The only exception is Jacob Romero’s Usopp, who deviates slightly from the anime, likely due to his character having an excessively long nose in the original.

Unfortunately, I cannot ascertain how faithfully Netflix adheres to the original story. A brief investigation revealed that the series faithfully recreates many scenes from the anime. However, I cannot speak to the accuracy of the pacing and narrative structure. Nevertheless, the show’s Mandalorian-esque format, with each episode presenting a new quest, will undoubtedly please MMORPG enthusiasts like myself. Despite my lack of familiarity with the subject matter and the story, I did not find myself uncomfortable with the progression of the narrative. In fact, I found the gradual bonding of the team to be quite well executed. Projects that bring a smile to your face as you watch them are truly special. Somehow, Luffy’s unwavering cheerful demeanor manages to influence the audience, including me.

The fact that Netflix has refrained from injecting an overtly left-leaning agenda into the project is already sufficient for the project’s success. This signifies that they are faithfully adapting the story. However, the narrative at times delves into fantastical elements. The series also excels in this regard. Luffy’s elastic abilities, Buggy the Clown’s dismembered body, the makeup of the fish-men, and more – I must reiterate – the show astonishingly gets everything right. While Sanji’s green-screen scenes in the rocky island from his childhood may have slightly irked me, the series remains seamless and progresses as it should in all other aspects. Although the action sequences approach the anime at times, they occasionally come off as too simplistic. Perhaps the only area where the series falls short, though not necessarily failing, is that some action scenes appear somewhat artificial.

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In essence, One Piece is unexpectedly excellent, a Netflix series that stays remarkably true to the anime adaptation, surpassing expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment from start to finish. They managed to convey Luffy’s smile and the camaraderie that gradually forms within the crew. From its special effects to character designs, this series stands as one of the finest offerings I’ve seen from Netflix in recent times. Considering the risky endeavor they embarked upon, adapting a 24-year-old anime with millions of fans, one only needs to recall the debacle of “The Rings of Power.” However, Netflix has emerged from this challenge with flying colors. Naturally, I’m curious about what the fans will think. But I must say, as someone entirely uninitiated in the subject matter, they’ve won someone like me over.

Cast & Crew

creator: Steven Maeda, Matt Owens

starring: Iñaki Godoy, Emily Rudd, Mackenyu, Jacob Romero, Taz Skylar, Vincent Regan, Morgan Davies, Aidan Scott

USA | 2023 | 8 EPISODES |


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