The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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From manga to madness: ‘One Piece’ live-action

Creative commons- Magic7Mischief
Captured in action, Monkey D. Luffy, the spirited and rubbery protagonist of One Piece, mid Gum Gum Pistol. His determined eyes and stretched arms show the energy of a would-be Pirate King. Get ready to set sail with Luffy’s infectious enthusiasm!

On Aug. 31, 2023, Netflix dropped Eiichiro Oda’s “One Piece” live-action series, and it’s making waves. For those who have written off the genre of anime entirely because they think it’s just for kids, it’s not, and Netflix is here to prove it. So turn off your brain because you’re in for a good time; it’s your next binge-worthy show.

The live-action adaptation of anime and manga has often been deemed risky, comparable to the hit or miss nature of video game-based films. Surprisingly, 2023 has proven to be a landmark year for such adaptations. HBO’s “The Last of Us” and the “Super Mario Bros. Movie” found success, signaling a potential shift. Netflix, having observed this trend, steps into the arena with its launch of “One Piece,” a series adapted from Oda’s long-running manga.

For the anime fans, “One Piece” in live-action lives up to the hype. With solid ratings from reviewers, including an 85% Rotten Tomatoes score, it’s clear that season one delivers, leaving viewers hungry for more and keeping the die-hard fans happy. 

Netflix has experienced firsthand the complexities of dealing with possessive fans, cautious watchers, and the unique qualities of animation. Adapting anime is tricky, but to ensure all that goes smoothly without disappointed fans, Netflix comes prepared. Oda’s public endorsement sets the tone, stating the first season is a faithful take on the manga’s early chapters, reassuring fans of the series’ fidelity to the source material.

Straw Hat Pirates

Meet Monkey D. Luffy, a teenage dreamer aspiring to be the Pirate King. The show revolves around his journey on the high seas, and features a wide variety of out-of-the-box characters from crewmates to villains, each with their own wild dreams. Zoro’s becoming the greatest blade fighter, Nami’s globe-trotting, Sanji’s ingredient hunting, and Usopp’s impressing his crush – it’s a crew of eclectic goals.

The setting of One Piece is incredibly cartoonish; for starters, Luffy, as a kid, chomped down a Gum Gum Fruit, granting him the ability to stretch like rubber. Luffy’s trademark move? The “Gum Gum Pistol.” On their journey, the Straw Hat Pirates encounter fishmen, snail phones, and even a clown who’s a master of body disassembly. 

Behind The Scenes

Director Marc Jobst, designer Richard Bridgland, and the studio crew create a visually chaotic yet deliberate blend of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and practical effects. They impressively choreographed hand-to-hand combat scenes and a prologue that amps up the epic scale, featuring a crowd whipped into a treasure frenzy by the former Pirate King Gold Roger.

“One Piece” live-action tries to preserve the anime’s charm, however, the series occasionally struggles with the impossible task of squeezing a 2-D world into 3-D. In the transition to live action, it lacks the smooth quality of other Netflix hits. CGI and practical effects bring it to life, but translating a cartoonish world into live-action has its challenges. Some things just look better on paper.

For example, a human-sawtooth shark hybrid in an open Hawaiian shirt entering a restaurant may never look natural, no matter the budget. The fantastical world sometimes clashes with reality. The cast’s acting style, stiff yet enthusiastic, occasionally creates an uncanny effect–a bit like imitating a freeze-frame.

Binge Friendly, yet not without Flaws

This show is binge-friendly and wildly popular, but it often lacks the cultural weight of more challenging narratives. The goal here is not novelty; it’s preservation. In the wise words of Luffy, he would emphasize that all goals are valid as long as you don’t give up on them.

Ready to set sail? All eight episodes of “One Piece” are now streaming on Netflix. Whether you’re a seasoned anime fan or just dipping your toes in, grab your compass and explore the nautical wonders of “One Piece” in this new live-action adventure.

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