By Owen Glancy
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
“One Piece” is one of the most influential and popular manga on the planet, with its total sales eclipsing comic book legends like “Batman” and “Spider-Man.” The anime adaptation is a classic that has aired weekly since 1999 with little in the way of breaks or hiatuses.
So needless to say, a live action adaptation of “One Piece” seems unnecessary. Luckily, this show is a more than worthy addition to the universe of “One Piece.”
This adaptation covers the first 95 chapters of content from the original manga. However, this show doesn’t merely retell the events of the East Blue Saga, but rather makes tweaks to the pacing and story beats so that the events of these 95 chapters can fit within eight episodes.
The pacing is the show’s biggest strength. The writers’ ability to squeeze 95 chapters worth of content into eight one-hour long episodes and still have it feel natural is legitimately impressive.
The show’s other major strength is in its visual style. Every single character is faithful to their original design, and any tweaks made only serve to enhance the show’s look. This attention to detail is also present in the set design.
Every set feels different from the last, giving every island the crew visits its own identity. From the busy streets and ports of Syrup Village, to the more controlled militaristic naval base of Shells Town, every single location tells a story from just seeing them through the character’s eyes.
The characters are far more interesting than I expected. The main crew, the Straw Hat Pirates, is fantastic, with Luffy and Sanji being particular standouts.
Even though Luffy and Sanji are without a doubt my favorites, it’s hard to deny that Nami’s actress Emily Rudd gives the show’s best performance. She also gets the most screen time aside from Luffy, giving Rudd plenty of opportunities to bring this character to life.
The other two members of Luffy’s crew, Usopp and Zoro, are more polarizing than the others. Mackenyu’s performance as Zoro is excellent, one of the best in the show, but Zoro’s backstory is poorly written and his screen time is surprisingly low considering he’s Luffy’s first mate.
Usopp has a similar issue. Jacob Romero gives a good performance, and his character gets a good amount of screen time, but Usopp has little plot relevance. He doesn’t really do much important, and serves mostly as comic relief.
The villains are far less consistent than our main characters. This is mostly the fault of the manga, but the show does nothing to make the under-developed villains any more interesting.
The one major exception to this is Buggy.
Buggy the Clown is a minor antagonist first introduced in Episode 3, and he steals the show every time he’s on screen. Jeff Ward does a phenomenal job, and manages to make Buggy both menacing and hilarious.
The last characters to mention are Koby, Helmeppo, and Garp. These three make up the major faces of the marines chasing the Straw Hat Pirates across the East Blue. Garp leads this marine group, and his presence adds a sense of urgency to the Straw Hat’s journey.
Koby is a major disappointment for me. Morgan Davies does a good job as Koby, but his character always looks like he’s on the verge of tears, and his naive nature gets annoying very quickly. Koby is given far too much screen time, and not enough to do.
Helmeppo is a massive improvement from his manga characterization. Aidan Scott makes this obnoxious and pompous character incredibly likable, and he is given a real glow-up in the writing department.
The action scenes also look great, and feel just like something from the anime, especially in showing the many devil fruit powers.
Overall, “One Piece” is an incredible adaptation of a classic story. Every actor puts their all into their performances, the sets are incredibly detailed and true to the source material, and the action scenes are exhilarating. With the exception of a few boring characters, “One Piece” is an exemplary adaptation that stands out among its peers.
A: The best live-action anime adaptation