Please do not continue reading if you haven’t watched the complete first season yet and you are not okay with being spoiled.
The show is based on the popular long-running Japanese One Piece manga series by Eiichiro Oda ( who is working as a creative consultant on the series ) , the manga holds the title as the best selling manga in the world. The show follows the adventures of the Straw Hats pirate crew as they explore the oceans and search for the legendary fabled treasure One Piece.
The Characters :
The show stars Inaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy Captain of the Straw Hats pirate crew , Emily Rudd as Nami a enigmatic thief and map maker , Mackenyu as Roronoa Zoro a master swordsman and bounty hunter , Jacob Romero Gibson as Usopp a boisterous marksman and Taz Skylar as Sanji, a woman loving master chef and a practitioner of a martial arts form where he only uses his legs. The rest of the main cast for the first season is filled out by Vincent Regan as Garp , Jeff Ward as Buggy the Clown and Morgan Davies as Koby.
As someone who tried to watch the anime and fell off from watching it because it had a lot of episodes, currently the show has over a thousand episodes. This live action adaptation is very good even for non fans of the manga and anime. The actors are all well cast as their characters which adds to the team dynamic of the Straw Hats Crew. Inaki Godoy is great at portraying Luffy innocence, Luffy’s heart beats for the dreams of others which endears him to the audience pretty quickly. Luffy might have some innocence but never comes across asnstupid which is a very difficult thing to do. Watching the series it’s pretty clear why the show has lasted this long. Luffy is very likeable and the Straw Hats Crew are all also interesting characters with individual dreams and motivations that are different from Luffys which makes them all well developed, well rounded characters.
Emily Rudd holds her own as Nami , with a particularly emotional story that bookends the season. Mackenyu and Taz are excellent as Zoro and Sanji who are presented as the Straw Hats Crew’s best “sword” to “leg” fighters and participate in some great stunt work but also have rich emotional backstories. Jacob gets to do a lot of comedic heavy lifting as Usopp. I can safely say I loved the whole Straw Hats Crew by the end. Even the villains are very well developed with Jeff Ward ( Marvel’s Agents Of Shield alumni) giving a masterclass performance as Bugsy the clown , Jeff is a great actor and it’s great watching him really blossom in such an interesting role.
I finally get why One Piece as a franchise has connected with people and become the best selling manga of all time, One Piece is about dreams at it’s core and inspires people to follow their dreams whatever they might be and not give up on them. Every single person in the world has a dream and that very universal thread is seen most prominently in Luffy, the lead character’s belief in following his dreams no matter what people around him say. It’s a very positive show that the world needs right now. I think the show will push people towards checking out the manga and anime if they haven’t done so already. The live action adaptation is an achievement for live action adaptations of manga which have honestly been hit or miss over the years , I can foresee Netflix making more adaptations for manga’s if this show is the colossal hit I expect it to be from the manga/anime fans and audiences reception.The writers of this show truly need to be commended for being able to achieve what a lot of adaptations over the years have failed to do.
VFX and Cinematography :
The special effects of the show look absolutely stunning , the camera work works really well hand in hand with it. The devil fruit powers are well realised , this was one of the things I worried would look very cheap in live action but Luffy using his Mr Fantastic stretching powers never felt out of place visually in the context of the world created in the show, it fits beautifully. Props also have to be given for how colourful this show looks , the colour grading is absolutely excellent. I also loved how the colourful hair really made it easy to immediately tell which character we were seeing as a child in flashbacks. Props also have to be given to all the child actors who portrayed the young versions of the Straw Hats Crew.
The show’s score was composed by Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli. Nami’s theme and song My Sails Are Set sung by Aurora is an amazing pop ballad. The score is very cinematic , something that has become more common with the rise of streaming, closing the gap between traditional television and theatrical movies. The score particularly makes the stunt work during fight scenes look even more magnificent.
Stunt work :
The show uses a lot of long takes and wide shots during fight scenes which allows the audience to see the detailed fight choreography which adds to the show’s fun. All of the fight scenes on the show are all really great but I’d have to say I love the group fights the most when all of the characters are fighting together as a team.
Production Design and Costuming :
The show’s set designs felt very detailed, well used and lived in. Richard Bridgland was the show’s production designer for it’s first season and he was responsible for creating numerous set pieces such as the Baratie restaurant , Arlong Park , Kaya’s mansion in Syrup village , the Going Merry e.t.c. I can’t wait to see what stuff from the brilliant mind of Eiichiro Oda he brings to life in the show’s second season.
The costume work is great and really works hand in hand with the actors’ amazing performances. Even something as small but important as Luffy’s distinctive Straw Hat plays its part visually in adding to the show’s visual charm. It’s clear this show was made by fans of the source material. The special effects makeup on characters like the Fishmen, particularly Arlong, is also excellent and reminds me just how much this element is missing from a lot of modern television. 90’s shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer had terrific monster make up and this show is a worthy successor in that regard. The terrific makeup works hand in hand with McKinley Belcher III’s charismatic and terrifying performance as Arlong.
I can safely say I’m a One Piece fan now. The first season can be enjoyed on it’s own as a self-contained story with a beginning , middle and conclusion ,with some set up for a potential season 2 , so the show feels very satisfying even though I would have preferred more episodes because I enjoyed it so much.
1. Story: 10/10
2. Visuals: 10/10
3. Sound: 10/10
4. Performances: 10/10
5. Overall: 10/10
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