When it comes to live-action adaptations of anime and manga, Netflix—along with many other streaming giants who dabble in production—has often struggled to hit the mark. Remember 2017’s widely criticised Death Note? Yeah, there’s a reason it was so badly received. It was terrible.
Fast forward to 2023, and it seems like finally, we’re getting one successful attempt from Netflix with the new live-action series One Piece, which hit our screens today, Thursday 31 August. The show is based on Eiichiro Oda’s bestselling manga.
The series follows a group of pirates on the hunt for some mythical treasure, known as the ‘One Piece’, mirroring Oda’s original storylines. “[It’s] a candy-coloured confection with a childish glee,” said Variety when reviewing it.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood Reporter agreed that “the series neither takes itself too seriously, nor apologises for its silliness.”
But not all critics were as complimentary. Mike Hale from The New York Times called the show “bland and generic,” and went on to explain: “It may satisfy fans of the original, who are happy to see events more or less faithfully replicated, but most of the verve and personality of the anime are gone, replaced by busyness [and] elaborate but uninteresting production design.”
That being said, the live-action adaptation should be praised for its clear attempts at replicating anime or manga’s ultra-expressive physicality and explosive fight scenes. As stated by Mashable, “One Piece certainly tries its best, with some efforts working better than others. For example, when it comes to filming, One Piece tends to over-rely on extreme close-ups and canted angles to achieve an anime feel.”
As you can imagine, things get trickier when you bring in Luffy’s rubber powers. And yet thankfully, the Netflix show only uses them here and there, meaning that by the end of the season, Luffy’s ever-expanding arms no longer seem odd.
One Piece is now streaming on Netflix.