Home Film & TV Discovering My Love for One Piece Through the Live-Action Series

Discovering My Love for One Piece Through the Live-Action Series

by Neil Bui

Growing up as an American anime fan born in the 90s, following the critical acclaim of Dragon Ball Z, the next generation of hit shonen franchises was the trinity of Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. And while Naruto carries on in the adventures of his son Boruto and Bleach has returned to adapt the final arc of the manga series, the One Piece anime continues airing new episodes regularly. However, One Piece was that one popular franchise that I couldn’t get myself into no matter how many of my friends continued to rave about it. I remember completely falling off in the middle of high school after the timeskip because the underwater scenes in the manga just didn’t appeal to me and I was already keeping up with Naruto and Bleach.

Looking back, I had reduced this story to simply be about a rubber man named Monkey D. Luffy on a quest to find treasure as a pirate. However, upon watching the live action adaptation on Netflix, it finally hit me – the heart of the series and how anyone can fall in love with the story and characters, it’s a story about new friends forming family bonds as they set off on adventures to accomplish their dreams. In a way, my experience is similar to showrunner Matt Owens’. But whereas he gave the franchise another try in his 20s after it didn’t resonate with him as a child, for me it was Owens’ work on the live-action adaptation that sparked a new love for the franchise in me. And I as I find myself balancing the everyday demands of being an adult with my efforts towards my dreams (to grow Dorkaholics into a sustainable endeavor that others can be a part of), I really can’t believe it has taken me this long to identify with Monkey D. Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat Pirates.

While the Japanese film industry clearly holds the reputation for successfully adapting manga and anime to live-action in contrast to Hollywood’s lackluster record, the cast and crew have truly accomplished something great. The characters may have some changes from the source material, but at their core their essential traits are still present and have been adapted to fit the limits but also the advantages of a live-action series format. Each main character has so much heart, and the series allows for glimpses into each of their pasts so that audiences can really get a feel for their journeys and the dreams they possess. It’s hard not to root for the Straw Hat Pirates when you feel so close to them in this way.

The cinematography is incredible as well and there’s subtle but impactful choices when it comes to the coloring which changes to fit the mood. Also, the camera work for the action shots captures the combat sequences in a way that mirrors the excitement and energy of the manga and anime.

With the news that season 2 has been confirmed, I can’t wait for more adventures with the Straw Hat Pirates including new friends and foes (Ace, Chopper, Crocodile).

Where to watch One Piece

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