Set in a world filled with pirates and endless adventure, Netflix’s adaptation of the beloved anime of the same name (which is itself adapted from Eiichiro Oda’s long-running manga series) is a high-flying, swashbuckling outing brimming with vibrant personality and charm. The plot follows plucky and happy-go-lucky pirate Monkey D Luffy (an energetic Iñaki Godoy), who has set sail in search of the titular treasure, which will bestow on the finder the title of King of the Pirates. His misadventure soon sees him join forces with brooding swordsman Zoro (Mackenyu) and skilled thief Nami (Emily Rudd), with the ragtag crew soon becoming the target for both pirates and soldiers alike.
From superhero-like powers to a roster of memorable characters (including a villainous pirate clown) and a handful of flashbacks that fill in the backstories of key players, there’s a lot packed into these eight episodes. Showrunners Steven Maeda and Matt Owens do an incredible job of introducing viewers to the world, so that those unfamiliar with the source material can get stuck straight into the action. While the fast-paced nature of the show ensures that there’s never a dull moment, it’s the infectious comradery between Luffy and his crew that will ensure audiences stick around until the end of the season. Not only do the actors share a sense of warm humour, but their strong performances add some extra depth to their emerging friendship, with Rudd’s turn as Nami becoming a large part of the series’s emotional core.
There is a downside to trimming down what amounts to around 44 episodes of an anime into an eight-hour-long season, however. As lively and entertaining as the action is, the script’s desire to constantly charge forward means that there’s not much time spent getting to know the members of the Straw Hat Crew on an intimate level. Consequently, when larger character moments occur, their impact is severely reduced.
Although Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Once Piece lacks the depth of the anime, it nevertheless nails the show’s euphoric spirit of adventure alongside its gleefully camp tone.
One Piece is released on Netflix on 31st August 2023.
Watch the trailer for One Piece here: