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One Piece - live action


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Having read the leaked pilot script for this, I can say it's very clearly being made by people who love the original manga. So far, the casting has been pretty spot-on so here's hoping it comes out good.

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I’m pretty excited about this, though I have some worries. One Piece is my absolute favourite thing, above anything else I’ve ever read/watched. I’ve never experienced a narrative I enjoyed more. On the positive side, it’s clearly being made by people who love it and the cast and sets are really good. 

However, I have some pretty major questions about how you adapt something like this into a live action series. The source material is very cartoony, with exaggerated expressions, weird looking characters and more. You’ll need some really incredible actors to sell that stuff without being able to draw it. Also the powers are crazy, and the previous adaptations of things like fantastic four don’t give me a lot of hope for the viability of doing a character with stretchy powers. There’s quite a lot of animal people, who are going to look very silly if they’re not done well. And ultimately those things combine into one problem, that if you’re faithful to the manga it’s going to be very expensive to stop it looking really silly, and if you’re not then you risk losing a lot of what makes the series good. 

The other major issue is length. One Piece is really, really long. The strength of it is it’s slow pacing with a lot of investment for big payoff. If the leaked script is accurate, they’re putting a lot of story into not very many episodes. That suggested that they’re adapting the first 11 volumes into ten episodes. That’s 99 chapters of manga, around 1800 pages, or 53 episodes of the anime. You’re not adapting that without a lot of cutting, which I think is possible. But I worry that you’ll lose the pacing, the side characters and story and the world building that make the series amazing. 

The other issue the length creates is casting. There’s some great foreshadowing, and I’m not sure how you handle that. If there’s a character who pops up in chapter 19/episode 8 then doesn’t show up again until chapter 500/episode 394 you can probably get around that by cutting the little appearance early on. What’s harder is characters like Shanks. He’s absolutely essential to the plot of the series, but hasn’t really played much of a part yet. He’s in chapter 1/episode 4 and is instrumental in establishing the story. Since then he’s appeared once in a significant role, around 400 chapters later. He’s got about 4 briefer appearances along the way to where we are now, with this weeks chapter being 1051. How do you cast him? How do you ensure he’ll still be free next time you need him in four years? It seems impossible.


I’m clearly very invested, and I want this to be amazing. I want it to give the series the attention that I firmly believe it deserves. I want it to be the best thing netflix have ever produced. But I’m not sure how you do that. Hopefully they’re smarter than me :) 

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  • 7 months later...

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