One Piece Netflix series (adulation)

Image by Netflix

This is not a review; it’s a puff piece. Many fans hate the show. I think the series is great, because I hardly knew One Piece before.

In forums I found a lot of hate towards the live action series of One Piece. This because I wanted to know what others thought of the series. One voice also said that really only die-hard One Piece fans who really consumed everything related to it would be able to like this ugly spawn. Au contraire!

My luck is that I hardly knew One Piece so far and the anime series did not appeal to me before or even repelled me. The books I have therefore not even looked at and so I went without expectations, without reservations and totally unencumbered to the Netflix series and … am thrilled!

The sets

The set of One Piece is just “wow”! It’s not at all easy, to get cartoons to translate well in live-action adaptations. It always needs some kind of translation performance and it’s sometimes better, sometimes worse. It can quickly seem too real or then too ridiculous. One person who could do this unbeatably well is Jim Carrey. Remember? For me, One Piece manages this balancing act quite ideally. Of course, you have to know where the series is coming from, maybe have seen anime, and have some understanding of and of nerd culture, but this surreal setting that rarely feels cheesy works for me.

How much of it is computer generated, I can’t even say. A lot of it looks like analog backdrops to me, not green screen. And that makes me happy. There is little that spoils a series for me more than bad computer effects. The ships, the houses, the sets, the clothes, the hairstyles. Very nicely done. Series with this quality and intensity of comic book feel I would like to have many more. I repeat, it may be because I don’t know anything about the anime version, but I usually hate live-action adaptations of cartoons. Especially the Asterix movies. Yuck!

The weirdness

One Piece is a little weird. A bit childish, funny, stupid. But it’s also quirky, unexpected, and interesting. It features so many different locations and backgrounds, all of which look fantastic, we’ve had that, and all of which feel different.

All the colorful hairstyles, the mismatched character mixes, it’s a celebration of whimsy. A naval officer with a mafia suit under his cape, a pirate with a straw hat, a samurai with moss green hair and not one, not two, but three swords, and a Renaissance sword master with the largest and smallest sword in the world.

D. Luffy

Why Monkey D. Luffy is called Ruffy in German, is a mystery to me. Ruffy might even be better than Luffy, but let’s not go there. I don’t particularly like the character as he comes across in the cartoon. I like the idea of piracy, the rubber arms and the straw hat, yes, but this constant gawking and grinning… In the live action series, however, the performance of lead actor Iñaki Godoy is terrific. The only one I don’t like at all is Emily Rudd. Neither as an actress, nor as a translation of Nami. But that too (like everything else) is a matter of taste and and only based on her performance in One Piece.

Luffy’s constant, mindless enthusiasm, the borderline moronic grinning, this stand-up attitude, this joie de vivre is so infectious. One immediately wants to set off for the Grand Line.

Luffy is so determined, so resilient, so naive and heartfelt, so generous and stubborn, so sympathetic and indefatigable, so superheroic and fearless, so devouring and loyal, so dogged and persistent… I could go on forever. In any case, he combines and unites so many (almost all good) qualities that he comes across as likeable, friendly and motivated in everything he does. Of course, this is hardly possible in real life, but there is a bit of Dalai Lama in there. And we would like to take a leaf out of his book.

The Message

This is where the series (and probably already the books, i.e. the original) scores hugely. Usually manga and anime are like, “I want to be the strongest, baddest, biggest. Let’s all fight for it!” And in approach, this “trope” occurs again here. This shallow motivation applies mostly to Zorro, and yes, Luffy also wants to be the king of all pirates. But that’s not all. Where this “who’s the baddest fighter” attitude comes from in all the manga, I can only speculate. But maybe that’s just the way things are in a country where martial arts originated. But back to the message of the series.

  1. find the thing that makes you you. Who are you at your core? Who do you want to be?
  2. pursue the goal like a madman, against all criticism, all doubts and adversities.
  3. be paradoxically humble, modest and allow others the limelight
  4. maintain close friendships and stand by them no matter what may come
  5. stand up for your idea and talk about it at every opportunity
  6. naivety and intelligence sometimes go hand in hand
  7. be contagiously positive in everything you do

You are a One Piece fan of the first hour? Then you realize I really don’t know anything about it. But I am an avid consumer and admirer of the live-action series. And for you, no matter how little it contains of the original or how much of it wasn’t translated well, it’s still a lavish, well-done production in its own right that brought me closer to what the original didn’t manage to do.

And to prove and reiterate the positivity of One Piece, here are a few quotes to end on:

“You can’t get back what you’ve lost, what’s important now is what is it that you still have.”


“We have to live a life of no regrets.”

Portgas D. Ace

“No matter how hard or impossible it is, never lose sight of your goal.”

Monkey D. Ruffy

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