Netflix’s One Piece Series: What We Know So Far

Among the most beloved and long-running anime series of all time, One Piece is heading to the choppy waters of live-action adaptation.

Netflix has made a brisk business of adapting hit anime series into live-action with terrifyingly mixed results. Perhaps their biggest swing to date is still in production, an adaptation of the blockbuster shonen classic One Piece. One Piece hardly needs an introduction; 24 years of consistent manga production, a 22 year run of beloved anime, nearly 500 million copies in circulation, and a legacy that defines an art form.

Eiichiro Oda’s sprawling epic focuses on a crew of ambitious pirates on an incredible journey to claim a legendary treasure. The series’ has a distinct style of frenetic action, wacky comedy, and indomitable heart that are often imitated, but rarely ever captured. And it’s those elements exactly, that make a live-action adaptation such an uphill battle.

Western adaptation of anime inspires excitement in some, but years of disappointment and failure have made the average fan cynical. With a few great standouts, most live-action recreations of anime are troubled in production and disastrous upon release. Netflix itself is a mixed bag in this department. Most of the examples that appear on the service are actually produced elsewhere. Netflix is entirely to blame for one of the worst examples of all time, their take on Death Note. Their take on Cowboy Bebop is already enjoying mixed reception with some withering critiques. This creates some reasonable trepidation, but no disaster is guaranteed and some information about the series is available.

Netflix’s One Piece was officially announced in July 2017 as part of the franchise’s 20th year anniversary. Eiichiro Oda was announced as an executive producer on the project, though his level of creative input is difficult to quantify. Three years went by with little news, but the shooting was set to begin in Cape Town, South Africa. Alas, the Covid-19 pandemic forced a delay, and production began again earlier this year. The series is ordered for one, ten-episode season and all ten scripts are said to be completed. Little is known about the plot. Producers have attested that this series will begin in the “East Blue Arc,” which frustratingly, is not an arc, but a setting in which the first six arcs take place. From this, it’s safe to assume that the narrative will start near the beginning, rather than jumping ahead or massively truncating.

Some aspects of the major crew have been made public. The series will be overseen by showrunner Steven Maeda. Maeda is a television screenwriter and producer who has been in the industry since 2000 with a number of credits under his belt. Nothing in his resume stands out as particularly similar to this upcoming project, he is best known for writing and producing crime dramas like CSI: Miami and Lie to Me. He was also on the award-winning writing staff of Lost in 2006. Maeda has served as showrunner on two other projects; Pan Am, a period drama about the early days of commercial aviation, and Helix, a sci-fi horror series about an Arctic disease outbreak. He’s not the only big figure revealed so far.

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Among the most beloved and long-running anime series of all time, One Piece is heading to the choppy waters of live-action adaptation. Netflix has made a brisk business of adapting hit anime series into live-action with terrifyingly mixed results. Perhaps their biggest swing to date is still in production, an adaptation of the blockbuster shonen…

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