Entertainment Features Geek Lifestyle News Reviews

Netflix’s One Piece Review – Unexpectedly Excellent

Netflix doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to live-action adaptations of popular anime. Back in 2021, the streaming service attempted to adapt Shinichiro Watanabe’s legendary Cowboy Bebop for TV to mixed results. After learning that Netflix would be having a second crack at adapting another anime – this time the notoriously difficult-to-adapt One Piece from Eiichiro Oda – some valid concerns were raised. Against all odds, though, the live-action One Piece is unexpectedly excellent.

Set in a fantasy world of pirates, One Piece tells the story of Monkey D. Luffy, an aspiring young pirate who sets off on the seas to find the mythical One Piece treasure left behind by the former King of the Pirates, Gold Roger, in an effort to also claim the title as King. Equipped with the supernatural abilities of a Devil Fruit that essentially turns his body into rubber, Luffy attempts to gather a crew and ship to make for the Grand Line, a dangerous stretch of ocean where the One Piece treasure is seemingly located.

READ MORE – PlayStation Portal Gets November Release Date

The eight-episode first season of Netflix’s One Piece more or less adapts the major events of the manga and anime including the entire East Blue saga leading up to the crew’s showdown with the deadly fishman pirate, Arlong. As most already know, One Piece is a very long anime and Netflix had to take several creative liberties in condensing the series of events down to smaller chunks, complete with fulfilling character arcs for the crew. This was never going to be an easy task but to my everlasting surprise, showrunners Steven Maeda and Matt Owens made it work.

One Piece Netflix Series Everything You Need to Know

Each episode tells its own unique story as Luffy travels from one island to the next, racking up potential crew mates along the way. What surprised me the most was the emphasis on side characters. Fans already know and love Luffy but the live-action show places a lot of focus on side players who were sidelined in the early stages of the source material. Garp, the vice admiral of the Marines, is given a lot of time to develop his character alongside the marine recruit Koby. In fact, Koby is present in a lot more events this time than the manga/anime.

Some fans might contest this change but I’d argue that it actually improves the source material considerably. Koby is a very compelling character who’s never really given the spotlight in the manga or anime until much later, so it was very refreshing to see the live-action version involve him a lot more in Luffy’s earlier escapades. The same can be said about plenty of side characters (which I won’t spoil) who are given a lot more depth thanks to these subtle changes that go a very long way in establishing their running arcs.

One Piece Netflix Review

As for the main Straw Hat Pirates, this is the finest ensemble of actors to ever portray their anime counterparts in a live-action adaptation. Iñaki Godoy simply embodies the ideals and magnetic optimism of Luffy perfectly while Mackenyu’s cold and stoic demeanour is a terrific match for Roronoa Zoro. Jacob Romero plays Usopp incredibly well too as does Taz Skylar in his charismatic role as Sanji. I’d argue that the standout is actually Emily Rudd as Nami, who brings a mature energy to the crew while having the most compelling and emotional story arc of the season.

While the main cast is rock-solid, the main villains of each episode are unfortunately a bit of a mixed bag. Jeff Ward absolutely nails his portrayal of the unhinged clown pirate Buggy while Steven John Ward’s Mihawk brings the perfect amount of menace and mystery to his character. That said, the talented McKinley Belcher III tries his best to make Arlong a brutish overarching villain but he never comes across as threatening as his anime counterpart, often let down by an inconsistent script.

One Piece Netflix Review

While the script and dialogue can feel a bit awkward in places, it’s all held up by some incredible production design. This is fan service done right. There are so many nods and easter eggs to the source material, from the crew’s attire to references made by Oda on cover stories. Lavish landmarks like the floating restaurant Baratie or Buggy’s dark circus are brought to life in superb detail through its wonderfully recreated sets, costumes and some picturesque South African locations as much of the season was shot in Cape Town.

Most of all, none of it comes across as cheap or inorganic. The One Piece source material is very goofy with equally silly character designs sometimes, though you quickly forget about it once you get immersed in the live-action show’s world from the opening scene. Emotional and serious moments still hit home and the comedy is thankfully kept to the excellent chemistry and banter between the Straw Hat Pirates who all gradually grow as a tight-knit crew over the course of the season.

One Piece Netflix Review

As I mentioned before, the weakest aspect of Netflix’s One Piece is the script. Even with nearly 50 episodes worth of content being condensed into 8 one-hour episodes, the pacing of some scenes feel needlessly long or drawn out. Luckily, the major story moments from the source material are excellently recreated in live-action and keep the momentum going. If a second season is greenlit, I hope that the pacing and dialogue are tightened up just a bit more.

Netflix’s One Piece does the impossible and breaks the “curse” of live-action anime adaptations, especially for a manga/anime that was once considered to be extremely difficult to adapt. The strong, committed performances from the main cast is a highlight and the production design exceeded my expectations, even if the script stumbles here and there. I pray that Netflix doesn’t pull the trigger and kill off One Piece after just one season because unlike Cowboy Bebop, there’s enormous potential here to evolve it into a new pop culture phenomenon on television.

One Piece is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

Netflix's One Piece Review


The live-action One Piece from Netflix is an unexpectedly excellent adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s source material with great production design, committed performances and exciting action, even if the pacing and script are inconsistent at times.


Editor-in-Chief of Nexus Hub, writer at GLITCHED. Former writer at The Gaming Report and All Otaku Online. RPG addict that has wonderful nightmares of Bloodborne 2.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *