Watch Of The Week: One Piece Live Action

One Piece is based on one of the most popular manga series ever, with a quarter- century’s worth of history filling its sails. And if you haven’t familiarised yourself with it yet, this live-action Netflix series version of the outlandish pirate adventure feels like a poor place to start, offering a scant incentive to bother trying to catch up now. Instead, the eight-episode first season falls prey to the pitfalls associated with trying to translate a very different art form to live-action life, a challenge Netflix already experienced with the short-lived Cowboy Bebop.

The difficulties can be seen in One Piece’s all-over- the-map tone, which at various times feels like a children’s series, a surreal dream filtered through the mind of director David Lynch and a Pirates of the Caribbean movie produced while on hallucinogenic drugs. The basic plot involves a young aspiring pirate named Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy, whose character always refers to himself by saying his whole name), who is on a quest to find a legendary, long missing treasure known as the One Piece, a feat that would allow him to fulfil his goal of proclaiming himself the king of pirates.

Pursued by a ruthless authority known as the Marines, Luffy assembles a grudging and eccentric crew that includes the gifted swordsman Roronoa
Zoro (Mackenyu), the thief Nami (Emily Rudd) and the slingshot-wielding Usopp (Jacob Romero). Oh, and did we mention that Monkey can stretch like Mr. Fantastic of the FantasticFour, having eaten magical fruit that has turned him into rubber, only one of the extraordinary powers on display among friends and foes – like the ill-tempered clown pirate whose body parts operate independently?

As odd as much of that sounds, the main impediment to buying into One Piece hinges on its wild fluctuations, which can go from edgier-than-expected violence to whimsy at the drop of a straw hat – emblematic of all the influences that Eiichiro Oda has woven into the source material, but seemingly beyond the ability of the show’s creators (Matt Owens and Steven Maeda) to wrestle into something that consistently engages the uninitiated.

Getting a firm handle on the show, however, is as elusive as the treasure. While the legions of existing fans will likely eagerly enlist in this ocean- faring adventure, who know, they might still find plenty of company. Those who want to see what the fuss is all about will likely be left feeling high and dry.

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Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

About Author / Boluwatife Adesina

Boluwatife Adesina is a media writer and the helmer of the Downtown Review page. He’s probably in a cinema near you.

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