One of the challenges of being a serious anime fan is enduring the live-action anime adaptions that come along every few years. It seems that no matter how much we signal to companies that we hate live-action versions of our favorite anime, they just keep getting made. Despite doing financial and reputational damage to the studios that made them. The latest example is the Netflix One Piece, which was…actually pretty darned good. How is such a thing possible??
Wait, the Netflix One Piece Isn’t That Bad?
We all know the meme: the angel of death visiting doorway after doorway, killing off beloved properties like Death Note, Cowboy Bebop and (soon) Yu Yu Hakusho. Live action is unnatural, anime fans would argue, requiring millions of dollars of soulless CGI to make the action come to life. Then there’s the anger fans naturally experience when changes are made to the original source material, which would naturally be required when converting any long story into a shorter format.
But is the new Netflix One Piece bad? I watched it with low expectations and frankly enjoyed it way more than I thought I would. It felt theatrical, a proper high-budget adaption of a beloved story. The cast was interesting to see, and for some reason I got a Goonies vibe watching the story unfold. I’ve never been a fan of long-running Shonen genre anime, so I didn’t have any baggage from the original series to color my judgment.
What Netflix Got Right
While you could argue whether this or that casting decision was a good one, Netflix did bring a lot of talent and a lot of money to the project. But what impressed me the most was the humility they showed in this tweet: “Accomplishing this dream came with great responsibility. ☠️⛵ No detail was too small as we brought Oda-Sensei’s vision to life.”
Without a doubt, humility is the first thing any company needs in order to bring a project like this to life. To create a new version of a property fans have loved for years or decades is extremely difficult and can only be done with a lot of self-awareness.
This is exactly what the Netflix Cowboy Bebop live-action lacked. Some examples of this:
- The writers of Cowboy Bebop stated in an interview that they were out to “fix what was wrong with” the original, which is absolutely the wrong attitude to have.
- They made needless changes to the story and some characters, some of which were viewed as being “woke.” If you want to introduce such ideas in an appropriate universe, such as Star Trek, go right ahead. But do not steal Japanese pop culture and try to shape it into something new to fit your ego.
- Of course, fans would comment on the lack of Faye Valentine’s voluptuous yellow oppai in the live-action version. Actress Daniella Pineda should have addressed this in a humble way, admitting that no actress could hope to measure up to Faye from the anime. She could have smiled and asked fans to please watch with an open mind. Instead, she got combative with them on Twitter, which of course got amplified by the Internet Outrage Machine, turning off many viewers before they’d even watched an episode.
Why will anime fans never be rid of live-action adaptions? Read this blog post!
Why the Netflix One Piece Being Good is a Bad Thing
While I’m happy to find that the live-action One Piece is surprisingly enjoyable to watch, this might actually be a bad thing. Because it could signal to Netflix and other studios that live-action anime can be financially successful, and cause a gold rush of new Western anime adaptions to the small screen.
Netflix Shot Their Wad Too Soon Again
As I was watching the first episode of the Netflix One Piece, I was imagining how all the haters might potentially be won over week by week. With time to reflect between episodes, buzz might slowly build up to a crescendo. But no! This is Netflix, the company that invented the binge-watching model, so naturally all eight episodes have dropped at the same time.
This is a terrible approach to bringing an anime-style story to fans. When Netflix isn’t locking shows up in the “Netflix Jail” for three months to give time for dubbed versions to get made outside of Asia, killing any worldwide buzz the show might have enjoyed, it’s dumping shows all at once. This means that while we’re all discussing the Netflix One Piece for a week or two, everyone will have moved on by October.
(To this day I have not forgiven Netflix for killing the outstanding ReLife anime. This was one of the first outstanding shows to get its popularity kneecapped by the dump-all-episodes-at-once policy by Netflix.)
What do J-List Customers Think of the Netflix One Piece?
Sorry, it is awful. Any live-action based on an anime sucks.
It’s good, but I find the pacing a bit jarring with how much they rushed. They compressed the first 44 episodes of the anime into eight 1-hour episodes.
What do Japanese people think of “white-washing” live-action anime? Nothing! Here’s a blog post for you.
It’s pretty much a big-budget cosplay video under the disguise of a Netflix series, which is a ‘faithful’ downgrade to its already subpar source material. Just another example of crappy live-action adaptation of anime.
Thanks for reading this blog post exploring the Netflix One Piece live-action adaption. What did you think of the series, if you watched it? How do you feel about live-action adaptions of anime? Tell us below in the comments.
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