Netflix's One Piece Review: A Seafaring Triumph Fit For the Pirate King

Netflix's One Piece Review: Despite Hollywood's previous failings, One Piece marks a new era for anime as its live-action adaptation defies history to become Netflix's new king.

Monkey D. Luffy is a busy man. The pirate came to life in Weekly Shonen Jump circa 1997 and changed manga for the better. Luffy's tale in One Piece is known the world over now as the manga has outsold comic giants like Batman. With a successful anime on hand, One Piece is a true phenomenon, so the stakes were set high after series creator Eiichiro Oda announced its live-action future. After years of work, One Piece's live-action TV show is finally here, and I'm pleased to say the series is fit for the future King of the Pirates.

Hollywood's anime curse has been a blight on the anime fandom for decades, but you'd never know it existed watching Netflix's One Piece. The show's first season is self-contained as it focuses on the main aspects of Oda's story: its crew and its sea. Showrunners Matt Owens and Steven Maeda spent years crafting One Piece's live-action debut, and their care is impossible to miss.

To start, One Piece tells the story of Monkey D. Luffy, a novice pirate who is eager to become the King of the Pirates. After eating a powerful Devil Fruit, Luffy takes to the sea after an eventful childhood training, and One Piece picks up with Luffy on his first day at sea. From there, Netflix's One Piece follows Luffy and his growing crew as they sail the East Blue and follow the trail of a legendary treasure called the One Piece.

In the manga, One Piece is vast, but it always comes back to family. Luffy's nakama drives him forward as he hunts to reach his dream. In Netflix's One Piece, Luffy comes to life courtesy of star Iñaki Godoy. The up-and-coming star really is Luffy, and that is that. Whether you know the pirate's history or not, Godoy's infectious optimism makes the pirate endearing. Luffy's boyish charm sets the foundation of the Straw Hat crew, and Godoy nails it while bringing home the captain's confidence.

It is a joy to watch Godoy's strong performance take to sea, and he is joined by a truly impressive cast. Mackenyu embodies Roronoa Zoro's steadfast strength and impressive combat skills. When Usopp is introduced, actor Jacob Romero Gibson regales audiences with a striking swagger. The same can be said for Taz Skylar's Sanji as the wayward chef's flirtatious personality is tempered by his convicted performance. And when it comes to Nami, actress Emily Rudd brings the navigator's daring spirit to life with a gentle ease.

From its principal cast to its secondary pirates, One Piece is cast perfectly, and their chemistry is undeniable. Under close supervision by Oda and his team, the Straw Hat crew feels like family in Netflix's One Piece, and that makes its seas all the more exciting.

The seas of One Piece are brought to life in this live-action adaptation with care. From the Going Merry to Shell Town and the Baratie, the sets of One Piece are appropriately grand. The adaptation allows itself to lean into the whacky nature of Oda's original tale while grounding it in all the right spots. Even the manga's wildest loves like Transponders Snail with a surreal yet level-headed vision. Netflix's adaptation may have needed to condense its pacing a hair to adapt everything it needed for season one, but it isn't done in vain. The streamlined story is accessible for fans and newcomers alike, so One Piece can rest easy about its cuts.

Just like superhero films before them, live-action anime has had a rough go in Hollywood, but every streak must end. Netflix's One Piece marks a definite turn in that sour reputation. Decked with a perfectly curated cast and intimate stories, One Piece captures the heart of what makes Oda's tale transcendent. At its core, One Piece is about dreams and those destined who see their hopes fulfilled. For years, we've waited to see whether Netflix's One Piece would sink or swim. So as Luffy begins chasing his dream in live action, it is a privilege to say Netflix's One Piece is worthy of telling the Pirate King's tale. 

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

One Piece is now streaming on Netflix. You can also find the original One Piece anime on Netflix as well as Hulu and Crunchyroll. Got any questions about the hit series? Let us know in the comments below as well as on Twitter and Instagram. You can also hit me up @MeganPetersCB to share your questions!