One Piece: Netflix making live-action series from popular manga

The manga, which was created by Eiichiro Oda in the late 1980s, has been adapted as an anime TV series and several films in the past

One Piece chronicles the coming-of-age adventures of Monkey D Luffy, a young pirate with a heart of gold. AFP
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Hit Japanese manga One Piece is coming to Netflix as a live-action series, a development that's both exciting and worrisome for fans who have seen mixed success in a growing list of Hollywood adaptations.

Chronicling the coming-of-age adventures of Monkey D Luffy, a young pirate with a heart of gold, the world's best-selling manga series has already been adapted into an anime TV series with more than 900 episodes. There are also 13 animated movies, One Piece video games and merchandise galore.

Ready to give her verdict is Nina Oiki, a gender and politics researcher at Tokyo’s Waseda University, who has been a One Piece fan since she was in elementary school. She read the manga created by Eiichiro Oda when it first came out in Shonen Jump magazine in 1997, and watched the animated show that followed shortly after.

“I know some people are worried about what might happen with the Hollywood remake,” she says, noting how past American attempts at depicting Japanese comics and animated works have at times proved disappointing.

The 2017 Netflix movie adaptation of Death Note, a manga and anime about a book that can kill people, was widely critiqued as a flop. In December 2021, Netflix cancelled Cowboy Bebop, its live-action adaptation of the space Western manga and anime of the same name, after only one season.

The cross-pollination of Hollywood and Japan goes back for decades. References to Japan, such as the image of a geisha on a screen, are plentiful in the 1982 sci-fi movie Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott.

The film, in turn, influenced anime, including the Blade Runner: Black Lotus anime that first aired in 2021.

Japanese pop culture expert Roland Kelts says it’s a “stunning moment for anime", in part due to streaming on platforms such as Netflix, which has helped make entertainment borderless.

The live-action One Piece, expected to release later this year, comes on the heels of the global success of Demon Slayer, another manga that got its start in Shonen Jump and was adapted into a movie and an anime series that was picked up by Netflix.

In February, The Pokemon Company announced Pokemon Concierge, a stop-motion anime collaboration with Netflix. Pokemon is the world's most valuable media franchise with all-time sales of about $100 billion, according to a 2021 Statista report. Followed by Hello Kitty, the two Japanese products outrank Western offerings such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh and Star Wars.

Updated: March 06, 2023, 6:57 AM