Netflix has a mixed track record when it comes to converting beloved Japanese anime series into live action formats. I liked the 2021 one Cowboy Bebop more than most diehard fans – if only because of the perfect casting, despite the fact that the fight choreography left a lot to be desired. It was definitely better than the live-action versions of it Fullmetal alchemist (another of my personal anime favorites), but Netflix has opted not to renew Cowboy Bebop. So we’ll never know if it would have solved its problems, although the cameo appearance in the finale by a particularly grating version of Radical Ed didn’t bode well.
Given that checkered history, one could be forgiven for feeling trepidation about the streaming platform’s upcoming live-action series adaptation A piece, a hugely popular manga and anime series created by Eiichiro Oda. Who doesn’t like pirates? The first trailer debuted at San Diego Comic-Con and honestly, the live-action series looks great. On the other hand, so did the trailers Cowboy Bebop.
The original A piece manga debuted in 1997, following the adventures of one Monkey D. Luffy, who heads a motley crew called the Straw Hat Pirates. There’s swordsman Roronoa Zoro, thief and navigator Nami, sniper and compulsive liar Usopp, and a cook named Sanji. They are looking for the legendary One Piece, a mythical treasure that would make anyone who owns it king of the pirates. Monkey wants to be the Pirate King, but so do a host of other pirates with their own ships and crews.
Oda was inspired by his childhood love of pirates, especially the biographies of Edward “Blackbeard” Teach. (A piece features a character named Marshall D. Teach in honor of Blackbeard.) The manga was only supposed to run for five years and is still running, though Oda has said the series is entering its final saga. The anime TV series premiered in 1999 and became a worldwide hit; it was even the most watched TV show of 2022 Stranger things.
Judging by this trailer, Netflix is staying pretty close to the original concept, with the first post-Monkey season seeing him recruit the first members of the Straw Hat Pirates. According to the official premise:
Monkey D. Luffy is a young adventurer who has longed for a life of freedom since he can remember. Luffy sets out from his small village on a perilous journey to find the legendary legendary treasure, One Piece, to become King of the Pirates! But to find the ultimate prize, Luffy will have to gather the crew he’s always wanted before he finds a ship to sail with, scours every inch of the vast blue sea, outwits the marines and outwits dangerous rivals at every turn.
Inaki Godoy stars as Monkey, who has rubbery abilities thanks to accidentally swallowing a Devil Fruit. Mackenyu plays Zoro, Emily Rudd plays Nami, Taz Skylar plays Sanji, and Jacob Romero Gibson plays Usopp, son of an infamous pirate father named Yasopp. Peter Gadiot plays Shanks, captain of the Redhead Pirates; Ilia Isorelys Paulino plays the ruthless leader of the Alvida Pirates; and Jeff Ward plays Buggy, clown-clad captain of the Buggy Pirates who also accidentally ate a Devil Fruit. In his case, it gave him the ability to split his body into pieces. (It’s a highlight of the trailer.) Plus, Langley Kirkwood plays Captain Morgan and Aidan Scott plays his son Helmeppo.
A piece will be released on Netflix on August 31, 2023.
List image by Netflix