All You Need To Know Before Watching Netflix’s ‘One Piece’ Live-Action Adaptation

The most notorious crew of all four seas, the infamous Straw Hats Pirates, have finally docked at the live-action scene! With the freshness that comes with the live-action medium, their origin story is being retold worldwide with Netflix’s much-anticipated adaptation of the beloved manga series, One Piece

All You Need To Know Netflix's Live-Action One Piece

Written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda since July 1997, the sheer vastness and freedom of the world of One Piece has captivated hundreds of millions across the world. The initial announcement of the adaptation in July 2017, with Oda himself revealed to be an executive producer, sent fans into a frenzy as to just how well the fantasy elements of the series could be produced in a live-action format, but there was also uncertainty, due to the bad reputation attached to other similar live-action adaptations.

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Then, there was a glimmer of hope. Starting from the stylised ‘Wanted’ posters that revealed the cast, trailer drops and news that Oda made demands for the live-action to keep core elements faithful to the much-loved story, the bold endeavour left viewers with high expectations of its quality.

Over 1,000 manga chapters, an anime adaptation of over 1,000 episodes, and several films plus video games later, the charm of the Straw Hat crew has finally been carried over to the small screen. 

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For those of you intimidated by this high ceiling of content, don’t worry – the eight-episode live-action series gives you an easy starting point into the absolutely awe-inspiring world of One Piece. Before long, you too will be addicted to its story, swept into the pace of the grand dreams held by Luffy and his crew.

Before dipping your toes into the show, here’s all you need to know about One Piece to fully immerse yourself in its world!

What is the “One Piece”?

As we all know, the title of the show is its key. The core of the ambitions held by many characters is discovering the “One Piece” – a treasure named and buried by Gol D. Roger (Michael Dorman, The Invisible Man, Joe Pickett), once named the greatest pirate in the world. Before his execution, he announced that he had hidden the One Piece somewhere, in it all the treasures he had gathered on his journey. This launched “The Great Age of Pirates”, where many ambitioned to attain his treasure and the reputation of owning it.

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Who are the main characters?

While the entire Straw Hat Crew consists of several members, the live-action will only consist of the first five members for now. Going through extreme tribulations throughout their adventures, the crew proves itself as a found family even in the live-action.

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Monkey D. Luffy, portrayed by Iñaki Godoy (The Imperfects), is the happy-go-lucky and undaunted captain of the Straw Hat Pirates who serves as the driving force behind the series’ story. Having loved pirates since childhood, his goal throughout the series is to gather a pirate crew, find the One Piece and become King of the Pirates.

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His most important treasure is the straw hat he dons, which is also the icon of his crew’s Jolly Roger. Given to him by the pirate he looked up to the most in his childhood, “Red-Haired” Shanks (Peter Gadiot, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Yellowjackets), he aspires to be a pirate strong enough to return the hat to Shanks one day. 

Due to him accidentally eating a Devil Fruit – which gives the person who eats it superhuman powers at the expense of their ability to swim – in his childhood, he became a rubber man. He boasts powerful blows and defence capabilities with his stretchiness, honing multiple techniques that fully utilizes his rubberiness. 

While dense, Luffy is outright honest and straightforward, always pushing forward without compromising on his beliefs. Highly loyal to his friends and crew, he does everything in his power to protect them. The earnest nature of Luffy is what attracted the rest of the Straw Hat Crew together, and arguably, what attracted viewers of the series as well.

His first crew member, trusted right-hand man and friend Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu, Tokyo Ghoul S, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final) was a fierce pirate bounty hunter before Luffy ran into him. After the team defeated the corrupted Marines – main law enforcers in One Piece – that captured him, he joined Luffy in his quest.

Aiming to be the world’s best swordsman from a promise in his childhood, he uses a one-of-a-kind sword style he developed involving three swords, two in both hands and the third in his mouth. He also holds insane strength and healing capabilities, usually sleeping grievous injuries off to recover.

He’s stern, serious, short-tempered and bad with directions (like Luffy), which makes for even more comedic moments with the crew. Even so, he is an extremely powerful and trusted member of the Straw Hats.

As with pirate crews, the navigator is at the helm of the ship, which is the role of Nami (Emily Rudd, Fear Street) in the crew. Showcasing a wide berth of knowledge in seafaring, including navigation, weather and health-related ailments, she affirms that the crew won’t be able to sail without her. Although physically weaker compared to most of the Straw Hats she still holds strong defence capabilities, showing prowess with her staff.

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From her first appearance, however, she’s shown to love treasure so much, she would steal from anyone she can, including Luffy. There’s a reason for this, so you should watch the series because we won’t spoil the thrilling twists! While shown to be fierce, never afraid to call the crew out for their antics, she also cares deeply for them.

At the same time, quite unlike the others when it comes to bravery, the fourth member, sniper Usopp (Jacob Romero, Greenleaf) is almost never hesitant to keep away from the danger. While his father was a pirate who spent much time away from his family, Usopp shares the same sentiment of wanting to sail the seas.

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Simply put, he’s easily frightened and cowardly, and spouts compulsive lies especially when faced with stressful situations. Yet when the situation is desperate, he chooses to face his fear and fight for his friends. Above all, his goal of becoming a great pirate and achieving the dreams of the crew and himself pushes him. While not as physically strong as the others, his aim with a slingshot is extremely accurate and is able to hit multiple targets at once.

The last member of the crew in this season features chef of the ship, Sanji (Taz Skyler, Villain, Gassed Up), who was working at the floating restaurant Baratie prior to meeting the Straw Hats. His dream is to find the All Blue, an area where all four seas of the world meet and contain all of their wildlife.

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Often seen with a cigarette, Sanji is usually calm, cool and composed… until he starts arguing with the crew, or finds himself in the presence of beautiful women. He usually tries romancing any woman he finds attractive, which sometimes ends in trouble for himself and the crew. He often squabbles with the crew, but just like the rest, fights with his life on the line when the crew needs help or when others need to be rescued.

He has expert culinary mastery and knowledge, but in fights, his main “weapons” are his legs (he doesn’t want to injure his hands that are important to him in cooking), which he learnt from his teacher, Red Leg” Zeff (Craig Fairbrass, Breakdown, Villain). With his immensely strong kicks, he shows incredible prowess at handling his enemies, making him one of the strongest members of the Straw Hat Pirates.

With every confrontation against their ideals, the crew grows stronger and meets even tougher enemies that constantly push their boundaries of strength. You’ll get to witness their power grow as they fight the main villains they encounter.

Who are the main villains?

The live-action may be short, but it features its fair share of antagonists.

The first antagonist Luffy encounters is a narcissist with a terrible temper, Alvida (Ilia Isorelýs Paulino, Me Time). By openly going against her for the sake of his first friend Koby (Morgan Davies, Storm Boy, Evil Dead Rise), Luffy kindled her rage.

Self-obssessed “Axe-Hand” Morgan (Langley Kirkwood, Mia and the White Lion) and his tyrant, spoilt son Helmeppo (Aidan Scott, The Kissing Booth 2) show up as early foes, their corrupt Marine practices oppressing the town their team was overseeing. However, the latter becomes a trusted companion of Koby (see below) and plays a more important role at the later parts of the series. 

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Buggy the Clown (Jeff Ward, Manson’s Lost Girls, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) serves as the first main antagonist to the crew. He gives the Straw Hats a hard time with his considerable strength, having eaten a Devil Fruit that allows him to split his body into pieces and levitate them.

Timed with Usopp’s introduction, Butler Khlahadore (Alexander Maniatis, Love, Lies and Hybrid) appears hostile towards Usopp’s influence on the master he serves, Kaya (Celeste Loots, Projek Dina). He may only seem displeased towards how Usopp’s tall tales bring enjoyment to Kaya, but Khlahadore isn’t too keen on the Straw Hat’s involvement in more ways than one.

Still, not every famous pirate gets their five seconds of fame, or rather, underhanded pirate Don Krieg (Milton Schorr, Tali’s Joburg Diary) does. Though he is the main antagonist of the Baratie Arc in the manga, Krieg appears all of well, five seconds, in the live action to fight Dracule Mihawk, and let’s just say he doesn’t show up at the Baratie.

So much for earning Luffy’s scorn through lack of care for his crew’s lives, and also giving the Straw Hats a hard time.

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Finally, Sawshark-type fish-man Arlong (Mckinley Belcher III, Marriage Story, Eraser: Reborn) is another tyrannical but even more formidable foe, having taken over a village through his extreme power and sturdiness. Not going to spoil things, but the Straw Hat Crew has more reasons than just freeing the village for their battle against the Arlong Pirates.

Other important characters

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One of the main inspirations of Luffy, “Red-Haired” Shanks often shows up in Luffy’s childhood memories, and occasionally through word of mouth as one of the strongest pirates in the timeline of the live-action series. While not having many appearances in this live-action stage, his presence can be felt throughout the journey of the Straw Hats.

The first friend Luffy makes is Koby, even with both their differing aspirations in life – Luffy on becoming a pirate, and Koby on enlisting in the Marines. Serving briefly as Luffy’s navigator and gaining courage from Luffy to pursue his dreams, the two continue to consider each other friends after parting ways, and meeting under opposing forces.

Monkey D. Garp (Vincent Regan, Dark Encounter, Luther: The Fallen Sun) also makes a frequent appearance under a Marines storyline, continually pursuing after Luffy and his crew, while shaping up Koby.

In Usopp’s journey, Kaya is a rich, sickly girl. Usopp’s retellings of fake adventures gave her strength to keep living on. She plays a key role to a hidden nemesis of the Straw Hats (watch the show to know who!), and shows no hesitation in risking her life to protect others.

“Red Leg” Zeff also plays an important role in Sanji’s arc, a tough man with a fiery temper whose compassion and quirks strongly influenced Sanji’s own beliefs. 

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Lastly, Dracule Mihawk (Steven Ward, Inconceivable, The Day We Didn’t Meet) displays the dignity of the “world’s greatest swordsman” through enormous feats and a one-sided showdown with Zoro, showing us and the Straw Hats just how overwhelming the pirates of the Grand Blue are.

How much will be adapted?

The eight-episode Netflix series will be covering the first arc of One Piece, the East Blue Saga, which spans 100 chapters of the manga and 61 episodes of the anime. This consists of six short story arcs focusing on how the five members formed the Straw Hat Crew. Available in both the original English audio and Japanese dub, voiced by the original voice actors of the anime, you’re spoilt for choice between the two.

For fans who know the story by heart, the live-action somewhat presents a new flow to the meeting between the quintet, while giving more time between the crew to bicker around. So it’s worth watching it through for that fresh retelling of their origin story, and we’d say it’d be a good time. 

That’s not to say that the show is a beat-for-beat adaptation of the source material. Each of the character’s origin stories is left untouched, but there are quite a fair bit of narrative deviations, such as the arrangement of certain arcs, the circumstances leading up to the exposition of their backstories, and in some cases, the locale. As such, fans can expect more screen time from Koby, as well as the exploration between Garp and Luffy’s relationship, which was only revealed much later in the original series during the Post-Enies Lobby Arc (Episodes 313 to 325).

So…what’s the One Piece?

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Right now, it’s anyone’s guess – but no one knows except Oda himself. Nothing about what this treasure contains has been revealed, though we know it is real.

That’s right, the One Piece… is real! (You’ve definitely seen that floating around the internet.)
Oda himself has estimated One Piece to be completed in the next few years, and said that the final “saga” of the story has begun. Perhaps we will soon find out the truth of the treasure, and if Luffy and his crew attain it in the end.

For now, if you still haven’t watched Netflix’s One Piece, you should get to watching it right now since you’ve read all you need to know! The live-action series covers just the start, and it’s already packed with action and adventure – so much so that it has received positive response, sailing to the top of the chart with 18.5 million views. If you choose to continue the story by continuing from the anime and manga (which, we assure you would love to continue), you’d know that you’ve been missing out on so much of the good stuff.