Netflix’s live-action One Piece must address a criticism of the beloved anime to avoid cancellation and gain a new collection of followers.
There are many difficulties when adapting an anime into live-action; however, Netflix’s One Piece series must address the anime’s pacing problem or risk early cancellation. One Piece is a long-standing anime based on the manga by Eiichiro Oda. It follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his misfit crew of pirates as he attempts to find the mysterious One Piece and become the Pirate King. As with any anime adaptation, the fantastical world of One Piece will be difficult to capture in live-action, but its largest problem is really the story’s pacing.
The One Piece anime currently has over 1,000 episodes, and the manga stands at over 100 volumes. Despite the anime and manga beginning in 1999 and 1997, respectively, they both remain unfinished over 20 years later. Oda, the author of the manga, predicts that the story will be complete in three or four years, although this will likely be subject to change. One Piece is not the first anime to be brought into live-action by Netflix, which has previous experience with Cowboy Bebop and Death Note — but both of those had their fair share of issues, and Cowboy Bebop was unceremoniously cancelled just weeks after its release. Anticipation is high for Netflix’s One Piece, which has already cast most of its main characters and begun production season 1, but wariness is high as well.
The greatest criticism of the One Piece anime is that the show’s pacing is too slow and Netflix will have to address this criticism for the show to succeed. This criticism is especially targeted at the anime’s first acts and is a key reason why some viewers do not continue to watch the show. For One Piece to entice new viewers, Luffy must assemble the core group of the Straw Hat Pirates quicker than he does in the anime. The first season should also cover the Arlong Park arc, which is widely considered the first part in the series that represents One Piece‘s best qualities. This may be difficult since Netflix has confirmed that One Piece‘s first season will only consist of 10 episodes; however, this can be overcome if the episodes have an extended run-time in comparison to the anime.
One Piece has been criticized for how long it takes until Usopp and Sanji join the crew. Sanji, the last of the original five Straw Hats, joins in episode 30 of the anime during the Baratie arc. Furthermore, the Syrup Village arc in which Usopp joins the crew is one of the worst in the series. Both arcs are essential for understanding the backstories and personalities of Usopp and Sanji, and therefore cannot be skipped. A more practical approach to solving the pacing of these storylines is to condense each one into a single episode. The importance of accelerating the early parts of the story is exacerbated by the need to cover the Arlong Park arc, which serves as the backstory for Nami, another of the five original members, and is the first occasion in the anime where Luffy’s crew is truly tested. Due to the intense fight scenes with Arlong’s fish-men and the high emotional stakes they fight for, Arlong Park is where One Piece delivers on its potential. One Piece‘s potential must be shown in the first season of Netflix’s series or it will not gain a new following as impassioned as the anime’s fans.
The difficulty with adapting all of Arlong Park is that it lasts until episode 44 of the anime, whereas Netflix’s One Piece will only contain 10 episodes in the first season. The solution is to make the episodes 60 minutes long, rather than the anime’s 24-minute average. Netflix previously announced that their Avatar: The Last Airbender remake will consist of 60-minute episodes so this is a viable possibility. The greater episode length would enable arcs to be contained into a single episode and will allow One Piece‘s first season to cover more of the manga. This would improve the pacing and adapt more exciting parts of the manga which could please old and new fans alike, and avoid early cancellation — a fate many Netflix shows have suffered in the past.
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