Update: Deadline reports that Netflix has ordered ten episodes of One Piece, with Steven Maeda (Lost, The X-Files) serving as the writer, showrunner, and executive producer and Matt Owens (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Luke Cage) on board as a writer/executive producer. It’ll be a co-production between Netflix and Tomorrow Studios, and another instance in which those companies pair to adapt a beloved anime series as a live-action series following their work on the upcoming Cowboy Bebop. Our original article from 2017 continues below.
One Piece is one of the most popular — and baffling — anime staples in Japan. While the wacky, surreal pirate romp hasn’t quite accumulated the same amount of fervor over in the United States as it has in Japan, it’s still one of the most well known anime properties today. And it’s still going, 20 years after its inception. That’s unheard of, even in the anime world. It can be chocked up to just how obsessed Japan is with One Piece — when I went to Japan last year, there were entire stores dedicated just to One Piece. Not anime, One Piece. It’s a phenomenon all on its own.
So for a show of such pop culture impact as One Piece, the only logical next step is…an American TV series?
According to reports from Yahoo! Japan (h/t Comicbook.com), One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda has confirmed that his beloved series will be getting a live-action television adaptation by Hollywood in conjunction with its 20th anniversary.
Tomorrow Studios (the studio known for Prison Break) will oversee the project while Marty Adelstein, the executive producer on Prison Break, will be in-charge of the One Piece series.
This adaptation is just the latest symptom of anime fever that Hollywood has caught, following the disastrous Ghost in the Shell adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson, and Adam Wingard’s upcoming Death Note movie on Netflix. There have also been reports floating around of Akira and Cowboy Bebop adaptations.
Hollywood doesn’t have a great track record with adapting anime into movies. The films are often critically panned, and not just because of recent outcries over whitewashing. It may simply be hard to adapt the sometimes boundary-pushing, often just plain strange, stories for the big or small screen.
And One Piece is the strangest of them all. Following a pirate who can stretch his limbs like rubber, One Piece is surreal, weird, and a little bit disturbing. I haven’t seen all of the episodes of One Piece — with more than 800 of them, who could? — but they kind of play like acid-induced fever dreams. But it also may be because I only ever caught them on Adult Swim at 1 in the morning.
Here’s the Viz Media synopsis for the One Piece manga below:
“As a child, Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally gained the power to stretch like rubber—at the cost of never being able to swim again! Years later, Luffy sets off in search of the One Piece, said to be the greatest treasure in the world…”
What do you think of a One Piece live-action TV series? And do you think it could run for as long as its anime predecessor?
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