Can a live-action One Piece work? Read on to find out how the series’ head writer gained the confidence of manga creator Eiichiro Oda.
One Piece is easily the most influential story in my life. Across all movies, all TV shows, and comics, none have influenced more than the work done by artist Eiichiro Oda. And yet, in spite of this, it’s the series I’m most uncertain about making the trip to live-action. No, it’s not because it’s too precious to me or that I’ll get upset if a certain arc doesn’t make the cut. It has everything to do with the cartoony style and need for huge visual effects.
But, at the end of the day, it’s about getting the core of One Piece right. And in order to do that, you need to get a writing team on board that understands the material at that core level. Screenwriter Matt Owens is the head writer for Netflix’s live-action adaptation, and within the One Piece fan community, he is actually fairly well-respected as a true fan of the manga series. But I don’t think many of us really knew the why behind it.
Owens was recently a guest on the YouTube collaboration called Reverie, which brought together many big One Piece YouTube personalities. And while on the show, he told the story about how he gained Oda’s confidence in writing the show. It started with a low point for Owens.
“When I was in my early 20s,” Owens said, “I went through a really really bad depression. I was trying to find a series I could watch that would occupy all of my time so I didn’t have to do anything or think about anything. I had read One Piece when anime was really big for me in high school and stuff, but it didn’t click for me at the time, and we also know the horrendous 4kids adaptation, so I’d never really gotten into it.”
Owens continued: “So, I finally made the decision. I said, ‘You know what? This is the time to watch all of One Piece…In a few short months, I caught all the way up from the beginning to Punk Hazard.”
“I told Oda, ‘One of the great things about One Piece is it’s really a story about how everybody has tragedy, pain, sadness in their life, but it’s not what defines you. What defines you is how you use that to motivate your future, and that no one has to do it alone. No one has to be alone. When you find those people around you who motivate you, lift you up, and help you, that’s the greatest power in this world. And that is the story I want to put out into the world. So I know that One Piece means a lot to you, Oda. It means a lot to me, because I honestly think that One Piece saved my life.’ He looked me in the eye, and he held his hand out across the table and said, ‘I have 100% faith in you now,’” Owens concluded.
Well, I can tell you this much: Owens does seem to have a solid grip of One Piece’s dramatic underpinnings. Yes, the cartoony style is important. Yes, the world-building is HUGE. But the main thing you have to get right is what the series is ultimately about, and I think Owens absolutely nails it. A solid chunk of this series is packed full of flashbacks that help paint the motivations of the main characters of this show. They fill in the world but ultimately, every arc contributes to the idea that no one has to fight alone in this world.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very concerned about the style and tone being a good fit for live-action. I simply don’t see how it can be done. But, at the very least, it sounds like the emotional center of the series will be in the right place.
What do you think of Owens’ comments? Have you gained any more respect for the upcoming live-action One Piece series? Sound off down below!
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