Streaming giant Netflix has been building up a divisive reputation for anime fans particularly in the West. While they do maintain a respectable library of major anime series, plus a growing selection of exclusive original productions, it is what they do with certain franchises that rile up fans of a purist mold. The upcoming live-action adaptation of classic 1998 anime “Cowboy Bebop” has been a tough sell, with some critics only softening up due to the Japanese audio dub being done by the original anime voices. Now, Netflix is announcing its next big live-action take on anime, “One Piece,” by revealing its primary cast members.
CNet reports that Netflix has begun promoting their planned live-action adaptation to the manga/anime “One Piece” with the announcement of five main cast members. They will be portraying the initial members of the Straw Hat Pirates, the heroes of the adventure to find the legendary treasure One Piece. Mexican actor Iñaki Godoy will play the main character Monkey D. Luffy. Japanese star Mackenyu (“Rurouni Kenshin: The Final”) stars as Roronoa Zoro. Nami will be played by Emily Rudd (Netflix’s “Fear Street Part Two: 1978”). Jacob Romero Gibson (Oprah Winfrey Network’s “Greenleaf”) will portray Ussop. Finally, the role of Sanji will be played by British actor Taz Skylar (“Boiling Point”, 2021).
Already the casting choices have been raising eyebrows with longtime fans of the long-running manga and anime (1997/1999 and still going). One of their “ammunition” is a manga extra from “One Piece” creator Eiichiro Oda describing the characters’ real-world ethnic equivalents. For example, Luffy was Brazilian, not Mexican like Godoy. Nami was Swedish (Rudd is American) and Sanji was supposed to be French. Oda however, also sits as executive producer of the Netflix series, and apparently had a hand in the casting process as well.
“One Piece” is set in a fantasy world during a great age of piracy. Luffy, a boy granted body stretching and elasticity powers from eating a “devil fruit,” gathers a crew of adventurers to find One Piece, the legendary treasure of the late Pirate King, Gold Roger. Joining his Straw Hat crew are swordsman Zoro, thief and cartographer Nami, marksman Ussop and chef/martial artist Sanji.
Joining Oda as executive producers are Marty Adelstein and Becky Clements, both already involved with “Cowboy Bebop,” which premieres on Netflix streaming this November 19. “One Piece” is slated to have 10 episodes for its inaugural season. No production date has been given, as the original schedule in 2020 was foiled by the COVID pandemic.