Netflix's One Piece Poster Proves Season 1 Is Avoiding A Massive Problem
Netflix’s live-action One Piece adaptation has plenty of hurdles to overcome, but at least one of those will be avoided in season 1. Successful live-action translations of anime and manga franchises are rare, but adapting the eccentric world of Eiichiro Oda’s mammoth One Piece, with its stretchable limbs and singing confectionery, poses an especially tricky challenge without the safety net of animation. Despite a long history of failure behind it, Netflix is sailing ahead with its ambitious One Piece TV series in 2023, and early glimpses are slowly beginning to emerge.
In a first look at the TV show’s visual style, Netflix has now released its first official One Piece posters – one of which centers upon Straw Hat Luffy, played by Iñaki Godoy, and the other showing his crew standing in front of their pirate ship, the Going Merry. From left-to-right are Taz Skylar’s Sanji, Emily Rudd as Nami, the aforementioned Luffy, Jacob Gibson’s Usopp, and Mackenyu as Zoro. All characters are, sadly, seen only from behind, but the poster provides a taste of One Piece‘s live-action palette nonetheless. …er also seemingly cements the main cast for One Piece season 1, which avoids a potential character problem.
At the time of writing, Luffy’s Straw Hat crew contains 10 official, full-time members in the anime and manga, leaving the Netflix One Piece adaptation the challenge of figuring out which ones to introduce in its debut season. While actors for Luffy, Zoro, Nami, Usopp and Sanji have all been confirmed, the sixth Straw Hat to join, Chopper the reindeer, would need to be rendered in CGI. As such, it has previously been difficult to gauge whether Chopper will join Luffy’s Straw Hat crew in One Piece season 1. Netflix’s first-look posters confirm that the main pirate cast will remain a quintet, since the horned doctor is nowhere to be seen in the One Piece marketing.
Chopper could potentially have a small cameo toward the end of One Piece season 1, setting up him joining the crew proper in season 2, but the character is clearly being saved for the future. One Piece season 1 looks to be ending with Arlong’s defeat, and Chopper will then be an early addition in season 2, if it happens. While Chopper’s One Piece absence could be considered disappointing, the omission cleverly darts around a potentially devastating hurdle.
As an anthropomorphic shape-shifting reindeer, Chopper will push the One Piece special effects team to its limit. The Straw Hat’s doctor will require photorealistic CG animation on par with Rocket Raccoon, Detective Pikachu or Sonic the Hedgehog post-makeover, or else risk the online ridicule suffered by Sonic the Hedgehog pre-makeover. Even if One Piece had the budget to accommodate the digital work Chopper demands, however, including him still would have been foolish.
Co-CEO Ted Sarandos has blamed Netflix TV cancelations on big-budget shows that draw small audiences. If One Piece wishes to avoid becoming one of those fallen victims, Chopper represents an unwise inclusion for season 1, since his mere presence inflates the show’s budget considerably. Assuming One Piece premieres to a successful reception, season 2 will have more leeway and freedom to add a CGI Chopper to the Going Merry.
From a purely narrative perspective, avoiding Chopper in One Piece season 1 also prevents cluttered storytelling. The Netflix adaptation must already introduce all five Straw Hats and a host of One Piece villains inside a scant 10-episode run. Attempting to also tell Chopper’s origin in the Drum Kingdom would inevitably mean cutting down and trimming out important details from the anime and manga due to time constraints.
Leaving Tony Tony Chopper out of One Piece season 1 may save Netflix’s adaptation from a potential pitfall, Luffy and his Devil Fruit are already providing CG-related challenges to overcome. Making Monkey D. Luffy’s Gomu Gomu fruit powers look vaguely plausible is an absolute must. The One Piece protagonist needs to stretch his limbs like the anime and manga character, but without the effect looking silly or cheap on a real actor. Although not a purely CGI creation like Chopper will be, some digital work may also be necessary to help transform McKinley Belcher III into Arlong the Fishman.
The need to get Luffy’s Devil Fruit powers and One Piece season 1’s saw-nosed villain right creates an already tricky, and expensive, to-do list for the show’s special effects wizards. Throwing the creation of Chopper as a CG-animated character into that melting pot feels drastically too ambitious for One Piece season 1 alone, justifying the decision to wait until season 2 before introducing the Going Merry’s “emergency food supply.” Skepticism will inevitably remain, but the Netflix One Piece TV show has improved its chances of success by delaying its Chopper problem for another day.
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