One Piece is one of the most popular anime and manga franchises in the world, with it even holding a Guinness World Record for the most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author, who is Eiichiro Oda. The manga started publication in 1997 with the anime following in 1999, and the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates crew, led by Monkey D. Luffy, have been famous ever since.
With such a successful series, there naturally comes interest from studios to adapt it into a live action movie or TV series, especially since the One Piece manga has sold 516 million copies worldwide. But Eiichiro Oda held off for a long time, before finally agreeing to allow Netflix to make a live action adaptation in the form of an eight episode original series.
Which movie changed Eiichiro Oda’s mind about a One Piece live action show?
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Eiichiro Oda elaborated on why he chose this point of time to make a One Piece web series, with specific reference to a movie that grossed $42 million at the box office. He said:
“When I first started, I didn’t think there was any point in drawing a manga that could be remade in live-action. But when I saw the movie “Shaolin Soccer,” it felt like a manga-esque world brought to life. I changed my mind. I realized times had changed, and there was technology available that could make a live-action “One Piece” happen. So I shifted to finding the right partner to bring the manga to life.”
This was in response to being asked whether a character like Luffy, the main protagonist and Straw Hat captain, would be better suited to animation after all given his stretchy powers. However, Oda thought that the time was right given technological advances, and the kind of tone and direction the series could take with Shaolin Soccer, released in 2001, as an example.
What else did Eiichiro Oda say about adapting One Piece?
Eiichiro Oda also touched upon the process of adapting manga and anime to live action, saying he was worried if fans would like it given recent high profile failures like Ghost in the Shell in 2017 or Netflix’s own Cowboy Bebop in 2021. He said:
“Various manga had been made into live action, but there was a history of failure; no one in Japan could name a successful example. Would fans of “One Piece” — and viewers who don’t know the manga — accept it? Perhaps it was time to search for the answer. Thankfully, Netflix agreed that they wouldn’t go out with the show until I agreed it was satisfactory. I read the scripts, gave notes and acted as a guard dog to ensure the material was being adapted in the correct way.”
In terms of the differences in dialogue in manga and a live action web series, Oda pointed out crucial differences between them, saying:
“In a manga, the more dialogue you put in, the less space you have to draw, so I cut the words as much as possible. But when people actually talk, the conversations are different. In live-action dramas, there’s always a lot of dialogue. If the characters spoke in real life, their speeches would have the natural feel that’s in the scripts. I’m very happy about how that turned out.”
Oda also expressed joy at finding someone like Iñaki Godoy to play the character of Luffy, given that he was worried about who would bring the character to life and how they would do so.
Source: The New York Times