By: Oli Phillips
Spectacle, memorable characters, bizarre visuals and a whole lot of heart. These are the building blocks of the most fun and uplifting show on streaming this year!
Developed and produced by Matt Owens and Steven Maeda, One Piece is a live action adaptation of a beloved ongoing Japanese tale which has been running for the past 26 years. The show stars a cast of relatively unknowns, with Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy) as the energetic lead, Nami (Emily Rudd) as the crew’s navigator with a shady past, Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu) as the master swordsman and Sanji (Taz Skylar) as a cooking prodigy.
One Piece is set on a predominantly ocean world, with scattered islands, pirates, danger and of course, treasure. Twenty years prior to our adventure, the Pirate King Gold Rodger (Michael Dorman) sets ablaze a new age of Piracy when during a public execution for his crimes, declares to the onlooking masses that his ultimate treasure, the One Piece, is anyone’s to find! His call to action causes all onlookers to evacuate the city and set sail in search of the fabled treasure.
On the surface, One Piece is absurd and wouldn’t usually be the type of show to recommend. The lead character is a hyperactive stretchy powered kid, who screams often and wears a straw hat. The world is a bizarre mix of modern and historical. Case in point, while some pirates wear swashbuckling leather boots, others wear converse shoes. There are neon signs but everyone uses gun-powdered weapons’ and swords to fight. It has fish people, sea snails that act as radios and there are messenger birds with silly hats. One of the bad guys is a clown pirate, I could go on! But everything in this show really works and its a testament to the passion both on and off the camera.
Despite the obvious absurdity there is something else that really makes this show stand out. You may have recently heard the expression “They don’t make movies like that anymore” a few times, most probably in reference to 2022’s Top Gun Maverick. The cause of this discussion is because for some strange reason; both cinephiles and movie makers alike say we live in a post-nihilist world. That is to say, films these days focus more on cultural anxiety, self-reference & criticism, deconstruction and so on rather than being, say… fun!
There are of course exceptions to this and One Piece is not only an exception but you may even go so far as to say that it is a anti-nihilist show!
One Piece is a story about adventure, freedom, liberty, following your dreams and believing in your friends. It has a well developed cast of characters who all have their moments to develop and grow on you. Not a beat is wasted and despite only being eight episodes, each episode is packed to the brim with story, making it feel like eight satisfying movies.
So if you are feeling down, feeling a little demotivated, a bit flat or simply just looking for a superb uplifting show of adventure and piracy, then look no further than One Piece over on Netflix. The show is currently setting records for the platform, even the fans of the source material are enjoying it and that’s not something you hear often these days.
I’d give One Piece 4 treasure chests out of 5
Parental advisory: One Piece is swashbuckling adventure that is clearly aimed to be a family show. Despite this there is a little blood from sword wounds and a couple of scenes where characters loose a limb. The camera does cleverly mask this whenever it happens though, so there is nothing graphic. The show is more suitable for early teenagers and up but individual parental supervision is advised.