Best Movie ‘One Piece’ Top Review 2023 | Live-Action on Netflix

One Piece

The imaginative new Netflix show “One Piece” is out to give piracy a good name again.
A live-action adaptation of the long-running (and mega-popular) Japanese manga, the genre-smashing eight-episode first season (★★★ out of four; now streaming) introduces a fantasy landscape of rousing outlaws, determined lawmen and even some angry fish-people, with superpowers and a sense of humor thrown in to liven things up.
In this energetic cross between “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Scott Pilgrim,” with a dash of “Doctor Who”-style camp, a young crew of buccaneers goes searching for lost treasure and helps people along the way in a bighearted, swashbuckling answer to “Stranger Things.”
For 22 years, folks have been sailing the seas looking for Gold Roger’s lost treasure, to no avail. Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy), a chatty but earnest sort who never goes anywhere without his signature straw hat, has big dreams of finding the legendary “One Piece” and becoming king of the pirates. And thanks to a piece of Devil Fruit he ate as a kid, Luffy can bend and stretch his body to a cartoonish degree.
Seeking a map to the mythical Grand Line, an oceanic path said to hold danger as well as potential riches, Luffy runs afoul of the Marines, an armed force led by volatile Vice Admiral Garp (Vincent Regan) that keeps the seas orderly with an iron hand. He also meets Nami (Emily Rudd), a clever orange-haired thief in search of the same map, and Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu Arata), a stoic green-coiffed pirate hunter who’s quite handy with the three swords that never leave his side.
Thanks mostly to Luffy’s infectious personality, the three disparate loners team up and set sail. But the Marines are in hot pursuit, with escalating weirdness amid the open waters. Jolly Rogers fly, and some personalities look like they just walked out of an old-school pirate flick while others wear contemporary Hawaiian shirts, crop tops and, in the case of one sawfish-faced individual, a trapper hat. Instead of smartphones there are snail phones, and the bad guys are like an endless parade of retro He-Man villains, including a bizarre clown pirate, a dastardly butler with long Freddy Krueger-style claws and a cocky warlord with an absurdly large blade.
It’s a pretty wild show to take in, and there’s some tonal whiplash with so many genres in the mix, from slapstick comedy to slasher horror. But “One Piece” doesn’t go completely overboard with over-the-top action, and the storytelling is also mostly well-paced.
Multiepisode adventures feature our heroes finding a ship and crashing a fine-dining establishment in the shape of a big-mouth bass, while picking up new crew members – including slingshot marksman Usopp (Jacob Romero) and charismatic cook Sanji (Taz Skylar) – and doling out backstories. But while there’s very much a Saturday morning cartoon vibe to “One Piece” (which also spawned an animated series in 1999), it’s also packed with sailor-ready language, violence and heady themes, so beware if the little bucs in the house beg to check it out.
The mythology of “One Piece” will be new to American audiences, as will the fresh faces of the cast: Rudd had a supporting role in Netflix’s “Fear Street” trilogy, while Arata is the son of martial-arts movie icon Sonny Chiba.
But Godoy is the heart of the show as the excitable Luffy, and the character gives “One Piece” an important, unshakable moral compass. Bad things happen, everyone kind of hates pirates – because they tend to be looting, scurrilous types – yet Luffy sticks up for his friends and those in need. “Who says pirates have to be scary?” he says in his many efforts to change hearts and minds.
From enjoyable oddballs to epic battles, “One Piece” offers plenty of colorful booty to binge.
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