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One Piece review – beloved Japanese saga lands on Netflix with a whimper

The manga series which then became an anime TV show has now been adapted into an ambitious live-action series with mixed results

When beloved long-running stories are translated to a new medium, they’re often caught between irritating longtime fans (who will chafe at whatever changes have been made to introduce the movie or show or book to newbies) and vexing interested newcomers (who may be baffled by the material regardless of those mainstreaming changes). But the new live-action version of One Piece, a decades-running Japanese comics series that has been adapted into a beloved anime series and many animated features, could actually play well for those two audience segments. ******** fans of previous incarnations may simply be fascinated to see such eccentric material finally and improbably translated into flesh and blood, while Netflix surfers intrigued by a strange, pirate-centric, superpower-augmented adventure-fantasy series may delight in the sheer novelty factor. It’s everyone else in the casual in-between that could wind up staring at the screen with a puzzled expression.

In its broad outlines, One Piece contains multiple elements seen in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It’s about a band of likable outlaws searching for the titular single-serving treasure that will confer the title King of the Pirates upon whoever finds it, while they’re pursued by rival pirates and officious yet vaguely corrupt marines. But Monkey D Luffy (Iñaki Godoy) is arguably closer to signing up with the VeggieTales than he is to becoming Jack Sparrow; he’s a cheerful, wide-eyed, stretchy-limbed young dreamer who wants to become a pirate captain and king without actually stealing anything or terrorizing anyone. He’s soon joined, with some reluctance, by pirate-hunting swordsman Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu) and wily thief Nami (Emily Rudd), whose backstories are filled in as the eight-episode season proceeds.

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