Earlier this month, Netflix added the first hundred or so episodes of the hugely popular anime One Piece to its library. Not only does this acquisition mark one of the first times the Japanese series has become available on a major streaming platform, but it’s also an appetizer for the company’s upcoming live-action adaptation.
Such an adaptation has been rumored to happen for years, and for good reason. Given the series’ immense popularity in the east – a market which is becoming increasingly attractive to American studio execs – it was only a matter of time before the intellectual property would be bought for development.
At the beginning of this year, a prominent Netflix leaker announced that the live-action adaptation was officially in the works. A few months later, the internet learned from a producer, speaking to reporters from Syfy, that shooting was going to take place this summer, but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have basically all 10 scripts written,” said Marty Adelstein. “We will start casting when we go back. My suspicion is June 1, but we will start doing our casting. We have a lot of names that we’re talking about, and we should be in production in September. We have been working very closely with Sensei Oda. So, we’re going to get started, and this one is very big. I mean, Snowpiercer was a big production; this is even bigger.”
In case you’re not familiar with the source material, One Piece tells the story of Luffy, a young boy who has but one goal in life: to become the strongest, most-feared pirate in the world. And that’s easier said than done, not only because the world which Luffy inhabits counts lots of pirates, but the vast majority of them also have special powers, vaguely reminiscent of those seen in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Adapting animation into live-action is as risky as tackling a video game title, both critically and financially speaking. In the past, M. Night Shyamalan ruined the aforementioned Avatar series, while a Japanese live-action adaptation of the popular manga and anime series Attack on Titan also failed on a colossal level. But, at the end of the day, Netflix is Netflix, and they’ve certainly got the monetary security to afford this risk.
There’s no word yet on when exactly we may see this project come to fruition, but production will reportedly fire up at the end of August with it scheduled to wrap in February. Which means that at this point, we can probably expect to get the live-action One Piece on Netflix at the end of 2021.