In the realm of streaming giants, Netflix has consistently demonstrated its prowess in transforming beloved franchises into live-action spectacles. One of its latest undertakings, the adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s acclaimed manga, ‘One Piece,’ has not only set sail but also conquered the streaming charts.
Within its first full week on Netflix, ‘One Piece’ garnered a staggering 19.3 million views from September 4 to September 10, securing its spot as the reigning champion of Netflix’s English-language TV listings.
This achievement marks a momentous victory for Netflix, especially considering its previous struggles with adaptations, most notably the controversial ‘Cowboy Bebop.’
The numbers speak volumes: ‘One Piece’ has amassed a devoted following, with a total of 37.8 million views in under two weeks. While it’s not yet among the all-time most-watched series, this remarkable viewership is a testament to its success. What’s more, the series still has ample time in its 91-day premiere window to further cement its place among the streaming elite.
For Netflix, ‘One Piece’ represented a pivotal opportunity for redemption following the lukewarm reception of ‘Cowboy Bebop,’ which was canceled after just one season. Criticized by fans and even the original creator, Shinichirō Watanabe, the adaptation left much to be desired. Thus, the stakes were high for ‘One Piece,’ a chance to break free from the past and chart a course toward success.
Turning the Tide: A New Approach
— ONE PIECE(ワンピース) Netflix (@onepiecenetflix) July 22, 2023
The journey to ‘One Piece’s triumph began with a fundamental question: Why create a live-action version of a manga with an already immensely successful anime and manga? The answer, as Marc Jobst, who directed the first two episodes, emphasized, was to add a unique dimension to the beloved world of ‘One Piece,’ one that live-action could offer in tandem with the existing mediums.
The quest to bring ‘One Piece’ to life commenced with an extensive global search for the ideal cast. The studio took a bold step by casting relatively unknown actors, a decision that has since paid off handsomely. Iñaki Godoy, who portrays Monkey D. Luffy, experienced an astounding 60-fold increase in his social media following during the summer. This casting strategy, combined with the rest of the ensemble’s growth, played a crucial role in building anticipation for the series.
Securing the endorsement of the series’ creator, Eiichiro Oda, was a pivotal moment in the campaign to win over fans. A video featuring Godoy visiting Oda in Tokyo garnered immense attention as Oda praised the young actor, stating, “You’re just like the character I draw in the manga.” Oda’s approval lent a significant boost to the series’ credibility and authenticity.
Navigating Challenges: Adapting Unique Powers
Bringing ‘One Piece’ to life presented unique challenges, particularly in depicting characters’ supernatural abilities, such as Luffy’s Gum Gum Fruit powers. These powers, which allow for extreme stretching and contorting of the body, had to be portrayed convincingly on screen. The team grappled with the intricacies, ensuring that the depiction adhered to the laws of physics while maintaining the essence of the character’s abilities.
The creators aimed to preserve the essence of the manga by mirroring its visual style in the live-action adaptation. Character introductions often feature close-ups of their eyes, akin to manga panels. Fight sequences were meticulously choreographed, with the camera following characters seamlessly to avoid excessive jump cuts. Specialized camera lenses were even commissioned to accommodate these demands.
Netflix’s marketing campaign for ‘One Piece’ was orchestrated with the intent of connecting viewers to the source material. The actors recreated iconic moments from the manga covers, emphasizing the uncanny resemblance between the cast and their animated counterparts. Interactive elements, like allowing fans to insert themselves into pirate wanted posters, further fueled the excitement.
The Voyage Ahead
Netflix’s ambitious marketing efforts, combined with a global fan base and extensive consumer product launches, have propelled ‘One Piece’ to new heights. The hope is that the passionate fan community will generate organic buzz, attracting new audiences to this epic adventure.
Ultimately, ‘One Piece’ seeks to resonate with a broader audience, delivering a universal story of camaraderie and the power of unity that transcends its roots as a manga and anime, captivating hearts worldwide.