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The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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After reminiscing with fond memories, Class of 2024 graduates in Rockefeller Chapel

Live-action anime series, ‘One Piece,’ exceeds expectations

The live-action adaptation of “One Piece,” is an exciting watch and a low-committal series.

In the vast ocean of mediocre anime and manga, there exists a legendary treasure, a story that has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions around the globe but has never been adapted into live-action TV — until now.

The iconic manga series “One Piece” is remarkably long. At an epic 106 volumes (and 1,075 episodes of the anime), the saga may seem daunting to those who aren’t already familiar and caught up with the story and characters. But the new live-action “One Piece” series, released on Netflix on Aug. 31, proves to be an appealing and low-commitment rendition of the series. 

There’s a lot to be said about the accuracy of the adaptation in this live-action series. As someone who has only read six of the 106 volumes, I can’t really speak to this past what I know about the plot and characters from six volumes — but the depictions of the main characters are deeply satisfying. 

The series protagonist is an ambitious and confident pirate called Monkey D. Luffy, whose most dominant traits are his glaring lack of common sense, his illogical fearlessness and his unwavering belief in himself. He dances to his own unique rhythm, consistently unwilling to approach even the most serious situations with much delicacy or nuance. In both the original manga series and the anime, Luffy is impossible to dislike, even with his childishness and overenergetic personality. In the live-action series, when actor Iñaki Godoy bounces across the screen with his straw hat and vocal fry, you fall right in love. 

Luffy’s two main shipmates are Roronoa Zoro and “Cat Burglar” Nami, portrayed in the live-action series by Mackenyu and Emily Rudd. 

Zoro, a standoffish and adroit swordsman, contrasts Luffy’s manic energy. He barely has a single line that isn’t borderline growled with exaggerated masculine iciness seeping through each word — like when he grumbles: “Waiter, can I get a beer and, uh, something for my friends?” — but Mackenyu makes the most of this awkwardly written character and portrays him as an extremely competent fighter and loyal first mate, with some miraculous moments of genuine wit and charm. 

As one of the few female characters in the series, Emily Rudd has a lot of responsibility hoisted onto her shoulders portraying Nami. The character is relatively cliché: a conniving-yet-adorable female thief in a very small top and even smaller shorts. While her general personality and character arc often leave something to be desired, Ms. Rudd’s depiction of her is remarkably solid — she’s badass and relatively likable, even if not exactly aspirational. 

However, while the feminist themes of the series may be lacking, the cast’s gender and racial diversity are encouraging. Koby, one of Luffy’s good friends and another prominent character, is played by Morgan Davies, an Australian actor who came out as transgender at age 13. “One Piece” has a history of a fraught relationship with the LGBTQ+ community, so many queer fans are thrilled to see Davies playing a starring role in the show.

With acknowledgment of the fact that the bar was fairly low and a large percentage of viewers were expecting a total dumpster fire, both the writing and the acting in the series far exceeded the expectations of many who watched. It’s compelling, charming and delightful to look at, and anyone who watches will be rooting for Luffy and his crew of appealing shipmates. 

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About the Contributor
Light Dohrn
Light Dohrn, Assistant Editor
Light Dohrn is a member of the Class of 2026 and a Midway assistant editor. As a ninth grader, she joined the journalism team during the 2022-23 school year. Her favorite piece she has written for the Midway is “Through authenticity and humor, biology teacher inspires passion among students.” Outside of journalism, she enjoys Middle-Earth fantasy books and Tarantino films. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Excellent, review writing 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, press law and ethics

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    HummusOct 11, 2023 at 7:22 pm

    Congrats on Best of Sno Light!