For the uninitiated, “One Piece” follows the adventures of one Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy), who wants nothing more than to become a pirate. Luffy dreams of heading out into the mysterious Grand Line to find the almighty mythical One Piece treasure, and with it, becoming king of the pirates. He’s also got a trick up his sleeve: As a child, he ate a gum-gum fruit, which has turned his body to rubber, leaving him capable of incredible feats most humans could only dream of. But becoming king of the pirates isn’t something he’s going to be able to do alone — he’s going to need a pirate crew. He’s also going to need to fight off plenty of vengeful pirates, and the Marines, who are hot on his tail.

The first season of the live-action adaptation largely follows Luffy’s mission to get a crew — and ship — of his own. There’s Roronoa Zoro (Mackenyu), a steely pirate hunter who wields three swords at once (the third is held in his mouth). Nami (Emily Rudd) is a gifted cartographer with a shadowy past and a knack for stealing things. A man who loves a good cry, Usopp’s (Jacob Romero) imagination may get the better of him sometimes, but he’s a passionate friend and deadly with a slingshot. And finally, there’s Sanji (Taz Skylar), a cook who can deliver a world-class meal and kick serious butt in equal measure. It’s a fun group of complicated characters, and watching them begin to figure each other out, and how they can work together, is one of the series’ charms. There’s a lot of promise for the future, as the crew will inevitably expand over time.

The show lays an impressive foundation and the world-building is undeniably impressive. It’s clear that a lot of money went into making “One Piece” look authentic. Locations like Windmill Village, Shells Town, Syrup Village, and Baratie are brought to life with rich detail; newcomers will be wowed by these worlds, and familiar fans will no doubt be excited to see the places they love come alive with such vivid color and intricate set design. Character designs and costuming are exceptional — just about everyone looks like they’ve stepped straight out of an anime, and they feel right at home in this heightened pirate world. It’s easy for adaptations of huge properties to feel like cheap cash-ins, but it really does feel like the people involved in “One Piece” cares deeply about the show’s roots, and it shows through fantastic sets and awesome costumes.

“One Piece” is no stranger to excellent action set-pieces, and I’m very happy to say this live-action adaptation delivers some really impressive effects and fight scenes. Luffy’s battle with Buggy (Jeff Ward) is particularly enjoyable. The biggest pitfall “One Piece” faced was being completely unconvincing in live-action, but the spirit of the manga feels very much alive here, and the deliberately cartoonish aspects of the characters feel surprisingly at home here.

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By mrtrv

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