The following article exploring the potential cinematic potential of Netflix’s One Piece adaptation was inspired by chatting with some great people on the Discord fan page for the live-action adaptation. If you want to join the conversation, you can check out their Discord by clicking here or following @OPLAfandom on Twitter.
Netflix has been anxiously looking for its next major hit by investing quite a bit into upcoming projects. Right now, Jonathan Entwistle has been quite busy developing a cinematic universe based on the popular Saban superhero team, the Power Rangers. They are actively looking for their next Stranger Things, as it not only became quite the rating hit in its fourth season but also is now set to build its own cinematic universe. With three candidates on their radar to take that duty, it does seem like the upcoming live-action adaptation of One Piece may be exactly what they are looking for.
As of now, showrunners Matt Owens and Steve Maeda are working on the first season of the series with no announcement of future seasons hinted at so far. There have been talks of the budget for this series to potentially rival Marvel Studios’ outings, which hints at the hope for this project to become a tentpole of the streaming service. So, it does seem safe to assume that there’s hope to build more out of just the base series once the newly formed Straw Hat pirates enter the Grand Line.
Netflix’s upcoming series will be an ambitious adaptation of a series that is currently still running and has over 1,000+ chapters under its belt. Eiichiro Oda has become well known for his ambition and love for worldbuilding which is reflected in his work. Even as we visit various islands alongside the Straw Hats’ journey, we also meet others that are following along on their very own journeys. These have commonly been slowly revealed with each new chapter release.
The first season will seemingly include the cover story focused on Helmeppo and Coby’s adventures becoming Marines, as they’ve also announced the casting of Garp who doesn’t directly appear in the original East Blue Saga. Yet, there are some other stories that may not fit into the overarching storyline to further develop characters that become especially relevant later down the line. One of the most recent cover stories even managed to tie directly into the events that are unfolding in the story.
In a way, some stories might be worth their own exploration as spinoff series or specials from the main storyline. Portgas D. Ace’s story after reuniting with Luffy in Alabasta could act as a bridge to his future appearance while also exploring his backstory as a member of the Whitebeard pirates. It would help further establish characters that usually only get a short amount of screen time while further building the mystique of who they are and what role they have in the story.
There’s also the aftermath exploring what the Baroque Works members are up to after Alabasta, which could become its own project. While there’s no necessity to create a cinematic universe based around One Piece, the original manga sets up enough opportunities to do so. The Grand Line is filled with possibilities and it wouldn’t be too surprising if the potential of expanding this series might be a selling point for Netflix.
If cinematic universes are what streamers are looking for nowadays, One Piece has the most potential based on the existing material alone. Its creator is also involved with the project and they could potentially establish their own stories that further expand the world we live in. Perhaps getting a chance to explore the different sides of the Marines with a series that introduces some of the recurring members we meet throughout the Straw Hat journey.
The biggest challenge the series will face is establishing a completely new island with its own politics, history, and so much more. Perhaps taking some of that weight off by using spinoff projects to build up some elements that could muddy the experience. We don’t need to know the full structure of the Marines’ internal hierarchy if another project already covers the details through the lens of a member building his path through the ranks; potentially even hinting at a story element we wouldn’t see until further down into the New World.
While the direction of this series also strongly depends on how popular the first season ends up being, there definitely is a potential to do so. The upcoming live-action adaptation will set the groundwork for where this project goes and how it adapts the original manga series. If the first season is a success and viewers end up falling in love with the world, there’s a lot more to show them why they should stick around to uncover all secrets of the Grand Line.