We’ve still got quite some time ahead of us until the live-action adaptation of One Piece hits Netflix. The team has been hard at work bringing the manga to life, as we even saw some set photos find their way online. We’ve gotten glimpses at ships being worked on and even a first look at their take on the Marines’ design. They offered our first look at some of the tweaks and changes that will result from the new medium. Of course, it opens the question what else might change and I thought I’d give it a shot to theorize what aspects of the original East Blue Saga that might get adapted from the original manga.
Nami’s Anime-Inspired Introduction
Just like how the live-action Cowboy Bebop introduced Faye Valentine in its first episode, we can probably expect the same with Emily Rudd‘s Nami. Alvida’s ship was one of the first to be spotted on set, and she was the first to share a photo from the set. Plus, her character arc is at the core of the East Blue Saga, as Arlong technically acts as the “big bad” before they set out to the Grand Line. Her early introduction alongside a potential set-up for the later part of the season would work to also establish a few plot points that you usually see introduced in the pilot episode
Ironically, this wouldn’t the first time that Nami gets an earlier introduction, as it happened in the anime. While in the manga we first meet her in Orange Town, the first animated adaptation took a different approach. We meet her earlier in the story, as she’s looting one of Alvida’s ships. There’s even a chance that we’ll see her lurking in the background in Shells Town, as Luffy makes his way to recruit Zoro and face Captain Morgan. Taking inspiration from the anime would work to switch up the opening of the manga, which was still finding its footing at the time with each island acting like a self-contained story.
Morgan’s Expanded Role
Speaking of Captain Morgen, I do believe he’ll likely have a bigger role in the live-action adaptation. Not only did we get a glimpse of Garp’s ship, where he was arrested and then fled from, but it’s not uncommon for adaptations to combine characters. Morgan has ties to Kuro and was one of the reasons the former pirate captain was able to pull of his scheme. Yet, he doesn’t really factor into the story after that, but there is one potential role expansion he could get. We later meet a Marine captain named Nezumi during the Arlong Park Arc. It was a new character that pretty much also solidified the corruption within the Marines.
Even after fleeing, Morgan could still be in his uniform with some corrupted soldiers that stuck by his side. Perhaps he tries to find refuge at Arlong Park, where the Fishman uses the opportunity to make use of the fleeing Marine. As Nami wasn’t directly involved with his arc, she might have no idea who he is. So, him arriving and taking her treasure away, forcing her to start over, would fit within story and add an extra layer of connectivity between the East Blue. Plus, we won’t need an additional character introduction while also further fleshing out what was once a one-sided villain.
Garp’s Increased Role
Garp’s ship being built is a potential tease that we’ll get Coby and Helmeppo’s training arc sprinkled throughout the series. It’s unclear how much time it’ll take up, but there’s a potential to include them as a showcase of the aftermath that the Straw Hats leave in their wake. We get a few more moments with characters otherwise would’ve left behind and see how this pirate crew influences the world around them. Lieutenant “Double Ironfist” Fullbody could even be part of his Marine group that ended up going ahead to the Baratie, which might even work as a little reference early on if Garp shows up in the pilot episode.
We also learn in the manga that he wants Luffy to join the Marines. So, it wouldn’t be too surprising for him to arrive in Windmill Village hoping to recruit him before he goes his pirate ways only to be too late. It isn’t until later that we find out that’s the only reason he’s in the East Blue to begin with, as everyone is confused why he’s so focused on a small-time pirate. Plus, his inclusion is a great move to also show the two-sides of the Marines. We want to root for Coby joining the group, but mostly meet very corrupted captains throughout the East Blue. In a way, he a perfect counter balance that there is more to this group, especially to set up Smoker’s apperance in Loguetown.
Less Islands, More Ships
This change is something I thought off during our recordings of Den Den Murphy, which you can listen to the latest episode by clicking here. We’re seeing a lot of big ships being built and it would seem strange to do so if they are only set dressing. Just like in the anime, I do believe that Alivda’s storyline will be directly on her ship rather than a random island. It works well for the story and adds a nice flair to the series, as it’s odd how little we spend on boats given it’s a pirate story. Yet, I do believe it’s not the only time and would even argue they’d cut one of the bigger islands in addition to the one Gaimon is stuck on, and move it to a ship.
I went back-and-forth on this a lot, but my theory would be that we might skip Straw Hats’ time in Orange Town. Not the storyline, but them taking on Buggy on the island. The only important landmark is the pet store protected by Chouchou. The Buggy pirates could have already destroyed it in the series, and the little dog is trying to retrieve the only thing that remains of his owner. As such, he chased the the circus-inspired crew to their ship where the story takes place. Recent set photos by the South African President revealed a circus tent, which was part of Buggy’s ship named Big Top. It would work as a creative backdrop and mix the story up as we mostly traveled from one town to another in the original.
As you’ll likely notice, most of my theories on the changes are based on building more connectivity. The East Blue Saga is the most “independent” storyline as each arc doesn’t necessarily built into the next. Seeing them interweave some minor plot points that build or or connect to later makes a lot of sense to grab viewer’s attention across its first season. Morgan referencing his capture of Kuro before we realize what truly happened, people discussing Don Krieg being the first in a long-time to attempt the Grand Line, and so much more could be sprinkled throughout to add some foreshadowing.
Yet, I’d also go one step further and say that I do think they might add elements from later storylines that are hinted at before they even enter the Grand Line. References to Sanji’s real backstory and the Germa 66 would make sense as a small indication, even if it’s just him reading the comic “Sora, Warrior of the Sea.” Zoro being confronted by a member of Baroque Works makes sense, as it is referenced in the manga but never got to see it happen. Even just thinking about the infamous execution of “Gold” Roger opens up so many possibilities.
With still some time until we even get a trailer for the adaptation, it’s fun to speculate and theorize how they might adapt Eichiiro Oda‘s famous manga. There’s a whole community that has built around this series and if you’re interested you can check out the Discord by clicking here to share your thoughts on the project.