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Netflix’s Live-Action ‘One Piece’ Is Loyal to a Fault: TV Review

In the realm of adaptation, the transition from anime and manga to live-action is often met with skepticism, comparable to the challenges faced by live-action adaptations of video games. However, against all odds, the year 2023 seems to be a turning point for both genres. HBO led the way in January with the premiere of “The Last of Us,” a gripping drama that skillfully translates the somber, character-driven essence of the 2013 video game into the realm of television. Surpassing expectations, the series garnered praise from critics, achieved impressive ratings, and earned numerous Emmy nominations, defying a trend that has persisted for decades. A few months later, “The Super Mario Bros.” movie managed to replicate this success at the box office, even if critical acclaim was not entirely on par.

It appears that Netflix, the global streaming giant, has taken notice of this trend and is ready to step into the arena with the upcoming launch of “One Piece,” a series adapted from the long-standing manga created by Eiichiro Oda. Similar endeavors have encountered a mixed track record, an aspect that Netflix is all too familiar with. The platform has witnessed both failures, such as “Ghost in the Shell” starring Scarlett Johansson and “Dragonball Evolution,” and successes like the critically panned “Death Note” and the short-lived “Cowboy Bebop” adaptation. Given its substantial resources and expansive global audience, Netflix holds a unique position to reimagine a cultural phenomenon like “One Piece” for an entirely new and diverse viewership. Nevertheless, based on past experiences, the streaming giant understands the challenges posed by passionate fanbases, cautious stakeholders, and the intricate qualities of animation that can complicate the adaptation process. The shining example of “The Last of Us” provides a glimmer of hope for a positive outcome to strive for.

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