The Big Picture
- Netflix’s live-action adaptation of One Piece has broken the anime curse and become a huge success, already renewed for a second season.
- The series pays homage to the source material and includes fan-favorite aspects while adapting to the live-action format with new actors.
- The emotional scene where Nami opens up to Luffy is a perfect shot-for-shot recreation from the anime, illustrating character growth and the strong bond of the Straw Hat Pirates.
Netflix’s One Piece has been heralded as the series that finally breaks the live-action anime curse. Where other shows adapted from anime have typically been panned by critics and fans alike, Eichiiro Oda’s blockbuster hit has been a sensation on the streaming service, topping the charts with millions of views in its second week. The success has been so great that, despite being one of the most expensive shows ever produced, it has already been renewed for a second season! While the sprawling world of One Piece is still entirely accessible to audiences that haven’t seen the anime, the adaptation is also a love letter to fans that have been sailing with the Straw Hats for years. However, the series didn’t just win over fans of the manga and anime with gratuitous fan service, though there’s still a treasure trove of Easter eggs for observant viewers. In fact, if the uninitiated viewer notices some dialogue or actions that might initially seem cringe, it’s likely that it was pulled straight from the panels of the manga.
The adaptation of the series made sure to pray proper homage to the source material, making sure to bring fan-favorite aspects to life even as they adapt things to better suit the 3D format. While certain story beats were moved around to make things flow more efficiently, the series ensured that even concepts as ridiculous as Zoro’s three-sword fighting style were as accurate to the anime as possible. In fact, one of the most important and impactful scenes in the entire series is also the most faithful, shot-for-shot adaptation of the anime.
Nami Finally Opens Up To The Straw Hats
Throughout the season, we see Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy) recruit member after member to join his pirate crew on a journey to find the fabled One Piece and achieve their dreams. He had connected with the stoic swordsman Zoro (Mackenyu), the boisterous sharpshooter Usopp (Jacob Romero Gibson), and the stylish chef Sanji (Taz Skyler). However, it was one of the earliest friends he made on his adventure that kept the eager captain at an emotional distance. Though Nami (Emily Rudd) was one of Luffy’s first allies, it’s revealed that she had been working with the sinister pirate Arlong (McKinley Belcher III) in order to steal the map to the Grand Line. Even after Arlong’s savage attack on Luffy and Nami’s subsequent betrayal, the Straw Hats were undeterred in rescuing their friend and crew member.
When the crew arrives at Coco Village, Nami’s old home, they see a side to their navigator that they hadn’t seen before, as she shakes down the town for taxes they clearly couldn’t provide. They learn about Arlong’s reign of tyranny and murder of Nami’s mother from her older sister Nojiko (Chioma Umeala), making her actions appear even more confusing. Luffy then finds Nami in one of the most emotionally powerful moments in the entire series, whether it be the manga, anime, or adaptation.
After Arlong reneges on his deal with Nami to free her village, the despondent thief falls to the floor in defeated frustration. Picking up a knife, she begins stabbing at the tattoo on her shoulder, the branding of membership to be an Arlong Pirate. As she screams out Arlong’s name in despondent rage, Luffy grabs her arm and stops her from continuing to hurt herself. Despite constantly pushing Luffy away and begging him to leave her, the young captain remains until Nami, finally, opens up in a state of vulnerability and asks Luffy for help. He places his straw hat, his most treasured possession, on her head and affirms that there is no doubt that he would help her. The captain then calls for his action from the rest of the crew, who have been waiting in the wings for their orders, as the crew begins their march on Arlong Park.
The Series Adapts The Shots With Precision
This scene is already notable for its emotional impact and illustration of character growth for all the characters involved, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of this scene was how it recreated the moment from the anime with remarkable precision. Nami’s cry for help happens in Episode 37 of the One Piece anime, over two decades ago, and is recreated shot-for-shot in Episode 7, “The Girl with the Sawfish Tattoo”, of the adaptation. The framing of the scene is replicated exactly, with upward camera angles looking up towards Nami as she sheds tears while on the floor. When Luffy grabs her arm to stop her from hurting herself, the downward-facing shot of Nami’s face is partially obstructed by her arm the same exact way that it was shown in the anime.
Then, when she finally asks Luffy for help, tears streaming down her face, it’s as if the moment was pulled straight from the manga panel itself. Nami’s arm no longer blocks her face in the shot, symbolic of how she has finally let her walls down by showing vulnerability and trusting that her captain will help her. Luffy solemnly puts his straw hat on Nami’s head, giving his crewmate his most treasured possession as a sign of trust and friendship, before walking ahead, raising his arms above his head declaring, “Of course, I will!” Zoro, Sanji, and Usopp are then shown to be waiting in the wings, in badass poses ripped straight from the manga and anime once more. When Luffy finally orders them to action, we get a three-way split frame of their faces as they affirm their captain’s orders and begin their iconic walk towards Arlong Park.
The camera work wasn’t the only accurate translation, as the acting of Emily Rudd and Iñaki Godoy truly bring Nami and Luffy off of the 2D world and into ours. You can hear the strain on Rudd’s voice with each scream that comes out at the same frustrated cadence of voice actor Akemi Okamura. Godoy’s portrayal of Luffy at this moment captures the heart of what makes the overeager rubber boy the right man to be captain. Given Luffy’s generally upbeat disposition, moments of quiet seriousness are reserved for the most intense moments. Even after Nami’s betrayal, Luffy never wavered his belief in his navigator. However, he needed her to trust him, so it wasn’t until she asked for his help and accepted his friendship that he began the first of many revenge tours against a villain that hurt his friend.
This Moment was Symbolic of the Straw Hats’ Connection
The Straw Hat Pirates are one of the most tight-knight groups of friends in anime. They are the epitome of found family and a group of misfits banding together because of their friendship, trust, and shared dreams. While some characters joined the pirate crew with relative ease, Nami’s journey to becoming a Straw Hat was complex and intricate. Though she had initially only worked with the Straw Hats as a means to an end, she inevitably grew closer to Luffy and the rest of the crew members as a result of their misadventures and loyalty to one another. Her betrayal stung, even if audiences expected it because it was hard to believe that she didn’t truly become friends with the crew. This scene fully showed that, despite her claims that they were never friends or crew, Nami had grown to care for the Straw Hats and was meant to be one of their crew mates.
The decision to adapt this scene in particular with frame-by-frame accuracy was one of the best choices in the entire season. The moment was a culmination of character growth for the main characters, a resolution to drawn-out narrative threads, and a signal for what’s to come for the reconnected Straw Hats.
Before getting to the anxiously anticipated second season, audiences can set sail on the first season of One Piece, streaming now on Netflix.
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