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“He’s The Source!”: Why One Piece’s Manga Creator Involvement Was Vital For Netflix Show Director-TGN

Summary

  • Eiichiro Oda’s involvement in the development and creative decisions of the live-action One Piece show was crucial, as he is the creator.
  • Previous adaptations of beloved manga, Cowboy Bebop and Death Note, faced backlash from fans due to various issues such as whitewashing and deviations from the source material.
  • While the original director and composer were involved in the Cowboy Bebop adaptation, their influence was limited and the show ultimately received negative reviews, leading to its cancellation.


With the creator’s involvement already well publicized, director Marc Jobst explains why Eiichiro Oda’s involvement in the live-action One Piece show was so important. Oda is the mind behind the fantasy adventure manga that launched in 1997, chronicling the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his friends, the Straw Hat Pirates, as he sets out to find the eponymous treasure and become King of the Pirates. The manga has already ran over an impressive 1000 chapters, with the anime adaptation that launched in 1999 also right behind its source material with 1,073 episodes at the time of writing.

Ahead of the show’s premiere, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with Marc Jobst to discuss the live-action One Piece show. When asked about the extent of Eiichiro Oda’s involvement in the adaptation, the director explained that it was vital to have the manga’s creator be part of the show, feeling it “would be an insanity not to include him” in the various stages of development and creative choices. See what Jobst explained below:

He’s the source! You know, why would you not go to the font? He is the font, and he has created something that the world — the world of One Piece — adores, I think it would be an insanity not to include him in every single decision that you make, and make sure that we are being truthful and honoring what it is that he’s doing. Again, there is a translation from the manga to live-action, adaptations need to be made, and that’s okay, and he was always very open to understanding that you have to make some changes in order to make that transition, so long as you were staying true and honoring the spirit of what his wonderful creation is. So, as a guiding hand over this whole show, he was a fantastic collaborator. He wanted us to get it right, and we wanted to get it right for him.

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, and the show covered here would not exist without the labor of the writers and actors in both unions.


Oda’s One Piece Involvement Avoids Cowboy Bebop’s Biggest Mistake

One Piece marks Netflix’s second show adaptation of a beloved manga after 2021’s Cowboy Bebop, as well as their third overall anime/manga live-action adaptation after 2017’s Death Note movie. Both efforts were met with widespread backlash from fans of their source materials, with Death Note coming under fire for seemingly whitewashing its entire story and characters, while Cowboy Bebop‘s schlockier writing, muddled pacing, and deviations from the anime led to near-universal panning.

The latter adaptation did seem to have some positives going for it as it brought back original composer Yoko Kanno and original director Shinichirō Watanabe came on board as a creative consultant in the hiatus for shooting following John Cho’s injury. Ultimately, this involvement didn’t extend very far in the show, save for offering his thoughts on the concepts the Netflix team was working on and providing books for them to use as reference. Watanabe even came out after the show’s release confirming he didn’t watch past Cowboy Bebop‘s opening sequence, feeling it was not in line with his original vision.

Though Death Note garnered a positive reception from its original creators, who appreciated both its deviations and direct adaptations of the manga, Cowboy Bebop found itself canceled less than three weeks after its premiere, with sources citing an expensive budget and harsh viewership drop in its second week of release. It’s unclear if co-showrunners Steven Maeda and Matt Owens were already working on scripts for a potential One Piece season 2 prior to the ongoing Writer’s Guild of America strike, but should the live-action show prove to be Netflix’s first successful manga/anime adaptation, one can hope the duo and Oda get right to work on the next steps when the strike comes to a close.

One Piece begins streaming on Netflix on August 31.

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