Gomu-Gomu no adaptation
26 Jul 2017 - 2:39 PM  UPDATED 26 Jul 2017 - 2:44 PM

Hollywood will adapt Eiichiro Oda's massively popular pirate manga series, One Piece, into a live-action television series.

The news was revealed during a presentation commemorating the 20th anniversary of One Piece on July 21, where the editor-in-chief of the manga magazine Weekly Shonen JumpHiroyuki Nakano, was seen standing next to a sign announcing plans to produce a foreign live-action series. 

The upcoming Western adaptation will be directed by Marty Adelstein (Prison Break, Teen Wolf, Hanna) and his team at Tomorrow ITV Studios. Adelstein, who has been a fan of One Piece for 20 years, believes the project could set a new record for production costs in TV series. Currently, he is also directing the live-action adaptation of Shinichiro Watanabe’s Cowboy Bebop anime.

One Piece follows the story of Monkey D. Luffy, a young boy who wishes to become Pirate King. After eating a magical fruit that makes his body stretch like an elastic band, Luffy forms the Strawhat Pirates and adventures around the world to find a secret treasure known as One Piece. Currently in its 20th year of publication, the series is a grand narrative with an incredibly large cast and world, supernatural powers, and large set pieces.

It will be interesting to see how this One Piece adaptation will turn out. Unlike Cowboy Bebop, which is grounded in some sense of realism, Eiichiro Oda’s character and world designs are distinctly anime. For this adaptation to work, Adelstein will need to strip back a lot of One Piece’s colourful young-adult fantasy into something more plausible. What this means is tweaking the features and traits of several popular One Piece characters in order to suit the live TV medium, such as translating Zoro’s three sword fighting style, Chopper’s quirky personality, Usopp's comically-drawn long-nose, Sanji’s devoted love for women, and the idea of devil fruits without looking like an awkward fan production will be difficult.

With over 800 episodes and chapters, it is not yet known how much of the story the TV series will cover, though fans are expecting only the first 60 to be adapted at first. A standard Western episode format of eight to 24 episodes will likely reach up to the end of the One Piece's East Blue story arc, which is the moment where the series begins to tease the larger world of One Piece with a long-running series of connecting arcs that would better serve as a second season.

According to Oricon (as translated by Kotaku), Oda has faith in the project.

 “[I] absolutely didn’t want to betray [fans],” Oda wrote. “That was the condition for me.

Speaking to The Japan Times, Nakano stated that “there have been offers from various directions about live-action before but they did not really get settled for a number of reason. It’s finally come to the point where we can make an announcement [meaning] we consider the project this time to have exceeded our expectations.” When asked about further details, including a release date and how long each episode and season will be, Nakano refused to comment.

We expect to hear more news in the future, but in the meantime, the focus is on One Piece's 20th anniversary. Last Saturday marked the 20th anniversary since the first chapter of Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece was published in Weekly Shounen Jump.

In celebration, Oda and the owner of Weekly Shonen Jump, Shueisha Inc., teased ten upcoming projects in the series that they expect to officially reveal in the magazine's 20th anniversary issue. A two-hour anime special called One Piece: Episode of East Blue will be released August 26, recapturing Luffy’s early adventures in during the East Blue story arc.

The One Piece celebrations don't stop there. Namco Bandai tells SBS PopAsia that a deluxe edition of the adventure game, One Piece: Unlimited World Red, is coming to the Nintendo Switch on September 29 with all available DLC included. It will be the first One Piece game to offer two player co-op using one controller via the Switch’s joycon controllers, and will play in up to 60 frames per second.

The manga is currently published by Viz Media and the anime is available to watch on Crunchyroll.

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