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Your World. Your Stories. Everyday.

METEA MEDIA

Your World. Your Stories. Everyday.

METEA MEDIA

Live-action remakes can learn from ‘One Piece’

Luffy+stands+proud+of+his+upcoming+journey+across+the+sea+with+dramatic+lighting+behind+him.
Luisa Bernardino
Luffy stands proud of his upcoming journey across the sea with dramatic lighting behind him.

You grab your tickets, you grab your snacks, and you get ready to give all your attention to the film. The first scene is in a savannah; it reminds you of that one movie, but you can not remember its name right now. You feel this wave of nostalgia wash over you, and you are so excited…until the most uncanny CGI lion stares at the screen, removing the magic.

The live-action “Lion King” shocked many, but not in the way it was supposed to. Recently, Disney has set a trend for producing live-action movies. Some were good, but many were bad. Many companies fail to consider the balance between fantasy and realism, ruining it in the process. 

Anime has also done live-action adaptations of their shows for a couple of years, however instead of on-screen adaptations, they do stage plays. They were taken well by Japanese and global fans, and they have found the balance between real life and fantasy; they do not stray too far from the original. Producing a remake with a different objective than the original material makes these remakes fail, which can be seen with the live-action versions of “WINX Club” and “CATS.” This is a trap Netflix has fallen into when making its live-action remakes: the dreaded Death Note live-action remake.

The “Death Note” remake failed to meet audience expectations. “Death Note” is a dark anime, but the live-action created a new plotline, making it a run-of-the-mill horror film that has an average rating of 4.6/10 on IMDB. The average Tomatometer (critics) is about 36%, and the audience average is about 23%. It does not look good for either one. When discussing the “Cowboy Bebop” live-action, one reviewer said “it’s an overall cheap-looking show (almost fan-made) with a great score,” explaining their 3/10 rating. 

The recent One Piece remake has an audience average of about 89.5% on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, so what gives? There are multiple reasons, and one is their loyalty to the source material. The “Death Note” remake failure largely results from their ignorance of the original material. The Japanese remake of “Death Note” was way more true to the original because it kept the original characters and plot, only changing stuff if it was not realistic. Hence, it has an average of 7.5/10 on IMDB. If they wanted to make a story about a corrupted high school student, they should have created an original series instead of making it a remake. 

But then you have “Cowboy Bebop” which appeals to all age groups. It is an iconic anime, and if you are not a fan of it, then all the judging eyes turn to you. Its style is recognizable all over the world, which could have been replicated like what “Scott Pilgrim vs The World,” did. The directors tried to make it too much like the original anime and because of that, it lacked the passion and originality that comes with a remake. 

“One Piece” swept the deck with these remakes and stretched the possibilities of what a live-action anime could be. It is not just the story that makes it a good watch; it is the casting, costumes, sets, CGI, etc. Costume Designer Diana Cilliers tried her hardest to honor the original costumes. The biggest challenge was the textures on the clothing, eventually creating picturesque costumes. They had to get rid of many capes and extra accessories like Luffy’s sandals since they would not translate to the screen. This is an example of not sticking to the source but finding a better solution which in hindsight makes for a better adaptation. 

Because of her hard work, the characters looked like they jumped off the page. Also, input from the author of the “One Piece” manga, Eiiricho Oda, throughout the filming helped the show still have its original wit that comes from Oda’s humor. 

Having input is crucial since the original creator knows what it should look like and has the expertise to cut things and input new things. This happened before like with the “Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action where the original creators left the show due to their ideas not being heard. The best decisions were made because Oda was on set with them, like Sanji not having his eyebrow swirl to keep it realistic. 

It is not like we have not seen good live actions before — “The Last of Us being an example of one — but “One Piece” achieved balancing fantasy and realism by simply having fun with it. Luffy still stretches as far as he can and Buggy still slices and dices but it doesn’t feel out of place with the environment. 

By having a cast of people who do not just look like the characters, but also love the characters and story. They all appreciate the work that has been put into this story for the past 24 years and are willing to put their whole hearts into perfecting it. 

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About the Contributors
Isa is a sophomore, a Perspectives reporter, and on the Black and Gold podcast. She is excited for her first year on the Journalism team! When she’s in the podcast room you can see all the ideas flowing out of her head and simply just enjoying being with friends. She is a passionate artist, music lover (specifically K-pop), and avid movie critic on Letterboxd. When not in the podcast room she’s on the sidelines cheering with the Varsity Dance Team or in her room reading about Jo March’s adventures.
Luisa is a sophomore and it is her first year on staff as the Diversity Editor and a graphic designer. She loves to read, draw, sketch, and listen to music. Whenever she isn’t feeling avidly burnt out due to studying or listening to music way more than people should, you can find her in the library or Roleplaying.

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