Is the ‘One Piece’ Live-Action Adaptation the Future of Netflix?

Could One Piece be the future face of Netflix? There's tons of potential with just as many challenges ahead.

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Can The One Piece Live Action Adaptation Go The Distance

Picture: One Piece – Netflix

In 2023, Netflix released the long-anticipated live-action adaptation of Eiichiro Oda’s Pirate Odyssey to great success. Watched by millions worldwide, is One Piece shaping up to be the future face of Netflix? Below, we discuss the challenges the live-action One Piece series will face in the near future.

With tens of millions of fans worldwide, hundreds of millions of copies of the manga in circulation, and one of the most popular anime in the world, One Piece is Japan’s most dominant and popular fictional franchise.

Netflix has already invested heavily in One Piece by licensing hundreds of anime episodes, new weekly episodes, and movies, greenlighting a remake of the anime, and producing the live-action adaptation, which was watched by millions of Netflix subscribers worldwide.

With the live-action series’ renewal confirmed, fans can anticipate seeing the Arabasta Saga in live-action for the first time in One Piece’s history. Seven months of filming begins in June 2024 and will be followed by a lengthy post-production process, which means we may not see the series return until late 2025.

With a long wait ahead, we wondered just how long Tomorrow Studios would take to adapt the live-action series. With many years remaining and many seasons potentially ahead, is Netflix committed to adapting One Piece in its entirety, or will the adaptation have to fight for its place as the potential future face of the streaming service?

How did One Piece perform in 2023?

In 2023, the live-action One Piece was the 27th most-watched title on Netflix worldwide. At first glance, finishing 27th for the year appears low. However, this doesn’t paint the complete picture of the show’s success.

First, compared to other television shows in 2023, One Piece finished in 7th place with 71.6 million views. All television shows that finished ahead of One Piece were released in the first half of 2023, except for Wednesday and Cocomelon, the former of which first landed on Netflix in November 2022.

Most Watched Tv Shows On Netflix In 2023 (1)

Considering that the live-action One Piece landed on Netflix on August 31st, 2023, which only gave the series slightly over four months to catch up with the other TV shows, finishing 7th was spectacular. Also, it must be noted that when you only consider the second half of 2023, One Piece was the most-watched television show on Netflix by a significant margin.

Most Watched Tv Shows On Netflix In 2023 (jul Dec)

What Netflix and the executives at Tomorrow Studios are hoping for is an even better performance for the second season.

One Piece: The Pirate Odyssey

Without exaggerating, the difficulty behind adapting the entirety of the One Piece story is immense, and we would argue that it could be an even more difficult task than adapting the works of JRR Tolkien and George RR Martin.

One Piece is a modern-day Odyssey with 27 continuous years of publication history and several more to come.

The story is so vast that we could look at a minimum of ten action-packed seasons. However, adapting such a story will be met with some highly significant challenges.

Lengthy Productions

Unless future seasons of One Piece will be filmed back to back, the show’s current trajectory means we may not see the Egghead Island arc of One Piece adapted until way beyond 2040.

Filming for the first season of One Piece reportedly took place between January 2022 and July 2022, and thirteen months later, season one landed on Netflix on August 31st, 2023. Renewal came swiftly, but the time between renewal and production of the second season, which starts in mid-June 2024, is ten months. Filming is scheduled to end in late January 2025. Netflix is rumored to be committed to a 2025 release for season two, which means the earliest conceivable month we may see One Piece return is in November or December 2025.

Luffy One Piece Behind The Scenes

Picture: Iñaki Godoy as Luffy – Joe Albas/Netflix

The time between the renewal announcement and the earliest we could conceivably see the series return to Netflix is 26 months (Sep 23-Nov 25).

We categorically cannot say this will happen with the production of every new season of the live-action One Piece. But if we use the season 2 timeline as the foundation for every subsequent season, at this rate, we won’t see the start of the Egghead Island Arc in the live adaptation until 2043!!

Even if Netflix and Tomorrow Studios could reduce the production timeline from renewal to release down to eighteen months from season three onwards, subscribers would still have to wait until the late 2030s before reaching the final saga.

Behind The Scenes One Piece Behind The Scenes

Picture: Behind the scenes of One Piece season 1 – Netflix

Will the cast age too fast?

Even though we’re fast approaching the 27th anniversary of One Piece, only three years (almost) have passed in the story.

While Oda and the TOEI animators have the luxury of not worrying about the passage of time for their drawn and animated characters, their real-world counterparts, sadly, do not have the same luxury.

Without wanting to sound agist, but given the length of the One Piece story, time is a ginormous factor. Suppose Netflix does not pull the trigger on renewals and allow filming to take place back-to-back-to-back for multiple seasons. In that case, we are in a very realistic scenario in which by the time we reach the adaptation of the final saga, all of the current Straw Hats cast members, except for Iñaki Godoy, will be in their 40s.

The Strawhats One Piece Behind The Scenes

Picture: The Strawhats – Netflix

Would recasting be required? Not likely, but the longer it takes to produce new seasons, the more this question will be raised.

Realistically, the best way to solve this problem is for Netflix to commit heavily to One Piece, renew for multiple seasons, and allow Tomorrow Studios to film seasons back-to-back-to-back.

One Piece is Expensive

TV shows are expensive to produce, and One Piece already has one of the highest reported budgets for a Netflix Original, with each episode costing roughly $18 million.

It will be impossible for Netflix to commit to only $18 million per episode for future seasons as production, contracts, and other variables will impact the cost. Even if, by some miracle, Netflix keeps the production budget to $18 million per episode, that means at eight episodes a season for at least ten seasons, the production budget alone will cost Netflix, at a minimum, $1.44 billion.

The Going Merry One Piece Behind The Scenes

Picture: Iñaki Godoy as Luffy on the Going Merry set of One Piece with – Netflix

Realistically, once you factor in rising production costs, inflation, and more, Netflix’s investment in completing the adaptation of One Piece could easily surpass the $2 billion mark.

Not to mention, the size and scale of the story increase tenfold, and the fights that will take place post-time skip, when compared to Arlong Park, is like comparing the difference between watching two heavyweights in the main event of a PPV and a fight on the playground between school children.

To make these fights as awe-inspiring as they are drawn in the manga, and animated in the anime, $18 million per episode might not be enough.

One Piece the Future of Netflix?

One significant advantage One Piece has is the number of popular and (or) costly Netflix Originals that are soon ending. The shows that spring to mind immediately are Stranger Things and The Witcher.

With Stranger Things ending after five seasons, there aren’t many current Netflix Originals lined up to replace it as the face of the entire streaming service. However, we would argue that One Piece is ideally placed to do just that.

While we have highlighted several long-term challenges that One Piece may encounter on Netflix, the story’s longevity also gives it a significant advantage. With so much source material to adapt, the live-action One Piece has no shortage of content, but it needs continuous investment and faith from Netflix.

Between The Witcher failing to live up to its potential and Stranger Things ending, once both shows have finished, Netflix will have hundreds of millions of dollars to invest elsewhere.

We would argue that One Piece’s popularity has never been hotter. Between its incredible anime adaptation and the manga, which is currently in the midst of its awesome and exciting final saga, Netflix should strike while the iron is hot and throw its full weight and power (money) behind One Piece to make it the next face of the streaming service.

One last point

The point we’re trying to make is that the live-action adaptation of One Piece is a massive undertaking and one of the most ambitious TV projects in history. Not only does it require an enormous level of commitment from Netflix to provide the funding and distribution, but it also requires the commitment of Tomorrow Studios and the cast, who will be dedicating years of their careers to a singular, albeit incredible, project.

Lastly, the subscribers, where the fate of One Piece ultimately resides with you. If you want Netflix to renew One Piece for further seasons, you must watch every new season and get your friends and families involved, too.

Do you think One Piece can be the face of Netflix? Or is the series doomed for the cancellation pile? Make sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Written by

Jacob joined What's on Netflix in 2018 as a fulltime writer having worked in numerous other industries until that point. Jacob covers all things Netflix whether that's TV or movies but specializes in covering new anime and K-dramas. Resides in Norwich in the United Kingdom.