I can’t write about One Piece without getting personal, so here goes: I have been sitting on an editorial about how Netflix’s live-action One Piece was a terrible idea, could never capture the wonder of the original manga, etc., for months. Now that the series has finally revealed who’s playing the main characters, I am exceedingly happy to eat my words before I’ve ever written them, because these kids look perfect.
The Twitter video the new cast made says it better than I could, so watch it first, and I’ll explain who these people are (and who they’re playing) below.
Iñaki Godoy (Go, Youth!, Who Killed Sara?) will play Monkey D. Luffy, the exuberant captain of the Straw Hat pirates, whose body is made of rubber after eating the Gum-Gum Fruit. He’s on a quest to become the king of the pirates by finding the legendary treasure, One Piece.
Mackenyu (Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter, Pacific Rim: Uprising) will play Roronoa Zoro, the pirate hunter-turned-first mate who uses a three-sword fighting style (he holds one in his mouth).
Emily Rudd (Fear Street, Hunters) will play Nami, a cat burglar and Straw Hat navigator who has a secretly heavy heart.
Jacob Romero Gibson (Greenleaf, All Rise) will play Usopp, a cowardly liar with a preposterously long nose who still always manages to rise to the occasion. He’s the Straw Hats’ sniper.
Taz Skylar (Boiling Point, Villain) will play Sanji, the gallant, suave chef with the curly eyebrow who falls in love far too easily.
There are so many reasons I’m excited about this cast, mainly because they are either perfect to play these characters, or are acting like they’re perfect, which means the same thing for the show. Godoy’s bouncing around in excitement could not be more accurate for Luffy—literally—while Mackenyu’s cool, almost curmudgeonly demeanor fits Zoro perfectly. Skylar has Sanji’s cool and charm, Rudd has Nami’s big sister-who-has-to-play-the-grown-up attitude, while Gibson—well, someone who actually acts like Usopp would be incapable of being a professional actor on many levels, so it’s fine. They also all look so much like the characters, clearly because they’ve been filming for a while.
The other reason I’m so excited is that One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda has had ideas for the nationalities of his characters for a long time now, if they were living in the real world and not the pirate-filled fantasy world of the manga and anime. Luffy was from Brazil, Zoro Japan, Nami Sweden, Usopp Africa (of course, Africa is not a nation), and Sanji France. With this cast, the live-action One Piece has clearly taken Oda’s desire for diversity to heart, and Oda approves, offering this message to fans:
It’s all incredibly encouraging for a live-action adaptation of arguably the most popular comic in the entire world. Running for 24 years, with more than a thousand issues, having sold more 490 million copies—all with the same author and artist—One Piece is unquestionably an international hit. There’s absolutely no way to know how successful this version will be, or how well the manga can be translated into live-action. But now, I’m genuinely hopeful and excited for it—and really, really glad I didn’t write that article.
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