One Piece: 10 major differences between anime and live-action

Tulisha srivastava
An image of Luffy in One Piece live-action and anime

Netflix’s One Piece has been lauded as one of the greatest anime adaptations of all time – but there are some key differences between the original series and the live-action show.

As Netflix intended, One Piece rewrites the history of live-action adaptations with its latest series. The series is now available to stream in various countries, and fans and critics globally have nothing but praise for it.

Instead of recreating the original story, the series takes a different approach to the narrative while staying faithful to the character design and backstories. Since it’s marketed toward an older audience and not specific to anime and manga, a lot of things have changed in the live-action series.

Everything remains the same: the characters, their backstories, and their bonds, but the narrative and pacing take an entirely different route. Here are the ten major differences we noticed between the One Piece anime and the live-action series.

1. The introduction scenes of several characters are different

An image of Luffy from Netflix live action adaptation

As they say, the first impression is the last impression. Character introductions are extremely crucial in any form of fiction, not just anime. In the original series, Luffy is introduced as he comes out of a barrel, and Zoro is first seen when the Marines capture him. And yet, these scenes completely change in the Netflix adaptation. 

The same goes for Garp and so many more characters. Netflix’s approach is surely interesting, and it would be fun for those new to One Piece. However, since the Straw Hats are the heart of One Piece, their different introduction may not sit well with anime and manga fans. 

2. Luffy’s first meeting with his crew is different

Netflix One Piece live-action Season 2

Again, the first meetings between the Straw Hats have changed significantly. Luffy witnesses the fight confrontation between Zoro and Helmeppo. In the original story, he heard it from the little girl who offered Zoro some riceballs. Nami and Luffy’s first encounter is hilarious in the anime, but that also changes completely. 

In the One Piece live-action, Luffy and Usopp met when the latter was working on Going Merry, but that’s not how anime fans remember it at all. In the anime, Usopp threatens Luffy, and the latter instantly recognizes him as Yasopp’s son. For die-hard One Piece fans, these meeting scenes in the Netflix adaptation will look out of place and kind of forcefully incorporated. 

3. The original story is changed in many ways

Mr 7 from One Piece live-action

Every scene of the One Piece live-action adaptation reminds anime fans of how much it deviates from the original story. It’s not because of the concise plot, the pacing, characters, and moments being excluded. But the Netflix series shows how Luffy steals the map of the Grand Line from Captain Morgan when it is actually stolen from Captain Buggy. 

Nami’s village isn’t aware of the reason behind her working with the Arlong Pirates, but the original story shows something completely opposite. Likewise, in the anime, Genzo wearing a pinwheel on his head is important to show his love for Nami, whom he treated like a daughter. This was also removed from the live-action adaptation. 

4. Comedy scenes are significantly less

A still from One Piece trailer featuring Luffy and Arlong

There’s no doubt that One Piece is an absolutely hilarious show. Especially the East Blue Saga, where the series is less intense and much more fun to watch. Whether it’s Luffy’s first meeting with Koby, his fight with Arlong, or the crew’s overall interaction, absolutely everything is chaotic. 

In comparison, the live-action has significantly decreased the comedy. It’s still fun to watch but nowhere close to the anime. It’s likely because the series is intentionally made much more serious to accommodate the older audience. 

5. A lot of characters are introduced earlier in the series

An image of Garp from Netflix's One Piece

The story begins with Garp’s presence during Roger’s execution. Of course, he wasn’t there in the manga. Garp was briefly shown much later in the story and was introduced properly way after that. However, unlike the anime, we see him in the opening scene of One Piece live-action. Baroque Works is an organization of bounty hunters run by the Warlord Crocodile. 

The series first mentions it after the Straw Hats enter the Grand Line in the Arabasta Saga. Zoro’s encounter with the former Mr. 7 is only briefly mentioned. However, we see their entire fight in the Netflix adaptation. Likewise, Arlong is an antagonist of the “Arlong Park Arc,” and he has no reason to wreak havoc in Baratie as the live-action features. 

6. The series is too dark compared to the anime

One Piece live-action zoro vs mr 7

This is not to suggest that the manga and anime of One Piece aren’t dark or violent. Aside from the themes of tyranny, slavery, and oppression, the original story is packed with amazing action and violence. However, the series is also gory, probably because of the real-life effects. 

The fight between Zoro and Mr. 7 ends with the latter’s brutal death. The lighting, the editing, and everything else make the series too dark compared to the anime. Not only that, but a lot of the scenes are shot at night. In the anime, Luffy meets Koby and then fights Alvida. All of these happen during the day. 

7. Several characters from the East Blue Saga are missing

An image of Luffy and Koby from One Piece trailer

Since the Netflix adaptation covers 95 chapters into eight episodes, there are bound to be some characters that will be missing from the series. Oda had previously mentioned that some characters would be missing in the Netflix series, and he wasn’t wrong at all. One Piece has way too many characters to keep track of. 

Johnny and Yosaku are bounty hunters who previously teamed up with Zoro but didn’t appear in the live-action. They also became good friends with the Straw Hats and lingered with them for quite a while. They also explained the Seven Warlord System. Likewise, Mohji, Chouchou, Momoo, and several more characters could’ve made small appearances but didn’t. 

8. The condensed storytelling streamlines the vast world of One Piece

one piece luffy live-action

The condensed storytelling is the most apparent difference in the One Piece live-action adaptation. Interestingly enough, the first season covers the East Blue Saga, except for the Loguetown Arc, and compresses the narrative while retaining the spirit of what makes One Piece unique. The storyline is flexible, thanks to certain liberties used in retelling the story in a slightly redesigned and refreshing manner, which helps to streamline it. 

Some of the changes brought depth to the plot and helped build on the foundation built down by the source material throughout the years. For example, Garp and Zeff’s conversation with Zeff never occurred in the anime or manga adaptations of the series. However, their discussion concerning the next generation, on the other hand, reflects fundamental concepts from the series and adds depth to the plot.

9. Luffy is smarter in the live-action

One Piece live-action adaptation of the anime

The lovable protagonist of One Piece is known for his dumb personality, which often ends up creating hilarious situations in the anime and manga. However, Netflix’s One Piece has made a significant change by making Luffy way smarter than he is really his. For example, he realizes he can trap Buggy’s several body parts in different crates and uses this idea to defeat him.

In the anime, however, Nami ties up Buggy’s parts and helps Luffy defeat him. Additionally, he also figures out the connection between Nami and Nojiko, demonstrating emotional intelligence, which he seriously lacks in the manga.

10. Nami’s village truly hates her

An image of Nami wearing Luffy's straw hat in One Piece live-action like anime

One of the most heart-wrenching backstories in One Piece is about Nami sacrificing her entire childhood for her village. As an eight-year-old kid, she has to work under the same person who killed her foster mother in front of her. Arlong recognized Nami’s talents and blackmailed her to join his crew. 

The villagers were aware of all this but were helpless in front of the Arlong Pirates. This made their situation look even worse as they were forced to watch one of their own work relentlessly for their sake. 

They even act like they hate her, but in reality, they want nothing more than for her to be free from Arlong’s clutches. However, in the live-action, the villagers all believed Nami to be greedy. Nami even had to spell out her real motives in front of her sister, Nojiko.

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