Eiichiro Oda’s hit animanga series One Piece has begun work on a live-action adaptation, and we now know who our Straw Hats will be.
By his own admission, Oda is working very closely with the Netflix team behind the live-action adaptation to ensure One Piece is presented well. The now-known casting choices are a great first step which learns from the mistakes of other adaptations.
One Piece's Netflix live-action series: Straw Hat cast members announced
Luffy will be played by Iñaki Godoy, a Mexican actor best known for his work in the TV series Who Killed Sarah? where he plays the character Bruno. Godoy is a great choice for Luffy being a Hispanic actor, as Oda has said before Luffy’s nationality would be Colombian. While Godoy is Mexican and not Colombian, getting a Hispanic actor instead of whitewashing the cast is a great choice.
Zoro will be played by Mackenyu Arata, a Japanese actor born in Los Angeles. Mackenyu is most famously known for his role as Enishi Yukishiro in the Ruruoni Kenshin: The Final series. Again, the casting choices pay homage to the Straw Hats' actual nationalities (Oda has said Zoro would be Japanese).
Nami will be played by Emily Rudd, in the upcoming Netflix adaptation of One Piece. Nami’s nationality is said to be Swedish by Oda, making the paler-skinned Rudd a great choice for our cat-thief. Based on initial reactions, fans also seem to be supportive of this casting choice.
Everyone’s favorite liar, Usopp, will be played by Jacob Romero Gibson. Gibson is of African descent, best known for his character work in Grey’s Anatomy and other TV dramas and sitcoms. Thankfully a trend, we yet again have respect being paid to the characters' nationalities as Oda views them, with Usopp being South African.
Finally, our pervy chef will be played by none other than Taz Skylar. Best known for his writing and production roles on The Reserves during 2018, Skylar is of Arabic and British origin. With Sanji’s nationality being French per Oda, Skylar is a good (not great) choice for Sanji.
Unfortunately, Skylar's acting career is somewhat limited (more so than his fellow Straw Hats), so we’ll have to see how he does with the role.
As previously stated, Eiichiro Oda himself is taking a hands-on approach to the live-action series. This has been taken to the point where nearly everything we know about the series has come in a direct announcement from Oda.
While One Piece and animanga fans may understandably have their reservations, Oda’s involvement should be more than enough to quell any fears. Being extremely protective of his IP, it took Oda nearly 25 years to greenlight a non-anime adaptation of One Piece.
This fact, combined with Oda’s involvement, should leave One Piece fans everywhere with an open mind regarding Netflix’s adaptation.
Inferences based on casting announcements
The most recent cast announcement identified who will play Luffy, Zoro, Nami, Usopp, and Sanji. Based on this, Season 1 will likely cover through Arlong Park as a way of fully wrapping up Nami’s story. While it’s possible we can see a live-action Loguetown arc in Season 1, there’s no way of telling based on the casting as it is now.
Some major characters still in need of casting choices are Buggy the Clown, Don Krieg, Arlong, Captain Kuro, Axe-Hand Morgan, Colby, and Dracule Mihawk. Of these, Mihawk, Buggy, and Colby are probably the most impactful casting choices as these will be long-term members of the series appearing many more times.
While it would be great to see the Straw Hats make their promises to go up Reverse Mountain in live-action, it seems unlikely as of right now. It would also make more sense for the series to instead put its all into the Arlong Park arc as the Season 1 finale. After all, Arlong Park is the arc that many fans say made them fall in love with One Piece.