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One Piece: Netflix's Live-Action Series | Romance Dawn (Episode 1) | Summary, Recap & Review

Netflix finally released its live action adaptation of the manga and anime franchise One Piece. Lets look into the intro of the One Piece live-action series!


Jose D. Pernalete

September 07, 2023



The show is solid and mirrors the original anime / manga series very well

One Piece Netflix Live Action Show Logo One Piece Netflix Live Action Show Logo

Introducing The World of One Piece

One Piece has been running for over 20 years with thousands of manga chapters and anime episodes. With this series being world renowned, at some point, news broke that Netflix would release their attempt at a live action series of the legendary manga and anime franchise.

Finally, after years of waiting, Netflix has released its live-action adaptation. In classic Netflix fashion, they went ahead and released the entirety of the first season at the same time.

Fans have been anxious to see how this live-action take on the source material would turn out. Amazingly enough, Eiichiro Oda was directly involved in the series creation. Some skeptics worried how the world of pirates and devil fruits would translate to live-action, but the first episode proves that the show can capture the spirit of adventure and camaraderie that makes One Piece so special.

We'll break down how this live-action introduces the story of One Piece and our beloved future king of the pirates, Luffy, in the search for the greatest treasure of them all, the One Piece! We will also see how the production quality, casting, tone, pacing, and faithfulness to the source material are in the new series.

This inaugural episode tackles the beginning of the epic East Blue Saga, following the young Monkey D. Luffy as he sets out on his quest to become King of the Pirates...

Romance Dawn (Episode 1) Summary & Recap

Setting Sail into a Live-Action One Piece Adventure

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Gol D Roger Laughs At His Execution

Our story begin twenty-two years ago in Loguetown, where Vice Admiral Garp oversaw the legendary Pirate King Gol D. Roger's execution. However, what was supposed to be a turning point in favor of the Marines and the World Government, took an unexpected turn when The King of Pirates' final words ignited the beginning of the "Great Pirate Era"

Pirates from all over the world set sail to the seas to try and find the biggest treasure of them all, the One Piece!

This takes us to the present day, where Monkey D. Luffy tells a News Coo about his plan to form a crew and become the King of the Pirates after finding the One Piece. However, the bird leaves and his boat sinks, forcing him to seek refuge in a barrel to stay afloat at sea.

Luffy's Encounter with Alvida & Koby: A Brutal Introduction

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Alvida Attacks Luffy

Luffy's barrel floats into the midst of a pirate attack where the notorious Lady Alvida and her crew capture a passenger ship. After rounding up prisoners, Alvida interrogates the crew to get information about the bounty hunter Roronoa Zoro, as she believes he is hunting her.

The passengers reveal that they left Zoro on Sixis Island, and that Alvida wasn't even on his target list. Furious at this insult, Alvida brutally clubs a crew member to death with a spiked mace. She then orders her meek cabin boy Koby to clean up the literal bloody mess.

That night, as Koby is cleaning below deck on Alvida's ship, he hears a strange noise coming from the barrels. He cautiously approaches as a Luffy bursts out, causing Koby to yelp in fright. The exuberant boy introduces himself as Monkey D. Luffy. He rummages for food as Koby explains they're aboard the dreaded Alvida's pirate ship. But Luffy cheerfully reveals he's a pirate too, though nothing like Alvida's savage crew.

He explains to Koby why being a pirate offers unparalleled freedom, sharing his childhood admiration for the Red-Haired Pirates, especially their captain, Shanks. We then are shown a flashback where Luffy had stabbed himself under his own eye, trying to prove his toughness to join the Red-Haired Pirates crew. 

One Piece Live Action Episode 1 Romance Dawn Shanks Talks With Luffy

That night, Koby urges Luffy that they should escape before it is too late. Unfortunately, their attempt at a stealthy exit ended in failure when Luffy rang the alarm bell. An enraged Alvida confronted them, accusing Luffy of being a bounty hunter hired by Koby, and then wildly attacked with her giant spiked mace.

Luffy reveals that he had eaten the Gum-Gum Fruit which turned his body into rubber and now could stretch his body just like rubber! He bounced bullets and dodged blows by contorting his elastic limbs. In her rage, Alvida moved to kill Koby. Luffy intervened - stretching his arm back then snapping it forward, punching Alvida off the ship with his "Gum Gum Pistol!"

Luffy commands the crew to get him a boat with enough rations and provisions for both him and Koby, as he has decided that Koby will be his new companion on this adventure.

Baroque Works' Invitation to Zoro

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Zoro Meets Mr 7

On the small island of Sixis, the famed pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro is seen kneeling at a shrine, paying respects to a fallen friend. He is then approached by a man named Mr. 7, who had been secretly following Zoro for several days across the island.

Mr. 7 reveals that he was a member of the mysterious assassin group, Baroque Works. He had been sent to extend an invitation for Zoro to join their ranks. But Zoro bluntly dismisses the offer, unimpressed that Baroque Works had only sent their Number 7 agent to recruit someone of his caliber.

Feeling insulted, the prideful Mr. 7 attacks Zoro with his two-sword technique. But, Zoro is not one to be easily beaten; he calmly emerges victorious, overmatching the seventh strongest soldier of the criminal organization, Baroque Works.

Luffy and the Gum-Gum Fruit

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn The Gum-Gum Devil Fruit

Back out at sea, Monkey D. Luffy and Koby are seen drifting in a small, rickety rowboat. Curious Koby asks Luffy how he could unnaturally stretch and contort his body like rubber. Luffy explains that when he was just 7 years old, while hanging around the Red-Haired Pirates, he had devoured the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit by mistake. This imbued his body with elastic properties.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Luffy Eats The Gum-Gum Devil Fruit

Luffy soon reveals he had no navigational skills or map to guide their journey. An anxious Koby reluctantly shares his fervent dream of becoming a noble Marine. Even though the young cabin boy’s dream is the opposite of his, Luffy supports Koby without a doubt. Luffy decides that they should head to the nearest Marine base, so he could get a map of the Grand Line while Koby enlisted with the Marines.

Meanwhile, farther out at sea, a sly young woman named Nami was marooned on a small boat with a single treasure chest. When a pair of brutish pirates approaches her, she pretends to be a damsel in distress. She asks the pirates to break open her chest, claiming she had been robbed. But once they smashed it open, they found it completely empty. Furious at being tricked, they turn around, but see Nami sailing off on their ship, cackling with glee with all the new loot now in her possession.

The Marines of Shells Town

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Helmeppo Confronts Zoro At The Bar

Arriving at the Marine-run Shells Town, Luffy and Koby enter a bar where Zoro and Nami just so happened to be. Young Rika, the bartender's daughter, tries to give Zoro some homemade rice balls with chocolate but clumsily bumps into Helmeppo, the son of tyrannical Marine Captain Axe-Hand Morgan.

Fuming Helmeppo smashes Rika's rice balls and stomped one into the ground for bumping into him. But defiant Zoro grabs and ate the dirty one on the ground and tells Helmeppo to eat the other one and to apologize. Enraged, Helmeppo draws his sword against Zoro, sparking a brawl as surrounding Marines attack him. However, master swordsman Zoro easily disarms Helmeppo and defeats the Marines using only his swords' hilts.

Making use of all the chaos, Nami manages to knock out a Marine and steals his uniform. Zoro corners the cowardly Helmeppo, who whimpers that his father would grant anything Zoro desired. Zoro decides to demand money from the greedy Morgan. After all, he earned the money by bringing the criminals in.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Axe-Hand Morgan Negotiates With Zoro

At the base, Zoro rejects Morgan's offer to join the Marines. When Zoro asked about claiming a bounty, Morgan said attacking Marines meant 7 days in prison. Zoro reluctantly agrees to be jailed, even though his prison sentence would be spent tied up at the base courtyard.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Zoro Is Tied Up In The Yard

We then learn that Luffy plans to sneak into the Marine base via a sewer pipe to steal a map.

The next day, Helmeppo taunts the imprisoned Zoro with his own sword. Zoro promises him that he will get revenge when his is freed, but Helmeppo reveals that Morgan had no plans to free him.

We are then shown the sly Nami, disguised as a Marine and infiltrating the Marine base. Luffy meets Zoro in the prison yard and invites him to join his crew, but Zoro, the lone wolf, refuses. Still, Luffy respected Zoro's dream of becoming the world's greatest swordsman and frees him anyway before disappearing back into the sewers.

Nami sneaks into the base library, only to be confronted by a skeptical Marine. She falsely claims that Captain Morgan had sent her to find a map to the Grand Line. The Marine reveal that no maps were kept there, only locked securely in Morgan's private office. However, the crafty Nami, diverts suspicion by instructing the Marine to verify her story directly with Morgan.

Suddenly the real Marine whose uniform she had stolen bursts in, immediately recognizing and exposing her as a fraud. Nami swiftly knocks him and another Marine unconscious with her staff. She is then interrupted again when Luffy abruptly falls from the ceiling. Nami pretends to arrest Luffy, but he reveals that he knew she was an impostor. However, Luffy proposed they work together to find the map.

Meanwhile, in his room, a naked Helmeppo is seen playing with Zoro's swords. Zoro breaks in and Helmeppo asks if he would kill him. Zoro tells him that he had something worse planned.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Helmeppo Poses With Zoro Sword

Down a corridor, Nami and Luffy run straight into Captain Morgan himself. Nami claims she was escorting her "prisoner" Luffy to the brig, barely concocting a bogus story to explain herself. During the encounter, she pickpockets Morgan's office keys so they can get access to the maps.

The Battle With "Axe-Hand" Morgan

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Luffy And Nami Steal From Morgan Office

Once in Morgan's office, they split to search around for the safe where the maps are supposed to be held. Luffy accidentally triggers a hidden switch, revealing a secret floor safe. Suddenly, Morgan bursts in; he had been alerted by the Marines which Nami had clobbered. He smashes through the locked door with his axe hand, but quick-thinking Luffy rips the entire safe off the floor. The immense force launches both Luffy and Nami straight out the window, safe in tow

Morgan and his Marines race to confront Luffy, Zoro, and Nami. Morgan proves to be much tougher than his troops with his axe hand and strength. However, Zoro gains the upper hand using his Three Sword Style to pin down Morgan's axe hand. This allows Luffy to hit Morgan in the face with a stretched kick of his Gum-Gum Whip, ultimately defeating him.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Nami Luffy And Zoro Fight Together

Zoro brings the safe to Luffy's boat, where Luffy decides to refer to themselves as a crew. Zoro and Nami, however, reject this label. Luffy sets off to find Koby, and Helmeppo shows up with intentions to arrest them. To Luffy's delight, Koby knocks out Helmeppo. However, Koby reveals he wouldn't join Luffy, but rather stay to become a Marine. Luffy approves Koby's decision and they part ways as friends, though potentially future enemies.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Luffy And Koby Say Gooodbye

At sea, Marine Vice Admiral Garp learns that a specific Straw Hat wearing pirate stole a map of the Grand Line from Shells Town. He and Bogard prepare to head there to intercept him.

In a different bar, a man named Cabaji informs a clown named Buggy about the Straw Hats trio obtaining the map and their successful escape. Buggy devises a plan to seize the map for himself.

Romance Dawn (Episode 1) Review

Netflix and Anime Live-Action Series

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Vice Admiral Garp

Before we dive into this section, it's important to note that One Piece is not just a major anime and manga series today; it has held this status for over two decades. With over 1,000 episodes and chapters, adapting such a colossal series is an enormous challenge. The fact that Netflix is taking on the responsibility of bringing it to life has caused concern among fans, especially considering their track record with live-action adaptations like Cowboy Bebop and Death Note.

From early on in the first episode, aptly titled "Romance Dawn" (just like the first arc of the original series), viewers get introduced to the immense world of One Piece and how the legend of One Piece begins. This live-action series does a solid job at portraying all of this.

The production value is impressive, bringing the pirate world to life through vibrant set pieces and seamless visual effects. Energetic newcomer Iñaki Godoy is perfectly cast as Monkey D. Luffy, nailing the character's signature exuberance and tenacity. Mackenyu is well-versed in these live-action adaptations of anime and manga, having portrayed roles in several of them before.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Monkey D Luffy

Mackenyu adeptly mirrors Zoro's mannerisms with precision. Meanwhile, Emily Rudd, an anime enthusiast playing Nami, succeeds in infusing that spark that the cunning thief/navigator brings to the crew, even if her performance may appear somewhat reserved.

The plot efficiently hits the key story of Luffy meeting Koby, battling Iron Mace Alvida, defeating "Axe-Hand" Morgan, and recruiting the mighty swordsman Roronoa Zoro. The tone of the show balances humor and thrilling action, just like the original.

It's important to note that their characters may not necessarily be exact replicas of their original drawn counterparts by Eiichiro Oda. Instead, they aim to capture the essence of their characters and portray them in a more relatable manner.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Nami Steals A Ship

This choice is actually brilliant, as it addresses one of the pitfalls often encountered in live-action adaptations. This is particularly evident when you look at adaptations like Netflix's Cowboy Bebop. While it's impossible to completely eliminate the cartoonish elements of One Piece, as they are integral to the soul of the show, striking the right balance is crucial. This adaptation appears to be heading in the right direction to break the curse of bad live-action adaptations.

Comparing Differences Between the One Piece Netflix Live Action Adaptation and the Original Manga and Anime

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Luffy Begins His Journey Vs Manga

Going by the title, we know that this first episode is supposed to cover the first arc of the series. And while technically it does cover that, we can already see from this first episode that this adaptation is not trying to directly recreate the manga or the anime, at least not in a one-to-one way.

There are indeed notable departures from the source material in this adaptation, including the introduction of characters like Vice Admiral Garp and the reimagining of Gol D. Roger's execution, which deviates from the original storyline. For fans of the source material, these changes might strike an unfamiliar note, considering how these events unfolded in the manga and anime.

One Piece Live Action Episode 1 Romance Dawn Vice Admiral Garp Prepares Gol D. Roger Execution

However, it's important to acknowledge that even though this series was overseen by Eiichiro Oda himself, it is, at its core, a Netflix production. This means it has the potential to reach a new audience who may have never encountered the world of One Piece in any form. For this new audience, the series can provide an effective introduction to the rich and captivating universe created by Oda. It offers an opportunity for this masterpiece to gain a fresh audience - strange for such a long running show.

The significant production value of the show stands out as a contributing factor to its ability to faithfully cover the source material. Even in this initial episode, set in a relatively straightforward location, the creators spared no expense in crafting the sets and props, not to mention the visual effects.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Nami Dressed As A Marine

The decision to include Nami in a prominent role in this first story arc is intriguing, especially given how secondary of a  role she plays in the source material in Romance Dawn. However, it is an understandable decision since they clearly needed to introduce a bit more of the crew from episode one to hook the newcomer audience.

A Promising Start

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Vice Admiral Garp Ship

Overall, the first episode is a promising start that captures the spirit of adventure and friendship that has made One Piece a beloved institution across manga and anime for over 20 years and the best-selling manga of all time.

I have to note that the Romance Dawn arc in the anime also suffers a bit from pacing issues, and with all things considered, this live-action could possibly have done a better job at introducing the audience and hooking them in from the first episode than the anime did. Adapting the cartoony work of Oda while working the comedy and action together is not an easy task, and this effort by Netflix and Tomorrow Studios is to be admired.

While certain directing and editing choices could be tighter, the episode nails the most important aspects by making the audience care about Luffy and his quest. The adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates are just beginning, and this episode did a good job in hooking the audience's attention. Showrunners did a great job at working together with Oda as well as picking an incredible cast to bring this beloved story to life.

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Shanks

The pieces are in place for Netflix to adapt the sprawling story successfully. If some minor pacing and editing problems can be smoothed out going forward, this first episode suggests the live-action version could do justice to the epic spirit of adventure and camaraderie that has captivated One Piece fans across generations.

Overall Score: 8/10

One Piece Live Action Romance Dawn Buggy The Clown

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