From casting to the cutting room, One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda collaborated closely with the team behind Netflix’s live-action series adaptation of his beloved tale every step of the way.
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io9 recently chatted with series editor Eric Litman (Agents of SHIELD) about how the show crafted its take on the motley crew of young misfit pirates. Guided by Oda, Litman worked on shaping the structure of the series in its first-act character arcs. We meet Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy) as he’s beginning his quest to be Pirate King, and the core members of his Straw Hat Pirates crew as they explore the Grand Line in search of the mythical treasure known as the “One Piece.”
“I was given episodes three and four, directed by Emma Sullivan, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that,” Litman said. He had been potentially planning on joining the series since 2019, when his Agents of SHIELD colleague and One Piece co-showrunner Matt Owens reached out to him—so Litman had a good time frame to prepare. “When I was taking the meetings, we were still kind of deep in in the pandemic. I was able to go and watch some of the anime on Netflix and I loved it. I thought it was great… but I really tried to read a lot of the manga, which is what the show is really based on.”
Litman went on to become one of three editors to work on the series’ pilot episode, marking the start of his experience taking notes directly from Oda. “We received notes from Oda once the episodes were done and he was very happy with everything. He gave us really great constructive [and] really interesting notes,” Litman said.
One task Litman and his team faced was finding ways to incorporate details from each character’s backstory—no small feat, since the One Piece anime has hundreds of episodes full of lore. “We had a lot of scenes in there that were great scenes. And they were they were scripted and shot and cut in a linear fashion,” Litman shared about the episodes that introduce Usopp and give us more backstory on Zoro. “So just one scene after another, and the performances were terrific. They just took a lot of time to get through that stuff—in particular Kaya and Usopp’s episode three, when Kaya is talking to Nami about her love for Usopp, and same thing for Usopp talking to Luffy and Zora, where he’s hiding his love for Kaya. But we both know that they love each other.”
He continued. “It was just a great sequence of scenes, but they just took a long time to get through. And we got a note [from Oda] that said, ‘Hey, is there a way to intercut? Is that possible to do?’ And to Matt and [co-showrunner Steven Maeda]’s credit, they were very gracious in allowing the editors to hear the broad stroke notes.” Litman was then given time to figure out how to intercut the scenes. “We were able to we change a line here, change a line there to make it into a question-answer sequence. We were able to intercut those sequences and then we would figure it out, the structure to do all that. And we presented it to the producer, to the showrunners, and they just loved it and they were really happy.”
One Piece season one is now streaming on Netflix.
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