Netflix’s One Piece Executive Producer Marty Adelstein has revealed that the most important lesson he and his studio learned from producing the streaming giant’s live-action Cowboy Bebop abomination was – as audiences have been telling Hollywood for the past decade – that all fans want of any adaptation is source material accuracy.
Adelstein, who served as an EP on both anime adaptations and whose Tomorrow Studios produced them, opened up about his current mindset during a recent One Piece-centric interview given to Variety’s Jennifer Maas.
Reflecting on the total and absolute failure that was Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop, Adelstein admitted, “What we learned is the fans are expecting you to be true to the source material.”
“As we read the comments [in response to Cowboy Bebop], it was always, ‘Well, they didn’t do this character the same as this and that’,” he explained. “It really taught us a lot of what we needed to do with this one.”
Thankfully, Adelstein was apparently not the only Tomorrow Studios team member to learn this lesson.
According to studio President Becky Clements, after facing the cold hard truth that their hubris in attempting to ‘Westeren’ Cowboy Bebop was responsible for the series’ abysmal reception, “It became everyone’s goal to make sure that when you looked at [One Piece], you thought this was a live-action version of the manga that just felt like another feather in the legacy of Oda.”
“That people just get to see it in another genre, but still have the same reaction and feeling towards the narrative.”
And according to the One Piece set photos and trailers released thus far, it seems that Tomorrow Studios truly put their money where their mouth is when it came to the Straw Hat Pirates.
While some elements of the series admittedly give off ‘cosplayers-recreating-their-favorite-scenes-for-YouTube’ vibe – let’s be honest, Arlong looks exceptionally wonky – the fact that a number of scenes seen thus far can be matched 1:1 with the original manga inspires far more hope in the series’ faithfulness than possibly anything else could.
Of course, a large factor in One Piece’s source material accuracy is the fact that – unlike with Cowboy Bebop – Tomorrow Studios worked closely with the series’ original creator, Eiichiro Oda, who was adamant that he have final say in any and all production decisions.
“Considering my expected life span, I believe this is my last chance to bring One Piece to the entire world,” explained Oda in a written reflection on his time working on the live-action series. “If we’re going to do it, I want to be able to supervise things while I’m still active. That’s why I agreed to the live-action adaptation of One Piece back in 2016.”
“Since then, Netflix has committed enormous resources to the production,” he further detailed. “It was announced that the show will launch in 2023, but they’ve promised that we won’t launch it until I’m satisfied.”
To that end, in a separate message penned in celebration of Netflix’s One Piece releasing its first official trailer, the mangaka assured fans that “there were no compromises on this show.”
“After the launch, I’m sure I’ll hear about some people pointing out how this character is missing or that scene is omitted, or this bit is different from the manga,” he then admitted. “But I’m sure they’ll come from a place of love, so I intend to enjoy even those comments! The story will span 8 episodes and take us up through You-know-where!!”
Further reassuring fans of Netflix’s respect for the source material, Oda then revealed, “Even after the shoot was over, there were numerous scenes the production agreed to re-shoot because I felt they weren’t good enough to put out into the world.”
Netflix’s live-action take on One Piece officially pushes off on August 31st.