Netflix’s ‘One Piece’ Co-Showrunner Reaffirms Commitment To Respecting Source Material: “If You’re Adapting Something That You Legitimately Love, Fight For What It Needs To Be”
In providing even further evidence that the beloved franchise is in capable, if not outright good hands, Netflix’s One Piece co-showrunner Matt Owens has declared that even as the series approaches some of the more outrageous and fantastical parts of Eiichiro Oda’s seminal tale, source material accuracy remains one of his highest priorities.
Owens spoke to this important aspect of the Straw Hat pirates’ live-action victory while participating in a public ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on the /r/television subreddit, providing his first insight into his dedication to source material accuracy in response to /u/PeachLord.
Asked by the user, “In One Piece, we’ll often say goodbye to characters and not see them again for 100, 200, or more chapters. Do you plan to create original material to give characters like Coby, Buggy, Ace, or Garp stuff to do in the seasons they otherwise wouldn’t appear in?”, Owens affirmed that the series’ production crew was not looking to “necessarily make stuff up,” they were still open to boosting screen time for certain characters – but only if it was done in accordance with Oda’s own supplemental materials.
“There are lot of characters who people love and we won’t necessarily see them in the main story all the time,” he explained. “If there are cover stories [canon tales told by Oda in single panel entires across the cover pages of multiple chapters] or side stories that include these characters they are definitely up for consideration.”
Further pressed on the possibility of his potentially deviating from the original manga by /u/sppeashasha, who inquired, “With the production time on this show being so long and streamers generally canceling everything after three seasons, how long do you see the show going and would drastically cut material from the source material if Netflix came to you and said they’ll do one final season?”, Owens once again made it adamantaly clear, “You know how in the end of [the Koei Tecmo-developed video game] One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 they throw a bunch of Yonko stuff into Dressrosa and the final levels of the game? My intention is never to do that.”
“I don’t want to rush things or create a false ending of the show,” said the showrunner. “When we know we are coming to an end, I hope to appropriately finish the story where we are and hope that people will pick up the anime or the manga to continue the journey.”
Turning to discuss Owens’ personal production philosophy in a more general sense, /u/Zogonzo then asked the showrunner, “How important is it for the people involved with an adaptation to be fans of the original material? And, do you think being a fan makes some decisions harder?”
“Is it absolutely necessary? No,” he replied. “Is it incredibly helpful? Yes! Being a fan of something means you understand it on a deeper level. You love and study it. As a creator, my fandom helps me identify what is important for the story because I know it, but also what is important to fans because I am one.”
“I often asked myself ‘If I weren’t working on this show, how would this potential change make me feel as a fan?'” Owens added. “I wouldn’t say it made the job harder. It gave me a good position to fight for things that I believed in.”
Eventually, /u/uxsomeshitup would ask Owens, in light of his success in adapting One Piece, “What advice would you give to showrunners of future adaptations of beloved manga or comics?”, to which he would assert in reply, “My advice would be to fight for what you believe in. ”
“If you’re adapting something that you legitimately love, fight for what it needs to be,” the showrunner opined. “Stay as true as possible while also understanding that you’re not the only voice and you may not always win. But your fandom and knowledge are powerful weapons.”
To this end, Owens would also reassure viewers that though it was not covered in the first season – where it chronologically would have, should the live-action series strictly adhered to the manga’s original timeline – he and his team had every intention of tackling the Loguetown arc.
Met with /u/mokush7414’s question, “Are there plans to do loguetown or will it be skipped?”, the showrunner exclaimed,”Skipped? Never!”
“It wasn’t included in season 1 because our episode number got reduced,” he detailed. “And to try to cram it in would not have done service to it or the story it had to share space with. Loguetown is not ‘cut’ we just haven’t gotten there yet!”
Production on the second season of Netflix’s live-action One Piece is currently underway, with Owens having previously confirmed that its writers room is up and running following the conclusion of the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike.