Photo of the Straw Hat Pirates’ ship has some fans wanting to burn it ASAP.
One Piece definitely doesn’t seem like the easiest anime/manga to adapt into live-action. It’s an epic seafaring story filled with fantastical locations, giant-sized villains, and zany superpowers, all rendered in an intentionally strange-looking art style.
And yet, Netflix is going to try it anyway, with its live-action One Piece series scheduled to premiere sometime later this year. The streaming giant has doled out precious few previews of what the series is going to look like, with only two in-costume pictures of the cast so far, both with them facing away from the camera and silhouetted by the sun.
So it’s a big development that Netflix has finally released one smile-for-the-camera photo for the live-action…but it’s not a smile a lot of fans in Japan sound very happy to see.
That’s the live-action One Piece’s Going Merry, proud ship of protagonist Luffy and his crew of Straw Hat Pirates. Except, as preexisting fans of the franchise have been pointing out, the sheep figurehead, carved into the ship’s bow, looks a lot cuter in the anime, and a lot more unsettling in the Netflix version.
The Japanese-language official One Piece Twitter account’s tweet doesn’t allow for comments, but the same photo of the Netflix Going Merry, when tweeted by Famitsu (Japan’s most prominent video gaming magazine), prompted comments such as:
“That’s kinda scary, isn’t it?”
“It’s way too scary.”
“Kill me…please…with fire…”
“Definitely gotta burn that.”
“That aint the Going Merry. It’s the Going Baphomet.”
“Do they think One Piece is a horror series or something?”
“I think the designers got the project mixed up with a live-action Berserk.”
“Those dead eyes…”
“It looks like a sheep that was suddenly petrified.”
“There was absolutely no need to screw with the Going Merry’s design like this.”
“All Netflix ever does is screw things up.”
“No desire to stay loyal to the source material, huh?”
“’It’s the live-action Wa Piece!’”
“This looks like it’s going to be on the same high level as the live-action Dragon Ball.”
It’s really pretty startling how just a few changes can have such a big impact on the impression the design gives off. In the anime/manga, the Going Merry’s figurehead has black pupils, a closed mouth, and no external ears. The Netflix version, though, has solid gray circles for its eyes, and the angles of its stuck-out-to-the-sides ears and open maw with an inky blackness inside make it look like it’s lunging at you to swallow you whole, or at least suck out your soul.
お台場にあったやつの方が絶対いいよ… pic.twitter.com/Nf6kYd6Li7— るかるがる．EXEverE7 (@razor0909) May 29, 2023
Perhaps making the changes even more startling for some Japanese fans is the fact that there used to be a real-world Going Merry that ferried passengers around Tokyo Bay. Pictured above, its figurehead was pretty much an exact match to the anime/manga version.
Of course, with Netflix still not having released any trailer for its One Piece, we’re all still unsure of what tone it’s going to have, and its possible the Tokyo Bay ferry’s design would have looked too cutesy for what Netflix is aiming for. It could also be that directly from the front is just the live-action Going Merry’s bad angle, as an image with a more offset perspective that Netflix released back in February didn’t provoke nearly as negative a reaction.
▼ Though that might have been because the glare of the sun here makes the ear sort of blend in with the horn and partially obscures the flat gray eye.
Come on board and bring along all your hopes and dreams - ONE PIECE sets sail in 2023. pic.twitter.com/0Kg8Ti1wfR— ONE PIECE(ワンピース) Netflix (@onepiecenetflix) February 7, 2023
Luckily for Netflix, at the end of the day how the Going Merry looks probably isn’t going to be what sways people’s watch/don’t watch decision for the live-action One Piece. Making what appear to be changes just for the sake of making changes, though, isn’t exactly going to give the series smooth sailing with existing fans, though.