news culture “Sanji closer to the flirty than the heavy guy”: The Live Action One Piece series on Netflix takes liberties with the manga
One Piece’s Live Action series, produced by Netflix, is finally giving some concrete news since its announcement in 2020. Matt Owens, showrunner behind the program, answered a lot of questions in order to share his vision of the work of Eiichiro Oda and largely explained what he was trying to do with the initial material to stick more to a Live television format. Obviously, there are some changes to be expected.
Small changes to expect
The Youtuber Nux Taku had the opportunity to chat at length with Matt Owens, showrunner of the upcoming Live Action One Piece series. If the author was able to bring some points of clarification on the content of this new series and wanted to reassure the fans on several points, he was also forced to admit that changes were to be expected compared to the initial material, in particular concerning the character of Sanji. The pronounced appeal of the chef of the Straw Hat Crew to women does not necessarily appeal to Netflix as it stands. Thus, Matt Owens had to modify the character slightly in order to make it less “heavy”.
Our Sanji is very flirty. He loves women. He is very flirty (…) But for example, his eyes do not turn into a loving heart, it is not something that we are going to do. He’s not as “heavy” (“simp” in English), he’s closer to flirty than heavy guy, that’s how I would call him. -Matt Owens
During the exchange, Nux Taku responds by saying that he understands that Netflix doesn’t necessarily want to keep “the sexually harassing side of Sanji”. Matt Owens confirms, explaining that he had to “tweak” this aspect of the character a little.
Adapt the work rather than exploit the universe
Matt Owens went further on the question of adaptation by returning to an essential point. Even if it means taking liberties, why not develop an entirely original story in the One Piece universe and tell a story prior to the adventures of Luffy and his friends? For the showrunner, it’s a question of target audience.
Do you really think people want that? Whatever happens, there will inevitably be disappointments. By doing that, people will think that we’re just putting another story into the One Piece universe. A kind of copy-paste of the universe on a scenario. So yes, it would be fucking awesome to see the adventures of Gol D. Roger, as we follow them in the Wano arc. But we would have no chance of reaching a new audience, of introducing the work to a new public because it would be too hard to understand.
We therefore understand that one of the main objectives of this new series is to reach a new audience, which has not yet really discovered One Piece, Luffy and the Mugiwara. Telling another story, with the One Piece universe as a framework, would leave too many spectators on the sidelines according to the showrunner.