Showrunner Matt Owens, a “One Piece” mega-fan, didn’t just get to meet his hero Oda: he worked alongside him. Owens described the experience to SFX as a nerve-wracking one.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous for anything in my entire life. Here was this person who has created this story I hold so much love and reverence for, and I’m asking him to trust me with his baby.”
Owens says that Oda was “tough in the beginning,” apparently having been frustrated by previous, failed attempts to adapt his work. Though he understood that changes to both story and style would be needed, Oda also drew lines in the sand: the main characters’ backstories and the Devil Fruit powers that gave Luffy his stretching ability were to be unchanged (“That was something we were asked not to mess with”).
According to Owens, the love for the series on set won Oda over: “I think once he realized we were coming from the right place — trying to protect this series and create a new avenue for even more people to fall in love with it — he started to trust us.” Emily Rudd, who plays the Straw Hats’ navigator, Nami, echoed that Oda was hands-on in his role as executive producer.
“He’s been involved from day one. He’s read all of the scripts, he approved all of the cast members. For the creator of such an important series to have a hand over our adaptation is massive for me as a fan. I think it matters a lot to the other existing fans as well.”
The series’ teaser and trailer have drawn some skepticism from “One Piece” fans. While Oda’s involvement seems deeper than mere PR, fans will have to wait and see if their favorite author delivered once more in this live-action take.
“One Piece” premieres August 31, 2023, on Netflix.