Netflix’s One Piece put an emphasis on improving the supporting characters, and it worked

Not every character shined in Netflix’s live-action adaptation of One Piece, but these five undoubtedly shined brighter than in the original anime.

While each format of the One Piece series should certainly be considered separately, it’s no surprise that fans are comparing the character portrayals in Netflix’s live-action adaptation to those in the classic anime – but which five characters seemed to shine brighter than in the anime?

Jacob Romero Gibson as Usopp, Mackenyu Arata as Roronoa Zoro, Emily Rudd as Nami, Iñaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy and Taz Skylar as Sanji joining their feet together in One Piece
© Netflix | Casey Cfford

Koby and Helmeppo: A Turbulent Beginning of Sea Life

Undoubtedly, one of the best things that Netflix’s live-action adaptation of One Piece improved over the original anime was Koby and Helmeppo’s feuding friendship and their reflected experience of joining the Marines.

While both characters have carved out their own place in the world over the 1000+ episodes and become fan favorites in their own right, both Koby and Helmeppo were incredibly annoying at the start of Toei’s One Piece anime.

In fact, her early path to becoming a naval cadet was a side story that one desperately wanted to get away from as quickly as possible; probably because it’s lagged behind the main plot in East Blue so far.

That being said, Netflix’s live-action adaptation of One Piece not only made its early character development entertaining, but Koby and Helmeppo arguably had a more interesting storyline and presence at points than some of the Straw Hats themselves.

Morgan Davies (Koby) and Aidan Scott (Helmeppo) absolutely nailed it in their respective performances, bringing both humor and a relatability that many of the other characters clearly lacked due to the translation from the anime to the live-action film.

By the end of the first season, it’s clear that the two have gone from potential rivals to respected friends, building a relationship that goes beyond just following orders and stealing the show when the two are on screen together .

Koby and Helmeppo have gone from Might Skip to Must-Watch: And that’s a feat not many live-action manga adaptations can achieve.

Armand Aucamp as Bogard, Morgan Davies as Koby
One Piece/Shueisha/Tomorrow Studios/Casey Cfford/Netflix Media Center

Mihawk: Boastful and oh-so-seductive style

Of all the iconic One Piece characters introduced in Season 1 of Netflix’s live-action adventure, perhaps none were more celebrated than Steven Ward’s Dracule Mihawk.

From his D-Day-esque debut on the beach to his reunion with Shanks, Ward’s Mihawk stole the show every time he was on screen with a sultry performance that was widely praised not only by fans, but by the showrunners themselves was celebrated.

Talking about Reverie XI Podcast Back in January 2023, months before audiences got to see Mihawk, showrunner Matt Owens said, “I have to say my favorite character in live-action is Mihawk. I will say that.”

Post a clip of Ward’s performance and reply to the OP_Netflix_Fan Account included every kind of celebration: “The most legendary character of all time,” “This man was taken straight from the manga,” “Steven Ward was born to play Mihawk,” and finally “I’m starting to believe that Steven is the One Piece.” is.” for our fandom… Because he is a national treasure.”

It helps that Ward himself has made a habit of replying to almost every single tagged post since One Piece’s debut, sharing humorous clips and offering heartfelt thanks to his fan base, which has grown exponentially over the last nine days .

If Ward’s appearance as Mihawk wasn’t enough to make him a fan favorite, his post-release interactions certainly were.

Steven Ward as Mihawk
One Piece/Shueisha/Tomorrow Studios/Casey Cfford/Netflix Media Center

Buggy…just buggy

Much like Steven Ward’s Mihawk, Jeff Ward’s performance as Buggy the Clown was outstanding, bringing the character to the live-action series in a near-perfect translation.

However, the term “translation” here is probably an understatement; Ward’s appearance as Buggy (or as Luffy who forgets Binky, Boogie, or Burpy) almost feels like a completely new version compared to that of the anime series.

Watching One Piece at a young age and revisiting the series as a teenager, I always thought that Buggy was a rather irritating character who may have served a purpose at the beginning of East Blue, but whose importance quickly diminished , as larger villains entered the scene.

Yes, Netflix’s One Piece is only a snippet of Buggy’s personal arc so far, but I’m already looking forward to seeing Jeff Ward return as the infamous clown. The live-action adaptation also may not have had as many genuinely funny moments as the anime (which is hard to achieve when compressing so many episodes), but almost all of the best one-liners, quips, and self-deprecating quips were delivered by Ward .

It’s one thing to embody the spirit of a character, it’s another to make it your own in a way that steals the spotlight from the circus: And that’s exactly what Jeff Ward did with Buggy.

Jeff Ward as Buggy in the circus tank talks to Inaki Godoy's Luffy
One Piece/Shueisha/Tomorrow Studios/Netflix Media Center

Shanks: Vulnerability in a Pirate Lord

What could be considered the most controversial inclusion on this list of character improvements, the relationship between Shanks and Luffy was one of the most important early developments we see in our protagonist; both in the original anime and the Netflix adventure.

This is thanks in large part to the symbolism of the Straw Hat, which Luffy is obsessed with; Depicts Shanks himself as the headgear is damaged (losing an arm), repaired (sewn to Luffy’s face), worn out (hung over), and kept safe (saved) – all under the guise of keeping promises to those you care about .

While the anime arguably does a better job of showing how Luffy came to eat the devil fruit, Peter Gadiot as Shanks in Netflix’s live-action series is truly great, bringing out a side of the character that many longtime fans might not have expected , vulnerability.

Here, Shanks is not only one of the strongest pirates in the One Piece world, he’s also a respected captain who sees deeper meaning in the smallest actions, and his turn of phrase (coupled with Gadiot’s excellent performance) leads to some surprisingly poignant moments.

As Zoro rightly notes, in this situation one could have been talking about both the character and the actor: “That Shanks guy sounds okay.”

Peter Gadiot as Shanks wearing a hat, leaning on the barrel of a ship, in One Piece
© 2023

One Piece Season 1 is now available to stream on Netflix.

The post Netflix’s ‘One Piece’ Placed Emphasis on Boosting Supporting Characters, and It Worked appeared first on HITC.

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Emma Bowman by emailing

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