While May 4 has become closely associated with Star Wars thanks to the “May the Fourth/Force” pun, manga and anime fans regard it in a different way: as the eve of Luffy’s birthday. The One Piece character was canonically born on May 5, and this year, to commemorate the occasion, creator Eiichiro Oda issued a much welcome update on the upcoming Netflix live-action anime adaptation. The note is, true to the spirit of the mangaka, quirky and blunt.
“I’ve been working with Tomorrow Studios and Netflix for quite some time now,” Oda writes in his new message to fans. “Even though they understand each of the characters, we obviously come from very different cultures so, when it comes to entertainment, we have different codes, skill sets, and aims. Sometimes it could be frustrating for both sides. It felt like, ‘We’re all trying to get to the same place so how come we’re not on the same wavelength?’ There was even a time when I thought, ‘Is a foreign production even possible?!’”
Oda’s sentiment is likely shared by fans of the One Piece manga, which has been running since 1997, and anime, which recently eclipsed over 1,000 episodes. While Netflix has gobbled up anime properties with every kind of adaptation in mind, few have really hit as hard as the source material. A 2017 Death Note movie is barely remembered in the collective conscious and many wish they could forget 2021’s live-action Cowboy Bebop series. So there’s reason to be skeptical of if the One Piece show will clear the bar with fans — especially if you are Eiichiro Oda. But he assures fans it’s going smoothly, and that he’s completely invested in getting it right, in whatever time he has left on this planet.
Ever since the beginning of our partnership with Eiichiro Oda, we have been working closely to bring the ONE PIECE live action to you — we welcome everyone to this adventurous world! pic.twitter.com/Woki8YZ27H— Netflix (@netflix) May 4, 2023
“Considering my expected life span, I believe this is the last chance to bring One Piece to the entire world,” he writes, perhaps nodding to his various health issues over the years. “If we’re going to do it, I want to be able to supervise things while I’m still active. That’s why I agreed to the live-action adaptation of one piece back in 2016.”
Oda says all units of the production eventually got on sync to bring his vision for a live-action One Piece to life, and that “Netflix has committed enormous resources to the production.” While the show is slated for a 2023 premiere, the creator also insists that the streaming service won’t launch the show “until I’m satisfied.”
Netflix has kept most of its One Piece under guard. The streamer released a short teaser for the series in late 2022, and showcased a number of character/cast shots earlier this year. As for when season 1’s eight episodes will actually premiere, it’s anyone’s guess, but it sounds like Oda gets to make the final call. He says fans won’t have to wait too long.
“We’ll be setting sail very soon!!” he promises. Happy birthday to Luffy and anyone who celebrates.