December 11, 2023

‘One Piece’ Showrunner on Bringing Zoro’s Three-Sword Style to Life


The Big Picture

  • Adapting One Piece to live-action format presented challenges in translating iconic elements like Zoro’s three-sword style and maintaining the vibrant aesthetic of the manga and anime.
  • The production team had to find a middle ground between the 2D panels and 3D format to ensure that the action sequences looked cool and didn’t appear goofy or impractical.
  • Other elements from the manga and anime, such as Alvida’s pink ship and Luffy’s stretching ability, were successfully brought to life with franchise creator Eiichiro Oda’s approval.

One of the biggest problems of adapting comic books, manga, and anime to live-action format is that not everything works in 3D format with real people and objects. Fans of One Piece were more than ready to accept that fan-favorite Roronoa Zoro‘s (Mackenyu) characteristic three-sword fight style couldn’t be done in live action. For a while, showrunner Steven Maeda also felt like that, as he told Collider’s Arezou Amin. But then he decided to take on the challenge.

Both in the manga and anime, Zoro carries three swords in his belt and, when the time comes to fight, he “holds” one of the swords between his teeth. It’s easy to make it look cool in animated format and illustrations, but it’s a whole other deal in live-action. During the interview, Maeda said that he and his team had to find a middle ground in order to make it look as good as possible:

“The challenges in going from manga, from two-dimensional panels to three-dimensional live action, were huge. Not the least of which was kind of figuring out what goes between the panels that are drawn because a lot of times there’ll be a fight, for example, that ends with a really cool pose or move, but you haven’t seen what led up to that. And how does Zoro fight with three swords in his mouth? What are the actual practical limitations of that? There are a lot of things to figure out to see, ‘How is this going to be able to transfer, and can we do this? Is it gonna look goofy? Is it something that we can pull off and have people go, ‘That’s cool! Maybe it’s not exactly how I pictured it, but that’s a really cool interpretation.’?’ So those are the things that I was really concerned with, is trying to make sure that everything translated across.”

One Piece‘s Production Design is The Manga and Anime Brought to Life

Of course, Zoro’s three-sword fight is not the only element that the One Piece team embraced the challenge to bring to life. Just in the first few episodes, it’s possible to see that Alvida’s (Ilia Isorelýs Paulino) ship remained pink – although not as bright as in the anime – Buggy the Clown (Jeff Ward) is still able to split his body parts and Luffy (Iñaki Godoy) still stretches as far as the eye can see. And, of course, all of those adaptations were made with franchise creator Eiichiro Oda’s approval.

The cast of One Piece also features Emily Rudd (Hunters) as Nami, Jacob Romero (Greenleaf) as Usopp, Taz Skylar (The Lazarus Project) as Sanji, Morgan Davies (Evil Dead Rise) as Koby, Aidan Scott (The Power) as Helmeppo, Armand Aucamp (Warrior) as Bogard, Vincent Regan (Clash of the Titans) as Garp and Peter Gadiot (Yellowjackets) as Shanks.

You can stream all episodes of One Piece on Netflix.

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