One Piece, Netflix’s take on the long-running anime and manga really hit the ground running when it premiered in late August. The series quickly became a hit and smashed several viewership records like a Gum Gum Bazooka to the face of a deranged clown.
Of course, just by adapting such a beloved, venerable IP for live-action, there was a laundry list of elements that the creators needed to get just "right." And the casting was arguably chiefly among them.
One Piece Cast Decision Explained by Director
The director of One Piece’s pilot episode, Marc Jobst, who also had a hand in casting for the series, went into detail regarding why lead Monkey D. Luffy posed the most challenge when it came to finding a suitable actor (via ScreenRant.)
According to Jobst, the difficulty of casting Luffy came from his “drive of positivity:”
”Luffy is the hardest character to cast because he carries the whole show. And he is the drive of positivity. He believes. He believes in having dreams. He believes in believing in yourself. He inspires people to be themselves, to be more of themselves. He wants to help them become more of themselves.“
Iñaki Godoy, who ended up being the one to breathe life into the plucky Straw Hat Pirate, was praised by the director for possessing "some cheek and some charm and some chutzpah to him." Moreover, the creators “just knew” they had found their man when Godoy came in to audition:
“When Iñaki came in, we knew, we just knew. Partly because he made us all laugh in his audition. He did something crazy and off-script, very deliberately. And it was like, okay, he’s got some cheek and some charm and some chutzpah to him. That’s kind of Luffy, you know.”
Jobst made specific mention of the idea that when characters are relentlessly positive, they can become “quite irritating” but Iñaki Godoy’s inherent “warmth and goodwill” offset all of that:
“The reason why I say he’s the hardest to cast is because that positivity can get quite irritating in film, and he never did, I don’t feel. He just emanated warmth and goodwill.”
Iñaki Godoy Was the Right Choice for Luffy
Most would likely agree that Marc Jobst was spot on with his point about positivity becoming obnoxious without a strong performer to back it up. For another mainstream example of this, look no further than Parks and Recreation’s Leslie Knope.
Another thing that the majority of those who have seen Netflix’s One Piece would probably agree upon is that Iñaki Godoy delivers a pitch-perfect live-action rendition of Monkey D. Luffy.
He imbued the character with such an easily likable quality and he’s almost effortlessly charismatic. He’s cheerful when he needs to be and can flip into danger mode with utter ease. Audiences can truly feel his anger when he confronts Arlong after the fish-man hurt Nami.
One understands the true scope of Luffy’s loyalty towards with friends through Godoy’s performance, something that will undoubtedly carry over into a potential One Piece Season 2.
All eight episodes of One Piece can be streamed exclusively on Netflix.