After more than 20 years of dominating both the anime and manga world, Eiichiro Oda's pirating epic finally got a full-on live-action adaptation, bringing this beloved cast of characters to life in a whole new medium.
But it was not easy to get here. The series was the biggest, most expensive TV project ever undertaken by Netflix, with an extensive production process that took its cast and crew to the sunny coast of South Africa.
A Major Change to a Big Scene in One Piece
In an exclusive conversation with The Direct, One Piece director of photography (DP) Nicole Hirsch Whitaker revealed that one of the live-action Netflix series' biggest scenes was completely reshot during production.
Whitaker (who worked on episodes 1 and 2 of the series) said that the major battle seen on Captain Alvida's ship early in Episode 1 was originally shot "during the day" before eventually being "[reshot] at night" without her:
"I'll be honest, we originally shot out the entire Alvida scene during the day. Then I was not able to go back to shoot the reshoot, which was shot at night. And I do miss some of the things that we did during the daytime scenes."
She added, "Originally, it was night in the script," but "for production reasons, it became day" before "they made it night again:"
"I mean, it works great, and they did it for story reasons, which I understood. They felt like it needed to be at night. Originally, it was night in the script. And then for production reasons, it became day. And then they made it night again. So that was the only thing that I was kind of sad about."
The Alvida sequence, where fans get the first real taste of the scale of the series, was "the very first thing we shot" according to Whitaker, taking "over a week" to complete the first time around:
"It was very hard to make it feel fluid because we had shot everything with Luffy and Kobe during the day. So all of a sudden, that was at night. And then we had to transition them into the dinghy during the day. And that was complicated in terms of color timing, but I don't think anybody would notice, but it was still for me, you know, something that I loved. That was the very first thing we shot, and it took over a week. So I was sad that that was not used."
When prodded on why the sequence took so long, the One Piece cinematographer pointed to it being "complicated" to shoot "on [the series' full-scale] boats:"
"Yeah, it's also just shooting on those boats. It's just complicated. Whenever you're starting a show or a movie, it always just takes a little while for everybody to get up to speed and get to know each other."
She also attributed the lengthy shooting schedule for the battle to "trying to figure out how to work together and learn the characters," as it was the "very first thing that [they] did" as a cast and crew:
"That was basically the very first thing that we did. So we were all kind of trying to figure out how to work together and learn the characters. That was a lot of work for Kobe, Luffy, and Alvida. There was a lot of acting involved as well. Like I said, you're always a little bit sad when something doesn't get used. But if it's good for the story, it's it's okay."
Why Was the Alvida Scene Changed in One Piece?
As always, there are going to be things that hit the cutting room floor and sequences in these sorts of series that are reshot or changed after the fact.
However, when listening to Nicole Hirsch Whitaker reminisce about this particular scene, one can see the One Piece creative was truly attached to this prior version of the Alvida battle scene.
As the One Piece DP said, "It's good for the story, it's it's okay." But it is hard not to wonder what the series' first major battle would have looked like in broad daylight.
The way the sequence plays out now gives off a much greater sense of time passing. The battle aboard Alvida's ship and Luffy (played by Iñaki Godoy) and Koby's escape happens in the dark of night, and then the episode picks up with the two young boys in their dinghy in the sunlight of (what seems to be) the next day.
Making that small change and having the battle and escape happen during the day could have made it unclear how much time passed since Luffy came aboard Alvida's ship.
This way, it is clear Luffy came aboard one day, paired up with Koby, wreaked havoc, and then escaped over a day or two, not over the course of a mere afternoon.
One Piece Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.