The One Piece live-action series is already a huge hit, but if you are only planning to watch it soon, you may be wondering if it’s better in English or Japanese.
When it comes to anime, most fans will recommend watching shows in their original Japanese dub with English subtitles, with a few exceptions such as the incredible Cowboy Bebop dub. But what about this new live-action series? Well, the choice is a bit more difficult than it seems.
Though the series is based on the iconic manga (and anime) by Eiichiro Oda, this is an English-language production from Netflix and Tomorrow Studios, meaning English is very much its “original” language.
On the flip side, the show has a Japanese dub that brings back the original voice cast from the anime, meaning anime fans will get to hear their favorite Straw Hat Crew voice actors. With this fact alone, the Japanese dub is a compelling option for those who grew up watching the anime.
So, which one is the better way to watch the series? Well, there’s a case to be made for both, and it depends largely on your preferences and if you’re a big fan of the One Piece franchise.
The Case for the Original English Version
In the same way that the argument for Japanese dubs in anime is made because that is the original language, English can be seen as sort of the “official” version given that the live-action series was produced and made in English. This means those who are new to the series may want to watch the live-action show in this version first.
But if you grew up watching One Piece and can’t imagine Luffy sounding different from Mayumi Tanaka’s iconic voice, the live-action series’ cast does a commendable job of bringing the characters to life. Sure, it might take some time to get used to if you’ve been watching the anime for decades, but you’ll be glad to know that they all pretty much nailed their characters’ voices.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that cast did a 1:1 rendition of the original anime voices, but they still matched each of their character’s personalities. For instance, Mackenyu’s voice as Zoro may not be as deep and commanding as the anime Zoro, but he did convey the cool and composed vibe of the swordsman properly. Meanwhile, Godoy’s Luffy isn’t as goofy as the anime voice-wise, but he still captured the spirit of the Straw Hat Captain well.
Best of all, the cast sounds completely natural as their characters, at least for us. We didn’t find any of the cast (even the non-Straw Hat ones) to be weak links in terms of acting, making the English language option a fun and engaging watch. Given this, even veteran series fans can enjoy this version.
Japanese dub is a treat for longtime One Piece fans
As for the Japanese dub, the main reason to give it a watch is that it brings back the anime’s cast. This is great for those who are huge One Piece fans and can’t imagine their favorite characters sounding quite different from their iconic voices.
Because the live-action series is made in English, it is a bit of a trip to hear the original anime cast voicing their characters at first. But after a while, the dub actually worked well as the voice cast did a great job matching the live-action actors.
The live-action series has quite a lot of differences from the original anime/manga. And if you’re a fan who is hesitant to watch an adaptation that strays far from the source material, having the original voice cast there should give you something to latch on to. After all, even with the differences, the live-action series is actually a good show and a great tribute to the anime/manga.
One Piece live-action in English or Japanese: The Verdict
So, there you have it. If you’re new to the series or if you’re someone who prefers to watch a series in its “original” language, the English version is for you. But if you’re a longtime fan of the anime who wants something more familiar, the Japanese dub is the way to go.
But if you ask us for a more specific recommendation, we suggest that you watch the series in English first as the actors did an incredible job throughout the show. Then, you should try rewatching it in Japanese as the series is entertaining enough for a second viewing.
The One Piece live-action series is now streaming worldwide exclusively on Netflix.