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One thing we always have to keep in mind when watching a movie or TV series is that the elements on the screen need to help the viewer understand a character’s background as instantly as possible. For the live-action One Piece series, for example, the quicker we can understand Monkey D. Luffy’s (Iñaki Godoy) passion for the sea and piracy, the less it needs to be explained in conversations – and that’s what led production designer Richard Bridgland to make a bold decision regarding Windmill Village.
Another important thing about live-action productions – especially the ones set in a fantasy world – is that their look should provoke a sense of wonder in viewers and have a unique look that will stay on people’s minds. So slightly changing the location of Windmill Village was a way to accomplish both things, as Bridgland told Collider’s Mike Thomas:
“For me, it was very important to understand how Luffy became a pirate, and how he could come across pirates, how much he loved the sea and loved sailing, and all of these things. So, although Windmill Village in the manga is next to the sea, I just thought, ‘Well, what about if he actually lives over the water?’ It’s like one of those fishing villages you get in Indonesia or the Philippines or something where the village is actually built out over the water. His room is just above the water. It would make sense of so much stuff.”
The Sea Calls Luffy in One Piece
Indeed, just by having Luffy wake up in the morning and be at the center of the things he loves instantly connects the character to his goals in life and his passions. Bridgland also mentioned that this decision ended up helping more story elements, like the way that Luffy meets Shanks (Peter Gadiot): Since Luffy’s village is now actually over the water, it means that “the pirate ships would be pulling in, and it’s a kind of refueling stop for the pirate ships.”
We’ll soon have a full picture of the main changes made from manga and anime to the live-action series, but it’s important to remember that no decision was made without franchise creator Eiichiro Oda‘s approval. He acted as executive producer, overlooked the adaptation and gave the final say to whatever we end up seeing on the screen.
Netflix premieres One Piece this Thursday, August 31. You can watch the latest trailer below: