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- How the ‘One Piece’ Live Action Series Balanced CGI and Practical Effects
In the One Piece anime and manga series, there is a stunning floating restaurant called Baratie. Its base simulates the head and body of a giant fish, and the several-story building is on the fish’s dorsal. It’s a wonder to look at, but a challenge for production designer Richard Bridgland, who had the difficult task of bringing the Baratie to life. In an interview with Collider’s Mike Thomas, Bridgland revealed how he needed to come up with a backstory so the restaurant’s existence would make sense within the live-action setting of the series.
During the interview, Bridgland said that as much as you love something in a manga or animation, you need to make sure it translates well to live-action format, and “you want to make it look credible and authentic and believable.” That way, a location like the Baratie can preserve a sense of wonder while also looking like a building that might actually exist even though it inhabits a fantasy world. So, the production designer had to get into Zeff’s (Craig Fairbrass) mind and imagine how the Baratie head chef would build such an architectural wonder:
“[U]sing the 18th-century piracy, I imagine that Zeff, when he gave up pirating and wanted to create his restaurant, went down to the pirate scrapyard and he used his own ship, and he got a couple of other galleons. He needed some office space above, he needed some quarters for his crew to live in, and so he just stuck those on top of his ship and everything. Then on the way out, there happened to be a big fish head sculpture that he bought, and so you put that on the front. Then when you put all that together into the design of the thing, it actually makes something that feels like Baratie from the story, but also is credible in a live-action world as well.”
Baratie is Just One of The Many Ships Netflix Brought to Life in One Piece
It may sound like Bridgland let his imagination run wild when thinking about Zeff and the Baratie, but that’s exactly the kind of work that is expected from a production designer. Also, this kind of thinking is what makes elements in a fantasy world look and feel authentic – precisely what One Piece needs.
The One Piece live-action series has several challenges at hand: Bringing a sense of familiarity to long-time fans and yet surprising them as well; introducing the franchise to a whole new portion of the public, translating the spirit of the manga and anime series and looking good while doing it. That’s why it feels like Netflix pulled at no stops when bringing the series to life, building real-life scenarios like Luffy’s ship the Going Merry and bringing fanchise creator Eiichiro Oda onboard as an executive producer in order to oversee every decision made before and during filming.
Netflix premieres One Piece this Thursday, August 31. You can watch the latest trailer below: