Eiichiro Oda’s manga
holds the distinction of being the best-selling manga series in history, with over 516.5 million copies sold worldwide. The series has been going since 1997 and the journey is still ongoing.
Developed by Matt Owens and Steven Maeda, the first season of the highly-anticipated Netflix live-action adaptation just debuted on the streamer earlier this summer, and with more new episodes on the horizon (it was just picked up for a second season)
quite literally has something for everyone. It's silly, it's serious, and it's Camp (with a capital
Since July of 1997, the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy and his crew of Straw Hat pirates have delighted manga fans. In 1999 the manga was adapted into an anime TV series and has been running strong ever since.
The series stays mostly true to the original with a few timeline exceptions in order to get our crew together and heading towards the treasure more quickly. Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy) is an optimistic student of pirate captain and mentor Captain Shanks (Peter Gadiot). Originally part of Shanks’ Red-Haired Pirates, Luffy serves as a cabin boy and goes along on many adventures.
One day he eats a bit of the fabled “devil fruit” called “gum-gum.” It gives him strength and the supernatural ability to stretch and heal, but having received it through ill-gotten gains makes him susceptible to the less positive aspects of the gift. Young Luffy (Colin Osorio) vows to create his own crew and go on the search for the
It’s a mysterious and unknown treasure left hidden by the mysterious pirate Gold Roger (Michael Dorman) in the Grand Line.
The world of
is rich and comprehensive and the Netflix adaptation does a fine job of making the world as surreal and fantastical as you’d expect. Rather than go the hyper-real route,
allows for a sort of hyper-reality that’s thrilling and fun. The heart of
is Luffy, whose infectious optimism and insistence on getting what he wants by being who he is is one that appeals to several viewers, especially the queer ones. Though there aren’t any especially queer storylines (though Luffy could certainly be coded as asexual, and Toby [played by trans actor Morgan Davies] definitely has some queer coding among others), there are so many characters who are quirky and different and proud.
Buggy the Clown (Jeff Ward) serves as a type of anti-hero, though he starts as a villainous fiend fueled 90 percent by being confident in his abilities. (Imagine if he were a force for good...) Every character has a certain way of showing the benefits of being yourself and the consequences of hiding your truth. It doesn’t get more queer-themed than that!
To celebrate the show, Netflix held a fan event in Houston, TX where we talked to some die-hard
fans about their love for the show and what it means to them as queer fans of anime.
First up was the legendary fitness guru, Senpai (
)! Senpai was in the middle of a 75-day heart cleanse and loved the mocktail options available.
"I like a lot of anime, but with
being out for so long, it's one of the top three anime on a lot of people's lists," Senpai said about the effect One Piece has on them as a queer woman. "You've got these optimistic people that it doesn't matter how rough it gets, you've got that one character that just gives you hope and lets you know that you can always find the sunny side of something. As queer folk, we have those days and we're always looking for something, especially stuff like anime, that has always been very accepting for people such as ourselves. It just gives us that hope and has us just look on the bright side or the sunny side or just makes us laugh, even if it's just that bad."
Next is the amazing Justin Tyme (
), a popular Houston drag king who came dressed as fan-fave character Sanji.
"I guess it's just the dream," Tyme said when asked about what
means to them as a queer fan. "It's like the possibilities that are out there. You're searching for the One Piece and you can search for yourself. It's like a journey to find yourself and that's the One Piece."
"I love them (the characters) being all together," Danny says when asked about what speaks to them the most about
. "Despite their backgrounds and differences, they come together and unite. I think it's really wholesome."
The first season of
is currently streaming on Netflix, so be sure to binge all six episodes. And it’s just been
renewed for a second season
so stay tuned for even more Straw Hat adventures!