Twitter user @tacticalfiend highlighted Instagram and Twitter posts made by Steven Maeda in January of this year. Therein, Maeda had compared Monkey D. Luffy to US Vice President Kamala Harris. Maeda also compares Harris to the “Will of D;” a trait within One Piece where characters with the initial D as their middle name are fearless and a strong desire for freedom at to fulfill their desires.
Maeda had also compared Saint Charlos with 45th President of the United States Donald Trump [1, 2]. The comparison was used to retort “those who think One Piece posts shouldn’t be political or anti-fascist.”
Saint Charlos is one of the World Nobles; also known as the Celestial Dragons. Aristocrats descended from 19 of the Twenty Kings who formed the Great Kingdom (later the World Government). Due to their authority they are practically above the law, and are able to summon Marine Admirals to deal with their issues. They also own slaves.
Charlos is shown as being particularly sadistic and cruel for a World Noble; not only openly abusing his slaves and “commoners”, but taking great delight in causing misery. He intended to buy a mermaid purely to put her in a tank with piranhas and watch them chase her (likely until her death).
One Piece has tackled themes of prejudice, injustice, despots; and how people can come to perform or support such actions and beliefs. Nonetheless, fans are worried what this will mean for the live-action adaption- based on the reactions to @tacticalfiend’s and Maeda’s posts.
Netflix’ has some infamy with their anime adaptions. This includes the stereotypes of them changing character races for diversity (while coming across as patronizing or “token”), along with ham-fisted attempts at addressing modern western politics (typically with a left-leaning bias). The latter point has somewhat been a criticism of most mainstream western media for the last few years.
The character descriptions for the series were recently uncovered; hinting at what the series might do. Most of the characters’ recommend the nationalities match what creator Eiichiro Oda had proposed when fans asked what real-life races the Straw Hat pirates would be. For Nami and Sanji however, the leaked notes list them as “any race” (Oda had proposed they would be Swedish and French respectively).
Based on the description for Nami, and what members of the crew will be present, it seems the story will be set around the Arlong Park arc; though depending on the pace of the series this may start with the first chapter of the manga.
Despite the series being overseen by Oda, it may be a hard sell to fans. A poll was issued to Japanese viewers of video distribution service 1Screen, asking what anime titles they wanted to see Hollywood adapt into live-action. The outstanding answer was “nothing.” The series recently began filming in South Africa.
Recently Netflix revealed the first look of their adaption of Cowboy Bebop. While fans mulled over the accuracy of the costumes, actress Daniella Pineda (Faye Valentine) released a sarcastic video mocking that she did not match the character’s build, and that it was difficult “doing stunts in tissue paper.”