Netflix has a lot of interest in pushing One Piece as a brand. The best-selling manga of all time has become one of the biggest franchises in the world. Merchandising, video games, anime films, toys, and many more things are all part of this money making juggernaut, and yet, One Piece has never really managed to become a total success in the west. The series both in manga and in anime form has its fans but it still feels like a niche show in the Americas.
One Piece has the potential of becoming something like Dragon Ball here in the west, so Netflix has been adding the anime to their streaming service, one batch of episodes at a time. One Piece is a huge story, with thousands of characters, islands, organizations and so much more to learn and explore, so taking the time to absorb all the information is a welcome strategy to enjoy the story.
Next year, One Piece will find its way to the streaming service in the form of a live-action TV series. So, as a way to keep people in the loop and teach audiences in the West, what One Piece is, Netflix is adding a new set of episodes that cover the Skypiea Saga. One of the most important sagas in the whole story and one that cannot be missed by anyone that is trying to see the show for the first time.
The Skypiea Saga expands the world of One Piece in such a big way that now many years later, look in retrospect, the saga stands itself as one of the most important in the whole anime. This is a saga that offers exploration on a new level, and brings life to some of the biggest mysteries in the show. The Void Century. At this point, of course, most of these themes and events are executed in a very nonchalant way, but they are anything but.
Skypiea finds our heroes hearing about an island in the sky. Many people think the island is just a legend, but Luffy is set to discover the whole truth and explore the sky island if it becomes a certainty that it is real. The Sky Island is real of course and Straw Hats find many new friends and also new enemies.
Enel, the big bad guy of the Skypiea Saga, is also one of the most original and well designed characters in One Piece. Enel shows us an ability called Mantra, that later in the show would be explained by another name. But it makes it clear that Eiichiro Oda, the author of the series, has been planning this type of stuff for a long time. Adding new elements every once in a while that end up having huge repercussions for the future.
Skypiea also introduces a pivotal character that will make a big splash later in the show. Blackbeard and the Blackbeard Pirates are introduced in this saga, and they are as dangerous as you expect them to be. Blackbeard might be the most famous pirate in real life, so it makes sense that the Blackbeard in the show is just one of the most important characters in a cast of thousands.
The saga also gives us the first tangible proof that Gold Roger, the King of Pirates, has a crazy journey himself as he went to become the owner of that title. The things we learn about Roger in this saga are very important, and some of these findings would be better explored in the next saga, which we hope comes soon to Netflix rather than later.
Something that is pretty nice is that when Netflix adds these episodes into their streaming services, they do it by uploading the best possible files in terms of quality. These are episodes that are almost two decades old, so it is very nice to see the platform doing an effort to provide the best quality. However, this also comes with a caveat.
In their original broadcast, these episodes are in the 4:3 ratio, which means that originally the image was very much a square. Now with TV adapting more to the widescreen format, and especially the 16:9 ratio, the platform has decided to fit the episodes to that format which means losing some images from the top and bottom of each episode. It is a compromise the show makes, but it would have been better to just present the episodes in their original format.
Nevertheless, the animation is excellent and seeing these old One Piece episodes really makes you nostalgic. The animation still has this 90s quality that now is completely missing from the show in recent episodes. At least, new viewers are now able to enjoy the episodes with one click and in fabulous quality.
Skypiea has everything that makes One Piece great. It has action, and one of the best fights in the show, it has humor, mythology, religious commentary, and many other deep themes that just serve to enrich the world building. If you still haven’t started One Piece, just do it. This is the best time to become a new viewer as the live-action adaptation looms closer, and closer.