One Piece (Netflix) – Season 1 Episode 1 “Romance Dawn” Recap & Review

Romance Dawn

Episode 1 of One Piece begins in Loguetown 22 years back. The Marines, on behalf of the World Government, have been striving to keep the common people safe from the villainous pirates. Gold Roger is the so-called King of the Pirates and he’s been captured, ready to be executed in front of everyone. He’s made an example of in front of a huge crowd that have gathered to see this happen.

Vice-Admiral Garp declares the man’s life forfeit but just before killing Gold Roger outright, Gold Roger speaks up and declares his treasure free for anyone to find and that they should all take to the seas. As a result, Roger becomes a martyr as the crowd disperses and the man’s final words change the world and bring about the Great Pirate Era.

The One Piece treasure is still out there… but where?

Fast forward to the present day and we’re introduced to Monkey D. Luffy on his little boat, intent on becoming the King of the Pirates and finding the One Piece treasure. However, as the boat begins sinking, Luffy scrambles into a barrel and lets the ocean take him. Unfortunately, it takes him right into the heart of a big fight between Lady Alvida and her crew onboard their pink pirate ship, and another formidable band of pirates.

Lady Alvida comes out on top and Luffy’s barrel is brought onboard. In doing so, we’re introduced to Koby, the young man who becomes Luffy’s first friend. Anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here! In the depths of the ship, Koby and Luffy meet. Koby is convinced that all pirates are scum and thieves, but Luffy gives a knowing smile and tells him this is wrong.

We then jump back 10 years to Windmill Village, catching us up to our current timeline. Luffy is an orphan but a determined one. He wants to be a fearsome pirate and embrace the freedom that it brings. To prove himself, he cuts his face with a knife in front of pirates in town, including their leader Shanks.

During these flashbacks, Shanks gets Luffy cleaned up but amongst the pirate’s possessions, Luffy finds the Gum Gum Fruit, which he naturally gobbles up completely. This is what gives Luffy his special abilities. There’s a pretty accurate sequence to the manga here as Shanks decides against fighting some mercenaries that show and stir up trouble. Luffy is not happy with Shanks not fighting back, calling him a coward. Shanks tries to explain that there’s more to piracy than fighting all the time. When Luffy tries to leave, Shanks grabs his arm and Luffy shows off his abilities. Shanks is not happy.

We then cut back to Alvida’s ship as Koby and Luffy are brought before the leader. Luffy encourages Koby to speak up and have some courage to tell Alvida what he really thinks, but the latter loses her temper and begins swinging her spiked mace around like she’s Negan from Walking Dead. When it strikes Luffy, we see that he’s no ordinary pirate. He’s seemingly indestructible and has stretchy skin. He uses his signature Gum Gum Pistol move to knock Elvida clean off the boat.

We then cut to Sixis Island, where we’re introduced to the mysterious Mr 7. He wants to recruit Zoro to his organization, known as Baroque Works. Zoro rejects the call to action, but Mr 7 is not happy with this. However, it does lead to a decent sword fight between Zoro and Mr 7, allowing us to see Zoro’s skills first-hand. It ends with Mr 7 cut clean in half.

Elsewhere in the East Blue, a strange redhead called Nami washes up next to a pirate ship. She begs them for help and tries to hide a large chest. The two pirates scramble aboard, hungrily looking to open the chest which happens to hold…nothing. Nami is a tricksy one, as she ends up duping them and taking off with their ship for herself, heading out with her map for parts unknown.

Back with Koby and Luffy, we learn that the former wants to be part of the Navy, which is his dream. They arrive at Shell Island, intent on finding a crw and sailing out of there. Before getting inside the base, the pair stop for some food. Whilst there, they run into Zoro who shows up with the deceased body of Mr 7. There’s also Nami kicking about here too.

When a cocky Marine shows up looking like a Targaryen right out of House of the Dragon (Helmeppo), Zoro shows his skills in combat again, easily dispatching all the guards in quick succession. Helmeppo happens to be the son of Captain Morgan, who’s in charge of the Marine division here.

Despite liking Zoro’s skills, Morgan points out that assaulting a Marine officer need to be punished. And for that, Zoro is tied up out in the yard for 7 days. Nami sees all of this take place and poses as a marine, having earlier grabbed a uniform from one of the men at the bar. When she’s spotted, it leads to her taking him out.

Elsewhere, Luffy sneaks into the courtyard through the grates leading under the base. Zoro explains he let himself be captured but Luffy knows that he’s a good guy and should join his crew. Zoro naturally refuses.

On his way out, Luffy notices Nami in the basement and sees straight through her façade. He also promises to take her map for the Grand Line as well. This map belongs to Morgan, and he decides to just walk up and ask him. Well, luck be on their side as they stumble across him in the hallway.

Nami manages to talk her way out of suspicion, and during their chat Nami manages to steal Morgan’s keys to open his office. She also refuses to join his crew when Luffy asks, pointing out that she hates pirates and will never join his crew.

Inside Morgan’s office, they find a secret contraption leading to the desk sliding out the way to reveal a safe on the floor. Unfortunately the alarm rings not long after as their cover is blown. Luffy decides to use his abilities to straight up pull the safe out the ground, eventually seeing the pair tumble out the window and to the courtyard below, completely unharmed. Luffy and Nami fight their way out of trouble, and with Zoro now free, he decides to join in rather than walk away.

Eventually this all leads to a stand-off between Captain Morgan and the team of Luffy, Nami and Zoro. Naturally, the trio come out on top and take a ship, back out onto the high seas again. The Vice-Admiral catches wind of what’s happened in Shell Town, and learns that the map to Grand Line has been stolen. News of this also reaches the strange clown pirate, Buggy, as Luffy now seems to have a target painted on his back!

The Episode Review

The first episode of One Piece gets off to a surprisingly good start. The show manages to exude the essence of what makes the manga so enjoyable, while also adding a slight spin on proceedings. Some of the CGI is a bit iffy in places, like the tumble out the window, but that’s perhaps to be expected given the idea of bringing a manga/anime to live-action is a tricky one to get right.

The backstory to Luffy and his crew is pretty good and for the most part accurate, although there have been some changes along the way, as one may expect

The ending hints that we’re moving deeper into the manga and the idea of adding more of the pirate lore this early in the game is a good one, and certainly teases an intriguing series to follow.


Next Episode

You can look forward to a full season review later this weekend!


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