If One Piece itself is mostly about its crew and the ways in which they interact, the first to join up, Roronoa Zoro, as portrayed by Mackenyu in Netflix's upcoming live-action adaptation, is arguably the most important.
If you know anything about One Piece, creator Eiichiro Oda's long-running manga with an immensely popular anime adaptation, it's probably that it focuses on a crew of pirates. More specifically, the Straw Hats, led by Monkey D. Luffy and joined by a colorful series of new folks as the manga's gone on. And Netflix's live-action adaptation of One Piece, as evidenced by the latest trailer, will do similar.
GamesRadar+ recently had a chance to catch up with the Straw Hats all about the show. While Iñaki Godoy, who portrays Luffy, was all too happy to go on at length, Mackenyu was largely brief and to the point. If you're at all familiar with the source material, that actually makes a lot of sense from a character standpoint.
The following email interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length. Additionally, it was conducted prior to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, which you can read more about here.
GamesRadar+: One Piece has been going for quite a long time, as both a manga and anime, and that itself can be daunting. Live-action adaptations of anime or manga adaptations can be an even more difficult sell to people unfamiliar with them. How do you personally pitch the show?
Mackenyu: Fans who love anime want to see it come to life exactly as they know it, however, translating to live action is not an easy thing and sometimes requires changes and additions as well as editing down to fit into a series. People unfamiliar with the anime can enjoy it as something original and that’s how everyone should enjoy it, as a new original that’s based on anime source material.
What are the three words that most define Zoro, in your opinion? And why those words?
Focused, driven, mysterious. These are at the heart of who he is as a person and the basis of what he wants to accomplish.
Zoro is perhaps best known for being a swordsman. Are you any good with a blade, personally speaking? Did you have to do any specific sort of training for this role? Maybe something to strengthen your jaw muscles?
I have experience using two swords simultaneously and have done live-action shows using swords in the past, but when it comes to three, that’s a different story. The training I did for One Piece was specific for Zoro and the skills needed to really be him. My jaw had on-the-job training!
Another defining trait of Zoro is that he cannot for the life of him go in the right direction. He is constantly getting lost. How are you with directions?
I’m like Zoro, maybe that’s what helped me book the role!
What's your favorite One Piece arc? And why?
Zoro has so many iconic and famous stories that people know and love from the manga and the anime it’s hard to pick a favorite arc. I can’t tell you about the scenes in the Netflix series and how we filmed them, but it was very memorable to do and there were many special moments.
What was the biggest challenge of this whole project for you?
There is an iconic fight scene between Zoro and Mihawk. I can’t give too much away, but it was freezing cold and wet when we filmed that scene, so it was a tough one for me!
One Piece has seen contemporaries come and go over the course of decades at this point. What makes it so enduring, in your opinion?
Its sense of fun and adventure, and the bond of the Going Merry crew.
Who is the most powerful member of the Straw Hat crew to you?
Of course, it’s Zoro!
What do you hope people take away from the show when they finally see it?
This live-action adaptation is here to welcome people in and introduce people to One Piece who aren’t familiar with it already, and I think it’s going to be very exciting for people to see.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I hope everyone has as much fun watching this as we did filming it.
The live-action adaptation series of One Piece is set to release on Netflix on August 31. Looking for something to watch on Netflix while you wait? Check out our list of the 50 best Netflix shows to watch right now.