The live-action One Piece series found the right man for the job when they cast their Zoro.
In a recent Instagram story, Japanese actor Mackenyu demonstrated that he is more than simply an actor playing a character; he is a true fan of the tale he is working to bring to life. In what looks to be a photo of Mackenyu and live-action Luffy actor Iaki Godoy meeting in a dim parking lot, the former captioned his post "you were here after all," referring to Zoro and Luffy's reunion at the opening of the Wano arc. In another reference to that same reunion scene, the two performers cried out to each other in the comments with yells of "Luuuuffyyyyy!" and "Zorooooo!"
While viewers would expect the live-action performers to be relatively familiar with the source material, few would demand that they be up-to-date on a 1000+ episode series, so to see Mackenyu quoting the show like a true fan is a welcomed bonus.
Mackenyu's Extensive Live-Action Adaptation Acting Experience
Mackenyu's first step into live-action anime adaptations will be in 2019's Tokyo Ghoul: 'S' and 2017's Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable. His most recent role was in Toei's 2023 anime adaptation Knights of the Zodiac, which was criticised by critics who were unconvinced by Mackenyu's portrayal. One Piece gives the actor a second shot to make 2023 his breakout year, and given his obvious enthusiasm for the anime, he'll most certainly give it his all.
When asked by Entertainment Tonight about his acquaintance with One Piece, Mackenyu stated that he "always was" a fan and remarked, "I'm Japanese, why would you ask me that question?" The actor's response may have been intended as a joke, but it highlights a significant point about the expectations placed on him and the creatives behind it. One Piece is by far one of the most successful manga series of all time, with its popularity in Japan outstripping its already strong presence in the United States. With an enormous budget of $18 million per episode, the Netflix series has a lot to deliver – far more than Knights of the Zodiac or any previous anime adaptation did – and fans will be hoping that the cast and crew can cope with that pressure.
Netflix’s One Piece has an expected premiere date of Aug. 31. To check out the episode Mackenyu quoted, stream the One Piece anime on Crunchyroll or Hulu. One Piece Manga is available on MangaMonster.