Sat. Jul 13th, 2024


Hold on to your straw hat as ETimes deep dives into the world of ‘One Piece‘ with none other than the director behind the live-action adaptation, Emma Sullivan. With a deep commitment to honouring the beloved manga’s legacy, Sullivan discusses her creative journey and her collaboration with the creator of the manga, Eiichiro Oda.
In our exclusive interview, Emma delves into the intriguing addition of horror elements to the character of Captain Kuro.Moreover, she drops tantalising hints about the upcoming season 2, confirming fan theories thatSmoker may be the next iconic character to take centre stage. Brace yourselves, as she teases the arrival of “many stronger enemies” that are poised to challenge the Straw Hat Pirates in the forthcoming instalments. Excerpts:

‘One Piece’ Director Emma Sullivan CONFIRMS Smoker Tipoff In FINALE; teases ‘stronger enemies’ in S2

‘One Piece’ opened to critical acclaim, and love from fans. Can you share some of the feedback that affirmed the success of this live-action adaptation?
Well, I think the numbers have been amazing, it’s been incredible seeing how many millions of views and the lovely feedback and reviews we’ve had and it’s been a huge relief as well because you really want people to love it. I think we’re delighted and very relieved that it’s gone down well.
How did you approach One Piece to ensure that it honours the manga?
I think that is hugely down to our showrunners, Steve Maida and Matt Owens who are massive One Piece fans. Matt has been a huge manga fan, he’s never seen without manga t-shirts on and I think it’s super important to him to honour Oda sensei’s work.
It’s also important to people in my family like my sons, and my nephews, they all love One Piece so it’s very important that we do it justice. I guess reading the mangas and figuring out why everybody loves it so much is the first port of call.

Over the past few weeks there have been reports that say Eiichiro Oda, the creator of this manga series played a significant role in bringing this series to life. Could you elaborate on your collaboration with him?
Unfortunately, because of the writer’s strike, it’s really Matt and Steve who would be going to and fro from Tokyo but would be in constant contact. I know Oda would have read the scripts, he would have had feedback on the scripts, and certain things that got adapted, he would have the approval of but also once we got the cuts of our episodes. In my episodes, three and four, there were certain scenes that he wanted adjusted. We had a fight scene between Queen R and Young Zoro and he wanted them to redo it without Kendo masks on because we couldn’t see their faces. So we re-shot the scene. He definitely had a say on everything.
Fans have been raving about how the cast is a perfect fit for their characters. Can you share some insight on resting such a huge franchise on the shoulders of these young talents?
I know that they looked all around the world so our cast is wonderfully multi-national. Kiki’s from Mexico, Taz is actually from Tenerife although he sounds British and then we’ve got Makenyu who is Japanese-American. They are absolutely perfect for their characters. They are all very committed and they’ve all done all the homework. They’re also all fans.
Kiki’s read all of One Piece, and he’s completely involved in it but at the same time he was only 18 when he was shooting, so it’s a huge responsibility on a young man’s shoulders to be on set up at four every morning, in all the scenes. But they were very supportive of each other and I think the nice thing about someone like Iñaki, he had his mum there, who is brilliant. We have to give a shout-out to the mothers. You can’t do anything without your mum.

Were there any specific story arcs from the manga that you were most excited to bring to this live-action format?
I think the arc that I did was the Syrup Village arc. So you do get excited about your own, but I was jealous though that I didn’t get to do the Baratie arc because that set was amazing with a huge ship and this bar in the front of it. I was quite jealous of Tim and then I was also jealous of Joseph’s block because he had Coco Village, and again the sets were so beautiful.
At the same time, there’s something to do in all of our episodes and I really enjoyed Kaya’s Mansion so I really enjoyed the fact that I had this horror element and that I could really make it scary and dark and threatening which was fun, I sound mad but it’s fun.
Fans of the horror genre were over the moon about how Captain Kuro, the One Piece villain, has a horror element in this particular live-action format. What was that like exploring this arc in this particular series?
For me, that’s so much fun because you have to make the audience feel something and it usually involves moving the camera in certain ways obviously there are many brilliant directors who I draw from that make us scared like Bong Joon-ho in Parasite and David Lynch. There are so many fun things you can do with the camera and that’s always exciting like slowly tracking or following characters down corridors or bringing the shutters down and making the light disappear Alex, who plays Kuro was just so much fun, but those blades, it’s very kind of visual. If you start getting quite handsy, it’s good fun, it’s very choreographed but it’s good and a lot of fun doing horror.
Since season two has already been announced will we see you back maybe on the director’s seat for some more episodes?
I hope so, I would love to do it again, it’s so much fun doing it and I love the cast, the crew in South Africa is amazing so I hope so, I crossed my fingers, we just have to get the strikes all sorted out and then hopefully everybody will get back to work.
There are many major characters yet to be explored, which ones are your sons most excited to see on-screen?
I think my son is very interested in Smoker, there’s a little tip-off at the end of the season and he’s like ‘Oh Smoker’s good’. But I think there were times when I was saying to him you know ‘They’re Fishmen, you can’t beat a Fishman,’ and he was like ‘There are so many stronger enemies to come’ so I think there are just tons to draw from.


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