GCN contributor David Ferguson is back, this time giving his insights on LGBTQ+ representation in Netflix’s new series, ONE PIECE.
One of the reasons I wanted to watch the new Netflix adaptation of ONE PIECE was that my husband and others were fans of the manga series.
I was put off the anime adaptation as it is 20 seasons long (having started in 1999) with several movies. The original manga, created by Eiichiro Oda, has over 100 volumes (it started in 1997), so that is a bit intimidating too. However, it is one of the most popular and best-selling manga series of all time, so I may give it a go at some point.
The second reason I wanted to watch the show was the online reaction to trans actor Morgan Davies being cast as one of the characters, Koby. The character is not trans, so the only issue a certain corner of the internet seemed to have was that Davies is a trans man.
Davies, who grew up in Sydney, Australia, previously appeared in movies like Evil Dead Rise and Storm Boy (alongside Geoffrey Rush), as well as the TV series The End, where he played a trans teen in the process of gender transition. The actor came out publicly in 2020 and has since spoken out about the need for transgender storytelling.
In ONE PIECE, Koby is a friend of the main character Monkey D. Luffy (Iñaki Godoy). Luffy wants to obtain The One Piece and become King of the Pirates, but Koby wants to help people, so he becomes a marine.
The character is a bit naïve about the world, and I thought Davies did a great job of portraying his uncertainty and displaying him as a fish out of water. He had great chemistry with Godoy, as the two played friends who have very different goals and personalities (Luffy is full of confidence, often unwarranted). Both want to help people, though, as Luffy isn’t your typical pirate.
View this post on Instagram
There has been some debate online about Luffy’s sexuality as he seems to show no interest in romance, with some labelling him as asexual and/or aromantic. The first season of the Netflix TV series has one scene that could back that belief. In it, Luffy’s friend Nami (Emily Rudd) tries on outfits and asks for his opinion. He responds that he just sees Nami.
However, some viewers have suggested that he is simply focused on his goal of obtaining The One Piece.
The manga series has other LGBTQ+ characters, including ones that are trans, but these have yet to appear in the Netflix version.
Luckily, the show has already been renewed for a second season, as it broke several records on the streaming platform. The producers say the scripts for the new season are already completed, so hopefully, it will go into production soon, following the end of the writers’ strike, with the producers estimating 12 to 18 months after that until an air date.
Season one is worth checking out and is a bingeable eight episodes. I’ve already become a fan.
If you want to check out more of David Ferguson’s content, you can read his previous GCN pieces here.
© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.