Brandon Sanderson: One Piece “is a better adaptation” than The Wheel of Time

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Following the death of The Wheel of Time creator Robert Jordan in 2007, author Brandon Sanderson was selected to finish the beloved fantasy book series. Sanderson wrote the final three novels, The Gathering Storm, The Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light. These days he also serves as a producer on Amazon Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time TV show.

In addition to his work as one of today’s most prolific fantasy authors, Sanderson does quite a bit of podcasting; he and fellow author Dan Wells founded Writing Excuses, a podcast where a wide range of authors discuss the craft of writing. Wells and Sanderson also have a podcast called Intentionally Blank, where the two ramble at length about whatever they feel like, from media analysis to food heists.

The talk on the latest episode of Intentionally Blank is all about Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the manga One Piece, which Sanderson enjoyed but Wells struggled to get into. They also discussed The Wheel of Time, with Sanderson comparing how these two big-budget fantasy adaptations stacked up to one another.

Brandon Sanderson compares One Piece and The Wheel of Time adaptations

A few weeks back, Sanderson shared some harsh critiques of The Wheel of Time season 2 finale. On this episode of Intentionally Blank, he explained a bit about why he was able to enjoy One Piece so much, but remained critical of The Wheel of Time:

"Here’s why I can turn off part of the critic. I did a livestream of Wheel of Time season 2 Episode 8 recently…and I was super critical of it. It is not necessarily worse than [One Piece], narratively. In fact, Wheel of Time Episode 8, which I felt in the scripts was the weakest, was still good, right? Still an improvement on the first season, still a lot of great things about it. But I was super critical. People might be listening and being like ‘why aren’t you critical of this?’ I think there’s a distinction here. I see in One Piece…the flaws that I notice, I think are probably flaws in the original media. I know it’s a series that has run 2,000 issues, is what we’re looking at for One Piece. I know that love for it is built over a long time. I know that the creator really likes the show, and it’s one of these manga guys who are super super detail oriented and critical of any sort of thing. And I know that the fans of One Piece legitimately love the show in general and feel like it’s a very faithful adaptation as well as can be done into live action. And those things all together propel me to just be like ‘I’m giving this the benefit of the doubt, and I’m just gonna watch it and enjoy what it is.’"

It’s true that One Piece has been extremely well received by fans of the long-running manga and anime. The producers of the Netflix series worked very closely with One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda to capture the tone and style of this very out-there pirate story, and they clearly nailed it.

Image: One Piece/Netflix
Image: One Piece/Netflix /

Sanderson explained that he has “a different interaction” with The Wheel of Time than he does with One Piece, because he’s “hyper protective” of Robert Jordan and his wife/editor Harriet McDougal’s work. “I’m the one who gets to be the advocate for them, because Robert Jordan isn’t here to give a voice and Harriet’s age interrupts her ability to be super involved with the production. And so I have to be the voice for that.”

"And beyond that I get to see the things that I think should be changed, and then you know…not be able to change those because it’s not my show. Which is totally fine, like I think [showrunner Rafe Judkins] does a great job. I’ve said that multiple times, even in this livestream where people are like ‘Brandon’s really critical to The Wheel of Time show,’ I’m very praiseworthy of things that are good."

Sanderson certainly praised The Wheel of Time a lot more on this podcast than he did on The Dusty Wheel finale livestream he mentioned. He admits that “season 2 of Wheel of Time does some great things,” but that “there’s part of me that’s like, ‘I could have fixed this,’ or ‘we could have had both.'” The struggle to not mentally edit on the fly must be real.