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

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One Piece. (L to R) Jacob Romero Gibson as Usopp, Mackenyu Arata as Roronoa Zoro, Emily Rudd as Nami, Iñaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy, Taz Skylar as Sanji in episode 108 of One Piece. Cr. Casey Crafford/Netflix © 2023
One Piece. (L to R) Jacob Romero Gibson as Usopp, Mackenyu Arata as Roronoa Zoro, Emily Rudd as Nami, Iñaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy, Taz Skylar as Sanji in episode 108 of One Piece. Cr. Casey Crafford/Netflix © 2023 /

Brandon Sanderson: One Piece is a “better adaptation of the soul of the creator’s work” than The Wheel of Time

Both The Wheel of Time and One Piece already have legions of devoted fans who love their respective source materials, so there’s a high bar to clear to meet expectations. Sanderson really gets into the nitty gritty about why he thinks One Piece is a more effective adaptation than The Wheel of Time—and why that’s not necessarily the same thing as being a better show.

"I think there is something about this you know that makes me think, One Piece has flaws but it’s a better adaptation of the soul of the creator’s work than Wheel of Time is, whereas Wheel of Time may be a better show. Like One Piece, it’s harder to recommend…because you have to kind of be okay with some of these anime things that are a little…you know, they’re part of the genre. Whereas Wheel of Time is trying I think harder to be appealing to a mass audience, and is leaving behind some of those things about Wheel of Time that I sincerely love but that…might not work for a general audience. So we end up with this thing that Wheel of Time might be better at its core…I don’t know if I could say that, it might be…but it doesn’t feel as good an adaptation to me."

Even after saying that he himself struggled to get into One Piece, Sanderson’s co-host Dan Wells agreed that it deserves recognition for how well it’s adapted. “I think One Piece is really worthy of praise for that because they managed to make a show that is appealing to a mass audience while also satisfying the creator and the hardcore fans. That’s impressive.”

Rosamund Pike (Moiraine Damodred) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video.
Rosamund Pike (Moiraine Damodred) in The Wheel of Time season 2. Image: Prime Video. /

Brandon Sanderson admits his criticisms of The Wheel of Time might be “unfair”

Something that was a bit controversial about the livestream where Sanderson reacted to The Wheel of Time season 2 finale was that he hadn’t actually watched the show’s second season yet; he’d only read the scripts. He mentioned in this podcast episode that he plans to watch it all once he has more time, and will discuss the season more fully with Wells in future installments of Intentionally Blank. Nonetheless, his criticisms stand!

"We’ll talk about Wheel of Time more as I sit down and watch the episodes and we kind of do actual reviews rather than off the cuff sort of things, but I feel like…Wheel of Time does drama fantastically but arcs poorly in the TV show. And I think we saw that in season 1, and I feel like…seeing the end of those arcs in Episode 8, the arcs and things don’t fit together, but the scenes and the interaction of the characters leading up are really good, because the acting is fantastic, the casting is fantastic. So I feel like Wheel of Time’s really good at filming scenes, and not working for me as an epic, large-scale plot narrative on the same way. Like the best episode of season 1 is still the one that doesn’t have anything really to do with the main plot of the show. Not having watched it but having read them, some of the best episodes of season 2 are the same way. The best parts are things that aren’t really even having to do with the main plot, because they’re good actors, the writing is really solid for those scenes, the drama — they’re very good at drama. But how these pieces all fit together is what makes an epic fantasy an epic fantasy to me."

Having read quite a few of Sanderson’s books, it’s easy to imagine how that philosophy about everything fitting together might be crucial to his particular view of epic fantasy. Part of what makes Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive novels so satisfying is the way he slowly weaves myriad plotlines together, so that by the end of each book characters who’ve been on disparate journeys for hundreds of pages cross paths, or are thrust into epic scenarios where huge mysteries are laid bare. This criticism makes total sense…but Sanderson himself admits it may be a little “unfair” to The Wheel of Time:

"So I think I’m maybe more critical of that…and that might be you know unfair to it, because with One Piece the episodes are mostly self-contained, right? Particularly the first two episodes [are] just like, ‘here’s this story with this thing…here’s a villainous pirate, and here’s how we face the villainous pirate.’ So I’m not looking for the pieces to build together in the same way I’m expecting Wheel of Time or Rings of Power to do."

Brandon Sanderson, from his "It's Time to Come Clean" YouTube reveal video.
Brandon Sanderson, from his “It’s Time to Come Clean” YouTube reveal video. /

One last fun note for the road: as I mentioned above, Sanderson’s initial Wheel of Time finale livestream ruffled a lot of feathers among fans who had been enjoying The Wheel of Time TV show. Sanderson has a reputation for being extremely attentive to his fanbase, so it sounds like he’s very much aware of how it upset some people, but isn’t taking it too hard. “Yell at us in the comments about Dan’s bad taste about One Piece and about my criticism of a show that I’m a producer on,” he added with a smile.

What do you make of all this? Is One Piece the better adaptation, or is The Wheel of Time? Feel free to yell in our comments too!

One Piece is currently available to stream on Netflix, while The Wheel of Time is on Amazon. If you really want to drill down on either of them, the source material is out there so you can delve into all the little nuances of these adaptations.

Next. The best episode in each Game of Thrones season. dark

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