The Movie Guru: ‘One Piece’ and ‘Star Trek: Lower Decks’ fantastic fantasy/sci-fi streaming

'One Piece' is now streaming on Netflix.
Netflix/Courtesy photo

One Piece (Netflix)

The live action “One Piece” is one of the most delightful fantasy shows currently available to stream.

It doesn’t matter if you have no experience with the anime. It doesn’t matter if the anime felt struck you as too weird to try. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t really like anime. If you’re looking for a warm-hearted, emotional, often hilarious fantasy series, you’re going to love “One Piece.”

The show is set on a world of islands, where variously-themed pirate ships all sail the seas looking for a legendary treasure called the One Piece. A young man named Luffy is determined to become the King of the Pirates, find a crew, and convince everyone that some pirates are nicer than people think. Will he be able to fulfill his quest to make it to the Grand Line before the Marines catch up with him?

The series has everything you could want out of a fantasy adventure. Characters with surprisingly emotional backstories that will win your heart, a story that seems simple but unfolds with lots of complicated layers, an immersive fantasy world, a great balance of laughter and danger, and so much more. The world building is integrated so beautifully into everything that it’s not long before the strangest visuals just add to the atmosphere.

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If you’re a fan of the “One Piece” anime or manga, you’re still going to be delighted. This is the series that breaks the longstanding live-action adaptation curse, clearly made with a deep love and understanding of the original. In the hands of this cast and crew, the world of “One Piece” is brought to life in the best possible way.

Either way, go watch this show immediately. You won’t regret it.

Star Trek: Lower Decks (Paramount+)

Yes, it’s animated. Yes, it’s funny. But “Star Trek: Lower Decks” is still the best Star Trek series of the last decade, if not longer.

If you’re not a Star Trek fan yet, imagine the American version of “The Office.” Now take out most of the awkwardness and add even better character development, great action sequences, and the ability to wrestle with some pretty heavy sci-fi concepts. This is great science fiction masquerading as a comedy, and if you’ve ever wanted to try Star Trek this is the place to start.

If you’re already a Trek fan, there’s even more here for you. The focus of the show is on a Constitution-class starship, the ones that go back later to check on civilizations after the big ships make the exciting discoveries. The format lets them comment on pretty much every major Trek series that came before them, both for jokes and to re-analyze some of the decisions they made. By looking at Star Trek from the perspective of the ships and people that usually do the grunt work, it shows us a universe that’s both familiar and brand new.

If you love Star Trek, or even think you might like it, then you’ll want to spend some time on the “Lower Decks.”

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at

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