Netflix’s One Piece praised for casting of trans Evil Dead Rise star Morgan Davies

Trans actor Morgan Davies plays Koby in Netflix series One Piece.

Netflix’s live-action anime adaptation One Piece has been winning fans since it debuted on the streamer last week (31 August), not least for its casting of trans actor Morgan Davies.

After Eiichirô Oda created what has turned to be Japan’s highest-selling manga series, One Piece, in 1997, an anime version started airing in 1999. Still going today after more than 1,000 episodes, it stands as one of the genre’s longest-running series.

So, it’s no surprise that Oda’s live-action pirate-themed adaptation – he’s an executive producer as well a writer – has already smashed Netflix viewing records (beating Wednesday and Stranger Things), after the streaming service dropped its eight-episode adventure last Thursday.

The high-seas series stars Iñaki Godoy as Monkey D. Luffy, a local villager who sets off on a legendary quest to procure the fabled “one piece” treasure and become King of the Pirates. Along the way, he collects a ramshackle crew, including aspiring ocean law-enforcement officer, Koby – played by Australian actor Morgan Davies.

Described as “shy and anxious”, Koby is the first person Luffy meets on his mission, saving him from another ship and encouraging his dreams.

An official synopsis for the Netflix series reads: “In order to find the ultimate prize, Luffy will need to assemble the crew he’s always wanted before finding a ship to sail, searching every inch of the vast blue seas, outpacing the marines and outwitting dangerous rivals at every turn.”

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One Piece‘s Koby isn’t 21-year-old Davies’ only breakout role this year: In April, he appeared as Danny in the hit horror film Evil Dead Rise. Now, the rising star is winning plenty of new fans, especially among the LGBTQ+ community.

“We definitely need more trans representation, and I’m so happy to hear we got some from One Piece,” one fan wrote.

Another said: “My head canon for Koby has always been that he’s trans, so I’m super excited about Morgan Davies portraying him.”

Morgan Davies had a difficult coming out journey as a transgender man

Morgan Davies, who has been acting since he was a child, spoke to Vogue Australia in 2021 about coming out as trans, and returning to the acting industry as his true self.

“At 13, I came out as trans, just to mum and Catherine [Poulton, his trusted agent and friend] and a few close friends,” he said. “I was going through a lot, thinking: ‘Who the f**k am I and where am I going?'”

After initially coming out, Davies went back into the closet as he tried to find the confidence to act again. “I wanted to act but it’s really hard to put yourself on a screen because as soon as you do, people make assumptions about who you are. It’s so public.

“I wasn’t even ready to leave my room, let alone go on a TV show and be like, ‘Hey, I’m Morgan’. I didn’t even know I was Morgan. I was really confused.”

He went on: “There wasn’t a place for me, there was no intersection between what I wanted to do and who I was, and it was really f*cking hard to think about.

“It seemed to be adding to this pile of evidence that showed I couldn’t be that person. There was no place for me to exist.”

Everything changed in 2020, when he landed the role of Oberon in Australian series The End, and his character tackled issues around gender dysphoria and teenage angst. Now, he is advocating for authentic trans representation on screen.

“[I want trans actors] showing people the really full life trans people have, going to parties, love interests, really enjoying yourself,” he insisted.

One Piece is streaming on Netflix now.

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