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Why Zoro From Netflix's One Piece Looks So Familiar

Netflix's live-action "One Piece" series has hit the developmental ground running, with five key cast members being announced this week, including members of the manga and anime franchise's infamous Straw Hat crew. 

According to Variety, Iñaki Godoy ("Who Killed Sara?"), Emily Rudd ("Fear Street"), Jacob Romero Gibson ("Greenleaf") and Taz Skylar ("Boiling Point") will be portraying the iconic pirate gang, along with Mackenyu Arata — who goes by just Mackenyu — as former bounty hunter Roronoa Zoro. 

While most of the cast has experience in Hollywood, Mackenyu is easily the most recognizable of the bunch. The 24-year-old is considered a member of acting royalty in Japan thanks to his family lineage (more on that later), and he's also managed to carve out his own path in the movie industry. With dozens of Japanese films under his belt and an appearance in a Guillermo del Toro-produced film in 2013, chances are fans will likely recognize Mackenyu. And here's where from.

Mackenyu starred in Pacific Rim: Uprising

When it comes to American films, Mackenyu is best known for appearing in 2018's "Pacific Rim: Uprising," the sequel to Guillermo del Toro's 2013 Kaiju flick "Pacific Rim." He played a Jaeger pilot named Cadet Ryoichi, who was partners with Shyrley Rodriguez' Cadet Renata. Together they piloted Saber Athena, one of the most powerful Jaegers in the movie. The "Mark-7" unit was eventually destroyed by the film's Mega-Kaiju. 

Speaking to Pretty Smart Magazine after the release of "Uprising," Mackenyu described how he decided to take on a role in Hollywood, away from the Japanese film industry, to show others like him that they can make it any market if they just put their minds to it. "Just being a Japanese actor, I wanted to just tell Japanese actors that they can be a part of Hollywood films," he explained. "I just wanted to become a role model for them...I'm based in Japan, but you know, in the future, I want to be an actor who can act in Japan and Hollywood and have fans there. Like I said before, I want to be a role model for Japanese actors and Asian actors who really want to come to Hollywood."

Mackenyu was the final villain in Rurouni Kenshin Saishūshō: The Final

In one of his other most notable roles, Mackenyu portrayed the final villain Enishi Yukishiro in the Japanese live-action series "Rurouni Kenshin: The Final," which is based on Nobuhiro Watsuki's manga series of the same name. The film premiered in Japan on April 23, 2021, before eventually being moved to Netflix on June 18 (per Anime News Network). A description from the streaming giant reads: "In 1879, Kenshin and his allies face their strongest enemy yet: his former brother-in-law Enishi Yukishiro and his minions, who've vowed their revenge."

The manga adaptation is the fourth installment in the Rurouni Kenshin film series, which also includes "Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends" and "Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning." The franchise centers around ex-assassin Kenshin Himura as he's being hunted down by Shanghai mafia leader Yukishiro. The two eventually go toe-to-toe, with Himura getting the best of his rival. 

Mackenyu is the son of a famous Japanese actor

If you were to ask Japanese cinephiles what Mackenyu was best known for, they'd likely all say the same thing: He's the son of legendary actor and martial artist Shin'ichi "Sonny" Chiba. 

Chiba, who devastatingly died in August 2021 due to COVID-19 complications at age 82, acted in over 200 projects throughout his career, which spanned over six decades. His performances were said to have inspired numerous filmmakers and screen stars over the years, including Quentin Tarantino. 

As noted by Vulture, the "Pulp Fiction" director was so obsessed with Chiba that he put a line in the script for "True Romance" (1993) calling him "bar none, the greatest actor working in martial arts movies today." Tarantino even got him to star in "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" as legendary swordsmith Hattori Hanzō. When Chiba died, countless people in the film industry and fans across the world honored him and his work online. "Well if Covid can kill Sonny Chiba, it can definitely kill anyone," tweeted a fan named @BitsHammer. "Because let's be honest, most people aren't more badass than Sonny Chiba."