The beloved Japanese manga series One Piece sailed to new heights following the release of its live-action adaptation, with the Straw Hat Pirates captivating viewers as they embarked on their grand adventures.
Many of the show's fans were particularly charmed by Mackenyu Arata, who plays the role of skillful swordsman Roronoa Zoro in the Netflix series. Are you one of them?
From being the son of a martial artist to being a breakout star, here's everything you should know about the One Piece actor.
It runs in the blood
Born on Nov. 16, 1996 in Los Angeles, Mackenyu is the son of a legendary Japanese actor and martial artist Sonny Ichiba. He is known for his death-defying stunts in film and television in the 80s and 90s, including The Street Fighter and The Killing Machine, which inspired the brutal fighting game Mortal Kombat for his impressive moves.
Mackenyu's father also appeared in Hollywood offerings such as the Quentin Tarantino-helmed Kill Bill films, where he played the role of sushi chef and swordsmith Hattori Hanzo. In 2006, he made his way to The Fast and The Furious franchise in Tokyo Drift as Kamata, the head of Yakuza.
Mackenyu is Chiba's son with his ex-wife Tamami, whom he married in 1996 and called it quits in 2015. Sonny died in 2021 at the age of 82 due to COVID-19.
The One Piece star's half-sister Juri Manase served as the trainer and stunt double of Lucy Liu in Kill Bill, while his younger brother Gordon Maeda is best known for his portrayal of Takashi Mitsuya in the live-action movie adaption of the popular Japanese anime, Tokyo Revengers.
Mackenyu’s filmography is every anime lover's dream
Doing a live adaptation of a Manga or anime series is no longer new to him. Prior to One Piece, he starred in Knights Of The Zodiac and played the role of the main protagonist, Pegasus Seiya, an orphan who realizes that he's destined to protect the reincarnation of the goddess Athena and aid her in the battle to save humanity.
He also starred in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure in 2017, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final in 2021, and Fullmetal Alchemist in 2022.
In an interview with Timid Magazine, Mackenyu revealed his approach to balancing the expectations of viewers who are already familiar with the source material with the need to create a fresh and unique interpretation of his character.
"When I do live-action stuff, I always keep in mind that—I'm a fan of a lot of manga and anime, but when it comes to live-action, it's a completely different thing. You have to look at it differently. For me, film, anime, and manga, I just separate them," he said.
"So if you liked the manga, if you liked the anime, stick with it. If you want to try a new adventure, feel free to come watch my movies and shows," the actor continued.
It seems that the 26-year-old actor has always been into physical activities. At the age of 7, he learned horseback riding and yabusame, a traditional type of Japanese archery.
He got into Kyokushin karate when he was 8 years old, and placed third at the US Kyokushin Karate Nationals in middle school.
Mackenyu is also a water polo player and a gymnast. He even used to be part of his high school’s wrestling team.
Aside from sports, Mackenyu also loves listening to music just as much as playing instruments.
At 10 years old, he started playing the piano and joined the brass band of his high school in Beverly Hills to play the saxophone and flute.
He even took part in the Tokyo remix of Closer by The Chainsmokers.
Sorry, ladies—he's off the market
Mackenyu has his heart taken by his longtime non-showbiz partner, with whom he tied the knot early this year.
“From now on, we will continue to support each other while spending precious time together. It would make me happy if you would watch over us warmly,” he said in a January statement about his marriage.