I was in high school when I had finally touched the first chapter of One Piece. Initially, the art style put me off on this series for the longest. I saw myself as a huge “fan” of anime and manga and resented that everything in One Piece looked too cartoony for my liking. Once again, I wish I could go back in time to slap my younger self silly, but here I am to inform readers on another favorite of mine.
Before the start of the series, a pirate by the name of Gold Roger had everything the world offered: wealth, fame and power. The Marines captured him and before they executed him; he inspired adventurers around the world by mentioning that his treasure, One Piece, was still out there and pirates will have to search the entire world to find it. These words shocked the world as it entered a great age of piracy.
Monkey D. Luffy is one of many pirates inspired to set sail for the legendary One Piece. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed but the story plays his idiocy for laughs as he always finds himself in many scenarios. Though he may be dumb, he’s kindhearted to those he deems as his friends and will go very far for them (which could sometimes land him into trouble).
Back in Luffy’s younger days, the boy consumed a mystical Fruit known as a Devil Fruit. The Fruit provides the eater a special ability, depending on the type and variation of the Fruit itself. He ate the Gum-Gum Fruit turning him into a stretchy rubber man at the cost of no longer being able to swim. Undeterred by this, Luffy marches on to achieve his dreams. To get there, he has to round up great crew members and endure whatever comes his way during the journey. Throughout the journey, Luffy relies on the power of his Devil Fruit to challenge foes that stand in his way.
Eiichiro Oda, the author of this series, has stated many times that his main influence comes from another manga series called Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama and it shows. For those who do not know, Dragon Ball was a much more humor-oriented series before it became more action and more violence heavy with Dragon Ball Z. One Piece is like that, but never skews too far in either direction. It’s the perfect balance between comedy and action.
But let’s talk about the world of One Piece. There are almost 1000 chapters of the manga and close to 900 episodes of the anime and each expands the world in its own way. Every character met along the way have their own goals and motivation, there are many races with their own lands, operations within the Marine headquarters and so much more that I would be here all day listing everything the world of One Piece has to offer. Like the Marines, their job is to round up pirates from this great and throw them into prison. Marines place bounties over notorious pirates heads encouraging other groups like Bounty Hunters to hunt them down. Look at its Wikipedia Fan page, there are over 5000 pages and still growing!
Then there are the story themes Oda dives into during this long adventure. Dark subjects such as racism, slavery, cannibalism, censorship, genocide and much more. That may be something to keep an eye out for if you’re not willing to read into any of that, but I believe Oda does a brilliant job bringing these topics to light and adds flavor to the many villains of this series.
As mentioned earlier, One Piece is a very long series. If you’re willing to get into it, be prepared to read a lot. However, I believe the challenge is worth it. One Piece is a heartwarming tale and a heartbreaking one. Sometimes you will be furious and others where you will feel on the verge of tears. Check out the first volume on Kindle or Paperback if you’re interested.