Howdy ladies and gents and welcome to another review-related blog post. Tonight I am going to give you my thoughts on what I believe to be one of the best anime shows in existence; One Piece.
Firstly I shall give out a little background information as to what One Piece is. Like most anime, it started out as a manga and was first published in 1997. Eiichiro Oda is the author and illustrator of One Piece and because his manga was so successful, the animated adaptation was born in the shape of an Original Video Animation called “One Piece: Defeat The Pirate Ganzack!” that was produced by Production I.G in 1998. A year after the anime started airing on Fuji Television through the power of Toei Animation, the studio that gave life to Dragon Ball. Since then the series has had over 500 episodes (538 at the time of this review), 11 movies, 3 OVAs and several specials. Yes, One Piece is a pretty huge when it comes to anime shows.
When it comes to story it follows the journey of Monkey D. Luffy, a boy who wants to become a pirate but not just any pirate, he wants to be the pirate king! In order to do this he must get a ship, a pirate crew and search for the legendary treasure known One Piece that the deceased King of the Pirates, Gol D. Roger left many years ago. Along the way Luffy acquires 8 unique crew members, obtains a ship and travels across the sea to many locations, making new friends and enemies and battles other pirate crews, the marines and the seven warlords. The great thing about the story of One Piece is that it is always interesting, the whole concept of pirate lifestyle has always been a captivating one with potential stories of adventure, action, drama, romance and so on. All of those types of stories are realised in the world of One Piece in a strange, happy-go-lucky and dramatic fashion thanks to Eiichiro Oda’s good storytelling and capitalizing on the adventure aspect that made Dragon Ball so successful. But what makes One Piece so great is its ability to be fresh but also familiar, and this mainly comes from Oda’s amazing knack for creating new material which is just as good or better than what has come before, and the world of One Piece is so rich with content and mythology that any time we learn something new about the past, it just adds more quality to the overall universe.
Give it some time and these characters will become attached to ya, they’re THAT awesome 😀
When it comes to the characters of One Piece whether they be main cast, secondary cast or people who just show up for 1 or 2 episodes, each person has their own personality and style that they bring to the show. Monkey D. Luffy, the main protagonist is a happy-go-lucky lad, full of charisma and energy; he is also very naive and stupid, but also very strong and has a great sense of justice. If this all sounds very familiar let’s look at the character I call Luffy’s predecessor, Son Goku from Dragon Ball. Now it’s obvious that they share many similar features as the ones pointed out above, but they also have big appetites and don’t fight or move well without food among other things. Luffy’s other comrades are: Roronoa Zoro (a man known as the pirate hunter who wields 3 swords), Nami (a thief who loves money and is the navigator), Usopp (a cowardly fighter and inventor), Sanji (the Cook), Tony Tony Chopper (a reindeer who happens to be a doctor), Nico Robin (archaeologist), Franky (the cyborg shipwright) and Brooke (the skeleton musician). Each member of Luffy’s crew including Luffy himself have dramatic backstories full of hardship, suffering, death, and some more painful than others, and when these events of the past cross over into later points in the series you’ll come to understand and sympathize for the people involved. The villains are also interesting coming in all shapes and sizes, literally. All have different types of powers or weapons and normally come with a stylish or wacky dress sense. And most importantly each antagonist comes with their own levels of charm, charisma and evilness whether they are the main enemy or subsidiary members. My favourites are Captain Buggy, “Hawk-Eye” Mihawk, Admiral Aokiji, Bartholomew Kuma and Rob Lucci to name a few.
One of the key aspects that make One Piece such a good show is the story and narrative. It’s all about adventure and the journey that you as the viewer go on, it can be an emotive one as you feel moments of anger and sadness but at the same time moments can also very funny and joyful and gives you a reason to smile and laugh even in the face of danger. As previously mentioned the show is funny, the stupidity of certain characters will have you in stitches and has to be experienced to be understood. The story arcs are very intriguing and surprising with a good deal of complexity in some areas. Now I have heard some people say that One Piece is for children, but then isn’t most shōnen anime? However unlike most children’s shows, One Piece has very dark stories and characters that affect the overall tone, that along with a lot of adult themes and levels of violence involved, you are left with a show that really isn’t that well-suited for kids. Plus in my opinion there are a lot of story elements and dialogue that younger audiences couldn’t begin to comprehend. At one point back in 2010 I happened to see on a website where someone compared One Piece to Fairy Tail and said that Fairy Tail was much better, less child-like and for mature audiences… Now I’ve watched a good number of Fairy Tail episodes and I have found nothing that makes it any more ‘mature’ or ‘better’ then One Piece. At this point I feel One Piece is more mature due to themes, morals and ethics, violence and the emotional stories of characters involved. It should also be noted that the filler arcs and TV specials of One Piece are also pretty good and while some filler can be a bit tedious, here they’re a lot better than other anime where the filler doesn’t advance the series and normally are skipped because their lack of quality.
Visually One Piece is one of the most unique anime out there; one could say that the look of One Piece is very abstract when compared to most other anime of present in the same genre or any genre. this is mainly due to Eiichiro Oda’s art style crafted in the manga which has a very unique and unusual look when compared to other manga. Some people have even put off watching this show purely based on the look of the show which is a darn shame because they are doing themselves a massive disservice. While One Piece isn’t as detailed as other shōnen anime like Fullmetal Alchemist, Naruto or Bleach, which have highly detailed characters in the facial, hair, and clothing areas, One Piece has is simple in composition but has a lot of artistic flair and creative things that you’d never find in other anime. The characters are very simple, not very detailed and look kind of wacky and funky when compared to other shows. However I feel that the look of One Piece‘s characters, creatures, settings and animation are very interesting and is one of the unique selling points of the show and if you give it time you will adjust and come to love it.
Just look at the different between episode 1 and episode 474 and tell me you can’t see the difference in quality here.
I would also call One Piece an “evolution anime”, a term that I use on an anime that has progressed since its conception and become visually different. Now this can apply to many shōnen shows, but I mainly apply this term to anime shows that really have changed from a visual standpoint. Dragon Ball Z is a good example of an anime that looks noticeably different from when it started to when it ended, and while the main design of the characters and settings are the same in One Piece, viewers will notice differences in the levels of detail in episodes as time goes by. For example, when you look at an episode in the East Blue Saga when the series started in 1999 and then compare it to the Skypiea Saga, there are noticeable differences in the art design and animation thanks to the different animation directors that keep the look of the show varied and interesting. And when you take into account the 2-year Time Skip in the manga that eventually took place in the anime in October 2011, the look of the show now compared to the start of the series is incredibly different, thanks to a higher quality of animation from Toei Animation and the new character updates/redesigns from Oda which really add a new level of spice to the show’s visual style. Also I don’t think I could talk about this anime without mentioning the soundtrack which is handled by Kohei Tanaka and Shiro Hamaguchi. The music for this show is totally incredibly epic, catchy, and varied with musical themes for every scenario. Each character has a certain theme that’ll play while they’re fighting or doing something sneaky and the songs work very well. Another great aspect with One Piece‘s soundtrack is that the music evolves along with the show with different themes for new locations, characters or battle music and it really immerses you in that world too. Eventually you’ll find yourself humming away with some songs, whether they are opening songs or particular tunes in the show’s soundtrack.
I believe that One Piece is the definition of what shōnen-based anime is all about. Now One Piece is a shōnen by genre which normally means that one is dealing with an action/adventure-based cartoon. The codes and conventions found in this anime are similar to other shōnen anime like Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tail. You have the main protagonist who is a man, accompanied by other main characters who are either friends, allies or enemies. The main cast of protagonists are normally in a group or crew of some kind travelling from place to place of varying look and feel, coming across different obstacles and overcoming them through meeting their problems head-on and fighting their way to victory. And obviously as the journeys continue the obstacles become harder to triumph over. But I believe the way that One Piece does it is just wonderful, subtle and done with a great deal of style that it stands out from other anime.
In conclusion, if you couldn’t tell already I am a major supporter of One Piece and I really do recommend it to anyone who wants to a different yet rewarding experience when it comes to anime. It is truly brilliant and very enjoyable with amazing stories, larger than life characters and crazy amounts of action and madness. Even though the series is over 500 episodes long you should give it a chance, I have been watching for almost 4 years come this summer and I’ve never regretted it, and if you start I doubt that you will regret it either 😀