Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Mangaka: Eiichiro Oda
Length: 514 chapters, compiled in 51 volumes [So far. This manga has been going since 1997, and it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.]
Plot: It is the grand era of the pirates, brought upon when the great Gold D. Roger was executed 22 years ago. Pirates from all over search for his great treasure, the One Piece, hidden in the treacherous waters of the Grand Line.
Our adventure begins when an 8 year old boy, Monkey D. Luffy, eats the Gum Gum Fruit, one of the many Devil Fruits – a mystical fruit that will give you supernatural powers, while robbing you of your ability to swim. He gained the ability to stretch any part of his body, as he is now, quite literally, a rubber man. His dream is to become a pirate – and he does so, 10 years later. He travels the seas, picking up crew members, fighting against evil pirates and the Shichibukai, the pirate slaves of the government, and then facing the dangers of the Grand Line in order to capture One Piece and become the king of all pirates.
Analysis: It’s a fun manga to read. When it started, it was only supposed to go on for 5 years or so – you can tell this just from the way the plot works out in the beginning. It moves along a lot faster and the fight scenes aren’t as long as they get.
The characters are more loped on than anything – they aren’t given much of a background before joining, and there isn’t much reason for them to do so. However, later on, the manga gets very exiting. Characters are given a lot more depth before we even know that they’ll be joining the crew – sometimes we don’t even know if they’ll be joining at all.
That being said, the plot of the manga is very good. Because its such an open ended dream – become king of the pirates, get one piece – there are many things that can happen in between. This is furthered by the grand line by itself – its made of up many islands, each of which has their own magnetic pull – you need a special device, called a lock post to navigate through the islands. In order to get the lock post to lock, you have to stay on each island for a specific amount of time, which can vary. Its basically an excuse to have an adventure, and it works out really well.
As the manga goes on, the characters start to reveal themselves more fully. It’s the great part about having such a long manga, that you can develop the characters a lot. It also leaves room for very long fights, most of which are really well done. They’re fun to watch, and they’re filled with suspense. My only problem with them is this – the protagonist, Luffy, is extraordinarily strong, all due to his self training that was done during the 10 year time skip in the first chapter. We never actually see him training for anything. He gains one technique in one of the last arcs, and he made it up kinda spur of the moment. It just seems very unlikely that he can beat some of the strongest pirates in the world without training.
Finally, there is the matter of the grand line. Ignoring the sheer impossibility of the entire place, in the first part of the manga, the grand line is described as a place full of horror, fear, death, and destruction. Now, while the latter two might be true [there certainly are a lot of fights there], it doesn't seem like something very scary. The only real big deal are the pirates who you can circumvent [or fight – if you're too weak, then shame on you]. Everyone makes a big deal about how scary the grand line is, but i just don't see it. Now, it is dangerous mind you – the weather patterns make it almost impossible to navigate, which makes for very scary waters to travel through. But nothing as to the extent that you are made to believe.
Now, for fun, I thought that i would compare the pirates of one piece to the pirates of the real world [Yes, there is such a thing]
For the first part, the pirate ship does not work as it does in the manga. Its not a matter of who is the strongest in terms of fighting ability – rather, for the most part, it was done democratically, with the crew electing who the captain is. Their targets would not be a treasure, whether by following a map [of which the idea entirely came from Treasure Island], but any passing merchant ships. Most of the time, pirates would be working for a government – these were called privateers. It was often hard to tell the difference. Fights were not decided by who was the stronger fighter. They were usually decided by who caused the biggest amount of damage to the other ships. In most cases pirates would win without a fight, due to their fearsome reputation.
Next is the pirate flag. The jolly roger as we know it, and as every pirate crew has [although edited some per crew] in One Piece, wasn't prominent in a lot of ships. Often it would be a black flag for fight to the death, or red flag for fight with mercy. If it wasn't this, then it would be a national flag to try and lure prizes [ships] into a sense of false security.
Pirates were not respected by most people. They were seen as barbaric brutes who only were out for themselves. This is almost the exact opposite as the manga – pirates are often seen as a hope for people, while some people hate them.
The fact that there are women pirates in One Piece is astounding. Now, i don't have anything against women, but in history there have only been 5 reported cases. There might have been more, but either way it is a very rare occurrence. The women pirates in One Piece are often very important members of the crews, and in some cases lead them as the captain.
Finally, the last thing that I can remember is the noted lack of ships on the sea. Even before making it to the Grand Line, the only ships that you see are either pirate ships or marine ships. Its as though boats only exist for those two purposes.
Please note that I'm only going to do the first 5 crew members, who are the ones that appear before the Grand Line. I'm doing this in order to avoid spoilers to the maximum, because generally a character joins at the end of an arc. I'm also not covering the villians, because they are usually arc specific. Secondary characters are not being covered as well because, even this far into the manga, we don't know alot about the important ones.
Strawhat Luffy, AKA Monkey D. Luffy: The hero of the story, he ate the Gomu Gomu Fruit [Gum Gum Fruit] when he was eight years old. Upon doing so, he gained the powers to stretch any part of his body to any length imaginable, however he gave up the ability to swim. He gained his nickname, Strawhat, from the straw hat that he always wears on his head. It was a gift from Red-Haired Shanks, a pirate whose crew used Luffy's town as base when he was young. It is his most treasured possession, and it becomes the symbol for his pirate crew.
Luffy is a very simple boy. He has a strong moral code, and he's not too smart. However, he is a very strong fighter. He has high agility and strength, which he calls out to its fullest when used in combination with his rubber-stretching powers, which usually consists of him flinging his arm back, then letting it snap forward to hit his opponent. Its more complicated than that, but its hard to describe in words. He LOVES meat - it is the only thing that can give him enough energy to do anything.
Roronoa Zoro: The second person to join Luffy's crew, and its 1st mate, he is a master swordsman. There is one difference between him and normal swordsmen however – he uses three swords [He places the third in his mouth]. He made a promise to a childhood friend/rival to become the greatest swordsman in the world, and as such whenever facing a swordsman he tries his hardest never to lose, even if losing would mean walking away alive. His strength is amazing [and his teeth are most likely made out of diamonds, as well as having a mouth as dry as the desert], and before joining the crew, was feared as one of the best pirate hunters. He has a fierce rivalry with Sanji [Look Below]
Zoro is a fun guy. Like Luffy, he isn't too smart, but he is very loyal. He has a terrible sense of direction, and as such usually gets lost. His skills, as mentioned, are very good. While he has not eaten any Devil Fruits, he can beat most of them. Fun fact about his attacks – most of them are named after food, and are puns. For example, one of the first 'special' attacks that he uses is Oni Giri. Oni means demon, and Giri means slash, so therefor it would mean Demon Slash. However, an Onigiri is a rice ball thats often eaten as a snack. The same is true for his swords – the kanji for them can be read multiple ways, mimicking food or something deadly.
Nami: The third to join the crew, she serves as the ship's navigator. Before joining them, she introduced herself as the pirate thief, stealing treasure only from other pirates. She is really one of the only ones with any brains in her head. She acts as the ship's conscience for a good part of the series, and while to start off she didn't have any fighting skills, they grew later on as a result of her feeling weak and helpless.
When Nami first shows up, you don't know whether or not she is going to join – she disappears for a while, then shows back up. She is the first one to have a real strong plot and back story appear, and as such is very memorable.
Usopp: The fourth to join the crew [Gee, I wonder if I'm going in some sort of order here ...], he is the ship's sniper. He has a very big head and is full of himself, often calling himself the captain before being shot down [Get it? He's the sniper and he's being shot down ... Ha ha ha ... Punny ... :(]. His father is a part of Shank's crew, and its partly for this reason that Luffy takes a liking to him. He's also a very big liar, and he loves making up stories to impress other people with his amazing, but very fake, deeds. For a lot of the series, he is a gag character, but he gains a lot of strength later on.
Usopp is mostly used as comic relief. Until one of the arcs, he is not too strong, but his attacks are always fun to watch. He uses a slingshot to do his sniping with, and he has an assortment of bullets, ranging from explosions to hot pepper. Contrary to what it appears, he can analyze situations very easily. His most defining feature is his nose ... which sticks out a foot in front of his face. He is also a big coward.
“Black Legged” Sanji: The fifth to join the crew, and the last to do so before the Grand Line, he is the chef of the ship. He was taught how to cook and fight by Red-Legged Sef, and as the name suggests, only fights with his legs. His dream is to find Deep Blue, a place where all of the oceans in the world intersect, that contains every species of fish imaginable. He loves women of all sort – except if they're ugly. But, even if they are, he will never hit a woman. The only times that he gets angry is when food/cooking is insulted, or if a woman is harmed. That, or any time that he is in the same room with Zoro, who as mentioned before, has a rivalry with.
Sanji is a good character. After Nami, he is the most level-headed of the crew, but he can still be an idiot sometimes. He is the third strongest in the crew, and like the first two, he has a strong code of honor. He constantly smokes a cigarette, which was changed to a lollipop in American versions of the manga/anime.
Overall, I really liked this series. Its quite addicting, even though it is rather long. I read it in a week, which was only possible because I was under a bet and I kinda forgot about doing everything else during that time. I highly recommend reading this [But definitely at a slower pace than what I did. Maybe do like 2 volumes a night]. I wish that i could have written a better summary, but its hard to do so with this manga without giving anything away. Maybe in a bit I'll go back, look it over, and rewrite it. Here are some pictures depicting some of the fights – these aren't the best in the series, nor are these comedy shots. Like I said earlier, the manga gets a lot better as it gets on, in terms of fights and comedy. I tried to not go too far into the manga so as not to ruin anything, but these pictures don't fully represent how good this manga is. Not only that, but the quality of the manga increases - another good part about it being so long is that you can see the artwork change over time.
Usopp using a fire shot fired from his slingshot on a merman.
A picture of their Pirate Flag on the Going Merry, the ship that they aquired. Its mostly for this that the crew was called the Strawhat crew. [I know that it says Rufi in it, but that is because in japanese, R and L sound the same, so some people translated it as Rufi. However, the majority of the scans are done Luffy, and that is how it was translated into english.]
Again, sorry that it took so long. My Internet has been out of wack lately, so it was hard to keep working on this. I just read another series so I'll have that review up within the next few days.