Last night I watched One Piece Movie 8, thus finishing all of the movies and specials I can currently get my grubby mitts on, which means for the first time I am absolutely without One Piece until the next episode. This got me thinking about the series in general, and why it is that I absolutely love it, and now I'm sat here writing down all those thoughts. That's the magic of Anime-Planet blogs for you! :D
I was always a bit reticent about even starting to watch One Piece, it just seemed like more anime than I'd ever be able to get through. Eventually a friend of mine started watching it and really reccomended it, so I decided to give it a go too. I am so glad I did, Those 400 episodes of anime have been some of the best I've ever seen. It's an odd kind of series, one that is so much greater than the sum of it's parts, which at first glance could seem more than a bit, well, flimsy.
The plot and central characters are at first glance pretty familiar shounen fare, but over the course of the series, as backstories unravel and trials are faced, they become so much more. You become truly invested in the character's journey, to the point where , and I'm not ashamed to admit this (maybe I should be...), I often found myself in floods of tears. I'm no stranger to crying at anime, it's true to say, some might even say that I'm a great big wuss, but for a shounen series to get me all teary-eyed is very unusual. I think that's testament to the quality of the story that's being told. It hasn't once in it's hundreds of episodes felt stale, every new island visited and new character met brings fresh excitement and interest with it. The same cannot be said for other similiar series. Bleach, for example, which currently stands at about half the length of One Piece, is regularly appallingly bad, resorting to inane filler episodes in between major plot points. This isn't to say that One Piece hasn't been prone to the odd bout of filler, but when it does it feels as integrated in the series' universe as the main plot, something Bleach has never quite achieved.
The show's animation is also at first glance, less than stellar. Many would describe the character design as ugly, and while I strongly disagree, it's fair to say this is not the standard anime 'look'. In my opinion this is part of what makes the series stand out, it feels different from anything else out there almost instantly thanks to it's unique visual style. Of course the difference in visuals between episodes 1 and 400 are great, what with ten years between them and undoubtedly an increased budget. I personally prefer the older visuals, the characters feel a bit more solid, the lines are thicker and less... scribbly, for want of a better word.
It may be flawed ( Foxy, I'm looking at you!), but this a series that should be on every anime fan's watching list. This is not your typical shounen anime. Yes, it's got superpowers and big battles, but in between those you'll find some of the most, emotional, funny, and just plain satisfying anime you'll ever watch. And the big battles are pretty darn good too come to think of it! If you're not watching this yet, you should start right now. You won't be disappointed. In fact, if you're anything like me, you'll watch 400 episodes in two months and love every minute of it! Here's hoping that next episode I'm waiting for arrives soon!