One Piece is series created by Eiichiro Oda and it is his only major work. It started to circulate as a manga series in 1997 and it still ongoing. It currently has 58 volumes. In 1999 it was adapted to an anime series and, just like the manga, is ongoing, currently having 459 episodes. He created this series because of his love of pirates and Vikings. True story.
The series is a typical shounen series. It has ear-piercing shouting, exaggerated machismo, colossal fights, the usual comedic jaw drop, looooooong plots and inane comedy. While some would like that, I find it annoying, stupid and overall boring. Three things set One Piece apart from the rest of such shounen titles. They are it’s cartoonish and fugly artwork and animation and the mindblowingly weird setting. The animation looks like Oda took lessons in drawing from American cartoon artists. It doesn’t look Japanese at all. As the series progresses, the character designs get more and more ridiculous and unsettling. The story is set in an alternative Earth where the majority of it is water and the majority of the landmass runs across the planet like a ring. It is a very bizarre world. The two mega-oceans are divided into four seas and all of them are peppered by tiny islands. Many of them would be too small to support a human society in real life but people still settle on them and are quite well off. The seas are populated by immense creatures, even the dolphins are huge, they are bigger than the whale in the real world. However, the biggest of them all are sea serpent like creatures called Sea Kings. Then there is also the Grand Line. This line is like if you combined the equator with the Bermuda Triangle after you sprinkle the sky with steroids first. I know that what I just said right now is completely ludicrous but you get the point. It is a narrow and isolated stretch of sea containing the things that would definitely prompt a WTFgasm in any viewer. Mother Nature here clearly took way too much ‘shrooms while creating this world. There are islands in the sky o_O and on the sea, evolution has gone berserk, there are dinosaurs on one island and modern homo sapiens on the next and each island has its own climate. The islands have either a desert, arctic, rainforest, prairie or whatever theme. The majority of the plot takes place in that area.
On to the plot. The story is about a boy named Monkey D. Luffy, whose name perfectly describes his personality. He displays all the characteristics of the idiot hero stock character. In fact, I think it would be safe to make him the king of such characters or better yet, I am just go ahead and proclaim this series to be the Citizen Kane of stock character series. Each and every character has a single goal and is one dimensional personality wise, like Justin Beiber. Roronoa Zoro, Luffy’s first companion, for example, is only concerned with his sword fighting skills. Anyway, in that world, in the events prior to the series, the Pirate King, Gol D. Roger, has been captured and executed but before his teeth bit the basket he exclaimed that he has hidden all of his massive treasure in one place at an island in the Grand Line, whoever gets to it and claims it will become the next Pirate King. This led to the Golden Age of Pirates because every pirate started searching for the treasure. Anyway, back to Luffy, this boy wishes to find the treasure and become the next Pirate King. Why he wants this status is never explained. One day he sets sail for the looooong and exhausting journey to get that treasure. In his journey he meets many different people, some join him, others just give him their emotional support while still others want to arrest and/or kill him because he made himself an outlaw by pursuing the treasure thus getting a bounty on his head. His journey leading up to his entry into the Grand Line is chronicled like a real story. The story flows slowly yet smoothly ahead but when he enters the Grand Line the plot from then on can be described by the phrase ‘’island hopping’’.
As the magnetic field in that line is messed up, sailors need a special compass that points to the next nearest island and then calibrates over time to point to the next island. Therefore, Luffy and his slowly growing band of misfits have to stop on every island. As luck would have it, there is a grave problem troubling the people on every island, don’t ask how they got there, and Luffy feels like he should help them out, regardless of what the problem is. These problems don’t concern him at all and, for the sake of the flow of the story, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Unfortunately, just about every problem, whether being a usurpation, war or oppression, takes about a mindboggling 90 to 100 episodes to solve, thus making each season chronicling the events on one island. I am positive that Oda tries his best to elongate the series to insane proportions because he keeps on adding mostly unnecessary recaps, fillers, episodes dedicated to the history of a character and awesome yet long, DBZ-like battles filled with deux ex machinas, since there are things called devil fruits, which give anyone who eats one of them a supernatural power at the expense of taking their abilities to swim. Luffy ate one and so did the majority of his enemies. He can stretch his body like rubber and is immune to blunt blows. So, the whole series can be summed like this: Luffy arrives on an island, spots a problem, decides to intervene, even it is none of his business, which is usually the case, he eventually wins and then moves onto the next island. Sometimes he manages to add another member, who was so overcome by his manliness and selflessness >_>’’, to his crew. By the way, I fail to see why people would join Luffy. He keeps on getting them into danger, teases them, is a total drag on their budget because of his gluttonous behaviour and doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together. He acts like a demented little kid. Oda tries in vain to cover this up by forcing upon them the feeling of glaringly fake comradeship.
To conclude, I do not recommend this series at all. It is long, stupid and devoid of any real meaning, simply filled with mindless violence. It is by no means worth your time despite the interesting and colourful setting. Don’t even watch an episode of it because every single episode ends with cliff-hanger, which, like it or not, suck you in and holds you with in iron grip. It also seems as though this series won’t end soon. Eiishiro Oda keeps on making stuff up to elongate the series even further. I shall give this series a well-deserved 3 out of 10. Sorry, Oda, but abundant imagination and awesome fights can only accomplish so much.