Oh One Piece, where to begin?
As one of the big 3 shounen animes currently ongoing, alongside Bleach and Naruto, One Piece seems to be the only one that hasn't shot itself in the foot.
Wheras the other two hit plot points that bore me, and drag themselves into seemingly endless pitfalls of badly written filler episodes, Oda seems to strike gold on everything he writes, and the show rarely goes into filler (Although when it does, you can pretty much bet that it won't be fun!)
The entire backstory, main plot point and namesake of the show, revolves around the former Pirate King, Gold Roger and the treasure he left on an island at the end of the Grand Line, One Piece. He announced the treasure at his execution and set people off to search for it. Ok, boom. Story. Fairly standard so far.
Twenty years since then, no one has managed to cross the grand line and reclaim the treasure, and a boy named Monkey D. Luffy is gathering a crew to go out in search of the treasure. Ok, Bam. Main Character. The entire first season of the show is based around Luffy gathering several strong crewmembers and making a name for himself before heading off to the grand line.
It is during this season, as well, that the most noticable changes are made to the art and drawing style. What starts off as relatively cartoonish, gets more and more toned and refined with every episode, so characters continually get more and more visually defined, which adds to how much the viewer can connect with them. By the end of it, each character looks much better, and more human than they did at the start. What I also like is that, unlike some other animes, the animators seem to try to not reuse any clips in a fight where possible. While it does happen a fair amount, it is still nowhere near the levels some other anime go to. I give the animation an 8/10, with points going for it for having visually appealing characters and scenes, with nice progression made in the art, and points down for having to reuse clips, and for occasionally drawing as little of a characters attack as possible.
The story, continues along the plot of searching for the treasure when they make it to the grand line. Here, the crew all have to look out for each other, and make use of their own individual skills to survive, not just fights, but sailing and traversing the waters. The crew have lots of adventures on the grand line, which keep getting them involved with powerful people and governing bodies.
Honestly, the story is still feeling very bland at this point to me, and I wasn't really enjoying the show until the last few episodes of the Skypeia arc. The Skypeia arc itself was a step in a new direction for the story, and had the potential to be very very good. But it dragged on too long, with too many explanations of what was going on and why. The fights are all good, and character interaction was great aswell, but it just goes on. And on. And on, like some sort of rambling review (little joke for you there, if you're still reading ;D).
After that, Oda just hits a well of imagination and great story, and hasn't stopped since. Every arc and plot point in the show suddenly became intricate and subtle. Not everything needs explained to us anymore, and so the story moves alot faster from this point. Any hints and clues Oda throws into the mix are subtle, and only the people who pay attention catch wind of them.
In particular, my favourite arc is the Water 7 arc. This story has everything; Ambiguity, betrayal, great fights, great supporting characters, shock, suspense, fantasy and superheroes. I'll let you get into this one yourselves.
Because of the stories shaky start and how long it took me to properly enjoy it, I would have given the story a 6/10, but the main reason I'm not giving it that, is because of how good the story lines have been since then. Im giving it 8/10, which is the highest I feel I can give because of the boring introductory story.
The sound for one piece is pretty solid. Each characters theme music suits their personality down to the ground, all the sound effects are good, the voice acting is all well done. the only real complaint I can make about it is about how abysmal most of the openings and endings are. In total I can only say I enjoyed 3 of the openings, one of them being the most recent opening, and none of the endings are even memorable. Can't think of one on the spot here, as I write this review. 9/10, all good aside from the OP/ED
What makes One Piece what it is though, as a series, has to be the Characters. All the crewmembers are the main characters whom we see the most of. Each ones personality and style seems to drive the story to what it seems to be. In particular, I notice that the first 5 characters had a trait each which we would associate with our stereotypical view of a pirate. Luffy's adventurous, Zoro's violent, Usopp's deceptive, Sanji's lecherous and Nami's obsessed with money.
Each character has their own personal reason for heading to sea, including the ones met later in the series. The character progression, watching them get stronger and more accustomed to each other, is the main thing that kept me watching this series while the story continued to let me down. All characters, even secondary ones, are well designed and thought out, and just because a character has been left beind, or an enemies been beaten, you shouldn't think "oh look, they're gone forever", because Oda loves recycling old characters, giving them interesting story progressions and reuses them in great ways which benefit the story. Most notable recurring characters are from the before the grand line. People like Coby and Helmeppo continually come back in and out of the story, either in their own episodes showing what they've been doing, or as characters in a story progressive episode as friends or enemies. If you're going to watch this show, my advice is to pay particular attention to the characters in it and how they act.
the characters easily earn a spectacular 10/10 from me.
The show overall, earns a 9/10. It is the best of the big 3 by a longshot, but, its early stuff lets it down. If you get into the show, I can nearly guarantee you will enjoy it though.
A Must watch for any shounen fan.