Long ago the infamous Gol D. Roger was the strongest and most powerful pirate on the seas. As he was about to be executed he revealed that he hid all of his wealth, including the legendary treasure known as One Piece, on an island at the end of the Grand Line - a treacherous and truly unpredictable sea. Monkey D. Luffy is a spirited, energetic and somewhat dim-witted young man with a very big dream: to find One Piece and become the Pirate King! However Luffy is no ordinary boy, as when he was younger he ate one of the Devil's Fruits and gained its power to become a Rubber Man. Now in this grand age of pirates Luffy sets out to gather a crew and sail to the most dangerous sea in the world so that he can fulfill his dream... and maybe even his appetite!
Story For series of this length, there’s a fairly intriguing piece of conjecture that I occasionally enjoy trotting around. According to the theory, no matter how awesome the original premise, no matter how charming the cast of characters, no matter how competent the studio, every long series will tank after about 75 episodes. As evidence, a myriad of lengthy anime can be cited that begin excellently and then slowly degenerate into recycled material and filler. Kenshin was excellent until some genius decided to deviate from the manga. Kodomo no Omocha was brilliant until the series drowned itself in the utterly craptastic New York arc. Naruto was actually fairly fun until Gaara and his whiny, sniveling flashbacks slowed the series down to a monotonous crawl. Prince of Tennis, Slam Dunk, Galaxy Angel... I could rant on this phenomenon for hours, and probably will someday. Of course, my theory has an annoying, irrefutable, and ultimately fatal hole in its logic. Even when I’m at my most eloquent, I inevitably find myself forced to tag “…except One Piece” onto the end of every sentence. According to the hypothesis, the series should have died off episodes upon episodes ago, and yet continues to succeed well beyond any possible expectations. Just as other shows of similar length are running out of creative steam and tormenting their fans with shamelessly shitty schlock, One Piece draws from a seemingly infinite well of creativity to deliver time and time again. Put simply, One Piece seems almost limitless in its capacity for entertainment. Granted, the storyline is not without its weak moments. There are scattered filler episodes that really don’t belong, and the dragon puzzle arc is some of the most boring material that I’ve ever willingly watched. However, although during these moments the show seems like it might finally go the way of Inuyasha, the creators always bounce back to deliver more of what everyone loves. The Arabasta arc, which has just recently concluded, is one of the best segments of the entire series. This fact alone leads to the inevitable question of what separates the show from lesser works. What makes the series as good as it is? Why has the series succeeded where so many others have failed? Essentially, what is driving the show to remain so engaging for such a ridiculous amount of time? The answer, I believe, draws not from what the story is about, but how the story is approached. With fight scenes, simplistic humor, and the ever-present emphasis on the importance of friendship, the anime contains many of the expected trappings of the shounen genre. However, a characteristic seemingly unique to One Piece is the distinct air of genuineness that the show seems to permeate. With other shows of similar length, I’m often struck by the distinct feeling that the show has exactly one thing on its mind: money. Oftentimes, an anime with an established audience will simply stop coming up with new material, and start recycling what they’ve already made. In this creative void, the show will rigorously follow its formula beyond any semblance of what is entertaining. Thus, the studio is able to pump every possible cent from its cash cow until nothing is left but the lifeless husk of what the show used to be. At this point, ratings dip, and the studio cancels it at a completely arbitrary point, neglecting even the slightest of closure and basically spitting in their fans’ faces. With One Piece, however, the feeling is crucially different. While watching the anime, one gets the impression that Eiichiro Oda, the author of the original manga, was focused not on money, but something much more substantial: having fun. Every element of the storyline, from the delightfully absurd jokes to the most serious of plot points, seems to be there because the manga creator enjoyed putting them there. This, I believe, is the reason why One Piece has remained fresh for so long. For some unfathomable reason, the creator enjoys pumping out volume after volume of golden material. Furthermore, as opposed to many other manga to anime conversions, the studio is actually faithful with its material. The result is a storyline that, despite some inevitable inconsistency, is one of the best of its kind: an unnaturally enjoyable romp across the seas of a thoroughly original world. Animation Animation, while fairly nice, is not completely free of the penny-pinching shortcuts that typically plague shows of this length. Backgrounds are often rather ugly and hastily drawn, and anything drawn at a distance tends to be a little too oversimplified. The show also sports some truly ugly character designs that take a good deal of time to get used to, and a good deal longer to actually appreciate. The fight scenes are almost certainly the highlight of the animation, which seem to involve a lot more money than the rest of the show. The action is usually very well timed, and character movements are suitably lithe and convincing (and by that, I mean as convincing as a person made of rubber could possibly be). A lot of fight scenes in other anime tend to overuse repeated footage, but One Piece doesn’t seem to have this problem. Overall, One Piece’s visuals are pleasant, but certainly not groundbreaking. Sound Music starts out on a fairly shitty note, with one of the lamest OP’s I’ve heard that I can remember. After the first episodes, the anime begins to cycle through the opening and ending songs at a fairly quick pace, and soon there are too many of them to actually keep track of. However, just about every song is a fairly mediocre J-Pop track, and none of them are actually good enough to really get excited over. Background music doesn’t really stand out, but never becomes noticeably repetitive or distracting, either. Voice acting tends to be fairly good, although there are exceptions to this (in particular, that one dog from the Buggy arc comes to mind). Characters Love them or hate them, few people would disagree with the statement that each and every character of One Piece is decidedly unique. From the bizarre character designs to the off-kilter personalities to the extensive back-stories, there isn’t a whole lot here that can be seen somewhere else. The question of actual appeal, however, is a slightly different issue. For the actual protagonists, many, many people (including myself) are going to have an initially difficult time liking characters like Usopp. Also, a good deal of the supporting cast in the early episodes has the tendency to be excruciatingly annoying (Buggy the Clown, Kobe, Guy in the Box). However, whether the show is actually improving at development or whether it simply takes time to grow to like some of the more pathetic characters, this is becoming much less of an issue than what I’ve previously made it out to be. Amazingly enough, I’m beginning to like Usopp as a character, and for the recent Arabasta arc, there wasn’t a single character that I wasn’t fond of. Furthermore, the characters that happen to be above-average for the show tend to be downright excellent. If there are people in this world that are immune to the charms of characters like Sanji, Luffy, or Nami, then I haven’t met them yet. Each one of these has an immensely compelling back-story and a loveable and distinctive personality. Also, each can be amazingly funny when played off of the rest of the cast. My one possible complaint would lie with Vivi, who seems a little dull at times; there just doesnt seem to be anything interesting about her personality. However, this could easily be just because she’s not quite as original and wacky as the rest of the crew. As a whole, the characters are an ultimately endearing bunch, especially if one chooses to overlook the weaknesses of some of the more minor characters. Overall Do I believe that One Piece will last forever? Surely not. All great things, even ones that initially seem infinitely robust, must eventually come to an end. I’m sure there will come a time where One Piece will either cease to be entertaining or simply cease production. However, even if One Piece begins to suck from the very moment that I finish writing this review, the sheer length of quality episodes that have been released already easily elevate the series to far beyond most anime can dream of. Besides, if the Arabasta arc is any indication, One Piece looks as though it will remain entertaining for a good deal longer.
Synopsis Before his execution twenty-four years ago, the fabled Pirate King Gol D. Roger revealed the location of the One Piece, a treasure of legends, amassed over generations of sea-travelers. Thus the Era of Dreams begins, a historic age when Pirates traverse the oceans in search of riches, glory, and most importantly, destiny. For some, the One Piece itself is a segment of that purpose, among them a seventeen-year-old boy named Monkey D. Luffy. This highly ambitious youth has had a single dream since early childhood: to form a crew, conquer the Grand Line, and become the next Pirate King! Story (9/10) Have you ever discovered a story so incredible that you unconsciously forced yourself to hate it? Well, that was my experience with One Piece in a nutshell. I still don’t quite understand how I could have possibly accomplished it, but from where I stand today, I still have never been able to fully immerse myself in the plot. I can see how engrossing it is simply by reading the reviews of others, and at times, am almost able to clue into their standpoints. Nevertheless, I cannot possibly bring myself to admit that I enjoyed even the tiniest fraction of the early One Piece episodes. My twin sister on the other hand embraced the series from the moment Luffy was introduced in episode 1, and for the sake of my own sanity, she will provide the some of the necessary insight required to complete this review. Needless to say, One Piece is an action-packed Shounen adventure, with bright over-the-top characters, constant… stretchy fist-brawls, and plenty of humour. The story was, for lack of a better term, interesting. Never before had I seen an author enter the daring realm of pirates with more enthusiasm. Of course, there were many small changes to the plot deviating from the original manga, but these were easily overlooked as the story progressed. Still, being the insane critic that I am, it wasn’t so simple for me to glance past the series’ altogether random outlook on buccaneer life. I assured myself that this flaw would repair itself if I continued watching; my assumptions were regrettably, wrong. The original story arcs were predictable, repetitive and boring. Truly, it was not until I came across the conclusion of the Enies Lobby Arc that I honestly began to enjoy the plot. For once, tiny elements were beginning to come together like a jigsaw puzzle. Also, I have always been a fan of Tim Burton movies, and the eerie setting of the next arc really fit the mood of Brook's introduction perfectly. I’ll take a moment here to discuss the setting of One Piece, which was, in my opinion, the best-developed portion of the story. As a viewer, I can say that each different country or island was original in its own way, from the sparking Drum Rockies to the Nightmare Before Christmas-like Thriller Bark. No matter if you loved these scenes or hated them, one really gets a feeling for Oda’s animated world, and begins to feel involved as each new area is introduced. As an author myself, I can’t help but appreciate the level of detail Eichiro Oda included. Animation (6/10) According to my own taste in animation, this was most likely the blemish that drew be so far away from One Piece to begin with. One look at Usopp’s nose, or Nami’s figure can cause some anime lovers to run off in the opposite direction without looking back. The character designs definitely take some getting used to. Despite the fact that it remains entirely original, Eichiro Oda’s style can be considered rather odd at times. While some characters appear to be brilliantly crafted, there are others that almost make one contemplate whether or not Oda is a frequent drug abuser. In the end, I came to the conclusion that many of Oda’s characters, similar to Rock Lee of Naruto, where created to illicit such reactions from fans. Next up: One Piece’s actual animation. Oh Toei studio… I’m sorry you’re so terrible. I’m sorry that you’re shaky at times, and that you use recycled frames over and over again. Your overall gesticulation is pathetic and jerky; it sometimes looks as though your characters have mild epilepsy. I could name dozens of Shounen series that you’ve outright ruined… and now, there’s no going back. One Piece has been infected with your eternal disease. With that said, I’m certain that you can understand to a degree what the animation of One Piece is like. Sound (7/10) The music quality of One Piece was all right, especially considering the fact that it wasn’t blessed with a full orchestra. I wish that it were louder, because you can hardly hear it at all behind the character’s voices. Otherwise, not much can be said. The openings and closings are J-pop themes with fast beats and plenty of energy. They suit the series just fine, and I wouldn’t have changed them myself. The English dub (yes, the Funimation dub and not the dreadful 4kids dub) was very well done, especially considering the fact that Funimation was presented with the job of resurrecting the rotting, decapitated corpse that 4kids left behind. Luffy is of course, voiced by a woman, and Zoro’s voice actor is rather deep and cynical. I have to say that I hated Nami’s dubbed voice, and much preferred her original Japanese seiyu. She was quite whiny and irritating in the Funimation dub, and just like Lenalee of D. Gray-Man, reminded me too much of Haninozuka Mitskuni of Ouran High School Host Club’s English voice. Characters (9/10) One Piece’s characters are incredible, less a few poorly developed antagonists such as Don Creed or Captain Kid. I truly enjoyed Chopper and Brook, the reindeer and the musical skeleton. Their characters contain so much flair and originality that it would take a true fool to not adore something about them. Luffy was okay I suppose – he was really just the stereotypical Shounen hero: idealistic and regrettably dim. Thus, it was impossible to hate him, but he didn’t manage to stand out either. One trait that did stray from the typical Shounen protagonist ring was the undeniable fact that Luffy understands situations much more than he shows. He is able to subconsciously manipulate those around him to a degree that even they aren’t completely aware of. This one attribute is the only thing that truly makes him different from character eyesores such as Ichigo or InuYasha. Other than those three characters, the remainder of the Straw Hat Pirates weren’t particularly noticeable. Their interpersonal interactions were greatly lacking, even up to the point where I am in the manga. I almost felt as though a permanent hiatus was placed up their developments once their arcs finished. Overall (7.75) In truth, my opinions in regards to One Piece are both vast and difficult to comprehend. I really can’t say if I hate it or if I love it, because in all honesty the story has yet to conclude itself. Perhaps when the end finally comes around, I will realize that I enjoyed it all along, or else, that I despised it from the very beginning. There are many, many people who adore One Piece, and maybe you’ll end up being in that sub-category instead of in mine. I realize that it is an amazing story with well-developed characters and a complex plot that remains easy to follow. With that said, I conclude my review of Eichiro Oda’s, One Piece.
This anime is over a decade old and is still half-way through. All the analysis will focus only on what I have watched so far, which is up to the end of the Punk Hazard arc.One Piece was for many years unnoticed by the majority of the anime community. It began airing around the same time as Hunter X Hunter, which was the fad of the year. Even after HxH ended, One Piece still didn’t manage to make an impression because immediately then began Naruto and Bleach. Also, the American dub had so many ridiculous changes that made many to believe it is a show for 5-year olds. It took for the Big Two to enter filler mode, as well as for some dedicated fansub groups to distribute the original version of One Piece before it was noticed in the west. After that happened, it quickly climbed all the way to the top of popularity and remains there to this day. Its manga sales have also blown out of the water any other title of its era.The reason it achieved all that is because it had a great feeling of adventure with hundreds of recurring colourful characters who are constantly appearing and disappearing from the main story, as well as a constantly expanding world full of islands, each one with its own distinctive look and society. As far as slapstick humor goes, it is also quite funny for a younger audience. SCRIPT The setting is quite imaginative as it seems to blend all sorts of themes and eras, with each area having its own unique features and climates. It even makes various tributes to fairy tales, real life pirates, real life actors, and historical cities. It also plays the switcheroo card in a proficient way, since by the time you get fed up with the same jokes repeating in one area, the cast is sent to another place, where you are again kept interested just to see how they will adjust there. Of course this is just a gimmick to mask the complete lack of actual development. We gradually learn more about the world but there is close to zero character growth, or a feeling they are getting closer to their objective. Heck, said objective is more of an excuse to be kept on the move than something specific and understandable. You are never let to know what the main objective, the One Piece, really is or how far it is from them at any given moment. So like all standart shonen do, they keep their characters the same since their introduction, with the only flavour being a few character quirks, and a sad background story that is forgotten and means nothing after their introduction is over. You are prevented from getting bored by constantly introducing more characters instead of changing the older ones. This trick, although effective, can only work for a certain amount of times before it gets old and 600 episodes is more than enough time for that to happen. The official claim is that the series will reach 1000 episodes (WUT?) and I don’t see how it can remain interesting after its problems become so apparent. The main two problems being:1) It is long. Most of us followed it after the first 200 episodes had aired and it was fun to see in fast forward the entire journey up until that point. But after that we had to wait for each episode to air every week. It made the pacing feel slower and the story itself is also slowing down as it goes on. So I must say that the feeling I had when the show began and the one I have at the point it currently reached are miles apart. It really feels like it now drags like any other typical shonen. Also, the longer it becomes, the harder it gets for newer people to get into it. Who would be willing to watch so many episodes? 2) Lowered production values. At first, the show had a simplistic albeit likable style of animation. It improved as it went on up to a point but after that, it started to decline more and more to the point it is now worse than when it began. It feels lazy and ugly, with characters and motions looking bad. Let me explain how my perception changed by presenting each arc individually. - The first arc is called East Blue and it is pretty much the introduction of the main cast. The main hero starts alone and along the way his core crew joins one after another, for various reasons. All that happen in roughly 50 episodes (plus 10 fillers) in which you also get all sorts of villains standing in the way of their journey. It may feel like it is slow and simple at points but the amount of time it spends on getting to like and attach each new crew member makes it all worthwhile. Very few parts feel like they were pointless action or aimless strolling; most are about the characters getting to know and trust each other. It is a fine arc as far as shonen shows go. Mark: 9/10- The second is Baroque Works, where the crew is thrown in the midst of a grand-scaled conspiracy, set in motion by a shady organization that seems to work for the good of the world but in reality it is nothing but a bunch of heartless thugs. This arc lasts for about 70 episodes and it definitely drags the plot pointlessly at times (especially during their stroll in the desert; that part is overkill). If you take those boring parts out, this arc is also very good as we are introduced to various political and social notions of the world, and how the journey is not about dealing with random autonomous villains but with organized multinational hidden agendas. Mark: 8/10- The third is Skypiea, where the crew is now taken on a world above the clouds. It lasts for 50 episodes (plus 20 fillers) and this time we are introduced to mostly idealistic notions that are not exactly relevant to the main story. For example, many pirates are now planning to create a new world where the sensation of a journey in order to find treasure and adventure will be obsolete. But this part is thrown to the side as the heroes pretty much beat everyone and move along. Then it is about some sort of world in the stars and weapons of mass destruction. But again nothing is shown; it is mostly hinting possible future events. Even if that is a cool foreshadowing, leaving them aside for hundreds of episodes still feels weak. Plus this arc did not introduce new crew members or sides of the world. Skypiea is pretty much isolated from the rest of the islands and it seems the people there don’t even care about the land below them. What was this entire arc about is kinda blurry. I did like the setting and the broken powers of the main villain but it is otherwise a kinda pointless arc. Mark: 7/10- The fourth is CP9, which lasted for a wooping 90 episodes plus 30 fillers. This is where you start to clearly see the show getting tiresome, as the plot is definitely slower and the animation lazier. The themes are again about a shady organization but it is hardly as interesting as the one in the second arc. They were never mentioned before, never mentioned again, and were just there to flesh out one of the characters in a fashion that felt similar to the last part of the first arc. So in overall it was a just above average part of the show and a poor excuse to give power ups to the characters in a most lazy way. Mark 6/10- The fifth is the Whitebeard War which is (believe it or not) 180 episodes and 20 fillers long. No matter how good a story is, this is just ridiculous. Although it spiced thing up by making the crew get separated, as well as killing important characters for the first time (yeah, it took 500 episodes for that) it still felt like a dragged to infinity plot with bad animation and lots of pointless action. They also brought most of the old secondary characters together while introducing a hundred more for a major battle. Yet the battle was boring as hell and the characters didn’t do much, so it only made it look like a poor gathering of cameos. Mark: 5/10- The sixth is Fishman Island, which lasted for 60 episodes and no fillers. Although that makes it relatively short and full of plot, it was by far the most stupid arc yet. The villains have no appeal, their goals are stupid, the battles are lame, and the only reason this arc was made was just for the heroes to show off their new powers and to win easily against opponents who were nowhere near their level. Mark: 3/10- Next up is Punk Hazzard and once again it is more stupid than interesting. Everything in it feels like a lamer repeat of previous arcs, and despite the characters training for several years, they still act as stupid as always. I just don’t care anymore; it lost its magic. Mark: 2/10It is still an overall above average show but it is not like they couldn’t speed up things or have better animation. One could say they have budget problems, another may say they try to keep away from the manga, but I don’t really care about all that, since the final product is just lazy and an excuse to get pissed and go read the manga. CAST I definitely like the characters for their weird looks and weirder behaviours; they are very humorous and memorable. That still doesn’t hide the fact they didn’t evolve at all. And I am not talking about getting stronger or changing clothes; these don’t count as development of personality. The show doesn’t even bother killing them, no matter how injured they are. And we are talking here about a whole lot of injuries! A few days in bandages while eating meat is all it takes to be completely healed. And sure, I know, many characters die in flashbacks and two major ones died in the end of the last arc, all of which happened just because the author felt like building some drama and not because they couldn’t possibly have survived. There is absolutely no logic behind what can kill you and what can’t. Here is a rundown of the main cast and how I feel about them.- Luffy is the captain, the stereotypical shonen protagonist who just goes on no matter what happens. The thing that makes him funny is how he is a complete retard who never thinks but just acts based on his moral values. And that is also what makes him so irrirtating because you can never talk seriously to this guy. He will just sleep or eat while you talk and then will do exactly what you were trying to warn him not to do. He has no touch with his surrounds and walks about autistically, which makes him funny but also obnoxious from a point on. Especially after the major time skip, he acts even more stupid than before, which contradicts all he is supposed to have learned, as well as the grief of the loved person he lost forever. - Zoro is the swordsman and has the most elaborate background and philosophy. He is just trying to be the best swordsman in the world but the reasons who drive him to be as such are pointed out all the time in a significan way. I find nothing bad in him; he was handled nicely. Every arc has a part where he is evaluation his skills and vows to improve further. It is no secret that he is the best character of the whole show because of it. - Nami is the navigator and the burglar of the bunch. She was interesting during the first arc while her drama was still fresh and a bit afterwards for being the only one who knew how to navigate in the red zone properly. Afterwards her role just didn’t matter. She is just there mostly for fan service, as her clothes gradually get smaller and her boobs grow larger. She is also supposed to be the voice of reason and guidance in the crew but all that mean nothing when herself gets greedy and does stupid things all the time. I don’t care about her anymore; she became obnoxious too. - Usopp is the sniper and someone who tries to do important things without lying. He is mostly there as a comic relief but occationally gets surrounded by drama; which is cool. His best phase was when he defended their first ship and even clashed wth the rest of the team about it, leading him to create a hidden persona. After that though he reverted to the same scared idiot he always was. Despite the numerous battles and training he hasn’t become any braver at all. - Sanji is the cook and someone who tries to find an ocean full of fish to cook. He doesn’t have much to do as an individual besides running after women or arguing with Zoro. They hardly focused on him and despite the attempt to make him some sort of a tranny as part of his development, he still reverted back to a womanizer idiot.- Chopper is the doctor and also a reindeer who wants to find his own identity. His drama is weak as it is hardly mentioned after his introduction, so he just becomes another comic relief and the cute mascot of the team. - Robin is the archaeologist and a sort of an information pool, explaining to the rest what they are going to meet up ahead. Her drama during her capture was cool, even if it was basically a rehash of Nami’s past. She is a sort of mother figure to the crew but she is otherwise doesn’t do much other than being lazy, reading books, and occationally showing some bare skin. - Franky is the shipwright who wants to… um… He doesn’t have a goal. He is just a robotic parody, plus a deviant for running around in tight pants. A hardly interesting character.- Brook is the musician who also doesn’t have a goal, other than being a creepy skeleton doing really lame puns and wanting to see women’s underwear. Also hardly interesting.So basically you are watching this show just for Zoro to do some bushido thinking once every 50 episodes. The anime is focused almost entirely on personality gimmicks rather characterization. This is of course still a shonen series and it still is to its core immature and unrealistic and one should never try to reason it too much. But it also lasted for 600 episodes and it will last for a lot more, which eventually is more than enough to tire anyone’s interest about the frozen still characters. Especially when it is NOT as interesting or as fast as it began. Not that they are as unwatchable as the cast in Naruto or Bleach; but gets closer to them with each passing episode. LEGACY Popularity is a very flimsy thing and usually full of stuff that make no sense. For example, there is this consensus that the first 50 episodes of the show are very boring, advised to be skipped and start immediately from the second arc. I have no idea why they believe that; for a perpetual on-going shonen series One Piece’s initial part is fine and in fact the best arc of them all. The same popularity also claims that the show becomes awesome from the CP9 arc and that it is advised to begin watching from that point onwards. I again never understood that; since for me that is the part where production values and pacing started to drop significantly.So please don’t pay attention to what the brainless fanboys of this show say, since the only thing they managed to do was to destroy its credibility with their stupid claims. I used to be a huge fan of the show while the other two of the Big Three were still far more popular. I felt proud to be part of those who did their best to prove its more than obvious superiority over those two. But after we succedded at that, I stopped being a fan, because the majority of its fandom are now tards of the same and worse volume of the other two series, and they typically refuse to admit the series is getting worse. To them, it is getting better with each passing minute; which is of course a lie. I admit that in overall it is still far more enjoyable and well thought of that any other perpetual on-going shonen ever made into anime. Also, despite all I said about the slow progression, for a perpetual on-going shonen series it still has to the most part the fastest pace and the least amount of filler episodes. So in case you want to marathon it, you will suffer less than with the rest of them. Its action is full of wacky ideas and interesting choreography and each island is like a world of its own. What kids won’t like that? But I am not going to spam 10s all over the place because it is not perfect and I don’t enjoy it as much as I did. It lost a lot of its magic along the way.But hey, it is still the best example of a good long-running series despite its mishaps and I do consider it worthy of mentioning in my Nostalgia series. So there you go; have fun while it lasts (and boy does it last a lot).
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