Manga Review: One Piece Volume One

Article first published as Manga Review: One Piece Volume One by Eiichiro Oda on Blogcritics.

One Piece Volume One is a manga by Eiichiro Oda, and it was published by Viz Media’s Shonen Jump imprint in 2003. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading this first volume of the series, I would tend to agree with this rating.

One Piece Volume 1
Written by: Eiichiro Oda
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 25, 2003

It’s established at the beginning of this volume that before Gold Roger, the “Pirate King” was executed, said that anyone could have his treasure… but they would have to search the whole world. With those final words, the great era of piracy began.

The focus shifts to a small harbor village, which is home to a young boy named Monkey D. Luffy. He looks up to the pirates that have made the village their base, and he really wants to go on adventures with them; the pirate he looks up to the most is Pirate Captain “Red-Haired” Shanks. While hanging out with the pirates, Luffy accidentally eats a gum-gum fruit, which is a secret treasure of the sea that has been given the nickname “the fruit of the devil.” After eating the fruit, Luffy’s body becomes rubbery, and he will never be able to swim.

One day, a group of mountain bandits come into the village and mock the pirates. Luffy becomes so enraged that he tries to take on the bandits. Shanks comes to Luffy’s rescue, and declares that Luffy is his friend. Unfortunately, the leader of the mountain bandits takes Luffy out to sea and drops him overboard. Luffy is almost devoured by a sea monster, but Shanks comes to his aid; in the process, Shanks loses one his arms. When Shanks and the pirates leave the village for good, Luffy declares that one day, he will be king of the pirates. Shanks gives Luffy his straw hat, and has Luffy promise to give it back to him after Luffy has become a great pirate.

The story jumps ahead ten years, and Luffy is off on his adventure to become the Pirate King. He has perfected the use of his rubbery body, but Luffy seems to get out of situations more through sheer dumb luck than anything else. In this volume, Luffy befriends a young boy named Koby, who is being forced to work as a cabin boy for the Lady Pirate Iron Mace Alvida. After escaping from Alvida, the two of them travel together as Luffy works at trying to find people to become members of his pirate crew. A good portion of this volume focuses on Luffy’s attempts to get Zoro the pirate hunter to join his crew.

I have to admit that my first exposure to One Piece came from seeing the first episode of the anime series. When I saw this episode, I really hadn’t been terribly impressed with it. However, knowing that there’s quite a fandom for One Piece on the Internet, I knew that I would have to read at least the first volume of the manga and review it. After I finished reading this volume, I was more interested in the One Piece franchise than I was before I picked up this volume.

What Oda got right in the manga was to provide a backstory for Luffy at the beginning of the first volume. In the first episode of the anime series, the story basically begins after the ten year time skip, so there’s nothing to make the viewer feel terribly invested in Luffy and his adventures unless they’ve already read the manga. Since I got the backstory while reading the manga, I better understood Luffy and I found myself rooting for him and caring about him as a character. Now, not only would I be willing to read more of the One Piece manga, I’m now also willing to give the One Piece anime series another chance.

As I read this volume, I found myself appreciating Oda’s art style. His use of exaggeration, sound effects and lines really fit the mood of the story that he’s telling. Oda’s art style really stands out to me when I compare it to many of the other manga series that I have read.

I believe that if you want to introduce someone to One Piece, it would probably be better to introduce them to the manga series first before introducing them to the anime series. Personally, I would recommend the One Piece manga series to readers who enjoy pirates or to manga readers who enjoy excitement mixed with humor.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of One Piece Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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