One Piece is an anime based on the manga series written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda. The first anime release for One Piece was an original video animation produced by Production I.G. and released on July 26, 1998. The anime series, which is produced by Toei Animation, began airing on Japanese television on October 20, 1999. As of this writing, the series is still ongoing.
When One Piece was initially licensed for North American release, 4Kids Entertainment had the license for the series. After three years, 4Kids no longer had the license for One Piece. In 2007, FUNimation Entertainment acquired the license for the series, and redubbed the episodes that 4Kids had released. As of this writing, FUNimation still holds the North American license for One Piece. And at the time of this writing, I’ve only made it into the Enies Lobby arc, so this spotlight will only include facts and information going up to this arc.
In the opening, it’s established that before the notorious “Pirate King” Gol D. Roger was executed, he 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 main character of One Piece is Monkey D. Luffy. He’s a 17-year-old who is on a journey to find Gol D. Roger’s treasure, the legendary One Piece, and become the new Pirate King. In order to search for the treasure, Luffy must reach the Grand Line, which is the most dangerous ocean. When he was younger, Luffy accidentally ate a gum-gum fruit, which has been given the nickname “the fruit of the devil.” After eating the fruit, Luffy’s body became rubbery, which made it so he is unable to swim.
As the series begins, Luffy works at gathering together his pirate crew. The first member to join is Roronoa Zoro, a skilled swordsman who was a bounty hunter. Zoro can use three swords at once, and his dream is to become the greatest swordsman in the world.
The next member to join is Nami, and she becomes the crew’s navigator. In addition to having skills as a navigator, she is also a pickpocket and a thief. Her dream is to draw a complete map of the world.
Usopp is next to join the crew as a marksman. His abilities are to tell lies, make inventions, and artistic talents. His dream is to become a brave warrior of the sea. After saving Usopp’s friend, Kaya, Luffy acquires a ship called the Merry Go.
Sanji becomes the crew’s cook. He met Luffy and the others when they came to the floating restaurant Baratie. Together, Luffy and Sanji were able to save the restaurant from Don Kreig. Sanji has a strong sense of chivalry and will never harm a woman; unfortunately, he also flirts with any pretty woman that he sees. He also has firsthand knowledge of what it feels like to starve, so Sanji never refuses to serve someone a meal. His dream is to find a legendary sea that contains every kind of fish in the world.
The next member to join the crew is Tony Tony Chopper, a blue-nosed reindeer who ate a devil fruit that allows him to transform into a human hybrid. In addition to being a talking reindeer, Chopper is also a doctor. His dream is to become a doctor who can cure any disease.
Nico Robin starts out as an adversary, but she ends up joining up with Luffy and his crew. She is an archaeologist who is the only person in the world with the ability to read and decipher Poneglyphs (a skill that has been deemed forbidden by the World Government). She also ate a devil fruit that gives her an unusual power. Her dream is to find the Rio Poneglyph, which tells the true history of the world.
As Luffy and his crew go on their journey to find the One Piece, they meet new allies, fight villains, and have adventures.
I admit that my first real exposure to One Piece came from seeing the first episode of the anime series on YouTube in the later 2000’s. Prior to that, I may have caught brief glimpses of the show when the 4Kids dub aired on Cartoon Network. When I saw that first episode on YouTube, I admit that I wasn’t terribly impressed with it.
When I started to work on seriously reading manga to write manga reviews for the blog, I decided that I should at least read the first volume of One Piece and review it. I’m glad I did, because the manga starts with Luffy’s backstory, which isn’t shown in the anime until later. After reading the first volume of the One Piece manga, I decided to give the anime another chance. I checked out a copy of the One Piece Season One First Voyage DVD set through my local library system and watched it. After watching the 13 episodes included on the set, I realized that One Piece was better than I had initially given it credit for.
As of this writing, I’ve in the middle of the Enies Lobby arc of the anime series and I have read the first 36 volumes of the One Piece manga series. By getting through the Arlong Park arc, I was able to see that One Piece could have some good drama in it in addition to the comedy that the series is known for. And as I’ve continued the series, I’ve enjoyed many of the new characters and the adventures that the Straw Hat crew have. The main exception to this would be the Foxy Pirates and the Davy Back Fight.
Overall, One Piece is a good series, although it can be a little slow to get going. It’s a series I would feel comfortable recommending, regardless of whether someone is a fan of pirates. From what I’ve seen of One Piece up to this point, I can see why the series has acquired the fan following that it has.
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