Anime Spotlight: One Piece
As one of the longest running and best-selling mangas of all time, it’s only fair that One Piece gets an amazing anime to go with it, right?
One Piece is an anime based on Eiichiro Oda’s manga of the same name. It has been running for over ten years, starting in 1999. As the manga still hasn’t reached its conclusion, neither has the anime with over 600 episodes to date.
One Piece takes place during the Golden Age of Pirates, sparked by the execution of Pirate King Gol D. Roger. Right before he was killed, Roger told of a treasure greater than anything anyone had ever seen that was hidden on the seas of the Grand Line. This spurred thousands of men to set out in hopes of finding the One Piece.
16-year-old Monkey D. Luffy is one of those men. Ever since he was a young boy, he has dreamed of being King of the Pirates. His dream was only spurred on by Red Haired Shanks, a pirate captain and Luffy’s role model, who gave him his straw hat, Luffy’s most treasured possession.
One day, in a fit of rage, young Luffy swallowed a Devil Fruit, which granted him strange powers at a heavy cost. Luffy’s whole body became rubber, and he was now able to stretch and expand any part of his body that he wanted. He even gained the ability to block bullets and bounce them back. There’s a catch though. Any man who eats a Devil Fruit loses his ability to swim. When he hits the water, he will automatically sink straight down to the bottom.
Once Luffy grew old enough, he set out on the East Blue Sea to find his crew. One day he happens upon an island where legendary pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro was being held captive. After freeing Zoro and his first fight against a Marine captain, Luffy recruits Zoro to his crew, who joins him on his own quest to become the best swordsman in the world. Together he and Zoro, along with the rest of their Straw Hat crew, would go on to fight many powerful pirates and collect huge bounties on their adventures following their dreams.
This anime is definitely my favorite anime ever. Dragonball Z, Bleach, Death Note, Angelic Layer, you can all step aside now. The story is wonderful and filled with quirky characters who all have their own unique personalities, motives and desires, and surprisingly deep backstories. Each villain is different, and hardly any of them are just “evil.” I mean Disney evil, where they just do bad things because they claim to be a bad person.
Although I will say the beginning of the show seems to follow an easily noticeable formula. Luffy and crew land on an island and meet a new character who will soon become their crewmate, a few episodes pass that detail the character’s inner struggle, life’s dream, and backstory, as well as introduce an antagonist. Luffy beats the main antagonist of that arc and convinces the new character to join their crew. The anime helps to break this up with filler, but it’s still a noticeable pattern. But, once most of the crew is assembled, the show begins to take some crazy twists. It’s worth all that exposition, trust me.
As an action anime, I have to say that One Piece definitely gets the job done, and does it well. The fighting sequences are well thought out and choreographed, and the Devil Fruit powers allow for bizarre and new ideas rivaled only by comic books themselves. It’s very non-cliché, and the animation is great.
So, I think I’ve gushed enough now. If you haven’t read or watched One Piece, I highly recommend that you start watching right now. Matter of fact, I’ll go ahead and point you to episode 1, right here.
Click it, you know you want to.
Image Credit: Shonen Jump / FUNimation