Ahoy followers old and new. I’ve started on a new manga journey that I never thought I would, One Piece recently. Wild, right? The size of its story always scared me, so I am finally taking the plunge at a relatively slow pace by reading about three chapters a day of it. Do you know how weird it is as a gundam and fate fan to be worried about starting huge franchises? I at least know what a lot of other people feel when looking at a massive franchise now, so this is enlightening. My plan is having a post about a saga that I just read appear now and again to give people my general thoughts. Just writing about Saint Seiya wasn’t enough apparently. I need more long running shonen goodness in my life for some reason. Let’s talk about a little about One Piece. I’m probably going to be spoiling a lot of things, but that’s kind of obvious These are my thoughts in general, so beware.
One Piece’s journey starts off with the East Blue Saga. It’s 100 chapters in length and covers a large amount of material in a surprising amount of time. One Piece starts with Gold D. Rodger’s death. His last words start the great escalation into the golden age of piracy itself. The search for the One Piece, whatever it is, causes new pirate crews everywhere to start happening. With that, what better way to start this journey then to see our main characters Luffy’s and Zoro’s journey towards the grand line to achieve their similar but different dreams. Luffy has a dream that he’s following from Shanks in his home town when he got the rubber devil fruit while Zoro is continuing his challenge with a girl from his backstory to be the greatest Swordsman in the world.
That arc with Zoro, The Pirate Hunter stuck in prison was almost a perfect way to introduce us to the world at large. Pirates, Marines/Navy, and everyone in between in a twisted sense of morality. Seeing the oppressive nature of some of the navy captains holding everyone back with his tyranny and then seeing the small amount of relief besides the navy kicking out Luffy and his new teammate Zoro as they head out somewhere. They follow the rules but really establish they can be kind too. That also showed off Luffy’s infinite optimism and Zoro’s kindness through his rough exterior that you don’t see in a very nice package. Also, nice to see Koby, the kid that joined Luffy for a little bit, joining the navy and provided a good short cut into how the world works before expanding on it more.
Nami and Usopp
Following Zoro joining Luffy’s group, we also meet Nami and Usopp. Nami has a quick introduction upfront with some foreshadowing we didn’t know about focusing on pirates controlling a village. The head pirate’s name is Buggy and he has the devil fruit power that allows him to separate his body in different ways? Buggy vs Luffy was a fun fight. Also, Nami is a thief that styles from pirates for her own reasons that we don’t see until later. This short arc also displays how people think about pirates and how there is unity between pirate groups. The villagers allowed Luffy and his group to leave and even fed them. One pirate group is not like the other. Good, because that’s like what usual pirate groups are like. We only get a little bit of her arc later on. We will discuss that soon. For now, Nami tentatively joins the group.
Usopp’s character arc was very much the Boy who cried Wolf story. His introduction is him lying to his village about pirates attacking in which they run to save themselves. That formulates the drama with this arc. There will be pirates that attack the village, but they will never know about it. The stakes here? Usopp trying to protect the young rich girl Kaya who also didn’t believe her. She only loved his stories. You know, until everything became real and Kaya’s butler turns out to be a powerful pirate. This is the first time I’ve felt some serious emotions in this series because everything felt so potent in that way. I really did feel sorry for Usopp’s situation because it’s a sucky one to be in. You know, even if part of it is his fault? After saving the town, Usopp joins Luffy’s group and Kaya gives them a ship. Its name? The Merry go. It’s all starting to come together. Four people and a good ship.
Sanji and the Restaurant Ship
While previous arcs have set up aspects of the world, Luffy and his crew traveling to the restaurant ship are where we see the true struggle and depth for Luffy’s dream of becoming the king of pirates. It’s also where we meet our fifth team member, Sanji. The adventure starts with Luffy deflecting a cannon ball from a marine ship and launching it into the sea going restaurant. Luffy ends up as a worker at the ship for a little while we get to learn about Sanji. The second cook currently working as a waiter who also instantly falls in love with Nami because hot girl. (boo) We also see his backstory where he was on a deserted island with the head cook for a long time and had to suffer from lack of food until they were found. Something we see when Sanji tells people he will feed a starving man no matter what.
With that comes the more dramatic aspects of the arc itself. Don Krieg, a famous pirate with a fleet, attacks the restaurant after failing his run on the grand line. He with his spiky shields and Luffy have a fight and Luffy somehow pulls out the win. Luffy’s fight with Don Krieg was amazing because every move he made showed how steadfast in his ideals he is. He truly believes he can be the pirate king no matter what. I wish I was self-assured in myself as he was. Watching the fight was how Sanji joined the crew. The other fight I want to bring up is Zoro vs Mihawk. A fight that happened too far ahead for our character’s strength and showing the upper peak of strength in the series from what I’ve heard. Strength one needs to survive all the way through the Grand Line. Mihawk completely destroyed Zoro and his three-sword style with just a dagger. It’s very ah inspiring but left Zoro heavily wounded for the next arc.
With Nami running away from the scene before it gets too hot, we head off to the last arc of this Saga and boy is it a doozy.
Nami and Arlong Park
The real tragedy, drama, and One Piece showed up at Arlong Park. This is the place where I feel like Oda showed his writing chops in what One Piece could be when he writes dramatically. All of this focusing around Nami. We knew that she was flighty and resisted joining Luffy and his gang at the beginning of this saga, we now see why. She is a member of fish man Arlong’s pirate crew. A pirate crew that owns Nami’s town under the threat of vandalism and death. She is Arlong’s navigator and she is working towards buying her town from Arlong. How does she do that? She steals the gold from pirates. Something that is played into by also having skeevy marines into the mix.
We dig deep into Nami’s backstory in this arc which plays into how she was forcibly taken in by Arlong. She was an orphan child how lived in her adopted sister Nojiko and mother Belle Marie. That tragedy of Belle Marie being awesome and then being killed to save Nami and Nojiko was powerful stuff for sure. Belle Mari’s death in the backstory was the first thing that started the falling of tears from me. It escalates more when all of Nami’s money she acquired was stolen by Marines and she just fell apart. In the ultimate moment, Luffy not knowing anything about her background and the boys take on Arlong and his crew for Nami’s soul. Besides more awesome battles, it was great. After this, Nami is staying on Luffy’s crew for keeps because she wants to. Plus, her town is free. She can follow her dream. Yay!
One Piece’s first one hundred chapters were really good. I do think that the opening arcs were more similar to dragon ball and looney tune like adventures in terms of content to establish things here and there and everything. I really do like that tone and sort of storytelling where drama and humor aren’t strangers to each other because it’s very 90’s in terms of anime. The later portion of East Blue was amazing. On to Alabasta which is where One Piece sold itself to other people. I feel like I saw the general direction that Oda is going to be taking one piece, the different sorts of complicated relationships that I really love, and everything else. I’m excited to read more of this manga. Kind of glad I have over 800 chapters to read here.
Please look forward to more. Look forward to another post happen when it happens. Yay! I’m hoping that feeling never goes away.