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Beginner's Guide to One Piece

An introductory course to the world of One Piece.

Every now and then you will hear of the phrase "the big 3", which are the anime/manga series Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece. Out of those three One Piece is the biggest in regards to its chapter and episode count. In the west--especially in America--One Piece is the least popular out of the big three; however, in Japan this is completely different. One Piece is probably the most popular manga in Japan at the moment, for example volume 56 set the highest initial print run for any manga in history at 2.85 million copies sold. Meaning, you really should watch and read One Piece; if you haven't started, start now. Don’t worry, I'm here to help. 



What You Need to Know

The man who created One Piece is named Eiichiro Oda. It was based off of a one-shot story called “Romance Dawn” a year before appearing in Shonen Jump in 1997. Oda has trained his skills with art and manga during his teenage years. At 19 he assisted Nobuhiro Watsuki on Rurouni Kenshin, before moving on to his own work thanks to winning the Hop Step Award. His number one inspiration in life and in art goes to Akira Toriyama, like most Shonen Jump artists his age. Best of all, he even married the actress who played Nami’s character in the One Piece stage performance for Jump Festa, now that is epic my friends.

Currently One Piece has 58 volumes and counting, with 453 episodes on television as well; that’s almost 190 hours or 8 days worth of non-stop One Piece. Yes, One Piece is a beast to plow through, but almost all who make it through will tell you how amazing it actually is.

The Story

The most important aspect about One Piece is that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Because of this the story is simple. Young Monkey D. Luffy will do anything to become the King of the Pirates, a title that was once held by a pirate named Gold Roger. Before Gold Roger was executed by the World Goverment, he told the world that he left all of his treasures in one piece, and that if you could journey to the end of the Grand Line, they were yours for the taking. This speech spawned “The Great Pirate Era”, inspiring people around the world to become the King of the Pirates by finding the treasure “One Piece”.

One Piece is about Luffy journey through the world as he travels toward this treasure. He cannot do this alone though, along the way he also has to form a formable pirate crew of individuals that can support his dream. Each crew mate has their own special job on the ship, from cook to musician. This is what I first loved about this story, it reminded me of playing a great RPG like Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, or Suikoden. Each crew member is treated like family, with each having their own dream and reason for traveling with Luffy.

This journey is not an easy one, for it sometimes seems like the world wants to stop Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates from reaching their goal. Not only do they have to come up against other blood thirsty pirate crews, but the Marines, and the Seven Pirate Warlords of the Sea as well. They are basically privateer’s of the World Government; pirates that are so powerful that they help the government get rid of smaller pirate crews and supposedly make the seas safer. The Straw Hat pirates must brave through this all in order to reach the end of the Grand Line, the area which One Piece lies.

What to Expect

As you might already have guessed, One Piece is about pirates. The pirates in this story are more like gangs with themes rather than something from Pirates of the Caribbean, though there are some of those in here as well. Unlike pirates in the real world, some of them in this story are actually nice, and help people out (like the main characters), because in One Piece pirating is not really about taking things from others, but the freedom to do whatever you want.

One Piece follows story arcs as well; however, they are different from most Shonen Jump series because they are consistent, predictable, but also keeps you on your toes. The basic formula is as follows: Straw Hat crew lands on new island, island people hate crew, crew meets bad guys, crew fights bad guys, crew wins, people on island love the Straw Hats. There are other story arcs that feature the Straw Hats getting another crew member. These also follow a strict formula, and always feature a long flashback about the new member’s troubled childhood. The entire beginning of this story consists of these types of story arcs in a row, which can sometime feel redundant to beginners of the series. However, they should bare with it because the final crew member arc(starting on episode 31) is very rewarding.

The anime adds another element to the story arcs: filler story not found in the manga. Surprisingly, some of the filler arcs and one-shots featured in the anime are actually pretty good. Let’s take a look at some of the bigger ones.

Warship Island Arc (54 - 61): Some people liked this arc, but I hated it with a passion. However, if you like annoying little girls, then by all means.
Goat Island Arc (136-138): Yes, this one is as bad as it sounds, but it does have that quality of being so bad that it is actually good.
Rainbow Mist Arc (139 - 143): WIth things like rainbow mist and rainbow tower, this filler arc can’t be good, and it isn’t.
G8 Arc (196 - 206): This one’s actually pretty good. Here the Straw Hats accidentally splash down in the middle of a giant Marine fortress, and have to split up to escape.
Ocean's Dream Arc (220 - 225): This is one of my favorites. Something is mysteriously stealing away the crew’s memories, returning them back mentally to before they met Luffy.
Ice Hunter Arc (326 - 335): Not so bad, but not so good either. Watch it if you have the time.
Spa Island Arc (382 - 384): Somewhat bad, but we get to see Foxy again, so that’s a plus.

Characters

One Piece has tons of characters, but there are only a select few that you will see on a constant basis; ie the Straw Hat pirates. This is definitely not a bad thing because you get drawn into them better than a barrage of characters the keep on reappearing and disappearing like in other manga. Basically, instead of a few main characters that are constant but boring throughout the story, you get a cast of main characters that continuously grows, without overshadowing any of the previous ones.

Characters here also have their fair share of special powers. In the world of One Piece, they come in the form of a Devil Fruit. After eating a Devil Fruit an individual will receive an extra special power, like the ability to make things explode or turn into a giraffe. Luffy for example ate the gomu gomu fruit, which made his body into rubber. However, the person who has eaten this fruit will sink like a rock when submerged in water; a bad thing to happen when most of a pirate’s life is spent on the ocean.

Let me now give you a small sampler of some of the cooler characters that appear within the story. Here are the top five One Piece characters that you should know in no particular order.

Top 5 One Piece Characters You Must Know

1. Jango

This guy right here is basically an evil version of Michael Jackson. I'm not joking, he does the moonwalk and everything. Jango is a hypnotist that works for a very bad pirate crew Luffy runs into in the beginning of the story. He is not a very good fighter, but he can put anyone to sleep.

2. Zoro Roronoa

Zoro is Luffy's right hand man. He is the Straw Hat's swordsman, and will do anything to protect his crew and his friendships. What makes Zoro cool? HE FIGHTS WITH A SWORD IN HIS MOUTH. That's right, Zoro can fight with three swords at once.

3. Enel

Enel is basically God; he was born and raised with the idea that he is an immortal being. He possesses the ability of lightning, and can do anything and everything even slightly related to it. Enel is a major villain in the One Piece world.

4. Bon Clay

A gay ballerina that is a master at kung-fu ballet, what is cooler than that? Most of you probably don't agree with me, but once you see him in action you will agree. He is also extremely hot blooded and can sometimes even be GAR as well. Bon Clay is a member of a secret organization bent on taking over a desert kingdom.

5. Whitebeard

Whitebeard is the most pirate-like person on this list. He is an old timer who once fought with the pirate king himself. Despite his age, he is still considered one of the strongest pirates alive today, and you will agree once you see his giant white mustache. He is the Turn-A Gundam of the One Piece world.

 

Should I Read the Manga, or Watch the Anime?

You should do both! But most of you can’t because there are only 24 hours in a day. So I would recommend jumping on the manga, and read until you are caught up with the anime. Then you can start watching the anime, which is streamed on FUNimation’s official One Piece site and go from there. Then you can always go back and watch the anime from the beginning, or just watch all the good fights.  Just whatever you do, stay away from the 4-Kids version!

Buyers Guide

I like American comics, and my friends who do not like anime are telling me One Piece is amazing, where do I start?  
Your friends are right, here watch this, and then buy the first volume of the manga. 
I love video games and my Wii, can One Piece be a part of my life?    
Of course it can! Buy One Piece: Unlimited Adventure, and be merry!  
I’m not sure if I will like. Do you got anything shorter that I can sample?  
One Piece has ten feature length films. I would recommend buying One Piece Movie: The Desert Princess and the Pirates: Adventures in Alabasta, or finding Curse of the Sacred Sword some other way.

Many people are turned off by One Piece because of it’s unique art style. Some people actually think it is kiddy because of it as well. Tune out the hate and realize that this art style is just Oda’s unique way of telling this story. No other manga has it, no other anime has it, except it for what it is and you will not be disappointed.

By the way incase you haven’t already realized, One Piece happens to be my favorite manga. Nothing can copy it. In every chapter we see how the world of One Piece grows, how characters come together as friends, or separate as enemies, how a group of “law breakers” change the world one island at a time. I would even say that One Piece is the Odyssey of the modern world, an epic voyage that has no equal. So go on and experience it now!
wwfunderakeron June 7, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Im happy to see that there isnt a lot of filler, but sometimes they seem to be good.
Kuma_From_Argentina is online on June 7, 2010 at 6:09 a.m.
You forget too things in the review.... 
 
1. One piece is awesome! 
2. The lead character isnt a Emo freak like Naruto or Ichigo, they slit their wrist at the first chance... even more I thing nobody ever Angst without a very good reason in One Piece... 
 Damn Even I cried when they gave the Going Merry a Viking Funeral...T-T
ninjadude853on June 7, 2010 at 6:10 a.m.
dude! you put Jango and Enel in the five character thing but not Ace?
 
you have no soul
DoctorWelchon June 7, 2010 at 6:47 a.m.
Once piece is too silly looking and thats why I have never watched it. Naruto and DBZ are still sorta silly, but they are self serious which is what I like. Basically, I dont want intended comedy out of my anime or manga. Correct me if I'm wrong but One Piece i just too ridiculous and I think it looks kinda dumb.
YotaruVegetaon June 7, 2010 at 6:51 a.m.
Again, I am sad that One Piece was not bigger in the US, because it is best of this "Big Three" It's SO GOOD!!
Gaseroon June 7, 2010 at 7:18 a.m.
What you need to know about One Piece:
 
1) Watch the fight scenes
2) Research everything else you are curious about.
 
Actually, thats more of a strategy for people like me that do not enjoy the long drawn out arcs that seem to go no where. I dunno how long the Straw Hats have been voyaging for One Piece, but after 450 episodes it still seems like they are nowhere close.
 
I didn't watch much of the current prison arc, but after reading about what happened I don't feel I missed much.
PenguinDuston June 7, 2010 at 7:45 a.m.
One Piece is my current favorite anime having worked myself through 447 episodes and 8 or 9 movies.  I like the characters, I love the humor, and the whole thing just keeps me wanting to know what's going to happen next.  My favorite story arcs are the Water 7/Ennis Lobby arc (227-312) of the CP9 Saga because it directly involves Robin, the Arlong arc (31-45) and the more recent Amazon Lily arc (408-421).  I, too could have done without the Warship Island arc about little girls and their dragons.  One of the very few stories that bored me.  
 
In your review, I'm surprised you didn't mention the historical One Piece episodes which imagine the characters as different people in feudal Japan.  The "Boss Luffy" stories are unrelated to the canon, but still good for a laugh.  However, they certainly should be considered filler.  I may be missing some, but according to the One Piece Wiki, they are 291, 292, 303, 406, 407 and special number 4.  Speaking of the specials, the baseball one was very enjoyable. 
 
Of the "big 3", One Piece is easily the best in my opinion and I understand why it's had trouble finding an audience in the west.  The shoddy introduction we had to the series via the 4Kids production diluted the show to something similar to a Pokemon episode.  Additionally, I don't see it being broadcast again since several characters and storylines are commercially unacceptable.  Half of the Skypia story uses the words "God" and "angels" and then there is the sexual humor displayed by characters like Brook (can i see your panties?) and the cross-dressing Mr. 2 Bon Kurei (Clay).  There is also a lot of profanity at times (Sanji!) But, I still urge others who might be interested in a show that is full of adventure and has a strong sense of humor, too.  If the huge number scares anyone off, then try out Fairy Tail.  It's not as fully thought out or epic, but it is similar in tone and there are far fewer episodes out to date.
sotyfan16on June 7, 2010 at 1:01 p.m.

One of my friends who has watched more anime than I can count (small stretch of the truth) has One Piece as his favorite anime. With his support and everything I might get around to checking a season out when I'm not trying to watch everything else.

JJOR64on June 7, 2010 at 1:02 p.m.
I would love to get into One Piece one day.  I watched it back in the day, but that was the shitty 4Kids dub.
FoxxFireArt moderator is online on June 7, 2010 at 1:43 p.m.
One Piece is easily one of my favorites of the Shounen Jump's big three. I like it more because is has an incredibly detailed and deep story.  It can always entertain.
When I heard VIZ was putting One Piece into high production so it would catch up the the Japanese publication. That was the only time I've been tempted to lift my total VIZ boycott. I didn't, but I only watch One Piece the anime at FUNimation's official site. No more fan subs for that series.
 
This is one of the better One Piece AMVs I've seen
 

@GodLen:


  One Piece CH. 490
 One Piece CH. 490
The Spa Island filler episodes are semi canon.
Remember it told the story of the circular rainbow, it had candy rain, and a sea tanuki. Those were all things seen after the crew left Thriller Bark.
  
You also get to see Nami and Robin in bikinis. So, bonus.
 
The Unlimited Cruise games are better, because those have so much more to do and you can explore the Thousand Sunny and pick costume changes from One Piece canon stories. Who doesn't want to watch Robin in that hot Thriller Bark dress? No one, I tells you!

@JJOR64

said:

" I would love to get into One Piece one day.  I watched it back in the day, but that was the shitty 4Kids dub. "

Then you didn't watch One Piece. You watched one of the best arguments against localization ever made.
 
I'm doing a special work up of the Sabaody Archipelago arc. I've been filling out the profiles in fine detail and I plan to write reviews for each episode. I then plan to write a special article submission talking about the arc overall. If that doesn't get approved I'll make it a blog post.
It's a great segment to jump in on the series. It's an arc that is only 14 episodes. Which is damn small for the series, but has everything in it that makes the series great.
 
Only thing slowing me down is a bug that is preventing me from adding episode pictures.
Contraon June 7, 2010 at 3:57 p.m.
I watched the first 30 episodes, and the series didn't grab me at all.  I found myself not caring about any of them, after 10 hours of TV show.  
 
And I think over 10 hours is more than reasonable to try and get into it.
Kuma_From_Argentina is online on June 7, 2010 at 4:13 p.m.
@Gasero said:
" What you need to know about One Piece:  1) Watch the fight scenes 2) Research everything else you are curious about.  Actually, thats more of a strategy for people like me that do not enjoy the long drawn out arcs that seem to go no where. I dunno how long the Straw Hats have been voyaging for One Piece, but after 450 episodes it still seems like they are nowhere close.  I didn't watch much of the current prison arc, but after reading about what happened I don't feel I missed much. "
The prision arc it's full of GAR!!! Bon Clay is awesome, he is the most heroic and incredible Okama in Anime.... 
 The Team-up with Buggy and Mr. 3 make it more incredible...
sickVisionz moderator on June 7, 2010 at 4:20 p.m.
@Gasero said:

" What you need to know about One Piece:  1) Watch the fight scenes "

When do the fights start getting good?  For me, the battles are the most disappointing thing about One Piece compared to other shounen shows.  I'm up to episode 120 and the only thing that's been well animated imo was a few second of Sanji and Bon Clay spinning around each other doing kicks.
Landonon June 7, 2010 at 4:36 p.m.
Man. I should really get back into One Piece. I fell off during the whole Mr. 0 storyline. My Shonen Jump ran out and Cartoon Network thought it was a good idea to restart the entire series.
barashinon June 7, 2010 at 5:53 p.m.
The very fact that One piece is the least popular here in America Buggs me alittle! I mean how can Naruto and Bleach, both which has problems progessing there actual storys better and plagued with fillers that has nothing to do with the main story itself. How can Naruto & Bleach be more popular then one piece? It's ridiculous! Same goes to the people that loyally follows it!
YotaruVegetaon June 7, 2010 at 6:56 p.m.
@DoctorWelch: You're missing out! It's comedic and absurd at times, but One Piece throws down with the best of the shounen shows.
StephenVaughnon June 7, 2010 at 6:57 p.m.
 

@DoctorWelch: 
 
To respond to you saying that One Piece is ridiculous, I would say that yes, there is quite a bit of comedy in the show, but it is on an interpersonal level, in almost the same way one would act with their real life friends, and builds friendship and trust among the crewmates, makes them seem more believable and alive, and actually makes you empathize with them. The show itself gets VERY serious at times, and has had an emotionally withdrawn person such as myself in tears countless times, and in the same episodes, had me shitting my pants with awesome... the first landmark episode in that respect, i.e. the first one to make me cry, is right before the fight with the Arlong crew in Nami's arc, around episode 30-40(tearing up remembering it as I type in fact. 
If you enjoy Naruto, Bleach, or, most of all, DBZ(the creator, Oda, drew upon the work of  Akira Toriyama, the creator of DBZ, as his main source of inspiration for character design), you should enjoy this even more, as it has FAR more character development than Bleach, a far better soundtrack than Naruto, and a MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH better written and executed story than DBZ, and while some of the fights span multiple episodes, there are always other things happening to cut to during the breaks, and the main sections/conclusions of the fights almost never last more than 1 episode. Honestly dude, give it a try... I didn't watch it at first for almost exactly the same reasons that you posted, but goddamn, am I glad I did. </fanboy rant>
Anyway, if you decide to watch it, let me know on Facebook, it would be nice to know that I had convinced at least one person to watch it lol.    

Gaseroon June 7, 2010 at 7:22 p.m.
@sickVisionz: 
 
If you've already seen the fights up to episode 120 I don't really see a reason for you to continue with the series. Watching One Piece and not liking the battles would be equivalent to watching DBZ for the intense plot.
 
Around episode 270 the crew starts to gain new fighting techniques. If you can't see yourself watching after those then you might want to view a different series.
DoctorWelchon June 7, 2010 at 7:38 p.m.
@YotaruVegeta said:
" @DoctorWelch: You're missing out! It's comedic and absurd at times, but One Piece throws down with the best of the shounen shows. "
@StephenVaughn said:
"  

@DoctorWelch: 
 
To respond to you saying that One Piece is ridiculous, I would say that yes, there is quite a bit of comedy in the show, but it is on an interpersonal level, in almost the same way one would act with their real life friends, and builds friendship and trust among the crewmates, makes them seem more believable and alive, and actually makes you empathize with them. The show itself gets VERY serious at times, and has had an emotionally withdrawn person such as myself in tears countless times, and in the same episodes, had me shitting my pants with awesome... the first landmark episode in that respect, i.e. the first one to make me cry, is right before the fight with the Arlong crew in Nami's arc, around episode 30-40(tearing up remembering it as I type in fact. 
If you enjoy Naruto, Bleach, or, most of all, DBZ(the creator, Oda, drew upon the work of  Akira Toriyama, the creator of DBZ, as his main source of inspiration for character design), you should enjoy this even more, as it has FAR more character development than Bleach, a far better soundtrack than Naruto, and a MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH better written and executed story than DBZ, and while some of the fights span multiple episodes, there are always other things happening to cut to during the breaks, and the main sections/conclusions of the fights almost never last more than 1 episode. Honestly dude, give it a try... I didn't watch it at first for almost exactly the same reasons that you posted, but goddamn, am I glad I did. </fanboy rant>
Anyway, if you decide to watch it, let me know on Facebook, it would be nice to know that I had convinced at least one person to watch it lol.    

"
Well I am definitely going to check it out sometime because there is obviously something cool about it if that many people are into it. DBZ was really the only anime I watched growing up and the only experience with anime I've had until the past year, so I guess it was just the art of the characters always kinda put me off. I saw a few episodes when I was in middle school when everyone was way into DBZ and I was like "This is dumb", but I was in middle school and that was a long time ago. So now that I am into anime a little more and have a better idea of what is popular and what I like, I think I am gonna give it a try. The thing that is really keeping me from getting into it (and the problem with getting into any anime) is that there is no real way of watching it from the beginning and knowing if I like it without buying it. I only have a limited amount of money and I dont know if I wanna buy something when I still dont know that I like it yet. So if anything would really be holding me back it would be that.
barashinon June 7, 2010 at 8:04 p.m.
@DoctorWelch:   

Once piece is too silly looking and thats why I have never watched it. Naruto and DBZ are still sorta silly, but they are self serious which is what I like. Basically, I dont want intended comedy out of my anime or manga. Correct me if I'm wrong but One Piece i just too ridiculous and I think it looks kinda dumb. 


 
You're pretty judgmental for someone who haven't really gotten the grasp of what One piece is all about! Try save your criticisms for a show you actually watched!

Dig Deeper into One Piece

A teenage boy named Monkey D. Luffy goes on a journey to find the fabled One Piece and become Pirate King, building a crew of merry mischief-makers as he goes.

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