ONE PIECE’s hiatus has extended one more week, so I’ve decided to follow another user’s suggestion about older material I can write up in the meantime. Donwun thought it’d be fun to go back to the very first episode, and maybe even go on to cover the first few (like I did for DBZ recently). It’s funny - - I actually did watch Episode #1 a long while back when I was just sampling random pilots. And, for a moment, I was hesitant to watch it again.
See, my initial impression of ONE PIECE was that it was essentially PETER PAN: the Anime. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the vibe reminded me enough of the Fox kids PAN cartoon from the early 90’s, and other “classics illustrated” of its ilk, that I honestly couldn’t get excited about it. No bones about it, we can all pay deserved lip service to TREASURE ISLAND as a classic adventure… but it’s not cool, anymore. The fact that the first theme song sounds as saccharine as WINNIE THE POOH’s didn’t help to put this show past that, either.
Look, I realized that’s a kneejerk, and highly-specific, reaction. All the same, I still saw the show as a quaint pirate adventure serial that progressively evolved into the far more interesting metastasized madness we’re getting today. It just seems less interesting the further away it is from the batshit craziness of characters like Tony Tony Chopper and Brook.
My impression of this first episode is a still largely the same. However, now that I have the lager series’ context, I see how it fits into the shonen wheelhouse better. For one, even though it isn’t as bonkers here as things gets down the line, the pilot still does what DBZ, YU YU HAKUSHO, INUYASHA and every successfully enduring shonen’s opener has done - - it gets to some exciting stuff immediately. There’s no “things get moving with episode seven” nonsense. The viewer is thrown immediately into a conflict with stakes, the main character is already kicking butt, and it all ends a suitably ominous cliffhanger. That’s a job well done.
My other major observation is that Luffy’s quest for the One Piece really has been underlined with a sort-of Quixotic, near-tragic undercurrent since the very beginning. I mean, c’mon - - his stand-out quote from this episode is a resignation to death! Yeah, it’s still a happy-go-lucky world where the Sun never sets: but that’s still a fatalistic, almost addictive angle to hoist on all these adventures. And it’s there from the first step!
Stay tuned. I might just go check out the rest of these early episodes.
Watch this episode, “I’m Luffy! The Man Who’s Gonna Be King of the Pirates!" here and decide for yourself.