The One Piece anime began back in in October of 1999. After twelve years of running on a near weekly basis, the creation of Eiichiro Oda has only just begun the second era with the Fish-Man Island Arc. Wont you join in?
One Piece has been one of my favorite of the big Shonen Trilogy since I first discovered it. BLEACH andNaruto are both solid series that I also enjoy, but there is just something about One Piece that is so much fun that I never want to miss a chapter or episode. The Straw Hats are literally exploring this crazy world, each island is different in it's own wild way, and you're on that adventure with them. Because aren't all great stories at the core an adventure? Oda's ability to balance comedy and drama makes for the kind of story that can draw you to tears of both sorrow and laughter. Not to mention, the battles can be epic.
In total, the first era of One Piece stretches to 516 episodes. I can completely understand the level of intimidation in trying to ask someone to undergo such a trial to get into a series. Though, I will add that most I know who've taken up this task have never regretted it. I once wrote a while back how One Piece Episode 391 would be a good late jumping on point. With this two year time skip, One Piece Episode 517 is yet another great episode to climb aboard.
It was two years ago that Luffy and his crew suffered their greatest defeat at the very literal hands of Bartholomew Kuma. Each have been in training on separate islands for what's to come in the New World, the second half of the sea called the Grand Line. They are now ready to start gathering at Sabaody Archipelago to begin the next leg of their quest well prepared, but something isn't quite right. Their absence has convinced most they were dead, and someone has taken advantage of their reputation and names.
The continuity of events was changed from the original manga that came out around this time last year, but you can tell that this was to make sure that you get a glimpse of each of the Straw Hats. Both Zoro and Franky are hardly seen at all. Luffy hasn't changed much, other than that giant scar across his chest; but I did notice that Mayumi Tanaka's voice for him is a bit deeper. Most of the cast have had rather subtle redesigns, Franky looks the most dramatic, and Chopper doesn't look as if he's been changed at all. This all looks really promising. Next episode, Luffy will be facing his ruthless impostor.
It's natural that starting here you are going to be missing some back story. For your convenience, I've gone through and summarized Luffy's entire history by story arcs on his Anime Vice wiki page. Remember that each episode of One Piece is aired on FUNimation'sofficial One Piece website an hour after it airs in Japan. These are then added to HULU on the following Wednesday. Even if you've never watched an episode of this series. I really hope you give this one a shot.