This one is probably late again, because I was both VERY lazy in
getting around to writing it AND I was hella busy for most of the last
two weeks of March. It's literally April 1st right now, 10am, when I'm
typing this opening statement... And I'm probably going to put it off
for a few more days after this.
Okay, so SUPER bad weather in my area AND being made to house-sit for a
week for my grandmother in an area that gets literally ZERO cell signal
delayed me in putting this out even more than I expected :/
SECOND ADDITION: Sorry to anyone who tried to read this the FIRST time. Apparently editing a journal that exceeds the character limit breaks the journal's URL. Go figure. Only had to re-do all the formatting and links again. Not like I needed that hour of my life for other stuff.
The Anime Of The Month for April, 2017 is...
WARNING! This time around I WILL be delving into spoilers! One Piece is literally turning TWENTY YEARS OLD this July and is STILL going strong, so I think I'm justified in including such things... Plus if I DIDN'T give myself this liberty the character section alone would be VERY tricky.
You have been warned, so IF you plan on watching/reading all of One Piece (Or catching up, if you're already an old fan), just keep in mind that you may have some stuff spoiled if you keep reading this! I WILL do what I can to avoid super-major spoilers, of course, but don't expect EVERYTHING to stay a surprise.
For those of you who are already One Piece fans, I'm going to TRY
sticking exclusively to pre-timeskip info! If ou're NOT already a fan I
explain more on what this means later in the journal.
Series Name: One Piece
Creator Name: Eiichiro Oda
Genre: Comedy, Action, Drama, Shounen
Air Dates: October, 1999 through present day
Number Of Episodes: 780+
By the way, that's NOT a typo on the number of episodes. If anyone you know has ever talked about Dragonball Z being 'too long' you can tell them that One Piece literally has it beaten by a 500+ episode margin. For the record though, IF you ever want to watch One Piece, there's about 110 episodes you can skip because they're pure filler. You can also look up One Pace, which is a fan project to essentially make a One Piece Kai that is paced more quickly WITHOUT sacrificing any of the story. On average they've cut down entire arcs to half or less their original amount of episodes!
Now PRE-statement this time around...
One Piece has had like a million opening and ending themes over the
years, so I'm just picking three of my favorite openings and ignoring
the endings altogether.
So you're aware, "We Are" is the FIRST opening for the series and to Japan is about as iconic as the themes to "The Simpsons" or "Power Rangers" are to us in the Western world. Also note there is an alternate version of "We Are" that has the voice actors of the main characters all singing the song instead!
How I Found This Series: Add to this section's title, "And My Personal Adventure Through The Series"
One Piece was first introduced to me by Shonen Jump; Yes, the rather laughable American attempt at serializing manga. Say what you will about SJ and their overt censoring, translations and methods in general, but they DID open the doors for a lot of people and made tons of anime/manga fans that otherwise wouldn't have been. Point is, Shonen Jump was all I had back in my late middle school/early high school years, so I read it every month. One of the series in SJ that I would keep up with was, of course, One Piece. At the time I thought it was just okay; Something fun and cool, but not as awesome as Naruto or DBZ or... Whatever the hell else Shonen Jump was running back then that was the 'cool' thing. I got into it for a bit though, jumping ahead to download chapters from scanlation groups online.
Eventually, however, I stopped caring about One Piece altogether, right around the time I caught up to the current chapters at the time and ran out of stuff to read. Years later my usual source for all things anime, Josh/Chaos621/ChaoSamui, was talking to me about how One Piece had gotten significantly more amazing after the point where I stopped caring. I tried getting back into the series, but I had forgotten EVERYTHING about it! So I started over, from the very beginning... And made it EXACTLY to the point I'd made it the first time! Once again I found myself floating away, though THIS time it was due to work and other life nonsense.
Cut to even FURTHER in the future; Said friend had been keeping me updated on what was happening on and off through the series, and I was allowing spoilers thinking I'd NEVER be caught up... But I had, at some point, decided I would jump back in full-force and watch the series ALL HE WAY THROUGH FOR A THIRD TIME once the anime had reached the end of the current arc at the time; Dressrosa. If you already follow One Piece, you KNOW how much that delayed me as a result. Still, as the anime was finally winding down to the end of Dressrosa, I started watching from the very beginning just as planned... Albeit skipping every filler episode!
It was going wonderfully, and I'd even gotten past the part I'd stopped at twice before AND dropped my toxic ex during that time, so I had the TIME to indulge in the series! I was locked into One Piece hardcore... Until Monty passed away. I cannot even BEGIN to explain the heartbreak and emotional anguish his death cast upon me, and to this day I'm STILL not quite sure why I seem to have taken Monty's passing harder than most everyone else I've ever spoken to (I STILL cannot listen to the RWBY soundtrack without crying). To make matters worse, I was specifically near the end of the Marineford/Summit War arc in One Piece when we lost Monty... And again, if you follow One Piece already then you KNOW what the tail-end of that arc entails. Needless to say, the comparisons and emotional investment I pulled from all of that where magnified a hundred-fold with the loss of Monty.
So I stopped, yet again, though this time it was a MUCH more logical point to stop at; Immediately before the time-skip. For those who DON'T know, there's a creator-defined definitive halfway point in One Piece, and that halfway point is when there is a two year gap in the story where the main characters all grow older and stronger from training over that period of time. Hence why you'll hear people (Including myself, throughout this journal) referring to One Piece's events as pre or post time-skip. But I digress, for the POINT of this is that I couldn't go on watching the series after the pain of Monty's passing. It wasn't tied to him in any real way, I just hurt to much and didn't think I would be able to focus on it.
So jump to a year later, when I experienced a slightly lesser form of heartbreak after separating from my at-the-time significant other. I was so lost as to what to do... I needed ALL the distractions I could get, and there's even a journal post here on the site from around that time that details several of the ways I was trying to keep my mind as far away from the heartbreak as I could... And in that journal, you'll find a picture of my TV playing an episode of One Piece! Indeed, One Piece ended up being one of my many escapes from reality during that time. I blazed through the episodes after the time-skip, getting more invested in the series than ever! The ONLY time I took a break was when I overshot my predictions and reached the start of Dressrosa before the arc had finished. After a few months though, I was able to start that arc finally!
And am I EVER glad I waited. Dressrosa is, at present, THE longest arc in One Piece at over 100 episodes. For anyone keeping track of weekly releases of each episode, that meant it was just around TWO YEARS of a single arc. I watched the entire arc in a little under two weeks. It was MUCH better than waiting week-to-week, and further proved why I prefer binge watching! However, now... I had caught up! There was nothing left to watch! So I did the only logical thing, which is what I'd planned to do from the start; Switch over to reading the manga.
And thus, here I am today. At any given point I'm only three or four chapters behind the most current release for One Piece, and I feel like I'm FINALLY part of the people who can call themselves a major fan of the series. I WOULD say more, but... Well, there's a whole other section at the end dedicated to all that!
Summary: This one is a bit harder to explain than normal, if only because the series itself is so long and intricate. I'm also going to take the liberty of detailing the beginning of Luffy's story, since it DOES sort of lead into the rest of the series even if you don't get to see it until a flashback happens a few episodes into the series.
The world, that is to say the planet, which One Piece takes place within is about 90% ocean. The largest landmass is a single strip of mountainous rock that circumferences the globe on a North/South plane, known as the Red Line. Across the equatorial circumference is a belt of ocean known as the Grand Line, and the Grand Line itself is bordered on the North and South by a twin set of phenomena known as the Calm Belt. Beyond all of that, the major oceans of the world are named by cardinal directions; East Blue, West Blue, North Blue and South Blue. The Red Line is widely uninhabited, or at the very least MOST of the planet's population exists on countless islands scattered all over the globe.
While the major oceans are easily navigable and follow common logic even as we understand it in our own world, the Grand Line is completely different. Compasses spin wildly and maps are useless as a result, and the weather can change from a sweltering heat to a blizzard within seconds IN the same spot of the sea. Instead, the only way to navigate the Grand Line is via Log Pose, a special compass that locks on the the unique magnetic field of the nearest island. Once on that island, the Log Pose adapts to the magnetic field over time (Each island has a different set time for the Log Pose) and will eventually lock on to the next nearest island.
Also inhabiting the world are countless species of sea-life. Included among them are the humanoid Fishmen, who are able to walk upright as humans are while still having a very fish-like appearance, to the mermaids and mermen, who appear exactly as you might expect. Also dwelling in the sea, however, are Sea Kings; Giant sea monsters that can be anything from the size of a house to the size of a Navy warship, and some even bigger! The Calm Belt is the natural breeding ground of these fearsome creatures, and alongside the fact that the Calm Belt has NO wind patterns and NO sea currents make it almost completely unable to be traversed (Though the Navy has methods that allow them to pass through the Calm Belt with ease). For normal sailors and pirates, there is only ONE way to reach the Grand Line safely... And even then it requires such skill and bravery that most who set out for the Grand Line never even make it there.
Only a single man has ever traversed the entire Grand Line, making it all the way to the final island known as Raftel. That man was Gol D. Roger, AKA Gold Roger, the pirate king. He amassed untold treasures and caused an insane amount of trouble for the world government as he led the proverbial pirate's life, ultimately becoming a legend even as he lived. He was ultimately captured though, and sentenced to death for his crimes. Wealth, fame and power; Gol D. Roger had it all and even as he was led to the gallows he showed no regret for his life. His final words were an accidental call to action, telling the world that he'd left his greatest treasure at the end of the Grand Line; At Raftel.
Though he was executed even as he spoke those words, the people of the world were enticed by the prospect of the greatest treasure to ever exist... And so with his dying words, Roger had inadvertently spawned a Great Age of Pirates; Sending common people to the seas to pursue their dreams by whatever means necessary. Of course though, most people lacked the proper conviction, knowledge and willpower, ending up becoming mere criminals that the world now had to deal with. Some had morals and would only travel, others were ruthless and took whatever they wanted.
One such treasure the world offered these sailors and pirates were very special fruits, which gave the person who ate them an incredible power. Known as Devil Fruits, only one of each type and/or user of each power can exist at a time, though some fruits have SIMILAR effects to others. Most give the user the ability to change their own body in some way, but quite a few give the power to change other objects and/or living creatures as well. The caveat to these powers are as diverse as the powers themselves, BUT they all share a single, common weakness; Water. If a Devil Fruit user is ever submersed in water more than 25% (Typically to their knees), they begin to feel incredibly weakened as if suffering from extreme fatigue. If fully submersed the effect is something along the lines of paralysis or passing out, essentially rendering the person unable to move at all and, effectively, ensuring their death via drowning.
All of this information lends to the beginning and indeed focal point of the story. On a small island somewhere in East Blue, a great pirate by the epithet Red-Hair Shanks makes regular stops and has befriended a young orphan by the name of Monkey D. Luffy. Luffy, having heard he legends and tales of Gol D. Roger from Shanks and other people on the island, has decided that he wants to become a pirate himself... But not just ANY pirate, for Luffy wants to travel to the end of the Grand Line and obtain the treasure of Gol D. Roger; A treasure which has sense came to be known as One Piece (In case you were curious where the title came from!). On one of these stops to Luffy's island, Shanks has brought with him a Devil Fruit which he plans to sell... Until Luffy eats it out of curiosity.
The fruit Luffy had eaten was known as the Gum-Gum Fruit (Gomu-Gomu no Mi) and as a result his body gained the properties of rubber! The young boy is now able to stretch his limbs and can withstand damage that would cause serious injury to most anyone else. Furthermore, as the series later shows, this makes Luffy invulnerable to bullets and really anything that isn't bladed or otherwise able to cut. Of course though, this makes Luffy forever unable to step into bodies of water ever again, seemingly putting a huge dent in his plans to become pirate king.
In this same trip to the island, albeit on a different day, Shanks is accosted by a small crew of no-name pirates... And promptly acts as though it's no big deal after they disgrace him. Luffy, however, is furious at the treatment of the man he looks up to. The boy foolishly rushes out to fight the pirates and is immediately captured by them. Shanks and his crew have a very short standoff with this other crew before all but decimating them in an instant, showing that Shanks' crew is actually quite the big deal indeed! However, the captain runs and makes out to sea with Luffy still in his grasp, forcing Shanks to follow. Seeing no other way out, and in return for his crew being defeated, the captain throws Luffy into the sea to get Shanks off his tail, forcing Shanks to save Luffy.
However, a certain Sea King calls the area around the island his home, and upon sensing the commotion rises up to devour the escaping captain and his ship before turning his attention to Luffy and Shanks. Thanks to Shanks' quick action, he protects Luffy and scares the beast away with a single, intense stare and the words 'Get lost', further solidifying his power... However, as Shanks calmly tries to console a crying Luffy, it is revealed that the Sea King had taken Shanks' left arm in the process of Luffy's rescue, and Shanks seems more concerned with Luffy's well being even despite this fact.
As Shanks and his crew prepare to depart the following day, he tells Luffy to never give up his dream and take to sea once he's old enough to do such. As a parting gift, Shanks removes his straw hat and places it upon Luffy's head, telling the young boy that the hat once belonged to someone that Shanks himself looked up to. A promise is made from Shanks to Luffy; That Luffy must one day find Shanks and return the hat to him, most likely AFTER Luffy has become the pirate king. With that Shanks left, leaving Luffy and his island for good so that Luffy would be all the more driven to his goal.
Many years later, Luffy indeed set out on his own from the island, his plans to become pirate king only grown and strengthened over time as much as his own strength and understanding of the powers his Devil Fruit had given him! As Luffy departs, the same Sea King who took Shanks' arm and destroyed a whole ship in a single bite shows up to confront Luffy... And is swiftly defeated with a single, powerful punch to the jaw from Luffy. The young, helpless boy is no more as Luffy begins his grand adventure, his goal not to be deterred by anyone or anything who tries to stand in his way.
Characters: If you thought I'd hit the limit back on Girls Und Panzer when I talked about numbers of named characters, prepare to have your mind blown. Not counting the named characters that NEVER speak, are ONLY background henchmen and/or anyone that ONLY gets a name in passing, there are still over ONE HUNDRED characters in One Piece that I can literally name off from memory alone... And that's JUST from the first half of the series.
So I'm only going to name off the (Currently) nine members of the Straw Hat crew, since they're the ones everything tends to revolve around. Also, as a testament to how long this series is, I'm also going to include the episode/chapter number of their first appearance in the series... Oh, and once again, be prepared for some mild spoilers!
Monkey D. Luffy
First Appearance: Episode 1 / Chapter 1
The primary main character of the series, Luffy is EXTREMELY outgoing and optimistic in virtually every regard possible... And he's also a bit of an idiot. As already detailed, Luffy ate the Gum-Gum fruit in his youth and as such has the ability to stretch and otherwise change his body shape as though he were made of rubber. This is perfectly reflective of his personality, as he is very bouncy and takes most everything in stride, his only real moments of anger being when his friends are threatened and/or he is witness to injustice and other such evils. His biggest flaw, as was just mentioned, is his lack of intelligence. He's not QUITE a simpleton, but Luffy is so lacking in common sense that he will consistently forget his own weakness to water and try to dive in either to help someone else OR just to go swimming. He has also, on several occasions, completely misunderstood the words of others and created a larger problem in the process AND completely ignores or sometimes misses major facts until they're impossible to miss.
What he lacks in smarts though, Luffy makes up for a million times over in strength and heart. Part of Luffy's vast power is exclusively due to his stubborn determination. On multiple occasions Luffy has risked his life and pushed his body to near breaking points JUST to defeat a single enemy, sometimes even using self-damaging tactics and moves on multiple enemies in a row KNOWING that he doesn't have the strength to keep such up. Nearly all of these instances have been for the sake of someone else though, almost never for himself alone. Whether it's to liberate a group of people from a cruel and unjust ruler OR to save/help his friends, Luffy's own life and indeed his greater goals almost become secondary to doing what he believes to be the right thing. Fortunately for him, his crew are all of the same mind and have come to learn how he behaves CANNOT be changed, so by the current point in the series they often don't even think to question or act surprised when Luffy does something absolutely insane that puts ALL of them in a life-threatening situation...
Things like punching the face of someone in SUCH high position within the world that it is against world law to even refuse whatever said person may ask of you JUST to save an acquaintance, or declaring war on one of the four strongest pirates in the entire world to help an ally... Or just declaring war on the world government as a whole to save a friend!
First Appearance: Episode 2 (Technically 1) / Chapter 3
Chances are you've seen Zoro SOMEWHERE on the internet, and it's most likely purely because of his very unique sword style named Santoryuu (Literally 'Three-Sword Style'). Wielding one sword in each hand and a third that he holds horizontally in his mouth, it is arguably the most recognizable and equally the most mocked method of swordsmanship to ever exist. Unlike Luffy, Zoro is a perfectly normal human with no Devil Fruit powers... Not that you'd know it by watching him fight. If Luffy is strong and tenacious as they come, this green-haired swordsman is a VERY close second! He's practically tied with Luffy for the number of times he's ALMOST died after a fight, and one particular injury he sustains early in the series is SO great that it carries over into the next arc and further bleeds into the arc after that for a short time... And even AFTER recovering, the massive scar from that injury STILL exists to the present day in the series.
Zoro's never-say-die attitude and tenacity have pushed him towards his own goal, which is to be the best swordsman who ever has or will ever live. This ties directly into his backstory, which I WILL NOT delve into here so as to give you more reason to watch the show! Back to the point though, this stubborn nature of his has led him to be rather like Luffy in that he will cast aside his well-being in order to win... But he differs from Luffy on being able to let go of his goal, instead using his goal as a double-edged sword. If he wants to be the best swordsman in the world he HAS to win, but if he goes all out and still can't beat the other person then to him there's no point living a life where he CAN'T be the strongest. This is true to the point where he ALMOST cut off his own feet at one point in order to free himself so he could beat an opponent! He has evolved this belief over the series though, now thinking more along the lines that if he CAN'T beat someone then he simply has to exceed his limit and fight harder. The fact remains though that Zoro's mantra is, at the simplest level, 'Get strong or die trying.'
While his tenacity and resolve are character flaws in their own right, Zoro's biggest and likewise most comedic flaw is simply that he has almost ZERO sense of direction. It's a running gag in the series that Zoro will often show up at the wrong place completely OR arrive late to a fight OR arrive at a fight he hadn't intended to be part of at all simply because he'd gotten lost along the way. Like we're talking someone can point down a hallway and Zoro will take of in the opposite direction kind of bad, and that's NOT a exaggeration. Despite this, Zoro is almost overly serious and harsh at times and THAT is his other major flaw. He has no problem telling someone exactly what he thinks and/or not taking any amount of bullshit even from his closest friends and allies... Though in the end he's usually right in some way for acting like this, the way he presents and goes about it can sometimes lead to conflict with the more sensitive and kind members in the crew.
First Appearance: Episode 4 (Technically 1) / Chapter 8
This lovely redhead is Nami, and she can summed up rather easily with one word; Money. The girl practically has an addiction to it, to the point where she actively cons her own crewmates out of money on a fairly regular basis! Even outside her own friends, Nami is likely to steal anything and everything she lays eyes upon IF she likes it and/or it can earn her a little extra cash. All of this stems from an understandable place, however, as she has been trying for many years to save up a full million for her own cause... Which I won't get into here.
Her ambition started when she was very young, when she came to realize that she not only liked drawing maps and studying navigation BUT she was naturally gifted at it as well! This extends as far as her being able to predict the weather almost flawlessly, be it a few hours or seconds before it takes a sudden turn that to MOST people seems unexpected. All this, atop her rather helpful ability to quickly and simply order the crew around the ship during a rough storm, lends perfectly to her dream of making a full map of the entire world... And more than earns her spot as the ship navigator.
Nami's flaws are obvious, what with her thieving nature and excessive lust for money. Aside from those though, Nami typically has little patience for the antics of the more rambunctious members of the crew (Typically Luffy) and will normally end up shouting her head off at them to stop being morons. Add to this the fact that she CAN be the more sensitive type and thus be strongly and verbally against the more harsh actions of people like Zoro, and one can see how she's more complex than she appears. Like everyone else in the crew though, once you get past that exterior and really look at who she is, Nami has a very caring and loving heart and will ALWAYS fight for what she believe to be the right thing.
First Appearance: Epsode 8 / Chapter 23
Usopp is good at exactly two things; Marksmanship and lying... Okay, he's ALSO pretty creative and can be kinda smart sometimes, but MAINLY those fist two. Easily the most frightful of the entire crew, Usopp tends to be the first one to point out a bad idea as soon as it comes up AND makes a convenient excuse as to why he cannot be part of it (Typically a fake disease whose name directly correlates to whatever he doesn't want to do). His lying skills, however, are better based in his ability to tell a grand story OR more importantly to pull off a bluff in front of his opponent!
His goal is probably the simplest of the entire crew; To become a brave warrior of the sea. Usopp has always led a coward's life and avoided danger at all costs... But he's sick of being that weakling! Even though he may be terrified out of his mind, Usopp will push himself before he's even realized what he's doing and jump into the fight. Fortunately for the long-nosed liar, he has a certain uncanny luck that tends to side with him in battle AND he just so happens to be a natural-born expert marksman... And by that I mean he can actually hit what he's aiming for from almost half-a-mile away. Oh, by the way, he almost EXCLUSIVELY uses a slingshot or slingshot-like weapons!
His flaws are easy to pick out, what with him being a major coward and effectively a compulsive liar. He's usually the last to get on board with an idea unless his emotions are running high, and even WHEN he's not being afraid of everything ever he has a bad tendency to lie himself into a corner. Whether it's by telling random passers-by about his great deeds and them forcing him to help because of such OR he puts unnecessary pressure on himself, Usopp is more often than not his own worst enemy... As is most anyone the Straw Hats fight with, since Usopp usually gets beaten down BEFORE he begins to shine.
First Appearance: Episode 20 / Chapter 43
Sanji is a ladies man... Or at least that's how he sees himself. Whenever an attractive woman walks by his eyes turn into hearts and he becomes smitten to the point that he goes all extreme gentleman and whirlwinds over to them to kneel and kiss their hand while offering a very romanticized compliment of some sort. This runs completely against his ability in battle though, as he is damn near as strong as Luffy and equally as strong as Zoro OR (Depending on whom you ask) just a pinch weaker. The man is also a super-expert chef, able to cook virtually anything and everything and as such has a rather fond attachment to his own hands... So much so that he exclusively uses kicking attacks in battle.
Sanji's goal is one that requires a bit of explaining, and that is to find All Blue. The four main seas o the One Piece world all contain different types of fish, not unlike our own world. There are some bleed zones where you'll find a fish of one sea at the edge of the other sea, but for the most part if you want certain fish you either have to get lucky at a market, special order them OR go to that sea yourself and get them. The All Blue is a sort of tale among chefs and fishermen, and is simply a sea where ALL the fish of the world can be found together. Sanji's goal, however, has since evolved to be MORE than just finding this sea... But as with the others, I'm not going to get into specifics.
In terms of flaws, Sanji's biggest one is by far his almost comedic attraction to the fairer sex. Sanji is utterly useless against a woman, and that goes double if the woman is attractive! His personal code of chivalry makes him refuse to attack or otherwise let a woman come to harm, even if they rightfully deserve such he WILL NOT attack them himself. If the lady is good looking, however... Well, let's just say that Sanji has had MANY moments where he was nearly taken out of a fight completely because he let his guard down around a cute girl who turned out to be a villain. Of curse though, this shows that he has a good heart, even if it IS a little skewed towards women. Like the others though, he's inclined to fight for the side of right based on his own decisions and judgements... And in particular, with the latest arc in the manga, would even go out of his way to help someone he well and truly hates JUST because he doesn't feel it's right to let them die.
First Appearance: Episode 81 / Chapter 134
As you can probably tell, Chopper isn't exactly human; In fact, he's a natural-born reindeer! In his youth, Chopper ate the Human-Human Fruit (Hito-Hito no Mi; And people wonder why I hate English translations :P) which is a SPECIAL type of Devi Fruit (Known as a Zoan Type) that allows the user to change their body into that of another species. Most of these fruits let the user turn into an animal, but Chopper found one that allows the person to eat it to become superhuman. If a NORMAL human had eaten it they'd just have the ability to change their body structure at will and have powers to reflect that, but Chopper being an ANIMAL the fruit gave him a more human appearance AND the ability to think and act as humans do... Though he ALSO has the ability to change his body, having a multitude of forms all with their own abilities (And one form that is particularly dangerous and is only used as a last resort!)
Chopper's personal goal is to become the best doctor in the world, thanks to him being raised by a doctor on his home island after his herd rejected the poor reindeer following his eating of the Devil Fruit. This doctor loved and cared for Chopper as though the reindeer were his own son... But as with many of the backstories in One Piece, it was NOT a happy ending (Which as always I'm not going to talk about in detail!). So in honor of that man, and because he so very much likes helping others, Chopper wants to take the doctoring skills he's learned and apply them to rid the world of all disease and sickness.
For flaws, Chopper's are by far the most adorable. He's EXTREMELY bashful, to the point where during his introduction arc he will run away and hide behind a door frame (On the wrong side of it, no less) when confronted with someone he doesn't know. He also tends to take compliments FAR too excitedly, typically doing a cute little wiggle dance and smiling happily as he says something like "Don't think that'll make me happy, dumbass~!" Before you say anything about it being a tsundere trait though, know that NOTHING else about Chopper fits that character type. He's EXTREMELY kind and open, and tends to only fight when he deems it absolutely necessary.
First Appearance: Episode 67 / Chapter 114
Robin is another Devil Fruit user on the Straw Hat crew, hers being the Flower-Flower Fruit (Hana-Hana no Mi; Unbelievably the 4Kids version KEPT the Japanese name and then the Funimation dub changed it. What?!). Robin's power allows her to grow replicas of her hands, legs and really ANY part of her body on virtually ANY surface that she can see or feel, including other people! These replicas are made up of mysterious petal-like objects and can be created and dispelled in an instant, BUT are only as strong or durable as Robin herself.
Robin's ambition is... A bit tricky to describe concisely and without getting into MEGA spoilers. Put simply though, she is searching for something called the Rio Poneglyph, a huge cube of stone that details a missing century of the world's history. Robin, being very interested in archeology and historical fact, finds the fact that there is 100 years of missing history in the world to be almost an affront to the people living in that world, so she simply seeks to learn the truth so that she may help spread it. For reasons unknown though, the world government are the ones that had this truth hidden away from the world, and... You know what? Saying anything more would be too much. Suffice it to say though, Robin's backstory MAY be one of the most tragic.
In terms of character flaws... Robin is once again hard to pin down. Her biggest flaw seems to be her surface indifference to EVERYTHING. She always seems like nothing is bothering her and likewise that she only cares about things and people in passing. While this is of course very much untrue, it gives a somewhat false exterior persona to her that most people never see past. Furthermore, she has a tendency to speak her mind when she's having rather dark or grave thoughts, often in a way that is described as being humorous. As ever though, she's a perfect fit with the crew in that she has no tolerance for injustice in the world.
First Appearance: Episode 233 / Chapter 329
(For some infuriating reason, there are NO good full-body images of pre-timeskip Franky on a white or transparent background. The fuck, internet?)
Contrary to how he looks, Franky IS a human and he DOES NOT have Devil Fruit powers of any sort... He is, however, a cyborg. Through a backstory I STILL won't get into, Franky's body was damaged greatly in his youth and SOMEHOW he found the strength and ability to put his shipbuilding skills to use on his own self, rebuilding his own body with machine parts and becoming half robot... Did I mention he's powered by cola? Look, it's One Piece, you learn not to question some things after a while, alright? Just go with it, he's cool, I promise.
Franky's dream is one of the more beneficial within the crew; To create and sail upon a ship that is capable of circumnavigating the globe. This one is ALSO hard to get into the specifics of without spoiling a lot, but at some point the Straw Hats' are given their second ship, the Thousand Sunny, which was created BY Franky himself and is indeed his 'dream ship' that he hopes to take all around the world. All the same, Franky is an expert shipwright and helps keep the Sunny going, and atop that is an excellent fighter thanks to his many upgrades and weapons installed within his own body!
Franky's biggest flaw is his... Manliness? It doesn't make sense to say, but that's the only way to put it, really. Basically, Franky is openly sympathetic and respectful of people who have been through hardship and/or follow their own code even to a fault, even if they're an enemy! Actually his REAL major flaw is probably the fact that he's a bit abrasive and extremely weird, as you can no doubt tell from him running around in a speedo, and just LOOK at those arms! Franky is my personal favorite within the Straw Hats, and even I think he looks weird! In keeping with the theme though, Franky's initial 'flaw' also proves that he's still got his human heart and emotions behind all that cola-powered metal.
First Appearance: Episode 337 / Chapter 442
Alright, let's get the obvious questions out of the way. Yes, Brook is a living skeleton. No, he is not spooky or scary in the slightest. Yes, he is human. Yes, he is technically dead. Yes, he still eats and drinks. Yes, he still poops somehow (This is LITERALLY the first question Luffy asks him). Brook is able to exist thanks to his Devil Fruit, the Revive-Revive Fruit (Yomi-Yomi no Mi), which allows it's user to do a myriad of really cool things related to ghosts and the spirit world... But more importantly, allows you to come back from the dead exactly one time! Thanks to a little mishap though, Brook's soul was unable to find his body for over 50 years, so when he DID locate his body it had decayed and only the bones remained! As a result, Brook now inhabits his skeletal 'body' and is impervious to most mortal wounds since he has no flesh or organs that can be injured!
Brook's ambition is... Well, let's just say there's a certain very special friend that he left elsewhere in the world; A friend that is still alive that Luffy's crew happened to meet at one point during their early adventures, and Brook wishes to see them again for himself! Saying any more would of course be spoilers, so let's talk instead about how Brook is the one thing Luffy has wanted on his crew since the second he left his home island... A musician. Brook can sing and play virtually every instrument imaginable, and is the source of another VERY widely-spread-even-outside-the-series song known as "Binks' Brew" ("Binkusu no Sake" in Japanese). His abilities ACTUALLY encompass his music as well, giving Brook sub-powers similar to hypnotic suggestion and hypnosis in general. While not related to his music, Brook being only bones means he's very light, making him one of if not THE fastest members of the crew (So much so that he can run on water for a short time!).
As for flaws... Where does one even begin? First off, Brook is CONSTANTLY making jokes at his own expense and much to the chagrin of those around him who are not Luffy or Chopper. His 'Skull Jokes' entail him saying something and then correcting himself, such as "Are my eyes deceiving me?! Then again, I'm dead and have no eyes to begin with!" One of his other major downfalls is that he CLAIMS to be a gentleman, and indeed most times he is... Except when he meets a very attractive woman, at which time he will almost always ask to see their panties as either the first or second sentence spoken to them... And for those he sees regularly, such as Nami and Robin, CONTINUES to ask such even though it always results in them giving him a good whack upside the head. Like the other eight members of the crew before him though, and in perhaps the TRUE show of his gentleman nature, Brook will risk it all to help those in need and NEVER breaks a promise he's made.
Personal Opinions/Views: I'll just open with it outright; One Piece is probably my favorite series of ALL time. The characters, the story, the emotion, the look and feel, the sound... ALL of it is absolutely amazing and ALL of it exemplifies the exact sort of thing I want and often look for in a series.
I'll also say this, for anyone who doesn't know; One Piece is the series that single-handedly exploded the term 'Nakama.' The word has taken on an entire new meaning almost thanks TO the series, and as a result some fansubbing groups found it hard to translate properly and as such left it as JUST the word, thus spreading it around the internet. When translated Nakama simultaneously means friend, family, ally AND crew, as well as a few other similar words. It's an all-encompassing term that is hard to pin down on ONE definition, especially the way Luffy and his crew use it when talking about one another.
As I said before, April is going to be devoted to series that I personally have a deeper attachment towards, and One Piece is THE magnum opus of examples for such. So yes, I am an admitted fangirl and total sucker for anything and everything related to One Piece, and as a result I WILL be praising the fuck out of it. If you happen to hate the series or think it's overrated, then this is NOT going to be the sort of thing you're hoping for. If you've been thinking of watching the series and are on the fence... PLEASE WATCH IT. It's long as fuck and even I'll admit it can drag on at times, but One Piece is 100% worth your time and attention if you even remotely enjoy action and comedy and feel-good adventures.
Don't listen to ANYONE who tells you that One Piece is 'too shounen' or 'too happy-go-lucky' either. Those statements are pure evidence of how little they've seen of the series. Drama happens A LOT in One Piece, and by that I mean almost EVERY ONE of the main characters has a relatively dark backstory and/or character moment that is told to the audience. Two examples of such are one character watching their adoptive mother get gunned down in front of them, and another being indirectly responsible for the destruction of their entire inhabited home island. Furthermore, One Piece covers ACTUAL major and serious topics throughout... As in things OUR world deals with on a day to day basis. Racism, sexism, corrupt government and law enforcement, judgementalism, prejudice, discrimination, elitism... You name it, it's IN One Piece and is often a driving force behind SOME aspect of every single arc.
And let's not ignore the common complaint, which is that shounen series aren't 'realistic' enough. Cartoon-ey action and impossible abilities aside, One Piece is RIFE with realism. If the above topics weren't proof enough of that, we can EASILY talk more about death and how it affects the characters and the world in the series. While you WILL see a lot of the cliche moments where a character 'dies' and then is revealed to be alive later, even THOSE moments are presented with such power and emotion that it leaves you stunned and slightly hurt. And in the moments when a character is IRREVOCABLY AND COMPLETELY, 100% NO MISTAKING IT DEAD... The context and emotion and every other thing that leads to and lends to that moment WILL have you in tears, or at least force you to hold them back and only get that watery-eyed sting. When a character in One Piece dies you will ALWAYS remember that exact moment, so every time the character is mentioned afterwards you'll be forced to mentally revisit it.
As stated before, it PROPERLY affects the series and characters as well. When someone dies it MEANS something, be it an intense emotional strife OR a defining point where a character gains their purpose OR ramifications for the world itself... Sometimes all three at once! It's not limited to JUST those examples either, as you'll find if you watch the series. While One Piece DOES strive to avoid killing random people throughout the story, there ARE times when another character or villain will be SHOWN killing or be SAID to have killed people in their lifetime... And when it comes up, it's a complete showstopping moment BECAUSE of how rare it is. Death isn't something you become used to within One Piece, nor is it something you come to expect over time. EVERY death or mention of such within the series is powerful in its own right, actually MEANING something to you as a viewer as opposed to being a reminder of 'realism' or being used simply for shock value.
This plays a small part in the next point I'm going to make, which is entirely centric to the story of the series. Unlike a lot of shounen series, where you can guess whatever is coming next AND/OR you always know the heroes will win, One Piece is constantly there to break the mold and surprise you. The story is so intricate and detailed that scenes from the earlier episodes are STILL being cast in a new light thanks to the information that comes up in the newer ones... And while some say that's not uncommon, the same is true for information in the MIDDLE of the series being turned on it's head thanks to newer revelations, and on a smaller scale information at the start or middle of an arc being completely flipped around due to a twist or reveal that makes sense of it all! Again, these things AREN'T all that uncommon... But when you have almost 800 episodes/chapters and you can STILL deliver these moments consistently AND keep them exciting and fresh? That's not something you see every day.
The audience is always left guessing right up to the reveal as well. To this day we have unanswered questions in the series BECAUSE there's information we've only gotten in pieces. What exactly IS the One Piece treasure? What exactly IS the Will of D? What was SO scary about the Pluton weapon? What even IS the Uranus weapon? What HAPPENED during the Void Century? Who told King Neptune to protect the Noah, and what's so special about it anyway? These are just a FEW questions the series has given the audience to think about, and ALL of them we only have context clues and widespread theories to use as a means for deriving an answer so far, otherwise we'll ONLY find them out when they become relevant... IF we ever learn the truth of them AT ALL!
No matter how long or how big an arc/conflict is, there's ALWAYS a myriad of underlying reason and questions behind them. Aside from the earliest ones, no arc or conflict simply 'starts and ends' in a traditional way. There are rarely any purely 'wrong place, wrong time' moments, and even THOSE FEW THAT ARE end up having a deeper story behind them than you might expect! Sometimes it's as simple as the story of how the crew gains a new member, other times it's as important as being revealed to be a major historical location and no one knew it... And in at least A FEW cases, having a greater reason and/or having future implications FAR more impactful than what we're told at the time! In fact there's STILL a prophecy the audience was told about in part of the series that has yet to come true, and JUST from the base telling/interpretation of it is something that would NEVER happen!
One Piece is not devoid of positivity though, and in fact nearly ALL of the darkest, most serious moments are eventually countered by such in some way. Be it the members of Luffy's crew who suffered great loss in the past finding a new family once they join, the liberation of an island from a tyrannical and psychotic villain, or even someone who's lost all hope being practically FORCED to have hope again thanks to Luffy's rampant and often defiant nature pushing him to help those in need... This series will ALWAYS build you back up in ALL the best ways each and every single time it tears you down, and every time it happens will be that much more inspiring and heartwarming than the last. IF you somehow manage to avoid crying whenever you witness the tragic stories that unfold throughout the series, you're almost certain to be pushed to tears when you're shown how the people affected by that tragedy ultimately grow stronger and/or recover from it... And barring that, you may be moved to tears SIMPLY due to the pure goodness that some characters have in their hearts.
In this modern world, where we witness EVERY SINGLE DAY some act of atrocity or discrimination, an act or statement of hatred and non-understanding, and in general just plain human shittiness... One Piece breaks out by showing the audience what we ALL wish for; Genuine altruism and kindness. The main characters show it regularly, but sometimes it comes from a source you're NOT expecting. A mostly corrupt government and/or Navy, of which there will be the occasional member who stands out as an actual good person... A villain who is defeated and left with nothing, learning the errors of their ways and becoming an ally... A character whose hope and faith in humanity was destroyed years ago, learning how to trust and believe in someone else once again... It's all wildly uplifting, and each instance is written and portrayed in a believable and inspiring manner! None of the convenience and simplicity you'll see in a shorter series, nor any of the sudden and reason-lacking shift in attitude/alignment.
So now let's move on to some OTHER things in the series that I normal cover... Starting with the visuals.
While One Piece STARTS OFF as looking overly goofy and silly, the artistic look and feel evolves rather quickly into something far more refined and elegant. As the show takes a more serious tone over time, the art style adapts and shifts to fit WHILE still keeping the ability to portray a comedic moment in perfect fashion. By the 200-300 episode range, the look has changed so much that it's almost like two totally different series... And yet you'd never mistake it for anything other than One Piece's unique style. Even NOW though the look is changing and evolving slowly, all while keeping the same style and feel that it's ALWAYS had. The characters have all changed drastically, yet still look so perfectly like themselves. It's almost amazing how Oda has evolved as an artist, and likewise how the animation team has captured his style in the anime.
Speaking of the characters in One Piece, you'll be hard pressed to find a more diverse cast! Every character has a unique look and personality, even the ones who are MADE to be similar! Oda also borrows the visage of countless celebrities and film characters for his characters, often leading to some very interesting and occasionally comedic takes on a face or look that you've definitely seen before! Each new character stands out more than the ones before them, and yet he OLD characters evolve over time and tend to come back stronger and more awesome than before! Coby is the PRIME example of such; A whiny and stupid little shitty brat that is almost pure annoyance in living form who ultimately becomes a pretty attractive badass in his own right... But STILL retains some of the personality quirks that made him so annoying to begin with, but NOW they and seem like genuine traits and character flaws that perfectly accent what you WANT in a character! It's honestly like watching someone grow up and learn how to LIVE with their flaws, as opposed to letting those flaws run rampant and ruin them.
The locations and backgrounds, however, are a glorious beast of a totally different caliber. EVERY island and EVERY building is unique and gorgeous, and you'll almost never confuse one for the other. You can look at most backgrounds in One Piece and be able to recall exactly what island or place it's depicting within a few seconds... Which is impressive considering Oda himself mostly SPEAKS his designs or draws them just once. For the manga, HE draws almost all the characters and action himself, leaving ONLY the backgrounds to his staff after showing them sketches and/or explaining it to them in words. When EVERY PLACE in the series has its own unique look and feel, THAT is a feat you don't find often outside of video games... And even THEN you rarely find it! Look at visual masterpieces like Uncharted 4 and/or Breath Of The Wild; Take a screenshot of most any background area, devoid of landmarks, and you might have a general idea of where that is at best. With One Piece though, the generic background of EACH location is unique to itself to such a degree that even looking at a TREE would give you enough hint to know what island it was on.
That said though, there ARE common complaints about the characters that people often point at... Namely, the women in One Piece. Impossible proportions are one thing, but the ladies of One Piece are often drawn with SUCH an impossible body shape that it's completely distracting to some. Waistlines that you could wrap two hands around, boobs that could potentially have their own gravitational field, legs that are so long they seem to leave the character with little-to-no discernible hip location... It goes on and on, and that's not even getting into the OUTFITS these characters wear. Personally, I've NEVER had issue with any of this. It's animation, of course it's not realistic! Yes it's overly sexualized, but then so are a lot of the MALES in One Piece. Look at Zoro, who in almost EVERY fight he's ever had in the series ends up shirtless. Look at Usopp, who after the timeskip became ACTUALLY ripped/jacked and now has a muscle definition that would make people at the gym jealous. Look at Doflamingo, who is tall and skinny as hell but still has a torso that could put a bodybuilder to shame.
Going to the FULL opposite end of the spectrum, look at women like Kokoro and Dadan and Caterina Devon who AREN'T the most attractive or have ridiculously odd bodies... And males who ft that category as well, like Franky and Hogback and Jesus Burgess. One Piece is FILLED with extremes in terms of body types... And what's more, the LOOKS of a character aren't reflective of their skill or powerfulness! Rebecca walks around in a chainmail bikini and kicks more ass than almost ANYONE ELSE on her home island of Dressrosa, and yet the same can be said of Doctor Kureha from Drum Island, who is an old and less-than-atractive woman that is practically better at medicine than anyone in the world AND can kick your ass. Same goes the males, where you've got the super pirate-cliche sexy Shanks who can LITERALLY beat you with a single arm, and yet you've ALSO got people like Borsalino (AKA Kizaru) who looks like the failed offspring of Elvis and Al Pachino BUT has the fucking power and speed of light at his disposal!
Going FURTHER down that rabbit hole, the guys and girls who look hot can ALSO be completely useless in equal amounts. Gals like Conis who are just there to give information and expand the background BUT can't fight in any true capacity, and guys like Iceburg who fit the exact same bill... And in fact JUST as easily can be a hostage or liability, male OR female! These characters may LOOK a certain way, but their looks don't at all hinder or improve their skill or ability. In fact the ONLY character that comes to mind whose looks are directly related to ability is Boa Hancock, and that's because she's essentially a human Medusa of love.
So let's move past the politically correct people who ironically want to judge based on looks, and instead talk about the SOUND of the series.
As always, the voicework for the series is amazing... So long as you're watching in Japanese. The English version is okay, but Luffy's English voice JUST grates on my nerves from some reason. Maybe because it's too deep, maybe because it's lacking the kid-like nature, I dunno... And let's NOT even talk about the debacle that was the 4Kids version of One Piece! Shitty voice work aside, they changed and censored SO FUCKING MUCH of the show that it became literally impossible for them to proceed with certain story arcs later in the series. They would've had to exclude or completely change things if they'd kept going, and they likely WOULD have done such happily because they're FUCKING MORONS.
But I digress. The JAPANESE VAs nail every single role and bring the characters to life in a way that i hard to put into words. The woman who does Luffy's voice alone (Who ALSO does the Japanese voice from Krillin in the Dragonball series) is pushing 60 and STILL delivers lines like she was born to be a weird, tan-skinned, rude and stretchy twenty-year-old male. The emotion, the feeling, the passion, the ENTIRE BEING of the character is carried perfectly in each VA's reading of every line fo their characters... Which is understandable, since a few of them have been PLAYING these characters for going on 18 years at this point. I ALWAYS say it, I know, but the Japanese JUST PLAIN do better voicework than almost anyone in the Western world. They commit to a character like a method actor would for a movie or theater play, and it REALLY shows when they push their voice to the limit in ways that only a rockstar ever would.
The sound design for the series is just as impressive and iconic, being damn near on par with Dragonball or Star Wars. The silly sound of Luffy's body stretching, the soft whistle as Robin makes an arm sprout from a wall, the strange squeak/boom combo with each step that Gekko Moriah takes, the the high-pitched rush of wind when someone uses Haki, it just goes on and on and on! Every single ability has its own unique sound, and as SOON as you hear it you know whats going on. If you could get the series WITHOUT the voice track, you could probably watch it with your eyes closed and still be able to tell who is on screen and more or less what they're doing at each moment. I'd go so far as to say that every sound effect is as much a part of the character AS their voice is, and they'd be just as incomplete without their unique set of sounds for their powers/abilities.
And thus we move into the music, which is quite frankly absolutely ridiculous in the best way possible. I'm not exaggerating when I say that some of the music tracks you'll hear around episode 750 HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN USED SINCE EPISODE ONE. New scores and music are added with each arc, of course, but there's at least 15-20 musical scores that you'll hear over and over and over again throughout every single episode... And you'll NEVER get tired of them. Pieces like "Luffy's Fierce Attack" and "Overtaken" are big staples in particular, and they fit SO many different potential scenes almost perfectly. This carries over to the opening and ending themes the series has had over time; Each and every one fitting either the tone of the arc OR the tone of the series as a whole, sometimes even both at once! The most obvious example is of course the first opening theme, "We Are," which was written FOR the series. As I said before, the song is SO iconic in Japan that it's practically a national treasure.
If we absolutely MUST talk negatives, there's only ONE that is worth mentioning and it stands out far beyond any other shortcomings of this series: The length. Even if you omit filler episodes, there are over 750 episodes in One Piece. If we take the 24 minute runtime of a episode and cut out the opening and ending AND the recap of the previous few episodes that comes before the title card, we can assume each episode is about 18-20 minutes long in total. For sake of ease let's just average that out to 19 minutes per episode. The math for this tells you that there are over 14,000 minutes in all of One Piece, which is just shy of 238 hours, which in turn is just shy of 10 FULL days. If you watched an hour (About three episodes) each day, the series would take you just over 2/3 of a full year to finish. If you made watching One Piece into an eight-hour-per-day job, it would take you almost