Manga Reviews

Saturday, February 25, 2006

One Piece

One Piece
Licensed by Viz

Topic: Shounen, Fighting, Comedy

Twenty years ago the world's greatest pirate, Gold D. Roger, was executed. Before he died, he revealed that he had hidden his greatest treasures, known as "One Piece" somewhere and that it was available to whoever found it. This announcement caused the beginning of the Pirate Era. Ten years ago, the Red Haired Shanks crew stopped at a small port town. There, our hero Monkey D. Luffy, became infatuated with Shanks and vowed to become the greatest pirate ever. Unfortunately for Luffy, he also ate a treasure that Shanks had found, one of the mystical devil fruits. The Gomu Gomu fruit (Gomu means rubber in Japanese), gave Luffy the ability to stretch his body like rubber but also cursed him to become a dead weight in water, unable to ever learn to swim.

Regardless, Luffy demands that Shanks takes him along to become a pirate but Shanks refuses telling Luffy that he's not old enough to enter the world of pirates. However, Shanks gives Luffy his straw hat before he sets sail, telling Luffy to one day return it to him. Ten years later, Luffy sets out to recruit a crew of his own, so that they too can enter the Grand Line (the special ocean where One Piece is supposedly hidden).

I highly enjoy the characters from One Piece, as each of them has extremely different attitudes and their motivations play off one another nicely. For example, Luffy is very bold and strong but not too bright. His navigator, Nami, is brilliant but obsessed with money (even loaning out money with interest to other members of the crew). Their doctor, Tony Chopper, is actually a half-reindeer who's incredibly timid, etc. Yet despite their different attitudes, they all manage to have their own roles in every battle the group comes across. Furthermore, these are not small roles they have, they each get at least several chapters to themselves in the battles, allowing the reader to see the full extent of their abilities.

The characters all have very distinctive art, with accentuated features. It may look a little odd to begin with, but the art style quickly grew on me. The background art is fairly detailed although nothing special. The real back-breaker for One Piece is the plot. The plot moves in story arcs, as of this writing there have been nearly 10 story arcs. Each of these arcs seems to have ties with some event in the past, giving rise to a large number of flash back chapters where the plot is expounded upon. As a result, some of the arcs are excellent and exciting, leaving you salivating for more, whereas other arcs are dry and mundane. This is unfortunate, given that the entertaining arcs really are some of the best plot layout I've ever seen in a fighting manga, but at the same time the dull arcs make you want to quit reading the series.

Rating: 7.5/10.0


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