The series of books/anime that I’m reviewing is a story called One Piece: a jaunty, whimsical tale of a boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gathers up a lively crew of misfits in order to reach his goal of being the Pirate King. Simple concept one might think, one that has actually stretched over two decades of writing and hundreds of chapters and episodes, and one of the most enjoyable journeys I’ve ever had the pleasure of embarking on. Here I’m reviewing the first 60 episodes or roughly the first 20 books which is but the very beginning of this grand adventure.
When I first started this series I did not expect it to shock me in the way it did, I went in thinking I would simply get enjoyment from the exciting shounen (action anime) typical fight scenes, and went out realizing that One Piece actually has an uncanny amount of intricate plot, heart-wrenching moments, and well-developed characters. Starting off at the beginning the main character and captain of the Straw Hat Pirates (named after the hat given to him by world famous pirate Shanks) Monkey D. Luffy is presented as a lighthearted, careless sort of character. These characteristics paired with his severe sense of loyalty to his friends–which he calls his own family– make him an instantly endearing character. Luffy starts off his journey alone but slowly but surely picks up comrades: first Zoro a stern samurai who wields 3 swords, then Nami a keen navigator, then Usopp a marksman, and then Sanji a womanizing cook.
Each of these characters is extremely compelling in their own regard, but together create an interesting dynamic. The special thing here is that each of them have struggled immensely in some regard and Luffy, through recruiting them onto his crew, gave this band of misfits a place where they could feel at home. Luffy’s steadfast loyalty manifests a similar loyalty in his crew mates who would readily sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the other crew members.
This theme is especially prevalent in the first, less pot-heavy episodes where the first 5 members of the Straw Hat pirates are cemented together after the remarkable events of a story arc called Arlong Park. Avoiding spoiling, this arc really lays out what the rest of the story will be like and presents the characters’ first big struggle and villain and is, honestly, what hooked me on the story. I could go on about other things like the clever character design, excellent power scaling, imaginative world building, subtle foreshadowing, and the terribly impactful backstories dedicated to the characters; but, up to the 60th episode these things haven’t made their biggest appearance
It is probably easy to tell that I adore this series, and that is very true, however, I thought it would be worth mentioning some of the negative aspects of it. First off the anime started in 1998, making the animation in the beginning kind of rough compared to modern day standards. And second, the show compared to the manga/books has both some pacing issues and some unnecessary censorship. Otherwise I would consider it pretty solid.
To wrap it up, the first 60 episodes of One Piece are a great showing of one of its most prevalent themes and also gives a taste of what is to come in this amazing series. I would highly recommend giving it a try, despite its length it is one of the best stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch/read.