MANGA BINGE REVIEW: One Piece [ part two ]

I kicked off 2021 the right way by immediately reading through volumes 11 through 20 on One Piece because oh boy do things get emotional.

The majority of this ten volume stretch is finishing up the plot with Nami, seeing her officially joining up with Luffy, Zolo (Zoro? What are we officially calling him? Translations are weird sometimes), Ussop and Sanji. This arc had me on edge the entire time with how insane the fights were and Luffy getting himself into so much trouble, it was stressful! You know it’s good writing when the story has you thinking the main character might die and there are still over 900 chapters to go.

But of course, we move on with everyone in top form (well… mostly…) and head for the Grand Line at last! Map in hand, Luffy and the crew are excited to make their fortunes and fulfill their dreams. We get to spend a volume or two here and there on mini-adventures that feed into the next arc with the Baroque Works as our latest big-bads. The smaller adventures are fun and lighthearted for the most part, while still being equally as full of kindness as the rest of the chapters.

And then we get to the next big character.

Chopper.

All I knew about Chopper was that he was a reindeer of sorts and was sometimes cute and sometimes weirdly buff. I was also under the impression that he was meant to be more comedic relief in the series, so when his backstory comes about, I was honestly in tears. This little reindeer who happened to eat a Devil Fruit has been hunted and bullied his whole life as a freak of nature but when he was shown kindness by a doctor on his island, Chopper learned that all he wants to do is help take care of people. He just wants to do his best to make sure everyone is okay and it was such a touching few chapters, I’m getting teary just thinking about that little goofball, battered and bloody, holding a mushroom he thought would help his friend. So when he joins the Merry Go crew, I was so excited.

The last few volumes I got through are the beginning of the end of this arc with the Baroque Works as they try to conquer a desert island suffering from lack of water. With Princess Vivi devastated, she and the Merry Go crew are doing their damnedest to help the island and restore it to it’s original glory. We finish with Ussop and Chopper kicking major bad-guy ass but next up it’s Sanji’s turn to tear it up and I can’t wait to continue on with this series. It’s gonna be a hell of a good time!

MANGA BINGE REVIEW: One Piece [ part one ]

I don’t need to tell anyone that this year has been a grease fire in a dumpster in your basement. It has a lot of us desperate for even an once of serotonin to get through this waking nightmare of doom scrolling, and for me in these final days of December, I have turned to the last of the Big Three manga series: One Piece from Oda Eiichiro.

For the better part of 20 years, I’ve always laughed at One Piece. I thought it was silly and needlessly long and wasn’t into the art style much. I would poke fun at my friends who loved it and always rolled my eyes whenever someone tried to get me to read it or watch it (as of the 20th, there are 998 chapters of the manga and almost 1000 episodes of the anime not including the movies).

Well in this, the year 2020, I have to apologize to every One Piece fan I’ve poked fun at because I have never had so much fun with a shonen manga before.

For anyone unfamiliar with the manga, One Piece is the lengthy adventure of Monkey D. Luffy as he travels far and wide to become King of the Pirates and locate the ever sought after One Piece treasure. Along the way, he builds his crew from other misfits with lofty dreams they have often been ridiculed for and together they all build each other up and remind each other of what’s important: family, friends, and goals that make you happy. Having been in publication since 1997, One Piece is one of the Big Three Shonen Jump titles (the other two often being Naruto and Bleach although some argue for the many variations of Dragon Ball to be included) and the only one to remain incomplete. It’s the fact that it’s so long that has been the main cause of my avoidance of the series – I mean, I stopped reading Naruto around the 350-400 mark and didn’t finish it until the final chapter dropped (700) – but let’s get into my thoughts now that I’ve taken the plunge, shall we?

Right off the bat, One Piece hits you in the feels with the Luffy’s backstory of being an orphan with dreams of the open sea and being a pirate with his father figure, Shanks, who is constantly telling him that he’s too young to come out to sea. Each time a new character is introduced, their backstory and their dreams for the future are all heart-wrenching and tender. The first ten volumes of the manga is a fair amount of setting the stage for everyone’s goal while some big bad pirate thinks they can bully Luffy due to how chaotically stupid he is.

But Luffy isn’t stupid. He cares passionately about people and one only needs to ask for his help for him to be on their side. He is willing to give everyone a chance and understands what it means to have a bad go at things. Luffy is the king of giving people a second chance and he will die defending that second chance. Zolo (or Zoro, depending on the translation) is given a second chance after his murderous reputation as Luffy learns of his goal to be the greatest swordmaster in the world. Usopp is given a second chance after living his life telling nothing but lies when Luffy learns it’s his goal to find his father and be a real pirate. Sanji is given a second chance to find the All Blue – a section of the world where all the seas connect and contains all the kinds of fish a chef could dream of – when Luffy offers him the opportunity to be a chef and travel along. And Nami… *sigh* I can’t talk about Nami’s story in case people want to read this series as blind as I am, but oof, that is a chapter of flashbacks that will make you cry.

The bad guys are also hilarious. I remember Buggy the Clown from when the anime was dubbed into English by 4!Kids and I’ve always hated him, but wow. The variety in the character designs, the power levels that are off the charts while still not being OP, it’s all absolutely incredible. It’s easy to tell why this series has been running so long and remained as popular as it is.

Luffy is such a wholesome, chaotic moron but watch him defend his friends even if they’ve only just met, is so precious. This is a series I never knew I needed in these trying times and I look forward to reading more of it.

I know this “review” didn’t really do much in terms of discussing what actually happened in the first ten volumes, but I highly recommend reading them yourself and I don’t want to risk spoiling any of the best moments. Going forward from here, I’ll be getting more specific, but that will be in the new year.

Until next time, LET’S GO, LUFFY!!!