One Piece 1 by Eiichiro Oda: B+

From the back cover:
As a child, Monkey D. Luffy was inspired to become a pirate by listening to the tales of the buccaneer “Red-Haired” Shanks. But his life changed when Luffy accidentally ate the fruit of the Gum-Gum Tree and gained the power to stretch like rubber… at the cost of never being able to swim again! Years later, still vowing to become the king of the pirates, Luffy sets out on his adventure… one guy alone in a rowboat, in search of the legendary “One Piece,” said to be the greatest treasure in the world…

Influenced by praise of this series, particularly from Connie, I decided that I ought to check it out. This aim was facilitated by the fact that my local library carries One Piece (and several other lengthy Shonen Jump series), so I could do my investigatin’ for free!

I couldn’t really get into it at first, particularly as the art style is really cartoony. I thought about starting a gaping maw (a mouth open so wide that molars are visible) tally box, but it would’ve gone over 200, easily. Gradually, though, the story grew on me and I found myself quite enjoying it by the end.

I really like the protagonist, Luffy. In the first chapter, he’s a rather annoying kid who has as his role model a pirate called Shanks. Shanks teaches him a lesson about what it means to be a good man, and throughout the rest of the volume, the teenage/adult Luffy proves by his actions that he has taken the lesson to heart. Sure, he’s reckless and rash, as any shounen hero must be, but he’s also quite mellow and takes things as they come.

It’s also pretty funny, in a goofy way that appeals to me. For example, the first line spoken by the main villain of the volume, a megalomaniacal naval captain, is “I’m so great!” I also cracked up at this exchange between Luffy and his new friend, who is explaining how he came to be affiliated with a cruel female pirate:

Koby: I’ll never forget that fateful day. I just wanted to go fishing and I boarded a pirate ship by mistake. That was two years ago. In exchange for my life, I’ve been working as their cabin boy.

Luffy: You’re kinda clumsy and dumb!

By the end of the volume, I was definitely wanting more. In fact, I’ll probably be picking up the second volume from the library tomorrow.

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  1. Hmmmmm, we have the first volume of One Piece here at home, and I tried to get into it and gave up about halfway through. Maybe I should dig back in. It sounds like I might enjoy it if I could just get far enough in.

  2. mark thorpe says

    One Piece is probably the best Shonen series ever. Yes, Luffy’s dialouge can make one cringe ( WHAT A GREAT NAP!!). Yes, some stories and gimmicks fall dead flat, like Mr. Three’s spinning wax pumpkin of death and the island of fighting giants. But if I may, let me suggest that you guys at least read as far as the Arlong the Cruel story arc. It’s a bit of a journey from volume one to Arlong but it’s worth it to see the knife fingered butler and his patner Django with his heart shaped sun glasses. If you are not foam-at-the-mouth addicted by the end of Arlong then…I don’t know.

  3. Yeah, that first chapter was my least favorite and it’s also the longest, so you might not have made it too far past that.

  4. Hee. You’ll have to despair for our souls? 🙂

    Thanks for the endorsement, though. It’s very different from the stuff I usually read, but the wackiness also has “good bones,” as they say.

  5. Oh, I’m so glad you liked it! The first chapter was what convinced me, I’m always a little surprised when I hear other people don’t like it. But Mark Thorpe is right about going to at least Arlong, since that’s two or three short story arcs and four crewmembers in. The villains and various odd/unique characters that appear, as well as the huge and over-epic sad flashbacks will pretty much show you what to expect from the rest of the series. It’s good stuff, and it is hard to resist.

    I LIKE the gigantic spinning wax pumpkins though, so maybe my tastes just run to the odd side.

  6. Well, when I went to the library for volume 2, there were so many sitting there! I ended up going home with volumes 2-10! I’m pretty sure that covers Arlong. I didn’t want to read the back covers too closely, but I know I glimpsed that name there.


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