Keeping Up on One Piece Adventures!

Originally Published for The Nerd is the on March 28, 2016

If, like millions of fans, you’ve been keeping up with the latest One Piece anime development, you probably know that the current Dressrosa story arc, introduced back in January 2014, is drawing to an end. Fans have eagerly waited for the moment when, Monkey D. Luffy, the rubber-man “who’ll become the Pirate King”, would finally strike down the machiavellian Don Flamingo.

I won’t spoil any of the details, in case the entire One Piece adventure is still an open sea for you to discover, but the unbelievably persistent pirate captain is known for his childlike, yet world-saving resolve. No matter how many times he is struck down, Luffy stands up again, ready for more, always delivering an incredibly satisfying victory.

One Piece is difficult to overlook in the anime universe. Based very closely on the manga created and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda, it began airing in 1999, and has since then delivered 17 seasons and over 730 episodes. Adventures to wondrous locations in the Grand Line ocean, like Sky Island (yes, in the clouds), or Merman Island (yup, under the sea) unfold as powerful enemies emerge from the wild realm of piracy, and the corruption of the World Government. There is even mysterious and rare Devil Fruits that give characters potent and often ridiculous super powers, to some unstoppable authority over the elements, and others the appearance of a humanoid giraffe.

The style of One Piece, from the iconic shonen category, is a unique cocktail of cartoonesque humour and gripping action, giving its viewers a healthy dose of laughter all the while keeping them hooked to elaborate story lines that lead to their ultimate zenith. To keep an almost ‘pirate-fairytale’ atmosphere, many characters are given the name of historically renowned pirates and legendary figures; you’d probably recognize like Bartholomew Kuma, Blackbeard, or Captain Ax-Hand Morgan. Some characters might also remind you of certain western entertainment icons?

Though there is a core group of central and recurring characters in One Piece, each personality encountered is unique and given a rich background and justification. Luffy and his crew are not the plundering pirates of our 17th century; their only claim to that name has to do with freedom, wanderlust, and the desire to meet new people and hear their stories. Each member of Luffy’s crew is very attachable and most fans report being very emotionally involved in the plot’s development. Some of us even cried for a sail boat, and we aren’t even ashamed of it.

One Piece does take a level of commitment and patience, as any monstrous “700 episodes and ongoing” series would. Known for stretching out important events, numerous and frustratingly placed flashbacks, and sometimes even tedious repetition the show can be ideal for binge watching; allowing the viewer to take control of the rhythm of suspense by skipping ahead when necessary. The silly-looking summary maps detailing the particular location of each main characters and their immediate situations become a navigation guide as story arcs become incredibly complex.

Particularly intense planning involved in each story arc is surely something to be admired. Seemingly frivolous details often turn out to be hints to mind-blowing plotline elements that are actually completely worth the (sometimes long) wait. Many mysteries that hooked us in at the very start have yet to be explained… Oda is taking us along on a grand journey with unique characters, to extraordinary locales, in search of answers (and fun!). Incarnating exactly the proverb that “life is a journey, not a destination” some fans even still expect to be tuning in for the latest of Monkey D. Luffy’s exploits in their old age, and secretly hope that Luffy never reaches his ultimate goal to continue his exploration forever. Celebrate Luffy’s eagerly awaited victory against Don Flamingo, but above all, celebrate the new adventures to come!

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