A Look at One Piece Manga (Through Chapter 95) #OnePiece)

A Look at One Piece Manga

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Many, MANY years ago, FUNimation sent me the first DVD set for the One Piece anime adaptation. There were things I liked, but cliched, shounen tropes that I found tedious. As such, I never had a desire to watch more of the anime, or read the source manga. However, when Netflix did a live-action adaptation, and a lot of folks I respect sang its praises, I decided to read the manga through chapter 95.

The Story, in Brief (SPOILERS!)

One Piece Volume 01A boy named Monkey D. Luffy wants to join pirate Captain Shank’s crew. Thanks to eating a Devil Fruit, he has the ability to stretch his body like rubber. When a bandit kidnaps the kid, Shanks sacrifices his arm to save the lad. Years later as a teenager, Luffy is picked up by the crew of the pirate Alvida. She loves beauty and fancies herself as such, even though she’s not. She has a slave named Koby, whom Luffy frees after defeating Alvida.

They take a dingy to a Marine fort on a Navy base. It is run by the corrupt Captain Morgan. He has the pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro tied up in the base yard. Luffy decides Zoro needs to be on his crew. Initially, Zoro is not interested, but after learning Morgan will betray him, he changes his mind and Luffy sets him free. After defeating Morgan, the now “freed” Marines allow Koby to join.

At their next stop, Luffy encounters Nami, who specializes in robbing from thieves. She’s trying to rob the pirate captain, Buggy the Clown. He has also eaten the Devil Fruit, so his body can come apart and rejoin. However, they eventually defeat him and Nami reluctantly joins up Luffy. At their next stop, they defeat a pirate turned butler and get the cowardly but brave Usopp to join.

Next, they find a fancy restaurant ship where they encounter the womanizer and chef, Sanji. Once they defeat Pirate Armada Admiral Don Krieg, Sanji joins the crew as cook. The Straw Hat Pirates then deal with the fish-man pirate captain, Arlong.

The Good: Interesting Characters

One Piece Volume 11I have to say, I found all of the characters of One Piece manga to be pretty interesting. Luffy is carefree and optimistic, but not in an annoying way. In many ways, Luffy is a cliched shounenĀ  lead for sure, but he never bothered me. I rather enjoyed it when he stood up for what was right.

Zoro is a fun character with his weird, 3-sword fighting style. He gets an interesting backstory to boot, which I liked. And Oda-sensei wasn’t afraid to have him lose a fight.

I’m not a big fan of Usopp as a character, but he’s okay I guess. His heart is in the right place, and he has an interesting place in the story.

Likewise with Sanji, I’m not a big fan of him. However, he also has an interesting backstory and that plays well into the where I’m currently at in the manga.

Finally there’s Nami. She’s interesting due to the fact that despite her duplicity, she’s often the lone voice of sanity in a boy’s crew. I appreciate that.

The Good: Wacky Villains

One Piece Volume 02All of the villain characters in One Piece are completely over the top and bonkers. You have a violent, obese woman who despises filth. The supposed good guy Marine is wacky and has a metal jaw and an axe hand. Then there’s the pirate turned butler. Don’t even get me started on the fish-man Arlong. There were a few others along the way. Can’t be bothered to look up the sword-dude who briefly appeared. And then there was the pirate admiral.

The wackiest one of all is a super powered clown who gets offended when folks notice his clown features. I have to say that Buggy the Clown was the one who sticks out the most in my mind, closely followed by Arlong. With Arlong, it was more about cliched shounen battles and treachery. With Buggy, those elements existed, but I remember having moments of laughter during his arc.

Oda-sensei’s wacky sense of humor does add to the fun of things, and it makes for a pretty good time. If those humor elements weren’t there for some of the villains, things wouldn’t be so good.

The Bad: Shounen Cliches

One of the things I don’t like about One Piece are the shounen tropes and cliches. With each story arc, it seems that getting through it takes longer and long so that the battles can be more and more spectacular. Further, as Luffy’s crew expands, we need stuff for them to do. As it is, Oda-sensei finds ways to put characters into a cage (sometimes literally) to allow others to have their moments. This kind of drag it out writing just makes me want to say, “Spin on!”

Speaking of cages, I’m still trying to understand how Luffy could be caged. Since he has the power to stretch and distort his body at will, then he should be able to get through cage bars with no issue. But, the plot needed him out of the way since he’s always the one to save the day. Thus we get this cage weak sauce.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

In the end, One Piece is entertaining enough to warrant a read. But the drag from battles that get bigger and bigger bore me to death. Next up: the live-action adaptation!

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