Since Eiichiro Oda himself has confirmed that the end is near, now would be a great time for a One Piece anime review.
Let’s take a look at this epic shonen pirate adventure story. If you never got around to watching the series, or if you need a refresher, keep reading. We will also see if this long-running pirate tale is worth the voyage.
Table of Contents
- The Basics
- Main Characters
- Important Story Arcs
- Voice Acting and Animation
Weekly Shonen Jump published the first chapter of One Piece in 1997. And the first episode of the anime aired in Japan in 1999.
Since then, there have been more than 1000 chapters, divided up into more than 100 tankobon manga volumes. Luffy and his allies have appeared in more than 1000 anime episodes, not including movies and OVAs.
The basic premise is pretty simple. A young man dreams of finding the legendary One Piece treasure, and becoming king of the pirates.
Of course, Luffy’s adventures involve a lot of heroic saving the day, and fighting corrupt enemies.
One Piece has a ton of characters. But the story revolves around a loyal group of companions (or “nakama”) known as the Straw Hat Pirates. They are:
- Monkey D. Luffy — Pirate captain. Has Devil Fruit rubber powers.
- Roronoa Zoro — Master swordsman. Has a horrible sense of direction.
- Nami — Navigator, mapmaker, and cat burglar. Uses the weather as a weapon.
- Usopp — Sharpshooting sniper, and storyteller. Famous for his lies; “uso” means lie in Japanese.
- Sanji — Tough guy cook and fighter. Likes to flirt.
- Tony Tony Chopper — Ship’s doctor. A reindeer with human transformation Devil Fruit powers.
- Nico Robin — Archeologist. Has Devil Fruit power to create limbs.
- Franky — Cyborg shipwright who built the Thousand Sunny.
- Brook — Musician. Became a living skeleton as a result of a Devil Fruit.
- Jinbe — A sharkman ally of Luffy’s who eventually becomes the helmsman.
Important Story Arcs
East Blue Saga:
- Luffy begins his epic voyage in the Romance Dawn arc. He recruits Zoro, Usopp, and Sanji into his pirate crew. The Straw Hats earn their first ship, the Going Merry.
- Luffy, Zoro, Usopp, and Sanji rescue Nami from Arlong.
- The Straw Hats encounter the criminal syndicate Baroque Works, led by Crocodile. Crocodile stages a coup against the Alabasta Kingdom and its princess, Vivi.
- On the way to Alabasta, the nakama stops to help Chopper at Drum Island.
- In Alabasta, Luffy’s brother Ace helps the Straw Hats escape from Captain Smoker.
- After Crocodile is defeated, his former partner joins the group as Nico Robin.
Sky Island Saga:
- Luffy’s nakama finds the flying world of Skypiea. They fight the cruel, powerful dictator “god” Enel.
- The Straw Hats get involved in an incident involving stolen blueprints, the thuggish Franky Family, and the shadowy agents known as CP9.
- The Going Merry is wrecked, but Usopp refuses to let go. Unwilling to reconcile with Luffy, Usopp temporarily becomes the masked Sogeking.
- Robin agrees to go with CP9 to Enies Lobby.
- Luffy and his allies rescue Robin. Luffy demonstrates he’d rather fight the world than give up on her.
- The Thousand Sunny debuts, and Franky joins the crew.
- A haunted place filled with various ghouls, and a shadow-stealing villain. The singing skeleton Brook joins the crew.
Summit War Saga:
- The Straw Hats explore the Sebaody Archepelago.
- We meet the Worst Generation — 11 infamous rookie pirates, including Luffy.
- The Straw Hats are forced to split up. Luffy ends up at Amazon Lily, led by Pirate Empress Boa Hancock.
- Luffy tries to free Ace from the massive prison fortress Impel Down.
- At Marineford, Luffy, Whitebeard, and other assorted pirates fight Marine admirals, including Luffy’s grandfather, Vice Admiral Garp. Ace dies in front of Luffy.
- Traumatized, Luffy signals the others to wait for a couple of years.
- The Straw Hats must stop a plot to destroy an underwater kingdom.
Punk Hazard and Dressrosa:
- The nakama joins forces with Trafalgar Law. They capture the mad scientist Caesar Clown. Law plans to take down the warlord Donquixote Doflamingo.
Whole Cake Island:
- Zou is attacked by the Beasts Pirates. Sanji deals with his family, as well as the Big Mom Pirates.
- This is the anime series’ current saga, and the next-to-last part of the manga. Wano is essentially Edo Japan. The pirates prepare for a massive battle against Kaidou.
One Piece Voice Acting and Animation
One Piece has some truly memorable characters. And the voice acting is just as good. For example, while rivals Zoro and Sanji have similar gruff voices, Sanji has an added bit of “Nami-swan” flirting twang.
Of course, the show aims for a more comedic attitude, which makes Luffy’s breakdown after Marineford all the more traumatic and heart-wretching.
As shonen anime goes, One Piece’s animation definitely leans toward the comic and fantastical. Luffy’s world is an alien landscape of exotic islands and impossible creatures.
When it comes to the music, the first thing that comes to mind is We Are by Hiroshi Kitadani. This song was the series’ first opening theme, and it’s been remixed many times — including a fun version by the cast singing in character.
Because some episodes have a lot of needless exposition, it’s tempting to skip the intro. That’s unfortunate, because then you miss playful songs such as Bon Voyage! by Bon-Bon Blanco. There are also a few more serious songs such as One Day by The Rootless.
We don’t talk about the 4Kids Pirate Rap.
One Piece Review Verdict: 7/10
Overall, One Piece is a fun series which doesn’t take itself too seriously (most of the time). As a shonen anime, the series naturally gravitates toward comic characters, and big, heroic moments. It helps that Luffy seems to actively enjoy fighting.
This goofy, easy-going attitude doesn’t prevent it from getting serious when it needs to. Most main characters have some background tragedy to deal with — family issues, childhood trauma, promises made, etc.
It’s also a lengthy anime series. And that can be intimidating for new viewers. While it doesn’t have a lot of filler to skip, the canon arcs can sometimes drag a bit. Still, these are common issues with long runners.
The characters are fun to watch, and you care about them. In the end, I hope Luffy finds that treasure.
One Piece Merchandise
If you’re a One Piece fan, you should check out the fun stuff to buy at ZenPlus. ZenPlus has Blu-ray discs, DVDs, figurines, toys, plushies, keychains, and more. They even have stuff from the 2022 movie One Piece: Red.