Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What I love about One Piece

Ok, I know I already talked about this during my post on the Big 3, but I've been playing One Piece Romance Dawn almost non-stop so I figured I'd elaborate on why I consider One Piece to be the king of the Big 3. Pardon me if this ends up turning into a crash course on One Piece.
This thing is arguably the most popular anime and certainly best selling manga series in the world. I have yet to actually meet anyone in the anime community with something bad to say about it other than its length. It is quite honestly an anime that is worth all the acclaim that the fans give it. It is also one of the strangest anime I have ever seen yet the show makes it work so well that it just results in a really fun show.

All of the Straw Hats are great characters and each of them has gotten great moments so far. Unlike the other members of the Big 3, where the main character is usually the only one shown getting stronger, everyone gets the chance to become stronger so they don't just get knocked out of a fight immediately. They all feel like legitimate characters. My personal favorite being Ussop because I feel he has come along way since his cowardly beginnings both in terms of his tactics and in terms of his creativity. Characters that might seem broken actually aren't as the anime/manga makes it very clear that no matter how strong someone gets, there will always be someone stronger down the line. This leads to a lot of very gripping, intense fights. My personal favorite arc so far is the CP9 arc because it shows exactly what each of the Straw Hats are capable of. The villains are unique, very memorable, pose a great threat, and in general are just fun antagonists. Every battle in this anime/manga has this sort of grand feel to it which lacking is really lacking in Naruto and Bleach.

One Piece is that at that level of weirdness where everything just seems to make sense no matter how odd or outlandish it gets. Seriously, only in One Piece can a cola-powered cyborg shipwright, fish people (not just mermaids), a skeleton musician with an afro, and a talking shape-shifting blue-nosed reindeer doctor make total sense. My personal favorite example of its weirdness however comes from the Alabasta arc. It is during the battle where Chopper and Ussop are fighting Baroque Works agents Mr.4, Ms. Merry Christmas, and their cannon dog Lassoo who is quite literally a cannon that ate the Mutt-Mutt fruit Dachshund Model.
Ussop asks Ms Merry Christmas how it was even possible for a cannon to do that and she basically responds by saying "Its a new Grand Line trick. You haven't seen anything yet.". That one line speaks volumes about One Piece's weirdness.
The Devil Fruits bring a very nice variety in abilities to the table. Though each fruit has different strengths, they all share the same weakness: people who eat the devil fruits can no longer swim and will sink like a rock in water deep enough to drown in. On its own, that doesn't sound a like a big weakness but it becomes a major possibility when you consider that the two most common occupations in the show/manga are Navy and Pirate so just about every devil fruit user falls into one of those two categories. That isn't the only threat to the devil fruit users either. There is a special stone from the bottom of the sea that can shut off a person's devil fruit abilities as long as the stone touches them. There is also Haki and one of the types (Armament Haki) can counter devil fruit users abilities and is especially effective against Logia types.
One of my favorite Devil Fruits: Ace's Mera Mera Fruit.
Overall there are three basic types of devil fruits: Logia, Zoan, and Paramecia. Logia devil fruits allow the user to change their body into a specific force of nature like Ace's fire based powers thanks to the Mera-Mera Fruit. Zoan fruits give the user the power to transform into animals such as Chopper's humanoid form and ability to speak via the Human-Human Fruit. The Zoan type is not limited to just regular animals, there are some that grant the powers of mythical creatures like Marco's Phoenix fruit as well as the Ancient Zoan fruits that allow the user to turn into dinosaurs. Parameicia fruits grant the users general super-human powers such as Luffy's ability to stretch via the Gum-Gum Fruit. To make it even more interesting, certain devil fruits render the user immune or resistant to other devil fruit abilities, like the Gum-Gum fruit rendering Luffy virtually immune to Enel's Rumble-Rumble fruit due to Luffy's body being rubber or the Wax-Wax fruit being able to neutralize/block the Venom-Venom fruit's poison.
One of the more fascinating things about the show is how Oda set up the Navy wanting the Straw Hats heads. The Straw Hats are pirates in name and symbol only, they have for the most part done nothing that is actually illegal. It shows how corrupt that the Navy and the World Government actually are if they're willing to hunt down people doing more good than harm. The testimony from all the people they've helped would be more than enough to clear them of the charges but as long as they fly the Jolly Rodger, the World Government will only ever see them as pirates. That is a stroke of genius.
However, the most impressive feat of the anime/manga by far is Oda's ability to keep things consistent with previously established continuity and character backstories. Now on its own, that compliment doesn't sound like much of a compliment but consider this: At the time of this post the manga currently has over 748 chapters which is a total of 78 volumes and the anime has 708 episodes with about 12 movies. That in and of itself is amazing. I can't help but think Oda reads through some of his notes before writing a new arc just to make sure he doesn't repeat himself. Oda also really knows how to handle character deaths. He rarely kills off characters but when he does, he always does it in a grand fashion so no matter what happens later, you will always remember the character's final moments. Anyway those are my thoughts on One Piece, an anime that I consider to be the current king of the shounen genre and it is definitely worth the acclaim that the fans give it. The anime is just plain old fashion-ed fun. And with that, I'll leave all with this:

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