Manga Review - One Piece Volume 1

Released in 1997, One Piece has become a world wide phenomenon and I have finally realised why. In 14 years, I must sadly admit that I had not read a single volume or watched a single episode of One Piece.

That is, until today. I have just finished the first volume of One Piece and the first thought I had when I closed the back cover was "yeah, I get it". I immediately understood why One Piece has sold more that two hundred and forty MILLION copies since its release making it the most popular manga series of all time. In fact, the English language copy that I read was the SEVENTEENTH printing from Viz.

"As a child, Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of becoming the King of the Pirates. But his life changed when he accidentally gained the power to stretch like rubber - at the cost of never being able to swim again! Now Luffy, with the help of a motley collection of pirate wannabes, is setting off in search of the "One Piece," said to be the greatest treasure in the world..."

One Piece is written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda and, like so many other popular manga series, started its life in Weekly Shonen Jump. It quickly became the most popular series in Shonen Jump before becoming the most popular manga series of all time. It has gone from being a comic in a boys magazine to an incredibly successful franchise consisting of manga, anime, video games, music CD's, light novels and even a highly successful themed café. 

I've been delaying my leap into the world of One Piece for fear of the financial outlay. With so many volumes of manga and anime available, I just know that it's going to cost a pretty penny. After reading volume 1 do I have an ounce of regret? My word no! I can't wait to jump into volume 2!

Initially I was surprised by how much the art reminded me of Hiro Mashima's (Fairy Tail, Rave Master). That is, until I read that Mashima-san had actually taken tutelage from Oda-sensei! The art is both action packed and comedic. It appears reasonably basic and the lack of screentones is notable. They are seen in action scenes but are more or less missing from every other panel. This isn't a complaint by any means. It actually makes the panels appear less busy and therefore highlights when action is taking place. In a way its simplicity is part of its endearing quality. That is not to say that the art is simple, but it is much less cluttered than many others that I have read.

What made me immediately fall in love with One Piece is the characters and characterisations of just about every individual that shows up in its pages. Somehow, Oda-sensei gives a personality to every single character on the page regardless of whether they are a protagonist or just a passing extra in a scene. This helps to flesh out the fictional world that Oda-sensei has created. Our hero, Monkey D. Luffy, begins the story as an angry and determined boy who dreams of being the King of the Pirates at all costs. He later evolves into an equally driven young man but without the anger and angst that would have eventually turned Monkey into an unlikeable Anakin type of character (boo hoo, everything makes me grumpy!). In a single volume Oda-sensei manages to introduce Monkey's first mate, potential nemesis and who I'm assuming will be his navigator. All of these characters are visually distinctive are also individuals in their own right. Their personalities are immediately prevalent and set the tone for the series and coming story arcs. 

Throughout, One Piece is chock full of laughs and characters that you just need to know better. Not only did I immediately understand why One Piece is such a successful manga, but I also understood why it translated so perfectly into a highly successful anime series of over 500 episodes. Oda-sensei created a book that is so cartoony that it basically begged for the animation treatment. Although it has a cartoony feel, One Piece transcends age and should definitely not be overlooked by us... ageing folk. Regardless of age, One Piece is a blast. 

One Piece Volume 1 was incredibly enjoyable. I immediately fell in love with Monkey, Koby and tough guy Roronoa Zolo. There is one gigantic flaw that I can note with One Piece, and sadly it is entirely my fault. I refused to jump on the bandwagon and now... I have a hell of a lot of catching up to do. 

Thankfully Madman have released both the manga and the uncut version of the anime locally.

On the subject of Hiro Mashima, Madman have also just announced that Fairy Tail will be released in January 2012.


  1. Great review, I hope I can enjoy the reviews of every other volume from you, too.

    And I am somehow suprised: While I personally loved the first volumes, a lot of fans seem to agree that the series really kicks off around volume 8-10. But I'm sure that if you liked this volume, you'll love the upcoming once. Enjoy these 60+ volumes of pure joy and romanticism.

  2. I really did love the first volume and every other one since. I'm glad to see that it lives up to the hype.

    I don't know if I'd be able to review every volume. That would almost be a full time job! :)

    Thanks for your kind words, I hope that you come back often!


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