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August 4, 1997 – Ongoing
One Piece (ワンピース, Wan Pīsu) is a pirate adventure manga written and drawn by Eiichiro Oda, created in August 1997. The manga is known to employ colorful and creative motifs that are taken from classic mythology, politics and musical aspects. It is also mixed with pirate lore and shonen formula.
One Piece is divided into two halves: Sea of Survival: Super Rookies Saga (サバイバルの海 超新星編, Sabaibaru no Umi: Chōshinsei-hen), and The Final Sea: The New World Saga (最後の海 新世界編, Saigo no Umi: Shinsekai-hen).
The anime anime produced by Toei Animation and broadcasted by Fuji Television based on the manga series of the same name. The first episode aired in Japan on October 20, 1999. The show continues with 625 episodes, 12 movies, 6 TV specials and 3 OVAs.
Eiichiro Oda was inspired by Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump at a young age. As a child he was inspired by Vikings and he aspired to become a manga artist. Later, he created Pandaman for Yudetamago's Kinnikuman. In 1992, Oda at the age of 17, submitted the manga called Wanted!. This got him notice to join the staff, at the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, where he became an assistant under several established manga writers including Shinobu Kaitani, Masaya Tokuhiro and finally Nobuhiro Watsuki.
Oda had interest in making a pirate manga both from his obsession with vikings as a young man and inspired by various pirate events including the discovery of the pirate ship of Edward Teach (known by his pirate name of Blackbeard). He wrote two separate one-shots in the mid-1990s, both of which were called "Romance Dawn". The stories introduced Monkey D. Luffy, a straw-hat wearing boy who set out to sea to become a legendary pirate. Several concepts of the eventual serialization appeared in these stories, including Luffy's inspiration for being a pirate and a mysterious power he gained from eating a special fruit that turned his body into rubber (a prototype for the Devil Fruit).
In August 1997, Oda took many of his "Romance Dawn" ideas and started using them in a weekly serial under the title "One Piece". It was first serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump, the weekly shonen magazine owned by Shueisha. The series quickly caught on and became popular from the initial chapters on, establishing itself as one of the premiere manga series in the magazine.
Originally, Oda wanted his series to run for 5 years (meaning One Piece could have ended in 2002), but he went longer than expected and has no idea how many more years his story will be. However, it should be noted that Oda has stated that the end of Chapter 597 marks the end of the first half of One Piece. Oda has already planned the ending for One Piece. Despite how long it will take him to complete it, he will end One Piece the way he planned from the start.
One Piece is the story of a boy named Monkey D. Luffy who was inspired by Shanks, a pirate. At the start of the series, 22 years before Luffy leaves his hometown and sets sail, a pirate named Gol D. Roger, known as the Pirate King was executed, but before his death, he told the crowd of his treasure, "One Piece". His death sparked what would become the Golden Age of Pirates as countless pirates set out to look for his treasure. Luffy becomes one as well, desiring to be the next Pirate King and sets out to gather crewmates and begin his adventures and journeys.
At the time of its release, the dot-eyed style of artwork seen in anime like Dragon Ball was becoming less popular and manga and anime seemed to be moving over for the more popular big-eyes style of drawing, made famous by shows like Sailor Moon. Eiichiro Oda was fully aware of the change of art style and was worried early on in its run that his style would put off people from reading his manga. As time progressed and One Piece's popularity grew, Oda was able to relax the style more, resulting in One Piece's drawing style becoming much more loose and kinetic.
As well as its unusual art style, the style of weird drawn characters had been another worry of Oda. Another problem at the time of early production was that the Bishie was becoming a popular form of manga character depiction and "ugly" or "weird" characters manga were becoming significantly harder to sell. However, these character designs have since become one of One Piece's selling points, allowing more eccentric characters to be drawn.
Evolution of the Series
Throughout the fifteen years of its run, One Piece does the world-building style; introducing strange races, giving each island its personal cultures, creating the history and mythologies of the world. It was known to focus more on the story rather than typical Shonen fighting.
The story changed through the series, for example in the East Blue Saga, Luffy would travel from one island to another, fighting pirates and/or Marines, gathering crew members in progress. This formula of fighting pirates/Marines on each island changed when the Straw Hat Pirates reached Loguetown when they face both sides. By the time they reach the Grand Line they would face one large enemy. During the Alabasta Saga, the Baroque Works organization is the antagonist, then during the Sky Island Saga, it's Enel and his God's Warrior militia, during the Water 7 Saga, it's the CP9. During the Summit War Saga they would face many sides.
The story arc was based on the islands that the Straw Hat Pirates would visit. When grouping the story arcs, there are usually a few smaller arcs grouped together with one major arc. During the East Blue Saga, all arcs were small, but starting with the Alabasta Saga, there were usually a number of small arcs following up to one major arc. For example: Reverse Mountain, Whiskey Peak, Little Garden, Drum Island, Jaya, and Longring Longland are small arcs while Alabasta, Skypiea, and Water 7/Enies Lobby are major arcs. This pattern disappeared during the Summit War Saga, however, as Thriller Bark was 48 chapters long while subsequent arcs were much shorter. Starting with Fishman Island each arc has been long.
Starting at the beginning, the Straw Hat Pirates would trek from island to island in a straightforward pattern without getting backtracked, forced to get off-course or shattered. It's not until Water 7 that they were forced to leave Water 7 to Enies Lobby to rescue a crewmember and backtracked to Water 7. By the time they reached Sabaody, they were scattered across the Grand Line; with two leaving the Grand Line, with few backtracking.
The tone of the series at start was lighthearted, simple and comedic during the East Blue Saga, Alabasta Saga and Sky Island Saga but during Water 7 Arc, the series was becoming serious, complex and dark but still retains the lighthearted and comedic nature. The series became rougher and wilder by Sabaody Archipelago Arc and by the Post-War Arc, it became more dramatic.
There have been changes in the cast. First it was the ship, Going Merry, who was destroyed at the end of the Enies Lobby Arc. But it was during the Marineford Arc that the series was facing a big change; Whitebeard and Ace died. During the Post-War Arc, Sengoku and Garp step down from the Marines while Sakazuki would later replace him as Fleet Admiral.
The end of the Whitebeard War also shows the world of One Piece changing, similar to how life changes in the real world after wars. As the balance of the Great Powers is disrupted by the loss of one of the Yonko (Whitebeard), the seas he ruled over are soon overrun with pirates trying to gain control. Blackbeard would eventually take Whitebeard's place as the new Yonko.
One Piece has since evolved to become more than a simple pirating tale. Throughout the years of its serialization, One Piece has taken vastly differing directions in its story line. One Piece also has been noted to include many themes such as what treasure is, the meaning of justice, and the concept of chasing one's dreams.
Many real world items were the primary focus on certain characters and arcs.
- Racism - During the Arlong Park Arc, the conflict between the Fishmen and Humans was a subject of the story line, this later was expanded as newer tribes and cultures were introduced in the series with the main focus being the Sabaody Archipelago Arc and the Fishman Island Arc.
- War - Focused on during the Alabasta Saga, Skypiea Arc and the Whitebeard War Saga.
- Slavery - The Arlong Park Arc and the Sabaody Archipelago Arc are both known examples of slavery.
- Justice - Seen throughout the series, but primarily focused on during the Water 7 Arc, Enies Lobby Arc, and Summit War Saga.
- Pursuing One's Dreams - Focused on throughout the series, particularly with the Straw Hat Pirates, however the Jaya Arc in particular brought this most in the open.
- Censorship - Primarily the focus of the Ohara storyline, including Nico Robin.
- Status Divide - It is focused on with the Straw Hat Pirates' status as pirates, the World Government's status as "world leaders", the Marines' status as "protectors of the world", and the World Nobles as well as nobles thinking they have a higher status than everyone else.
- Eugenics - Ace, Luffy, and Robin were targets for discrimination due to their parents. Another example is the fact that the World Nobles act superior to others due to their heritage.
- Drug Addiction - Portrayed in the form of children having been tragically fed with addictive drugs, the victims' behavior shows how dangerous a substance like this can be. Also protrayed in the Fishman Island Arc, with Hody Jones and his crew.
- War Profiteering - Donquixote Doflamingo taking advantage of the instability he caused for nearby peaceful nations after usurping King Riku, profiting from the weapons he provides them during their wars. His subordinate, Ceasar Clown also provides weapons of mass destruction to warring nations.
The real world mythology seems to have played a great role in inspiring Oda to create One Piece. The same can be said for various other well known stories, books, and other known myths:
- Enel was a self-proclaimed god with the power of lightning.
- The Kuja Pirates, consisting of females exclusively, seem to have many similarities with the Greek Amazons.
- The Kuja pirates' jolly roger features a skull with snakes replacing hair, which is a reference to the Greek myth of Medusa, the woman who had snakes instead of hair and who was able to petrify anyone who looked into her eyes. This is also displayed by Boa Hancock's Devil Fruit power, which allows her to turn people to stone.
- Sodom and Gomorrah, the two pets of the Franky Family, were named after the two cities mentioned in the Bible as places where people had no morals and were destroyed by God.
- The names of the the Marine admirals (Aokiji, Akainu, and Kizaru) are known to have been taken out of a Japanese folklore, Momotaro. The three animals that followed Momotaro on his quest were the dog (inu), monkey (saru) and pheasant (kiji).
- The Thriller Bark Arc was clearly inspired by Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenstein, and Michael Jackson´s song that has the same name: "Thriller".
- The Fishman Island Arc has several references to fairy tales, notably the Japanese legend of Urashima Taro, and the legend of the Little Mermaid. King Neptune is also named after the Roman god of the sea.
- There are three ancient weapons named after three mythical gods: Pluton, Poseidon, and Uranus.
- The Punk Hazard Arc has mythological creatures such as dragons, centaurs, satyrs, yetis, and harpies (most of these creatures are related to Greek or Roman myths).
- The island of Water Seven is heavily based on the city of Venice, Italy. The city's situation of rising water levels, acqua alta, is also used as a source of inspiration for the arc.
- Gray Terminal is based in the Smokey Mountain, a landfill localizated in Manila (Philippines)
One Piece has the highest total manga sales within Japan, and is currently Weekly Shōnen Jump's most acclaimed and all-time best-selling title. The manga is the first to increase the sales of Weekly Shōnen Jump in eleven years. As of volume 65, the series has sold over 260,000,000 copies domestically and is the fastest manga to reach sales of 100,000,000.
- 2008: One Piece was the best selling manga in Japan with 5,956,540 volumes sold. Volume 49 with 1,544,000 copies was in fourth place, Volume 50 with 1,678,208 copies hold the first place and Volume 51 with 1,646,978 copies was in second place.
- 2009: One Piece was the best selling manga series in Japan with 14,721,241 volumes sold. Volume 53 hold the first place with 2,057,528 copies sold, volumes 54, 52, and 55 place second, third and fourth respectively with 1,963,696, 1,952,551, and 1,810,410 copies sold respectively.
- 2010: Volume 59 holds a manga initial circulation record in Japan with 3.2 million copies. The volume set a new record for the first-week sales by selling 1,852,541 copies.
- 2010: The first half One Piece was the best selling manga in Japan with 15,220,095 copies sold approximately. Volume 57 was in first place and Vol. 56 in the second with 2,305,594 and 2,276,013 copies sold respectively.
- 2011: One Piece was the best selling manga in Japan with 37,996,373 copies sold. Volume 61 was the best selling volume in Japan with 3,382,588 copies sold.
- 2012: One Piece was again the top selling manga in Japan, selling an estimated 23,464,866 copies. Volume 65 sold the most, with 3,336,992 copies sold.
In response to the Oricon survey question about which manga people would want to see in live action movie, One Piece takes second place behind Slam Dunk. Another survey asked 6,000 participants the question "Which manga do you think is the most entertaining?" One Piece took first place with Dragon Ball taking second.
The popularity is of such proportion that it has been used in a number of cross-promotional, merchandising, and other advertisements in that regard.
- The original plan Oda set out for One Piece was for it to last for five years (meaning it originally would have ended in 2002).
- The title "One Piece" has a secret meaning that only Oda knows.
- Each week, Oda works on the story for three days then on the drawings for three more days.
- The production cost of one episode of One Piece is ¥10,000,000 (about $127,760 USD).
- The One Piece TV show was the most downloaded TV torrent for the week ending July 7, 2008 (the conclusion to Usopp's fight with Perona in the Thriller Bark Arc).
- Official manga website of Viz Media
- Official manga website of Shonen Jump
- Official website of Madman Entertainment
- Official anime website of Funimation Entertainment
- One Piece (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- One Piece (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Official manga website of Weekly Shōnen Jump
- Official anime website of Toei Animation
- Official One Piece Manga site. (Japanese)
- One Piece Kaizoku Musou