One Piece: Stretched Out Too Far?

Four+One+Piece+figurines++displayed+side+by+side

via Pxfuel

Four One Piece figurines displayed side by side

When Luffy popped out of that barrel several years ago, it started an anime legacy like no other: packed with thrilling adventures and nail-biting plot twists, One-Piece has paved the way for many modern anime series and shows. Since 1999, Eiichiro Oda (the creator) has managed to hold onto its surprisingly large audience and fanbase for more than two decades. The majority of the audience is situated in Japan, the birthplace of both Oda and the One-Piece series. But when something lasts as long as One-Piece has, it makes people around the globe wonder: Has it gone for too long?

One of the biggest and most significant elements of a long-running series is the characters. If they are not lovable or unique, the series will either fail or take on horrible ratings. Oda had made all of the characters of One-Piece unique, each with their own personality and goals. Luffy, the protagonist, is the Captain of the Straw-Hats, but he chooses a diverse bunch when he chooses his crewmates. No two of Luffy’s crew are the same, even if they share similar goals. The lovable crew makes the series enjoyable to watch. As progression is seen throughout its episodes, fans see incredible characters win their battles and achieve their goals. From becoming the Pirate King to the greatest swordsman, this series manages to capture all of the diversity creatures have in one show. Not just characters affect a show’s rating; the different arcs affect them as well. Arcs are subplots with value and enrich the overall plot; they can stretch from 2 to 100 episodes. Arcs are important because they can give much-needed development to characters and the plot, strengthening its integrity and bolstering its quality.

The Dressrosa arc is one of One-Piece fans’ favorite arcs, but looking back, it is shockingly similar to the Alabasta arc. To start, in each arc, there is a princess helping out the Straw-Hats (In Alabasta, it’s Vivi, and in Dressrosa, it is Rebecca). Why are they helping Luffy and the Straw-Hats? It’s because horrible, tyrannical rulers are trying to take over each island’s respective city. Luffy and his friends need to take down the wretched ruler to save their island and its innocent inhabitants. Though Luffy has to brawl with each of the rulers in the arcs, there is quite a big difference. Crocodile was who he defeated in the dry land of Alabasta, and Doflamingo was who he defeated in Spanish-influenced Dressrosa. While Luffy used more of a strategic plan against Crocodile, he mostly brute-forced his way through Don Quixote Doflamingo. While he had not yet met Doflamingo in the Marine-ford arc, everyone was on the edge of their seats when they saw that Crocodile returned to save Luffy from Dracule Mihawk, the world’s greatest swordsman. Since the two arcs resemble each other in various ways, some of the community believe that Eiichiro Oda is out of ideas.

But some of the community is not the entirety of the community. Others believe that the series was meant to go on for decades, and here is their reasoning. Oda had written One-Piece in a way where it could have many filler episodes (episodes with little to no contribution to the overall plot) and still be thoroughly entertaining. While not 100% plot-driven and not 100% full of fights (like Tite Kubo’s Bleach), One-piece is a great balance between both. Pirates are known for spending years or even decades on their perilous journeys, so it makes sense the Straw-Hats have spent years on islands and at sea. Decade long journeys could add to the reason why it works as a long-running anime. Eiichiro Oda takes his time to plan out his work and has even written the end of the series; something most would like to know. Planning in advance will make the show enjoyable as the series is not written as it is drawn, leaving plot holes less likely to occur. Finally, Oda leaves many hints at mysteries, and things left unknown, such as the mysterious giant straw hat, the initial ‘D’ that many characters share, and the lost era of piracy. All of these mysteries leave fans to ponder and wonder, causing them to keep watching to see what these things mean. Fans even create theories that interest passer-by readers, hooking them into watching One-Piece and much more. Again, the way the anime was written, it could go on for many more years and still be one of the “Big Three” in anime.

With the great diversity of characters and ideas, having a huge grasp on the globe isn’t surprising. One-Piece started small but worked its way up the ladder to a loving and caring community. But with any community, there are going to be haters. These haters are the ones that think the series should have ended a long time ago. Fans will just have to see how much longer the series lasts, but one thing is for sure, it’s going to be a while!