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Most Shonen Jump manga begin with a bang. So I was looking forward to discovering what One Piece would do. I wasn’t expecting to have the series begin with a prologue. And what do you know, the hat actually has meaning. I just thought he was some hick country boy who dreamed of being a pirate.
Despite never having read (or seen) One Piece before, I really felt a wave of nostalgia whole reading it. It’s hard to believe One Piece will be celebrating its 20th anniversary soon. While 90s manga really helped propel the manga boom, most series from that decade — let alone earlier — are ignored. But this volume really has all the trademarks of 90s manga, and it currently doesn’t have the pressure of being a #1 manga. It’s entertaining and shows off its freshness.
I didn’t know much about Zolo. In fact, I forgot about him completely. I know Nami, Sanji, and the long-nose dude, but I have never really noticed this guy before. Koby seems like a throwaway character, and his parts dragged. Nami I was surprised to learn is not a girl from the same village as Luffy but is (I assume) one of those sort-of former enemies who joins up.
Oh, and I can totally tell they touched up the text. Those ls in Zolo’s name just doesn’t look natural.
Luffy is also kind of a unique character. We know Naruto, for instance, just wanted attention. Luffy is kind of idiotically confident while Naruto in early volumes was confident to hide his jealousy. Luffy’s village actually seems to care about him. What a difference for two protagonists raised by a village. But I guess it’s because One Piece has gag qualities.
And hey, was it Flotsam or Jetsam from The Little Mermaid that took a growth pill and became the sea monster here? Also, berries might be the greatest name for currency ever.
It seems to be pretty rare to have such a long arc in the second volume for a Jump series. It actually started in the previous and will continue into the next. I mean, series like Yu Yu Hakusho took a while to find its groove, but One Piece is kicking it up a notch quite early. The character designs get even crazier, and I can only imagine how far Oda is going to go.
We learn a bit more about Nami here, but the real star is Chouchou. It’s so true that when a person gets hurt, the viewers don’t flinch. Hurt a dog, and you are instantly villain of the year. It’s always heartbreaking to read about pets like Chouchou who wait for their beloved master or mistress to return but never do. I know there was a case just recently where the owner was murdered at work and the dog waited for weeks for him to come home.
I better change the subject since I’m depressing myself.
I will also say it’s unusual for the manga not to really be from someone else’s point of view. Most weak or seemingly normal future heroes double as the main characters, but ones who are already strong often have someone by their side wondering about the main character’s past and special abilities (e.g. Rurouni Kenshin, Toriko). Luffy just kind of goes along. A lot of manga would have a character like Luffy be the eccentric mentor to the protaganist rather than actually being the protagonist. I wonder if this is part of One Piece‘s charm.
Many series run on a series of never-ending coincidences. Nothing says “coincidence” like arriving in time for a murder plot!
So far, this was the weakest volume for me. A guy stick in a chest and the manga version of the boy who cried wolf? Yawn. For a villain, nothing sucks worse than having your multi-year plan being interrupted by a random interloper. And what kind of sucky rich folks were Kaya’s parents not to have a main butler already?
The end of the battle with Buggy was probably the most entertaining part for me. I knew Luffy would face other fruit masters eventually, but not wuite this early. With such a long series, it will be interesting to learn about how these fruits were created.
Also, does Usopp’s name come from Aesop and uso (lie)? Might have to check it out unless someone knows.
Usually the third volume is where the series starts getting good or proves it’s bad. So far I can see the appeal with its easy-to-get-into plot. The art is pretty simplistic, and both the style as well as the humor take cues from Toriyama and even Tezuka. I’m just a little worried that the shine will dull by the time I finish these dairies. One Piece is, among other things, a comedy, and neither comedies nor dramas should overstay their welcome.
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