One Piece is a pirate adventure manga written and drawn by Eiichiro Oda, created in July 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?).
Eiichiro Oda was inspired by Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball and Dr. Slump at a young age. As a child he was inspired by the animated series Vicky the Viking and wanted to draw a pirate manga series. Later, he created Pandaman for Yudetamago's Kinnikuman. In 1992, Oda at the age of 17, submitted the manga called Wanted!. This got him noticed as a promising mangaka by the staff members of the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine, and 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.
22 years ago, the Pirate King, Gol D. Roger, was executed. However, before his death he revealed to everyone that his treasure, the One Piece, was hidden at the end of the Grand Line. This inspired people to become pirates and sail toward the treasure, beginning the Great Age of Pirates. Twelve years later, a young boy from the East Blue named Monkey D. Luffy dreamed of finding the One Piece, but lost the ability to swim after eating a Devil Fruit giving him the ability to stretch his body like rubber. He was given a straw hat by the pirate Shanks, who would later go on to become an Emperor, one of the four most powerful pirates in the world, on the agreement that he would return the hat once he became a pirate and surpassed Shanks.
Ten years passed, and Luffy set off to sea at the age of 17. His infamy began to grow as he formed the Straw Hat Pirates and defeated some of the East Blue's most notorious pirates. He recruited four crewmates: Roronoa Zoro, who sought to become the greatest swordsman in the world, Usopp, who sought to become a brave warrior of the sea, Sanji, who sought to find a hidden sea known as the All Blue, and Nami, who sought to make a map of the world. He entered the Grand Line with a bounty of 30,000,000 and was pursued by Smoker of the Marines. In the Grand Line, Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates became involved in a plot to dismantle the criminal organization Baroque Works, led by Crocodile of the Seven Warlords of the Sea, seven pirates who work for the World Government. The Straw Hats defeated Crocodile and dismantled Baroque Works, earning the attention of higher-ranked officials in the World Government. They gained two crewmates in the process, Tony Tony Chopper, who sought to cure every illness, and the mysterious Nico Robin, formerly the second in command of Baroque Works.
The Straw Hats continued sailing through the Grand Line, but the conditions caused their ship, the Going Merry, to take irreparable damage. Also, Robin turned herself in to the government in order to save the Straw Hats from being annihilated. However, Luffy and his crew refused to let her go and invaded the judicial island Enies Lobby, defeating the powerful group of government assassins known as CP9. During the battle, it was revealed that Robin sought to find out about a lost 100 years of history which the World Government does not want to be revealed. The Straw Hats succeeded in rescuing Robin, but the Going Merry was ultimately destroyed after they escaped. However, they gained a new crewmate in Franky, who wanted to build a ship to go around the world, and he built them the Thousand Sunny. The destruction of Enies Lobby caused the Straw Hats to be seen as even more of a threat, and every crew member received a bounty.
The Straw Hats sailed into the Florian Triangle, where they encountered Brook, a skeleton who wanted to reunite with Laboon, a whale his old crew was friends with many decades ago. The Straw Hats defeated another Warlord of the Sea, Gecko Moria, and Brook joined their crew. Meanwhile, a pirate known as Blackbeard captured Portgas D. Ace, Luffy's adopted brother, and turned him in to the government to be executed. The Straw Hats went to the Sabaody Archipelago, alongside nine other pirates with bounties over 100,000,000 known as the Eleven Supernovas. However, chaos erupted due to Luffy punching a World Noble. The Warlord Bartholomew Kuma and robot replicas of himself overwhelmed the Straw Hats and sent them flying to different islands all around the world. Separated from his crew, Luffy decided to go save Ace from his impending execution.
Luffy managed to break into Impel Down, the government's top prison facility, but failed to reach Ace in time. He then led a mass breakout, and the other prisoners helped him reach Marineford, where Ace is set to be executed. War broke out in Marineford as Whitebeard, one of the Four Emperors and Ace's captain, led his crew in a battle against the Marines, and they were later joined by Luffy and the Impel Down prisoners. Luffy was revealed to be the son of Monkey D. Dragon, the leader of a band of revolutionaries seeking to bring down the World Government, and Ace was revealed to be Roger's son. Luffy managed to free Ace, but Ace was killed after saving Luffy from Admiral Akainu. Luffy was taken out of the battlefield as Whitebeard was overwhelmed by the Marines. Suddenly, Blackbeard arrived with his crew, killed Whitebeard, and took his Devil Fruit power. Shanks then arrived and ended the war.
Anguished by his inability to save Ace, Luffy sent a message to his crew telling them to train and grow stronger for two years.
Two years later, the Straw Hats returned to the Grand Line and entered the New World. In the New World, they formed an alliance with Trafalgar Law, one of the Eleven Supernovas, who sought to bring down Kaido of the Four Emperors. They traveled through Punk Hazard and Dressrosa in order to destroy factories supplying artificial Devil Fruits to Kaido, and took down the Warlord Donquixote Doflamingo in the process. The crew also became involved with the Big Mom Pirates, who took Sanji for a political marriage. The Straw Hats and their allies successfully rescued Sanji, and Jinbe, a fish-man and former Warlord whose dream was to achieve peace between humans and fish-men, joined the crew.
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 series 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. During One Piece's early run, the characters had a somewhat more cartoonish and roundish design.
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" manga characters 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.
Many real world items were the primary focus on certain characters and arcs.
- Censorship - Primarily the focus of the Ohara storyline, including Nico Robin.
- Classism - One of the focuses of the Wano Country Arc, low-class citizens in the Wano Country are discriminated, restricting them to live in slums and and wastelands like the extremely poor Okobore Town where they are only allowed to consume leftovers.
- Corruption - A common theme throughout the series with the World Government itself as prime example, and a focus in the Wano Country Arc where despite against the law in Wano to make contacts with outsiders including pirates, the nation's shogun Kurozumi Orochi is allied with Kaido, one of the Four Emperors, and his crew, the Beasts Pirates.
- 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 Fish-Man Island Arc, with Hody Jones and his crew, the New Fish-Man Pirates.
- Eugenics - Ace, Luffy, and Robin were targets for discrimination due to their parents, Mont Blanc Cricket due to his ancestor, and Rebecca due to her family. Another example is the fact that the World Nobles act superior to others due to their heritage.
- Genocide - Ohara was an island in the West Blue whose entire population was eradicated (aside from Robin) on the orders of the Five Elders. A Buster Call was declared on the island in order to end the perceived threat posed by the archaeologists and historians of Ohara, for the crime of studying and pursuing the truth behind the Void Century. To make certain that none of the "Demons of Ohara" could survive, people who had no affiliation to the scholars were killed as well. In the North Blue, the island of Flevance also had its people exterminated to prevent the spread of Amber Lead Syndrome (despite the World Government having knowledge that the disease was non-contagious and only affected the island's inhabitants). As was the case in Ohara, the entire population (aside from Trafalgar Law and Flevance royalty) were killed to end this perceived threat.
- Isolationism - One of the focuses of the Wano Country Arc where the Wano Country prohibits contact with outsiders and borders are a crime. The late daimyo of Kuri Kozuki Oden dreams of opening his country to the world.
- 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.
- Racism - During the Arlong Park Arc, the conflict between the fish-men 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 Fish-Man Island Arc.
- Slavery - The Arlong Park Arc, the Sabaody Archipelago Arc and most recently the Wano Country Arc are all known examples of slavery.
- 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.
- Oppression - One of the focuses in the Wano Country Arc, Wano is under the cruel, tyrannical rule of shogun Kurozumi Orochi and his regime, with support of the Beasts Pirates led by Emperor Kaido.
- Pollution - One of the focuses in the Wano Country Arc, Kaido's factories across the Wano Country that taints the condition of air and rivers.
- Poverty - One of the focuses in the Wano Country Arc, citizens who live outside the Flower Capital struggle to support themselves and their families financially.
- Propaganda - One of the focuses in the Wano Country Arc when schools taught at the Flower Capital indoctrinate its students into believing the Kozuki Family and their retainers to be the villains, and Orochi, Kaido and the Beasts Pirates to be the heroes of Wano, reinforcing Orochi and Kaido's reign and policies.
- War - Focused on during the Arabasta Saga, Skypiea Arc, Summit War Saga and most recently the Wano Country Arc.
- War Profiteering - The Warlord of the Sea 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, Caesar 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 sacrificed their children, contributed to men having intercourse with other men, and oppressed the poor. These two cities were destroyed by Yehovah 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 may have been inspired by Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenstein, and Michael Jackson's song that has the same name: "Thriller".
- The Fish-Man 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).
As One Piece began growing in popularity, it received English translations as it became more popular in the West.
VIZ Media is the sole provider of officially translated One Piece material. It began publishing translated chapters in Shonen Jump magazine in November 2002 and publishing translated volumes in June 2003. While not censoring as many details as their anime counterpart 4Kids Entertainment did, VIZ has used some 4Kids names earlier on, the most famous of those being changing Roronoa Zoro's name to Zolo, a practice they still continue in order to maintain continuity.
Fan scanlations occur when someone steals One Piece manga before it is put on shelves, usually people involved in the shipping process. They scan the pages and post it online, and groups with access to the scans can translate it into other languages. Some fan scanlators have released chapters a few days before they are sold in stores. The practice is illegal and can lead to the arrest of any perpetrators. Also, the quality of the translations completely depend on the skill of the translator, and some scanlations are of a much lower picture quality than officially released material. However, not all countries can buy One Piece from stores, leaving scanlations as their only source to read the manga.
One Piece has the highest total manga sales within Japan, and is currently the most acclaimed and all-time best-selling title in Weekly Shōnen Jump. 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.
- 2013: The New York Times runs an ad by the publisher Shueisha, thanking One Piece fans as they celebrate the record breaking 300 million copies that are in print.
- 2015: One Piece is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having "the most copies published for the same comic book series by a single author", with 320,866,000 copies printed and circulated, from December 1997 till December 2014.
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 Japan Anniversary Association has officially recognized July 22 as "One Piece Day".
- Chapters and Volumes
- Eiichiro Oda
- Colorwalks and Colorspreads
- Popularity Polls
- One Piece Omake
- Name Variants
- One Piece Databooks
- Story Arcs