- Monkey D. Luffy
- The protagonist, an aspiring pirate in a straw hat who possesses the power of the Gomu Gomu no Mi.
- Luffy's grandfather
- The captain of his own pirate crew who is known for his violence, and who gave Luffy his straw hat. While an "apocryphal" character in terms of the story of Luffy's straw hat, his character design and blood relationship to Luffy are reused in One Piece, albeit in a different context. Luffy's grandfather exists simply to keep the readers from discovering Shanks; Oda intended to surprise the viewers with the final story.
- Spiel the Hexagon (六角のシュピール Rokkaku no Shupīru?)
- A relative unknown among pirates who is nevertheless formidable due to his use of sorcery.
- Ann (アン An?)
- A girl whose village was attacked and who was used to lure in the treasure that Spiel is after.
- Balloon (バルーン Barūn?)
- A Roc (
怪鳥Ruku?) who has been Ann's companion for as long as she can remember. Spiel aims to take it for himself.
The story opens with Luffy out at sea on a small skiff, having just woken up from a nap. He hears a noise from above, and a strange bird plummets directly into his boat. He is impressed by its size, and wonders if it's an ostrich, or maybe even a panda. Then he realizes that the bird's arrival has made a decent-sized hole in the boat, so he plugs it with the creature, because he cannot swim if the boat sinks. While examining the animal more closely, he also notices that it's wounded, and wonders how it happened. Suddenly, a huge ship appears next to Luffy's boat, and a voice calls out for "Balloon" to escape, and fly far away. The bird tries to take off, but Luffy holds it firmly in place, reminding it that the current situation in the boat is its fault. A rope ladder is lowered from a ship, and a voice calls out to the young man in the straw hat to bring the bird on board.
Once Luffy is on board the ship, a girl named Ann yells at him for bringing Balloon on board, because now it's being held prisoner. Luffy asks if Balloon is that panda, and Ann (who is tied to the mast) angrily tells him it's not a panda. Luffy tells her that it's injured, and Ann remarks that it had been shot by "Spiel the Hexagon", the captain of this ship. He's an unknown among pirates; nobody at Ann's village had heard of him before he attacked. Nevertheless, he can use witchcraft, so the villagers defending their home could not even approach him. Spiel's crew is afraid of him, and Ann's village was looted and plundered because of him. If Luffy tries to fight him, he will be killed.
Spiel appears and congratulates Luffy on capturing the creature, offering his thanks. Luffy answers that Spiel has a weird-looking head. Ann yells at him for not listening to her, while he just tells her to look at him and see. Spiel orders both of them locked up. Ann wants to kill Luffy for what he did, but Luffy just wants to know if the ostrich is hers. Ann corrects him again, telling him that it's a Monster-Bird, and its name is Balloon. It had been with her for as long as she could remember. When she played, and when she slept, it never left her side. When viewed by others, it might look like an ordinary bird, but to her, it's her most important friend, whom she can trust more than anyone else.
Luffy asks why Ann was captured, and she says it's because she's cute (Luffy wonders if that's really true). Ann wonders what Luffy was doing out in the middle of the sea in such a small vessel, so he tells her that he's looking for Peace Main to make his crew. Ann does not know what this is; Luffy explains that it's a kind of pirate. The ones on this ship who loot and plunder indiscriminately are called "Morgania," while those who go innocently looking for adventure are called "Peace Main," and Luffy is going to be one. His grandfather was a Peace Main pirate, too.
In a flashback, Luffy's grandfather, laughing loudly, urges the boy to set out to sea when he becomes a man. Luffy refuses, however, because he cannot swim and he hates the sea. His grandfather tells him that he did not raise grandson to be so selfish, but Luffy does not want to be a pirate. Later, Luffy's grandfather's crew argues with him about the distribution of their loot, but he silences those who want more with his fists, telling them they are 100 years too early. He then shows off one of his latest acquisitions to Luffy: the Gomu Gomu Fruit, which he found by chance on an enemy ship, and took for his own. It's the fruit of a mystical tree, and if he sells it, he could get 5,000,000 for it but Luffy takes it and eats it, commenting on its bad taste, while his grandfather looks on in horror.
Grabbing his grandson, he shouts that it's the fruit of a devilish tree, and now that Luffy's eaten it, he will never be able to swim. Luffy is shocked, but quickly regains his composure, since it's not like he wanted to be a pirate anyway. Luffy's grandfather is annoyed at his flippant attitude, but brushes it off, since after all, there are lots of people who enjoy not having anything to do with water. At that, Luffy breaks down, revealing that he really did want to be a pirate, but could not say it because he could not swim. He still wants to go out on the sea, and does not want to be dead weight in water all his life. His grandfather is touched by this, but slugs him for taking the sea so lightly. He launches into a speech about how the sea is different from ponds or rivers, and that even he would drown if his ship sank in the middle of the sea, but Luffy interrupts him with a return kick to the face and the two begin to fight.
Back in the present, Ann seems amused that Luffy cannot swim. Luffy tells her that his hat is the one his violent grandpa always wore, and it's his treasure. He asks Ann what her treasure is, and she says that it's Balloon, but Luffy is distracted by a whale, angering her. Much later, Luffy announces that he's tired of being there, so he's going to go. Ann reminds him that he cant, and Luffy recalls that his ship was broken by the bird. Ann meant that they cannot escape from where they are, but Luffy just squeezes through the bars. Ann is astonished, and yells at him to let her out. She asks him if he can also use witchcraft, but he says no, just something similar. Ann is going to go save Balloon, and asks for Luffy's help, but he refuses, saying that he needs to go find a boat. She takes off on her own, cursing Luffy, while Luffy complains that she said she was afraid of pirates before.
On deck, Ann finds the pirates guarding Balloon's cage asleep. She sneaks toward him, but Spiel is watching from the crow's nest. Elsewhere, Luffy is happy to have found both a boat and food. Ann bests the pirates guarding the cage in swordplay, and tells them to free Balloon like they promised, but suddenly one of them is set alight, while Spiel proclaims them scum for being defeated by a woman. Spiel throws the key to Ann, telling her she is free to go, but when she goes to free Balloon, he shoots her. Spiel upbraids her for thinking she could get away, but is interrupted by Luffy appearing with his boat. He asks where Luffy is headed, Luffy replies that his head looks like a water strider. Both the crew and Ann are shocked at Luffy's stupidity. Luffy walks over and asks Ann why she's bleeding, and she replies that it's because she was shot, and she was playing dead until he started talking to her. Spiel takes advantage of the opening by shooting Luffy multiple times, but he bounces the bullets back. Spiel is speechless, Ann wants to know how he did that, and Spiel's crew panics, thinking that Luffy can use witchcraft like their captain. Spiel attempts to crush him with a giant hammer, but Luffy is only annoyed at him. Spiel climbs into the crow's nest and tells the "monster" to stay away, but Luffy tells him he's the one who started it, and at any rate, climbing up there will not help him, which he demonstrates with a long-distance punch that sends Spiel back to the deck. The crew want to know if they are dreaming. Luffy explains that he ate the Gomu Gomu Fruit, which made him into a Rubber Man (in exchange for never being able to swim). This shocks the crew even more, but Spiel tells Luffy to spend his whole life there, stretching and shrinking. Spiel, standing on a broomstick and holding Balloon on a leash, says he has no more use for the ship, because he has the treasure he wanted. He breaks the ship apart with his witchcraft, and departs.
Ann saves Luffy from drowning, and Luffy says he owes her his life. Ann breaks down, and reveals that Balloon was the last of its kind, whose blood is supposed to have magical properties, which is why Spiel wanted it. The real reason that she was captured was because Balloon will always come back to her. She despairs about her most important friend, wishing it did not have to be rare, or magical, but Luffy tells her not to give up hope yet. Luffy wraps his arm around the mast, and uses the tension as a catapult to launch himself after Spiel and Balloon. Spiel, who is quite pleased to himself, looks back to discover Luffy riding on Balloon's back, who then hops onto Spiel's broomstick. Spiel wants to know how he managed to get there, but makes the fatal mistake of grabbing Luffy's hat. Balloon flies away, which upsets Spiel even more, but Luffy assures him that he will be landing shortly, delivering a Right Hand Stopper to Spiel's face. As Luffy is being carried back by Balloon, he recalls his grandfather telling him that real treasure is not a gigantic diamond, gold, silver, coral, or pearls. Luffy wanted to know what it was then, but his grandfather told him he'd understand in time. From Balloon's back, Ann wishes Luffy luck in becoming a Peace Main, and he assures her he will. The narrator says that the pirate known as "Straw Hat Luffy" will spread his name far and wide on the sea, but that it is a story for later.
- Though elements of this version are transferred into One Piece, the storyline is mostly redundant. To date, unlike V.1, V.2 has seen no additional versions of its storyline or adaptations. Ann, however, does share a similar past with Nami concerning pirates attacking their home villages.
- Also, the grandfather of Luffy's early concept character would eventually evolve into Garp and become part of the One Piece storyline (his hopes and expectations for Luffy's future would change from piracy to joining the marines). The grandfather's ideal of what treasure really is would also then become that of Luffy's in the main series as well.
- ↑ Weekly Jump cover of the 1996 issue #41
- ↑ Weekly Shonen Jump 2019 Issue 18 - The Romance Dawn animated special is first announced.