One Piece (ワンピース, Wan Pīsu?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda with an anime adaptation. The series focuses on a ragtag crew of heroic pirates called the Straw Hat Pirates, formed and led by a captain named Monkey D. Luffy. Luffy's greatest ambition is to obtain the world's ultimate treasure, One Piece, and become the Pirate King.
Growth and popularity
The One Piece manga began its serial run in issue #34 of Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump magazine on August 4, 1997, while the anime adaptation produced by Toei Animation premiered on Fuji TV on October 20, 1999.
Eiichiro Oda originally planned One Piece to last five years, and he had already planned out the ending, but he found himself enjoying the story too much to end it in that amount of time, and now has no idea how long it will take to reach that point. Nevertheless, the author states (as of July 2007) that the ending is still the one he had decided on from the beginning, and he is committed to seeing it through to the end, no matter how many years it takes.
One Piece is the third highest selling manga in the history of Weekly Shonen Jump, (behind Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen-mae Hashutsujo [Kochi Kame] and Dragon Ball) and is currently their most acclaimed and all-time third-best-selling title in Japan. The manga is so well-liked that it is the first to increase the sales of Weekly Shonen Jump in eleven years. Volume 25 of One Piece holds a manga sales record in Japan, with 2,630,000 units sold in its first printing alone; as of Volume 46, the series has sold over 140,000,000 copies domestically, and is the fastest manga to reach sales of 100,000,000.
As the success of One Piece rose within its serialization in Weekly Shonen Jump, it would soon reach an even larger audience through the medium of television, being adapted into an animated series. That television series (a largely faithful adaptation of the manga) debuted in 1999, but animated One Piece actually had its origins one year earlier with an OVA. In was translated into English and brought over the pacific in 2004, when it debuted on 4Kids TV. Since then, it has migrated to Cartoon Network's Toonami block.
A filler arc named "Ice Hunter" started on October 14, 2007 and will last up to 2008. Eichiro Oda will be helping Toei with the production of these fillers. The airing of filler arcs is to allow the author a chance to publish more material.
Though most anime series air a new episode every week, the most recent One Piece episodes air at an average of four episodes a month or, in some cases, air as several back-to-back episodes followed by a break of several weeks.
In the fall of 2006, Toei Animation produced a series of five recap episodes, retelling the back stories of each of the Straw Hat crew members using clips from old episodes, tied into the current storyline by framing the recaps as flashbacks each of the characters were having just before storming the Tower of Justice. The recaps also marked a change in the series' time slot.
Since the debut of the series on television, Toei Animation has also produced nine One Piece feature films, released each spring since the year 2000. In typical fashion for movies based on serialized manga, the films feature self-contained, completely original plots with animation of higher quality than what the weekly anime allows for. Additionally, three of these movies have had special features, showcasing the characters engaged in various activities unrelated to the series (specifically dancing, playing soccer, and playing baseball). These shorts are similar in style to the shorts of the Pokemon movies, as the Pokemon are shown performing activities they are never shown doing in the anime (vacationing, racing, etc). These movies, and their attached features, are as follows:
- One Piece: The Movie (ワンピース, Wanpīsu?, 2000) - The crew comes across an island that is said to be the location of an amazing collection of gold, but they are not the only ones after it.
- Clockwork Island Adventure (ねじまき島の冒険, Nejimaki-shima no bōken?, 2001) - When their ship is stolen, the Straw Hats come across a thief duo that claims it was stolen by the Trump Pirates, who have taken over Clockwork Island. To make things even' worse, the Trump Pirates kidnap Nami so she can marry their leader. The Straw Hats have to stop them before it's too late.
- Featurette: Jango's Dance Carnival (ジャンゴのダンスカーニバル, Jango no dansu kānibaru?) - Jango hypnotizes an entire island, including the Straw Hats, into dancing so he may escape the Marines.
- Chopper's Kingdom on the Island of Strange Animals (珍獣島のチョッパー王国, Chinjū-tō no Choppā-ōkoku?, 2002) - The crew searches for the "Crowning Treasure", but as they approach the island it is said to be on, they are sent into 'the air, separating Chopper from the group. On the island, the animals declare Chopper their king. However, there are people besides the Straw Hats looking for the Crowning Treasure.
- Featurette: Dream Soccer King! (夢のサッカー王!, Yume no sakkā-ō!?) - The Straw Hat Pirates challenge various enemies from the show to a penalty shoot-out.
- Dead End Adventure (デッドエンドの冒険, Deddo endo no bōken?, 2003) - In order to gain money, the crew enters a pirate race called the Dead End Race.
- Curse of the Sacred Sword (呪われた聖剣, Norowareta seiken?, 2004) - An old friend of Zoro's is possessed by an evil sword, and due to a favor Zoro owes him, he joins his side. The Straw Hats will have to find a way to seal the sword before its true power is unleashed.
- Featurette: Take Aim! The Pirate Baseball King (めざせ! 海賊野球王, Mezase! Kaizoku yakyū-ō?) - The Straw Hats face the Arlong Pirates in a game of baseball, with Buggy and Mr. 2 Bon Clay as announcers.
- Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island (オマツリ男爵と秘密の島 Omatsuri danshaku to himitsu no shima, 2005?) - The crew lands at a resort owned by Baron Omatsuri, who challenges them to a series of games. However, there is more to Omatsuri and his friends than meets the eye.
- The Giant Mechanical Soldier of Karakuri Castle (カラクリ城のメカ巨兵, Karakuri-jō no meka kyohei?, 2006) - The crew searches for the treasure known as 'the Golden Crown on Mecha Island, a technologically advanced island filled with amazing machines, which is ruled by a man named Ratchet.
- Episode of Alabasta: The Desert Princess and the Pirates (エピソードオブアラバスタ 砂漠の王女と海賊たち, Episōdo obu Arabasuta Sabaku no ōjo to kaizoku-tachi?, 2007) - An edited version of the Alabasta arc with new animation.
- Episode of the Island of Perpetual Winter (2008) - A retelling of the Drum Island Arc.
Every year or two, a one-hour special episode is aired in place of a normal episode.
- 'Adventure in the Ocean's Navel (aired after Episode 53) - The Straw Hats encounter a city in the middle of a whirlpool, called the Ocean's Navel, that is being destroyed by giant monsters. These monsters supposedly protect a treasure capable of granting wishes, but in the process of defeating these guardians, the crew ends up releasing another evil.
- Open Upon the Great Sea! A Father's Huge, HUGE Dream! (aired after Episode 149) - The crew comes across three children and two adults, posing as a family. As it turns out, the oldest child knows the location of a great treasure discovered by her late father, and they are on the run from a pirate with a dangerous ability.
- Protect it! The Last Great Performance (aired after Episode 174) - It is the last performance of a great actor and playwright, but several actors suddenly quit. The Straw Hats offer to take their places. The quitting actors turns out to be more than a coincidence when they meet a Marine with a grudge against the playwright.
- The Detective Memoirs of Chief Straw Hat Luffy (aired after Episode 253) - In an alternate reality world that resembles Edo Period Japan, Luffy acts as a member of the police. This is made up of two adventures: in the first, Buggy makes trouble in the town; in the second, a mysterious girl named Vivi appears. This special contains several cameos from characters throughout the entire series.
- Boss Luffy Returns! A Dream or Reality Lottery Trouble (Although it continues the story of Special #4, isn't considered as Special #5, but instead Episode 291 by the official count)
- The Great Race at the Rice Cake Firewood Castle! Red Nose's Conspiracy (Although it continues the story of Special #4, isn't considered as Special #5, but instead Episode 292 by the official count)
- The Criminal is Boss Luffy? Chase the Vanished Great Sakura Tree (Considered as Special #5, although this is episode 303 with the addition of Jpop singers "Tackey and Tsubasa" in the opening theme song.) Similar to Detective Memoirs of Straw Hat Luffy, this takes place in an alternate reality in feudal Japan with cameos of previous characters. Luffy and the others are samurai living in a feudal Japanese town. The town's giant Sakura tree is stolen, and Luffy goes to search for it.