Despite being tired from my first few days at work, I’m still super excited for this post, because it is the (slightly belated) 19th anniversary of One Piece. The first chapter of One Piece was published in Weekly Shounen Jump 19 years ago, and it has been going strong ever since. This post will be my own little tribute to my favorite manga in the entire world. Let’s go!
I didn’t get to do any sort of celebration last year (was busy with my thesis lol) but this year I am determined. Technically, I’m a little late, since the actual anniversary is July 19, 1997, when the first chapter was published and released. But somehow I always remember the beginning of August as the anniversary, so there you go. I did do the entire #OPanniversary week for the 17th anniversary over on my tumblr, so you can check out those posts in the tag here.
First things first, I want to share my personal journey with One Piece, and what a journey it is. I discovered One Piece during winter break in sixth grade. I still remember exactly when I watched my first episode, though that memory might be a little bit fuzzy because it was over ten years ago. I remember watching Naruto on Toonami, because all my classmates were into it. And after Naruto, when it was almost time for bed, One Piece started, so I watched like the first half(?) of that too. And that was that. Back then, it was the 4kids dub, which means that weird rap opening song that I actually liked back then. (There was a period where I was a huge snob about it, but I do currently like the song, if only for the nostalgia factor. I just listened to it again, and I ended up singing along??? Somehow I still know every single line????)
Anyways, fast forward a couple of weeks later when school started again. After I took the bus home from school, for about half an hour or so, both of my parents were still at work. So I usually just watched TV and what do you know. Re-runs of One Piece aired right after I got home from school. So heck yeah, of course I watched it! Pirates are cool! By that time, I was already very very firmly entrenched on the
right pirate side of the pirates vs. ninjas debate that took middle schools by storm. It was also very convenient because they showed the re-runs every weekday (I think?) so I got hooked really fast. Here is where my memory gets really fuzzy. I know I eventually stopped watching the dub and started watching the subbed episodes on Youtube (back when Youtube had full episodes of anime split into three parts), but I can’t remember exactly when I started. All I remember is that there was this one particular episode during the Alabasta arc that wouldn’t load correctly on Youtube, and I was very frustrated. And I definitely remember the summer between seventh and eighth grade, when I binge-watched all the subbed episodes until I caught up to the Japanese releases (which I now know were illegally uploaded videos, but hey). This was when the Enies Lobby arc was just wrapping up in the anime and they just got back to Water 7. That the the point when I switched over to the manga, which was at the very beginning of Thriller Bark. I followed both for a while, but got tired of Thriller Bark in the anime, so I just followed the manga as the chapters came out in Japan (also illegal back then; don’t do this, kids). I watched the anime sporadically from then on, and only the episodes that showed parts I particularly liked in the manga (e.g. meeting the other supernovas). And that’s that. It’s been like that since then.
It’s been just over ten years since I first discovered One Piece, and I’m so glad I did. It’s the only series I’ve followed for this long. Way back when, I actually did make quite an effort to get into Naruto and Bleach (the other “Big 3” lol) but I never got far enough to call myself a fan. I just was not interested. Same with other popular Shounen Jump manga like Fairy Tail- I actually tried to read the damn thing on three separate occasions and never got further than chapter 20-something. I think the biggest reasons is that One Piece was the first series I really got into, so it became my standard to which I held the series I discovered after it. I didn’t realize how unfair of a standard it was, lol. I just kept comparing and the others just didn’t do it for me the way that One Piece did. So… sorry other manga. Honestly, I’ve found manga that met and surpassed One Piece’s standard for me personally, but OP still holds a dear place in my heart, so I definitely don’t foresee any time when I will just stop following it. Except when it ends. Which will be at least another 10 years so no worries.
**WARNING** It’s not even considered a spoiler anymore, but I will be talking about certain events that many of us (including me) would rather forget about and pretend never happened, so I guess this is an emotional warning.
Okay. Basically, I grew up with One Piece, okay. It saw me through the tough times of puberty, navigating middle school and high school, and growing up into a functional adult. It made me a bunch of friends at school who were also anime nerds. (Anime in general is how I’ve made many of my friends tbh.) I was also following the manga in “real time” since early on as well. I want to now write a little about how specific events and One Piece in general has impacted my life.
The first time I found myself really getting emotional over One Piece was when they were storming Enies Lobby to get Robin. This arc is still my favorite arc to date- the animation was at its peak, and it was just so cool. When they all lined up on the roof, ahhhhhhh. So epic.
Then right after that they went into that flashback of what happened at Ohara and that was the first time I cried while watching this show, ugh. (I know a lot of people might have also cried at the end of Drum Island with Chopper, but I watched that with the 4kids dub and it did not do it justice. I cried at that point later when I re-read it though.) Robin’s scene with her mom and then Saul at the end of the flashback was just so sad. And then when Robin, who is one of my favorite characters ever btw, was shouting about wanting to live… TT TT I can’t handle this. And then like just a little bit later was Merry’s funeral and goddammit Oda what is wrong with you. How dare you. I am still upset about this, okay? I will never ever get over Merry. I don’t know anyone who is over Merry tbh. So yeah, the entire CP9 arc was an emotional roller coaster and I both hate it and love it. Still do.
Zoro’s thing with Kuma at Thriller Bark (you know what I’m talking about, don’t make me say it) was also upsetting, but that was also when I lowkey started shipping ZoLu in a kind of queerplatonic way, so…
One thing I distinctly remember was that whole thing
with Duval. Like, I remember reading that chapter where his face was revealed and I legit laughed for like 10 minutes straight. My mom came into the room to check that I wasn’t getting hysterical. I just. That was just perfect.
Sabaody archipelago was a treat, because that brought us the other nine supernovas, and most importantly, Law, who is my anime husbando and also shares a birthday with me. That one fight outside the auction place with Luffy, Kidd, and Law was really great. I love it when superpowered (and in that situation, overpowered) people team up. It doesn’t make for much suspense, but it sure does feel good to watch. Of course, the whole getting split up thing was terrible. Luckily,
I we all love Luffy so much and didn’t mind watching just him instead of everyone.
And that brings us to… that. And by that I mean the-thing-that-will-never-be-talked-about-with-me. The-thing-that-I-ignore. The-thing-I-pretend-doesn’t-exist. That. I mean Ace. And Whitebeard. And basically the entire timeline from Amazon Lily to the timeskip is just one giant emotional roller coaster that I still can’t figure out how to get out of. I was literally numb for a while after I read that one chapter (574, I believe) and the chapter after it. I don’t even have siblings or anything and can’t relate to it at all, but my heart still broke into a million tiny pieces… It took me a year for me to get up the guts to watch the anime episode, and I cried and cried because damn it they put music over it and Tanaka Mayumi and Furukawa Toshio are very good voice actors. Sakaguchi Daisuke also did a really great job with young Ace’s voice- that crying scene was heartbreaking too. Also that flashback when Ace was trying to learn how to be polite? Makes me tear up every single time. That last line by Luffy though…
Man, I was so upset by everything, and then Oda goes and does a timeskip. I mean, I think it’s great that he got to go on vacation with his family during the brief hiatus. It also hyped up the post-timeskip stuff more, and damn was it super great to see everyone leveled up. That reunion was so cool.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the fishman island arc, mostly because I started watching the anime again after they got to the post-timeskip, and the animation around Fishman Island started going way south. The best part was Gomu Gomu no Red Hawk in the anime, which I actually teared up a little bit at because I still was not over it. Even in the manga it was impressive. (Fun fact, if you type in “Gomu Gomu no” in google search, the first suggestion is Gomu Gomu no mi (duh) but the second one is Gomu Gomu no Red Hawk. Looks like I’m not the only one not over it.)
Fishman Island was also when everyone got to show off their new powers and skills, so that was really cool. Robin + Armament haki was amazing (please marry me). Jinbe was a little bit of a surprise, tbh, but a welcome one. Soon…
Honestly, I was so glad to see Law again in the New World. I started watching the anime again (on and off) not only because he is my husbando but also because his voice actor is Kamiya Hiroshi, who is one of my favorites. Lately, the One Piece obsession has been wearing off just a little bit for me- mostly because I don’t have much time to do anything except just read the new chapter each week. At some point, I’m just going to take a week or something and re-read everything. The great One Piece read through. I’m probably going to cry even more than I did the first time.
I feel like I kind of slept through Dressrosa. Like I just sort of read everything in a daze? Maybe because it just dragged on for so long. The last time I remember being super excited for a chapter was with Sabo. It was so great to see him again. I still think the whole amnesia thing was a bit of a cop out, but I actually wonder if Oda really intended to bring him back from the beginning, or what. Anyways, I can’t handle ASL at all. I don’t have any siblings, neither by blood nor by any bonds, but if I did, I would want what they have.
In the current arc though, oh man I can feel my OP feels starting up again. Because Dressrosa was more about Law than anything else (and Sabo, for me). But this whole Big Mom thing looks like it’s shaping up to be more reminiscent of the previous adventures, which are more about Mugiwara crew bonds. Nami and Robin both have had their rescue adventures (and Nami went through it twice, if you count Strong World), so now I guess it’s Sanji’s turn lol. I haven’t watched any of the movies after Film Z, so I need to get caught up on those soon.
I used to be a lot more involved in the fandom. Not that involved, but I would read a lot of blog posts and stuff, and take in all the fan creations. I really like the posts by people who are huge fans but also take no shit. There are many things that Oda does that I don’t agree with (and not just from a fangirl perspective, but from a human perspective), especially his treatment of women. It’s been going on since the beginning, and it hasn’t improved at all. I like to think that I am a fan who loves this series enough to acknowledge its shortcomings, but I do admit I don’t do enough to educate people about it. No one likes hearing that their favorite manga has bad aspects. I don’t even like hearing about it, but it’s there.
I don’t want to end this post on a downer, so let’s talk a bit about happier things before I end this already too long post. Even after all these years, I still think it’s really funny how Ace was kept around longer in the anime because fans liked him so much in the manga. I mean, I can barely handle seeing him back in Alabasta, because there’s foreshadowing there and I don’t like to be reminded. But it’s funny anyways. The birth of so many fangirls…
Lastly, I’ve like to give tribute to my favorite opening song, and also one of the most played songs in my itunes: One Day by The Rootless. It’s opening 13, used during the Marineford War. I love it so much, oh my gosh. It’s got a more rock feel than the other openings, and thus kind of a more serious feel? I don’t know, but I also really like the lyrics. I hear the band members are also fans, lol.
In summary, One Piece is super great and I love it a lot. It’s kind of become my symbol for following my dreams no matter what. I’m not anything like Luffy, but if he keeps on going, then so can I. Don’t give up, even if it’s only to stick around for the end.