One Piece (East Blue)

One Piece (East Blue)

One Piece anime logo
One Piece Logo

Overview

One Piece is considered to be one of the “Big Three” shōnen anime along with Naruto and Bleach (sorry, Bleach fans, I doubt I’ll ever watch it). The East Blue portion of the series (which this post is about) covers episodes 1-61, and is therefore the start of the anime.

For anyone not familiar with the main concept of One Piece, Monkey D. Luffy wants to become the King of the Pirates by traveling to an ocean known as the Grand Line and claiming a treasure known as the One Piece. This is much like Naruto’s dream of becoming Hokage.

A lot of people will probably tell you that One Piece is better than Naruto, but from what I’ve seen of the anime so far, this isn’t the case. While I am enjoying watching the series, there are still some major issues which I can’t help but point out.

The first thing I’ll mention isn’t really an issue with the anime so much as a personal issue I have with the anime. Everything in this series is extremely weird. Like I said, not exactly a detriment, but hear me out.

In Naruto, there are some fairly weird people or things that happen, but they’re typically explained by some of the “lore” of the series. An example I’ll use multiple times during this post is the fight near the beginning of the series against Zabuza and Haku.

Haku’s jutsu involves creating ice mirrors which he then uses to confuse his enemy with reflections of himself. This might seem like magic more than some ninja technique (which it totally is and I should probably write about at some point), but the core concept still “makes sense.”

Haku uses ice style jutsu, which is a combination of wind and water styles, two of the five major chakra natures which are set up in the series. Other than this, there’s nothing particularly special about Haku other than that he wears a mask, but he’s a ninja so we’ll allow that.

Now let’s take a look at one of the first antagonists from One Piece, Buggy the Clown.

As his name suggests, Buggy is a clown and his entire ship and crew are circus themed. He has an ability which prevents him from getting cut, which is explained by him eating a devil fruit just like how Luffy got his rubber abilities.

However, it’s not Buggy’s abilities which don’t make sense, it’s the fact that he’s a clown in an anime about pirates. The characters and enemies in One Piece constantly have nothing to do with the anime’s main premise, and that’s my issue. I can’t take them seriously.

Since I took longer than expected on that explanation let’s quickly go through the next one which is the concept of death within One Piece. Once again I’ll be comparing One Piece to the Zabuza and Haku fight in Naruto.

Zabuza and Haku both die, spoilers. However, in One Piece, the only time we’ve seen someone get killed is some no-name random character getting shot by a pirate, or someone who died in a flashback and so is already dead.

It’s fine that none of the “good guys” die in the series so far since this is just the beginning, but the fact that none of the enemies who were fighting our heroes to the death seem to have died is a bit lame. Overall, it makes the series feel more childish than it’s ninja counterpart.

I’ll mention the more technical issues I have with the series in the conclusion, so let’s move onto the characters for now.


Characters

Monkey D. Luffy, or just Luffy for short, is the protagonist and future King of the Pirates. When he was a child he ate a devil fruit known as the Gum Gum Fruit which gave him the ability to stretch his body as if it were made out of rubber.

While devil fruit give people crazy powers like these, they also remove the ability to swim, which kind of sucks if your dream is to be a pirate since, you know, the ocean. Although Luffy’s rubber ability seems fairly useless at first glance, he’s able to use it in a wide variety of ways.

The next of the main characters to join Luffy’s crew is Zoro. Zoro was originally a pirate hunter and dreams to be the greatest swordsman in the world. He specializes in the “three sword technique” with which he uses a sword in each hand, as well as one in his mouth.

Nami joins the crew (unofficially) after Zoro and is the navigator for the group. She was originally a thief who only stole treasure from pirates, but is basically just a normal navigator other than that.

Usopp is the most useless of the crew for now and joined the Straw Hat Pirates because he wants to become a “brave warrior of the sea” just like his father, who is also a pirate. Usopp is the sharpshooter of the crew and typically uses a slingshot, however, he also prefers avoiding fights.

Sanji is the fifth and final member of the crew we meet during the East Blue portion of the series. He’s the chef for the ship and also a very strong fighter like Luffy and Zoro. Sanji specializes in fighting with his legs, meaning he likes to kick things.

Sanji, Luffy, Usopp, and Zoro from the anime One Piece
Sanji, Luffy, Usopp, and Zoro

Conclusion

Despite the fact that I’ve enjoyed watching this series so far, I have to rate the East Blue portion of the series a 4/10. I’ve been told by some that it’s actually a 7 or an 8, but the highest I feel I could reasonably rate it is a 5, and I’m not even going to do that.

Looking past the weirdness of the series, it’s incredibly slow and not well paced. I’m sure the manga is better (which most people say it is), but the anime drags on for too long in each arc. I’ve heard that each episode only covers one chapter of manga, and that’s how it feels.

Essentially this means that they’re taking a small amount of information which should take a reader 10 minutes at most to get through, and spreading it out over 22 minutes. This messes with the pace of the series, but also creates some other issues as well.

While animation quality isn’t completely tied to the pacing of the series, the pacing does play a part in it. The animation quality of One Piece is severely sub-par, and it’s in part due to the fact that scenes need to be stretched to fill the whole episode time length.

What this means is that we end up with a lot of scenes where things are going in slow motion for no reason, or we’re looking at still frames for just a bit too long. However, these aren’t the only issues with the animation.

Some argue that the series started in the 90’s (October 1999, so barely) and so the animation is simply 90’s style, not bad. Well, let me be the first to say that moving a camera along a still frame to simulate movement isn’t animation.

I don’t care what decade a series was made in, shifting the position of a full still frame does not fit the definition of animation. The frames need to actually change in order for it to qualify. This is my biggest issue with One Piece and something I’ll probably have to dedicate a whole post to in the future.

If you need an example of how One Piece using still frames is bad and not simply “old animation,” then go watch Akira. It came out 11 years before One Piece and has exceptional animation. If you want a series instead of a movie, go watch Neon Genesis Evangelion, 4 years older than One Piece.

I’ll end with a question (which I’m sure many people know the answer to if they’ve watched this series). The first part is about the crew’s adventure throughout the East Blue, and at the end they’re entering the Grand Line, but do we ever get to see the other three oceans?

The fact that they’re going directly into the Grand Line from the East Blue and not exploring the South, West, or North Blue oceans makes it seem like the rest of the series takes place within the Grand Line. Is this the case?

Maybe I’m wrong in saying this since all I’ve seen is the beginning so far, but I feel like there are missed adventures if we never actually see the other oceans. I’m looking forward to seeing all the different places this series takes our main characters, and I want to see more of the world they live in.

The first OP of One Piece is available here.

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