A Study in One Piece: Why the Series Has Such Appeal

(Eiichiro Oda)

(Eiichiro Oda)

When one of my good friends recommended that I watch One Piece, I had absolutely no idea what I had gotten myself into. 811 episodes and mix of emotions later, I have finally caught up to the point where I can watch episodes as they’re released. However, looking back, I have started to think of what made me say yes to my friends offer and I think I’ve come up with a few reasons why the show is so appealing to new viewers.

 I still remember seeing One Piece for the first time when I was only in elementary school. Walking through my local Vintage Stock, a bright and unique poster caught my eye. On it, I beheld a myriad of wonderfully creative characters, ranging from a reindeer in a pink hat to a green-haired man holding 3 swords. My young mind had lost itself in the sheer creativity of this poster. From that moment on, I would always keep an eye out for those posters, trying to see more of that wonderfully flashy crew. This little story brings me to the first appeal of One Piece: the character designs of Luffy and his Crew. Each member of the crew has their own unique style, such as Sanji, with his suit and cigarette, Usopp, with his overalls and goggles, or even Franky, with his slick pompadour and robotic features. Because each character has their own unique design, this catches the eye of any passerby that happens upon any promotional art or posters for One Piece, planting the seed of interest in their mind.

Next up, there’s the aspect of adventure that appeals to fans. When I was talking with the friend who got me into One Piece about One Piece’s appeal, he said “The greatest appeal of One Piece is that the whole world is so vast. Luffy could have taken any route on the Grand Line, but because of the path he took, we experienced all of the trials he went through along with him.” I completely agree with him. There were so many different ways that the story could have gone, yet we got to see all the trials and tribulations of Luffy and his crew, which adds a certain level of personal connection that not only appeals to newcomers and longtime fans, but keeps us coming back for more.

Of course, there’s always the appeal of how it’s one of the longer-running shonen series. However, this can be somewhat of an opinionated view, as some do find that One Piece having over 800 episodes is too much for them, while others really do enjoy the fact that it’s such a long-running series. I used to be on board with the former. Seeing all these anime that had 500+ episodes was too much for me to handle. It almost felt like a herculean task and I wouldn’t take the leap to even attempt to watch. Then came the faithful day that my good friend recommended One Piece and I finally decided to give it a try. Now I’m with the latter. I found that becoming investing in such long running series was amazing, as it allowed for a lot of world-building and created very strong personal bonds with the characters. It allowed for me to truly be happy to see Luffy and his crew progress along the Grand Line.

Lastly, there’s the appeal of the character development. While I have already somewhat touched on this earlier, it’s just too large of a subject to not give its own paragraph. Talking to another friend about the appeals of One Piece, I think he put character development in the perfect light. “I love the characters/ character development of the show. The first episode is definitely representative of the whole show. One Piece flawlessly introduces the main character without it being forced or awkward. The second they introduce Luffy, you could immediately understand his character and his mission. They’ve had that same love and care with not only the main characters, but even the minor characters, which get the same treatment and character development as if they, too, were major characters.” I honestly could not have worded this better myself. From Episode 1, they immediately begin building the world and introducing characters in a non-forced manner, allowing for the audience to truly see each character’s different beliefs, goals, and personalities. The fact that they invest so much time into the world, its many inhabitants and even its history is a huge appeal to newcomers and keeps fans coming back for more.

While there’s still a huge assortment of appealing parts of One Piece that I could cover, these few that I have should be more than enough for now. Whether one finds appeal in One Pieces’ characters, its world, or even the episode count, there are so many reasons that One Piece has the appeal that it does today. As we head into the future, I hope to see that these appeals are further re-enforced or even add more appeals for those who want to begin watching the show.

-- Brook Pfeiffer