One Piece Manga Volumes 1-12 Review
I have always wanted to watch one of the ‘big three’ anime’s. After long debate and little time to watch anything, I decided to read One Piece. Since it is such a long series, and an ongoing series at that, I thought it best to review the series by saga’s. The first twelve volumes of One Piece is called the Blue Saga. It sets up the stage and introduces most of the main characters. At first I expected little out of One Piece mostly thinking the artwork would get on my nerves or the fact it was about pirates. I am so glad I did decide to read it though and the I wouldn’t have the artwork any other way.
The Plot of One Piece
One Piece begins with Gol D Roger about to be executed. He yells to the crowd to go and find his treasure, the One Piece. It then flips to Luffy as a young child. He is wanting to join the crew of the pirate Shanks. Shanks had recently returned from a voyage bringing back a ‘devil fruit’ called Gomu Gomu. Shanks learns that Luffy ate the fruit and now has the ability to stretch his body like rubber. Luffy being to young, Shanks eventually denies his request and leaves again for the waters.From here on the Blue Saga arc is divided into six mini arcs.
After the introduction of the main character and purpose, the first story arc, Romance Dawn, is ready to begin. Luffy is now at a reasonable age and has decided to go out on his own and become the Pirate King. He ends up in a barrel on the sea and is rescued by the pirate crew under the pirate Alvida. Of course Alvida immediately assumes the crew is trying to drink her alcohol. They blame it on a weak crew member named Coby. At this time Luffy and Coby get to know each other in private. Coby is wanting to be a marine, but is being held captive by Alvida and her crew. Alvida eventually finds the two and Luffy ends up saving Coby by knocking Alvida out and demands the crew to give Coby a dingy and the two escape. They head for the marine base and eventually arrive at Shells Town. Here Luffy hears of Roronoa Zoro and decides he will be a right fit for his pirate crew. Zoro is being held captive by the marine boss’ (Captain Morgan) son Helmeppo. Helmeppo has told Zoro that he will release him if he can survive a month with no food. Knowing this is unrealistic and hearing that Helmeppo intends to kill Zoro either way, Luffy saves Zoro by taking out Helmeppo and Captain Morgan. Zoro decides to join Luffy for the moment to escape. Leaving Coby behind, Luffy and Zoro take a ship and head to sea.
The next arc of One Piece is the Orange Town arc. It begins with Luffy and Zoro starving at sea due to lack of navigation ability. Luffy spots a bird and attempts to catch it with his ability but the bird instead catches him and flies off leaving Zoro alone. Zoro comes across three other pirates in a similar, but worse predicament. They jump on and try to take the ship, but soon learn that they are against the great pirate hunter Roronoa Zoro. They apologize and explain their situation and ask for help back to their base. He takes them with him and the story flips to a town called Orange Town. A strange ship shaped like a carousel docks into town and Luffy and the bird are found aboard. At the same time a girl is running from pirates she had just stolen from. The pirates are yelling to give back the map to Grand Line. Suddenly Luffy is in the middle of the four surrounded by smoke. As he is wondering what shot him, the girl calls him her boss and to take care of the pirates. Of course Luffy does and meets Nami the pirate thief. She finds out he is a pirate and ties him to turn him into the head pirate of Orange Town, Buggy. This works against Nami, but Zoro shows up at the last minute to save the two. The three hide in town and the mayor pops up to explain the situation and help with physical damages. Mohji, a friend of Buggy’s, and his pet lion, Richie, shows up and begins attacking them. Luffy defeats the two easily and goes to confront Buggy. Here he finds out Buggy is another Devil Fruit eater. He has the ability to be sliced up and use his body parts separately. The two fight and eventually Luffy defeats Buggy the best he can. Nami joins the crew as their navigator, but adamantly says its only to get treasure. The three head off after saving the town.
The third arc of East Blue Saga is called Syrup Town. Here another addition to the One Piece team is added. The first part starts out with the crew landing on a weird island and must pass a test to stay on said island. They meet a man stuck in a treasure box. He is there protecting treasure, but can not reach it due to his condition. Luffy decides to help only to find out the treasure is gone. The man decides to stay on the island and the crew leave. After that they arrive at Syrup Town. Here a man named Usopp is always making chaos and calling wolf too many times. Three boys follow him around religiously wanting to be ‘pirates’ like himself. He learns of the true pirates and rushes to meet them. Luffy learns he is the son of Ysopp, a crew member of Shanks. Kuro, the caretaker of Usopp’s friend Kaya, is also introduced as the head of the Black Cat Pirates to the reader. He intends to take over the town, but Usopp learns of this and tries to stop it. Since he cries wolf all the time, people do not believe him and it is left up to Luffy’s crew to stop them. Of course the crew members do so and save the town. Usopp ends up going with Luffy as a true pirate and the crew head out for more adventure.
The next story arc of One Piece is Baratie arc. Since Kaya gave them a ship to use, the crew is trying to figure everything out and come up with a logo for their name The Straw Hat Pirates. The two end up testing a canon and accidentally shoot at two pirate hunters on a rock formation. The hunters attack back and Zoro notices them to be his fellow hunters Johnny and Yosaku. They let the two board the ship and Nami ends up curing Yosaku’s scurvy. The crew then realize that having a cook is very important to keep healthy on the water. The two hunters tell them of a floating ship in the middle of the ocean called Baratie. They set sail and end up finding the restaurant. When they arrive they get into a fight with a marine called Fullbody. Luffy ends up shooting the roof of Baratie. While Luffy deals with the owner, Zeff, Sanji comes into the picture. Fullbody is insulted the food and Sanji ends up almost taking him out. Another pirate boards demanding food, but s thrown out. Sanji takes pity and feeds him. He happens to be part of Don Krieg’s pirate crew. Krieg shows up in ‘peace’, but attacks the ship anyways. The Straw Hat Pirates try to board their ship to get away, but Nami has stolen The Going Merry. Luffy and Zoro stay to help with the fight while the rest chase Nami. Another pirate ends up showing up called Dracule “Hawk-Eyes” Mihawk, a Shichibukai. A Shichibukai consist of seven pirates who have teamed up with the government. He is also the best swordsman on the planet. Since Zoro is wanting that title, he takes him on and fails. After the fights are over and the ‘good guys’ win, Sanji joins the Luffy’s crew and they head out yet again.
The Arlong Park arc of One Piece happens to be a favorite of mine. The crew are still in pursuit of Nami and the Going Merry. Yosaku and Johnny suspected that she would be heading to Arlong Park after making a connection between the two. It cuts Nami arriving at Arlong Park and a boy comes up to her. He is sad about his fathers death and wants revenge. She slaps him and sends him on his way with some money. This is where it is discovered that Nami is part of the Arlong crew. Usopp, Zoro and Johnny arrive at the island and Zoro is left behind by he other two. Zoro is captured by the pirates while Usopp is knocked out by the boy from earlier. Johnny is the only one who escapes. At the same time Luffy, Sanji, and Yosuka are attacked by a sea cow. Luffy handles the situation and they use it to get to Arlong Park. Usopp awakens at Nojiko’s house, a villager of the area. He discovers it is Nami’s sister while at the same time Zoro discovers that Nami works for Arlong as a navigator. Nami’s past is also discussed in this area as well. How hard it was for her and her sister and why she works for Arlong. She wants to save the village and has to raise enough money to buy it from Arlong. The Straw Hat Pirates take on the Arlong Pirates and eventually win. As the village celebrates its freedom, Nami decides to rejoin the Straw Hat Pirates as their official navigator.
The final arc of the Blue Saga in One Piece is called Loguetown. The crew discovers Luffy 30,000’000 bounty. Luffy is overjoyed, but Nami points out the stress added by people attempting to capture him. They soon spot an island and Nami tells them it is Loguetown. They decide it is a good place to restock on supplies and grab a bite to eat. Zoro is in search of new swords since Mihawk destroyed his others. He runs into a familiar or so he thinks. A girl named Tashigi looks very similar to his childhood friend Kuina. She helps him pick out a few swords. Meanwhile Sanji, Usopp, and Nami are buying supplies for the Going Merry. Luffy goes to check out Gol D Rogers execution spot and runs into an awfully beautiful woman. She claims to be Alvida and reveals she ate a Devil Fruit to become beautiful. She also brought another old friend of Luffy’s, Buggy. Luffy is ambushed and placed on the execution block. Captain Smoker, a marine, is informed of the situation and decides to let them execute Luffy before getting involved. Nami detects s storm in the meantime and gets the ship ready for departure. Zoro and Sanji go to save Luffy while Usopp stays with Nami. Luffy is miraculous freed and the three try to escape to the Going Merry. They Smoker and his fellow marine Tashigi. Smoker is another Devil Fruit eater and Luffy and Sanji take him on while Zoro fights Tashigi. Luffy and Sanji are saved by a mysterious figure. Smoker and Tashigi follow Luffy while Buggy is freed and does the same. The Straw Hat Crew finally see their destination, the Grand Line. This closes the East Blue Saga.
The Characters of One Piece
Since One Piece has a vast character count, I will only go over the main characters and main bosses of the East Blue Saga. I feel that every character has their own personal change through out this saga alone, making this manga very good with character development. You come to love each character through their faults. Even if you do not like a character, they are crucial to the story line and at some point I guarantee you will like them for something.
Luffy is the main character of One Piece. He is very childlike and has the ability to stretch his body like rubber. He ate the Gomu Gomu fruit when he was little, giving him great strength and a great advantage. He is very dedicated to his goal of becoming the Pirate King and even more dedicated to finding the right crew. Zoro is the next crew member you meet. He is at first reluctant to join Luffy since he is a renowned pirate hunter. His goal is to become the best swordsman and decides that going with Luffy he can accomplish this goal. He is very strong and very stubborn. Nami is the next crew member to join. She loves money and only has an interest in treasure and navigation. Her goal is to create the first world map and sees Luffy as means to doing so. She may not have strength, but she can detect when storms are coming and what the weather will be like. Usopp (my least liked character) is different from the rest of the crew. While he is great with creating weapons of any sort, he is a terrible fighter. He is very arrogant and constantly takes the title of Captain for the Going Merry. Sanji is the final main character to join the Straw Hat Pirates in this saga. He is a ladies man and constantly hitting on Nami and other various female characters. He is a great cook and wants to find the best fish to cook in the Grand Line. He is an easy going person and his legs have great strength.
Alvida, the first head pirate you meet in One Piece. She is very fat and very ugly, but ends up eating a Devil Fruit making her beautiful. Her personality is just as ugly as she looks. She is trying to capture Luffy to get revenge for hitting her and calling her ugly. Helmeppo is the son of Captain Morgan and the second ‘bosses’ the crew run into. Helmeppo is a spoiled brat who looks as if he has never raised a finger to do anything for himself. Captain Morgan has an axe for a right hand. He is feared through out the village, but easily defeated by Luffy. Buggy happens to be one of my favorite dressed bad guys. He looks like a clown with a sick plan in mind. He is very hard to beat and quite funny at parts. Captain Kuro is educated looking. He has glasses and is very clean looking. He is methodical and very devious. I would have to say the most devious out of the East Blue Saga and yet such a short appearance. Krieg is another hard man to beat for Luffy. He is very strong and wears heavy armor. He has an excellent crew built up (what is remaining). Arlong is an excellent addition to the bosses of One Piece. He is the head of the Fishmen. He looks part swordfish and part human. At first you think he is a very understanding and possibly nice pirate, but soon you find out he is just as devious as the others. He is only out for himself. Smoker is the last ‘boss’ to appear in the East Blue Saga. He is a captain in the marines and ate a Devil Fruit giving him the ability to turn into smoke, thus the name. His character gets little development at this point, but later more is revealed. He is very patient though.
Devil Fruits of One Piece
Devil Fruits hold special powers of the Sea Devil within them in One Piece. Each fruit has a different ability. Only one can be eaten by any person at a time. Once that person dies, the power of the fruit jumps into another fruit and cultivates its abilities. The truth of their powers are said to be held within the Grand Line somewhere. The can be sold for a high price and seldom eat them. If consumed, the user can no longer swim in water, making it a very dangerous thing to eat. The Devil Fruit is behind most of the powerful people of Grand Line.
There are several Devil Fruits that show up in the East Blue Saga. The Gomu Gomu fruit gives Luffy the ability to be rubber. He can stretch to any length with any body part. The Bara Bara fruit gives Buggy the ability to seperate his body making it quite hard to attack him. The Moku Moku fruit gives Smoker the ability to turn into smoke making him another hard person to fight against. The final Devil Fruit to make an appearance is the Sube Sube. this gives Alvida the ability to absorb hits into her skin leaving her unharmed. Another side affect of it gave Alvida a slim and beautiful look.
The East Blue Saga of One Piece is a great start into the manga. It introduces the characters slowly and gives a little back ground information on them. here were a few cultural references with in the manga as well making it easier to jump into the world. The artwork makes the manga. I would have it no other way. If you feel it is hard to get past, then just give it at least one volume, I promise you will not want to stop reading. The few things I do not like is Luffy’s god like ability. He is defeated a few times, yes, but at the same time always wins the battle as the main character should. I would recommend One Piece to any anime/manga fan. It is truly one of The Big Three.
Overall Grade: 9/10