If you know anything about anime then you’ve probably heard about the big names: Dragonball Z, Fullmetal Alchemist, Astroboy, Naruto, Cowboy Bebop, Bleach, Death Note, and the list goes on. But there is an anime that I am concerned about because it seems to still be…going. And it looks like it could go on forever. I am of course talking about One Piece.
One piece has been going for over 20 years. That’s no laughing matter. The series is composed in arcs that tend to focus on one main island or area in the fictional world. The number of characters introduced into the series is so numerous I won’t bother to fathom a number. The show focuses on a main cast of characters calling themselves the Straw hat Pirates after their captain’s famous straw hat.
Despite the series circling around a basic plot of going to a new area, finding a bad guy, beating him up, and freeing the people there the series has introduced many side stories and strong secondary and tertiary characters to keep things fresh and always have something to fall back to in case the writers get bored.
And, that’s the point.
One piece is so expansive that the show can literally just keep going…forever. Yes, the protagonist wants to become “King of the Pirates,” but that’s a vague title and want. The show has never fully established what it takes to become king. Winning a final battle? Finding the final treasure? Getting to a specific island first? Obtaining a certain power or item?
This vagueness combined with epic action second only to DBZ and a colorful cast of diverse characters allows the writers to stretch the plot of One Piece to lengths that make the Harry Potter series look like an IKEA set up manual.
If the writers want to give themselves some time, they can just focus on some side characters, pump out another movie, or just do a seasonal special unrelated to the series main story.
The design, whether on purpose or accident, is pure genius. The show can basically write itself now. Each new arc brings a plethora of new side story lines that can branch off as far as the eye can see never to be touched upon again until the writers and directors need a break from the main line.
And yet…for all the repeats in villains, good vs. evil moments, and jokes, the story continues to entertain. Most people aren’t even looking for One Piece to end nor want to. Why would you? It’s one of the longest running shows ever that keeps coming up with new ways to show you piracy.
Whether you like it or not One Piece is going to be for a lot longer. If you’re confused as to who all the characters and what all those Devil Fruits are then I’d advise getting a lot of popcorn, a comfy chair, and setting aside a couple of weekends because you’ve a lot of catching up to.
If you had friends telling you to catch up or even start Game of Thrones–that’s got nothing on One Piece.