The presence that legend Eichiro Oda’s magnum opus One Piece commands in the world of shounen manga in particular, and fictional literature in general, is second to none. The sprawling, ever-expanding universe building, relatable and strong characterization, brilliant action sequence, inclusive themes incorporating strong life values—all the trademarks of this manga series—left such an indelible impact on the global cultural landscape that every major sector of the entertainment business has been affected by it one way or another. As a part of the revered ‘Big Four,’ One Piece is often regarded as the best manga series of all time. It has sold the most copies in the history of comics and manga literature in its twenty-five years, with over 1,000 chapter-long expansions, and the series is still ongoing.
Centered around the adventures of a bunch of teenage pirates, One Piece tells a story that spans generations, cosmic planes, worlds, and beyond. Needless to say, when “Netflix” dared to adapt a story so legendary in live-action media, diehard fans of the series were anxious and excited at the same time. Whether Oda sensei’s craft has been duly respected or not is something we will get to know today as the series premieres. Before that, let’s take a look at everything you need to know to jump on the pirate bandwagon.
The Great Pirate Era and One Piece
The timeline of One Piece spans millennia, but our journey truly begins with the initiation of the Great Age of Pirates. Once, the legendary pirate king Gold D. Roger, who had the highest bounty ever against his name, decided to surrender himself to the Marines. The world government, which had strict policies against piracy, decided to make an example of him by ordering his public execution in his hometown to discourage people from ever taking up the notorious trade. However, what followed was the exact opposite of the intended result. At the center of Logue Town Square, a shackled, smirking Roger sat in his execution site and announced that the much-coveted, legendary treasure ‘One Piece,’ which only he had managed to acquire, was out there for the taking. Without specifying the location, his last words encouraged people across the world to set sail to acquire the most precious treasure in history, and thus began the Great Pirate Era.
The quest to attain the ‘One Piece’ by numerous pirates, bandits, and other colorful characters drives the narrative forward, although the nature of the said treasure is unknown. The enigma surrounding the treasure has raised speculations of it being wealth, a philosophical lesson, something abstract, a commentary on humanity, and so on and so forth. The manga is almost at one thousand and one hundred chapters, and readers still don’t have any clue about what it is, so your guess is as good as ours.
Monkey D. Luffy
We meet the protagonist of our story, a kid named Monkey D. Luffy, living in the Foosha village, who is greatly influenced by visiting pirate crews and wishes to go on a nautical journey. The leader of the red-haired pirates, Shank’s bravery and honorable demeanor inspire Luffy to become a pirate one day, and ten years later, he eventually sets sail all alone to see his wish fulfilled. There is one problem, though: Luffy had eaten a mysterious devil fruit, which granted him a rubber-like, near-invulnerable body but also made swimming in water impossible—quite a contrasting situation given his desire to become a pirate. But this hindrance won’t stop him from dreaming of becoming the Pirate King one day by attaining the One Piece. However, in order to do that, he needs a formidable crew that can hold its own against all the other dangerous pirate crews and navigate through the treacherous oceans.
The Map of ‘One Piece’
The nautical map of One Piece is vast and mostly covered with seas, with numerous islands scattered throughout. The islanders vastly differ in their racial culture, for which mangaka Oda took influence from the diverse real-world populace. The oceans are split into four divisions: East, West, North, and South. The Netflix adaptation of One Piece will primarily focus on Luffy and his crew’s nautical shenanigans around East Blue. The world itself is also divided into two hemisphere by an insurmountable mountain range known as the Red Line and an almost impassable, turbulent ocean body known as the Grand Line. The Grand Line is speculated to be the location where One Piece can be found; therefore, the strongest pirates in the world gather around this particular stretch of ocean. Aside from them, the Grand Line hosts a plethora of deep-sea monsters and unknown threats and is marred by catastrophic weather, making the ordeal of finding the elusive treasure all the more impossible.
Straw Hat Pirates
From various parts of the East Sea, Luffy gathers his ragtag crew, all of whom specialize in different skills and have their own personal motivations to fulfill. The crew is named the Straw Hat Pirates, denoting the iconic straw hat that Red-Haired Shanks gave to Luffy all those years ago. The crew consists of the master swordsman Roronoa Zoro, the charming chef Vinsmoke Sanji, the expert navigator Nami, and the skilled inventor and marksman Usopp. From the initial disillusionment, the crew gradually forms a strong familial bond, parts of which will be highlighted in Netflix’s live-action adaptation.
As mentioned previously, there are multiple different pirates belonging to different races and factions in the world of One Piece, and the Straw Hat Crew will come across them during their adventures. Some of them, like Buggy, Arlong, and Alvida, and their respective crews have been showcased in the trailer. They are notable adversaries, and it will be interesting to see how the series translates their portrayal into live-action. With the Marines on the tail of the pirate crews as well, it will be a daunting task to survive on the high seas of the world of One Piece, let alone hunt the coveted treasure.