Apparently, I’m in the minority when it comes to crossing over from manga to anime. Whenever I find out that an anime series I like is based on a manga, I want to search out that manga and visa versa. One place you can be sure to find crossover is in Weekly Shonen Jump. So many titles that appear in there get an anime series, where it’s a short thirteen episode series like Letter Bee, or a never-ending series like One Piece.
The One Piece anime started in 1999, about 2 years after the manga. It has gone non-stop since then and is at about 478 episodes. A complaint a lot of manga fans have about anime adaptations is that it’s not always faithful, and it has a lot of filler. Filler can’t be helped. Weekly anime takes up a lot more chapters than mangaka can put out, so the anime often catchs up to the manga and has to wait. In general, these are short arcs and the show gets back to the manga storyline as soon as it can. As for being faithful, well, for the One Piece anime, it is, mostly, with a few exceptions.
Something I’ve noticed Shonen title directors like to do, is not start the show where the manga does. I’m guessing it has something to do with pulling in an audience fast by jumping into the action first, and then going back and showing the beginnings/origins/etc. I’ve seen it in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Beet the Vandelbuster, and it happens with One Piece as well.
The manga for One Piece starts at the beginning, with Luffy as a little boy living in a sea-side village where “Red-haired” Shanks and his pirate have made a base. It shows how Luffy got the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit and his trademark straw hat. The story then jumps 10 years to a grown Luffy setting out to see to become the Pirate King, and his adventures start there.
The anime takes some liberties with this and changes a few things around in the first couple of episodes. It starts not in the past, but with the second chapter in the present, with Luffy already on his journey to find a crew and become the Pirate King. He doesn’t wash up on the shore of Lady Pirate Alvida, but is picked up at sea. The whole adventure with Luffy and Coby take place on Alvida’s ship, with changes made to accomodate that. Another change the anime makes, is that it introduces Nami to the audience. She is seen sneaking around Alvida’s ship, while everyone is distracted with Luffy and steal their treasure. She and Luffy never meet, and though she sees him, he never sees her. Most of the chapters with Zolo and Captain Morgan stay intact, with the change of seeing Zolo’s past. This too is put off, and instead we finally see Luffy’s back story. The Buggy the Clown arc is kept intact, as is the Black Cat Pirates arc. The single chapter story, “Strange Creatures”, which occurs between the Buggy and Black Cat Pirates arc in the manga, is moved up to after the Black Cat Pirates arc, as is Zolo’s back story.
It’s takes 19 episodes of the anime to tell the chapters in the first four and a half volumes of the manga. While the changes above might make it not worth it to some to see it, I still enjoy seeing the story in motion. A lot of shonen manga like One Piece has a lot of fighting, action and moves that may look good in the manga, but become ten times better in the anime. You can imagine what Luffy’s arm looks like when he’s retracting it after a long punch in the manga, but in the anime you can actually see it happen. And for so many of the awesome moves Oda comes up with, not just for Luffy, but for everyone, that makes the anime so much more fun. The animators of the manga also use the title pages that Oda comes up with that often tell a story in and of themselves, and incorperate them into the filler episodes, so they don’t feel so unnatural, as so many filler arcs can.
And then of course, there are the openings. One Piece has had a lot of great music that does a good job of showing the humor, fun and adventure that’s going to happen in the series. The first opening, We Are! is fun and bouncy. The second opening Believe which takes the show through the Alabasta arc is fast moving with a lot of drive, as are the episodes. Hikari E is just a great song, with visuals to match. Bon Voyage does as good job of showing the friendship theme that runs though the series, and Kokoro no Chizu, which covers the first half of the Water Seven arc is one of the best songs, with the first opening shots depicting the crew’s personalities perfectly. The openings really do a good job of matching the music and animation and really fitting the story arc at the time.
The One Piece anime is available online for free at both Vizanime.com and Funimation, both of which premieres new episodes only an hour or so after broadcast in Japan. I encourage you to check out the anime, even if it isn’t where your interest lies. You will only miss out on some time in your life, but it’s totally worth it.