One Piece: what is this manga and why are there so many fans?

Does the One Piece manga phenomenon intrigue you? You’ve come to the right place to understand what it’s all about. (©LL /

One Piece. At the mere mention of these two words, my senses are all awake.

The work of Eiichirō Oda, which appears (almost) every week since late 1997 is so famous that everyone has already heard its name. Maybe, like me, you discovered it on the old channel D17, returning from college. Or, that you came across the trailer for the latest film, one piece red ?

But what is it exactly, One Piece ? Come with me, I’ll take you to this wonderful world.

A few numbers before we start

Because One Piece is not just any work. Already, it has sold 500 million copies worldwide. A nuanced figure because there are, to date, 103 volumes published since July 22, 1997. But all the same!
As long as we are in the numbers, there are, (still to this day), 1033 episodes of the anime that have been released. Imagine: all episodes are 24 min. It would therefore take more than 17 days of viewing in a row to catch up on the episodes. And in the meantime, two episodes would be released.
A few months ago, the author, Eiichirō Oda said that we were at about 70% of his work. Which leaves us two or even three good years before we see the end. Suffice to say that by then, we will have a good number of episodes on the counter!

A story of good pirates and bad pirates

To put it simply, we follow the adventures of Monkey D Luffya young man very attached to his famous straw hat (hence his nickname Mugiwara, in Japanese). The main objective of the latter is to find the famous One Piece, this “treasure” (even 25 years after its first evocation, we still do not know what it is) left “somewhere in this world”, by Gol D Roger, the lord of the pirates. Whoever finds it will become the rightful heir to the title of Pirate King.

But Luffy is not the only one on the spot, and many pirates have gone in search of this treasure, believing that they are the ones who deserve the crown.

To achieve his ends, and also because he is very nice, let it be said, Luffy has, during his journey, recruited a dozen members for his crew. At the beginning, only Zoro, Ussop (or Usopp, for the manga version), Nami and Sanji accompany him. But they will soon be joined by others, each more charismatic than the other.

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A bunch of characters

Oh yes, and I forgot to tell you about something: in One Piecehuman beings, anthropomorphic animals, fish-men and other giants live side by side without anyone having a problem.

the number of characters that appear in the over 1,000 episodes of One Piece is hard to calculate. Some have been present since 1er day, and continue to appear from time to time. Others are there just for one episode, but may have an importance in the story. And everyone has their own past, their own wounds and successes. His own personality.

Ask several One Piece fans who their favorite character is, and chances are several different names will come up (Corazon, you’re the best!).

Magic powers

Yes, in One Piece, you can eat a so-called “devil” fruit, which in exchange for its ability to swim (clever for a pirate, who suddenly sinks like an anvil), grants power. The author leaves room for his imagination and the powers of his characters go all out.

If Luffy, for example, has the “simple” power to make his body elastic, Buggy the Clown can separate his limbs from the rest of his body. “We give ourselves full latitude”, declared Oda during the explosion of his manga internationally.

Luffy's motto:
Luffy’s motto: “I will be the lord of the pirates”. (©LL /

Thus, we can find characters like Kalifa, who has the power to launch soap bubbles that “wash” the enemy with all his strength, and transform him into a slippery man, unfit for combat. Or Brook, who has the possibility of returning to his body after his death, but who got lost, and therefore returned, after a few years of wandering… a skeleton.

But also a giraffe man, a woman who can grow her limbs anywhere, and many others… Each power is unique, and therefore forces the author to be original.

It sounds a little perched said like that, but when you look, it really works, I swear!

Everything has a meaning in One Piece

Because yes, if at first glance, the series seems to be intended exclusively for the youngest of us, it is far from being the case. The world of One Piece is complex, and can be difficult to understand. In over 1,000 episodes (and counting), the author has had plenty of time to create a special world, where everything is not white or black.

Some characters are more than ambivalent and pursue a specific, personal goal. They have “bad” attitudes, but are not fundamentally bad, and have opportunities to prove it as the story progresses.

On the other hand, certain elements barely seen at the beginning of the work resurface 800 episodes later, without warning. For example, a character (whose name I will keep silent to avoid spoilers) which only appeared officially at 594e chapter has already been seen, without attracting attention, from chapter 99, more than 10 years before!

This process has a name and is called the Foreshadowing.

Attention, I am not saying that a child would not understand anything in front of One Piece. On the contrary, he would learn particularly edifying lessons such as courage, friendship, or determination.

Emotions of not knowing what to do with them

Another big highlight of One PieceThose are the emotions that the work may cause. We can burst out laughing at the jokes of Luffy, Chopper and Usopp, want to fight with him when we see his determination, or get angry at this rotten Blackbeard.

Seriously, we can end up crying with Luffy and his crew for a boat. A boat ! And I get chills just writing it.

Music and animation make the difference

And if the story is already very strong when you read it, it is enhanced by the anime adaptation. Criticized in its infancy for the poor quality of its drawings, the anime was able to reinvent itself and today offers us a work of art that has nothing to envy to a Demon Slayer for example, has become one of the benchmarks for fine animation.

Manga and anime are not the same thing

Note that we differentiate between manga and anime.
The manga is the book. A new volume appears every two or three months, and contains about ten chapters. The chapters are released weekly on the Internet.
On the other side, we have the anime, which corresponds, as its name suggests, to the “cartoon” version of the story. Episodes come out once a week, too.
Finally, there are also the One Piece movies. 15 in number, not all of them are part of the main story.

During the fights, we take full eyes. And for the rest of the time, we believe it. The food is amazingly beautiful and would make a weakling hungry after a Christmas meal at Grandma’s.

And what about music, OSTThe very, very, very strongest!!! which makes the hairs stand on end, for example. And the credits are iconic.

Add to this the 15 movies which have been released since 2000 (since 2011 in France), the millions of derivative products that come directly from the work, and the millions of fans around the world, and you understand why One Pieceit is a planetary phenomenon.

So I may not have succeeded in convincing you to throw yourself headlong into this incredible work that is One Piece, but at least you will be able to impress your nephews and nieces, children or even grandchildren. Because they surely know what it is.

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