The news is in, the first 130 episodes of One Piece have hit Netflix! That's just enough to get you through the Baroque Works arc, and this makes me ecstatic! I have long been a One Piece fan, since before the anime had even been released in the west, I was reading the manga in the US Shonen Jump print magazine (RIP). As a quick aside if you aren't aware, Shonen Jump now has a vault service for $2 a month with an insane backlog, and the most recent chapters of ongoing manga series' are free to everyone!
Anyway as someone insane enough to well, own all the FUNimation DVD volumes for One Piece from 2008 to the most recent release that came out June 9th this year, I figured I should write something to encourage newcomers to enjoy this fantastic series, that just so happens to be my personal favorite anime of all time.
|I have an unhealthy obsession, send help.
However, while the great Pirate King had obtained the greatest treasure of all, The One Piece, he was eventually caught by the Marines, who promptly set about executing him. What the Marines could never have expected was that his final words would inspire an entirely new pirate era. *que intro*
Our story focuses on Monkey D. Luffy, a young man who ate a Devil Fruit, a mysterious fruit that grants special abilities at the cost of the ability to swim. It is said that the sea hates those who have eaten Devil Fruits, and it will try to drown those who do. Luffy ate the Gum-Gum Fruit, which made his skin become as rubber. In effect, he's a living Stretch Armstrong.
Luffy has one major dream, to become King of the Pirates by finding the One Piece. To that end, he recruits many people to help him along the way, mainly because the poor bundle of positivity doesn't understand the word 'no' and reads it as 'yes'.
You may be concerned that Luffy and his crew, The Straw Hat Pirates will be hard to root for, given that the show makes no bones about the fact that pirates are not good people. But worry not, because Luffy and crew may say they're pirates but, as much as I love them, they're well...
Honestly, while Luffy does call himself a pirate, and he does love the romantic side of being a pirate, his crew are more like a ragtag group that's formed a second family with eachother off in search of adventure, kinship and treasure (although I haven't seen the entire show, only the 587 episodes that have been dubbed, but I think that's a good sample). They don't exactly going around robbing people, that said they DO run afoul of the Marines eventually, even getting wanted posters (which makes our protagonist, Luffy, waaaay too happy).
The show can be very lighthearted and comedic, especially early on, but the true strength of One Piece is in its depth, which usually ends up delivering intensely emotional scenes and narratives. I've only been focusing on Luffy so far, because I don't want to spoil you, but I think the character most likely to grab a new viewers attention early on is Nami. There's a lot going on with this thief who exclusively steals from other pirates, and I strongly encourage any new viewer to make it through 45 episodes to see her story fully fleshed out. I realize that this is a huge amount of episodes, but when considering the full show is 900+ episodes, I feel like it's a reasonable sampling size.
|When you get context for this your heart will break.
If you feel like that's too long to give as a starting sample, that's fine there are other places to help judge whether you'll like the series or not, but bare minimum I will beg and plead with you to at least make it to Roronoa Zoro's flashback in episode 11. All of the crews flashbacks have pretty strong emotions running through them, and while I find Nami's to be by far the most potent (at least until much later), Zoro's is also pretty strong, and is the first one beside's Luffy's that you see. As much as I love and adore Luffy, his flashback isn't the best barometer of what to expect from the series in terms of depth.
|Zoro's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Speaking of expectations let me set some here for newcomers in general. Somehow, in the anime community there's been a myth that the only English dub of One Piece is the first one, that 4Kids Entertainment put out, heavily censored. This has been a barrier to entry for many, and it shouldn't be. FUNimation began dubbing One Piece in 2007 with no censoring, and began re-dubbing these very 130 episodes back in 2008, and have continued to dub the series all the way through to today, where we're on episode 587. Do not let fear of a censored dub stop you, the dub on Netflix is the uncensored FUNimation dub.
The second expectation I see frequently is due to the series length, people fear they won't be able to commit to such an expansive series. Because Netflix has only put up the first 130 episodes of the series, that helps somewhat here but I also want to reassure you of something. While One Piece is long, carries themes and ideas well past their original story arc (fans often jokingly say the manga author, Eiichiro Oda never forgets anything), and there are many overlaying themes, One Piece storyarcs are fairly self contained.
If all you do is watch a storyline to its conclusion, you will not be left hanging. I frequently recommend newcomers take One Piece, one piece at a time (pun definitely intended). Take a story arc and run with it. Especially early on when they're short. While I am sitting here recommending 45 episodes and begging at least 11 to get a broader picture of what One Piece can really do, you needn't be concerned about 'having' to continue past a story arc, they generally end conclusively, and for what's on Netflix, I can safely say they all do.
Lastly, let's say you just downed these amazing 130 episodes and want more, but you see my massive DVD collection up there and are (understandably) unwilling to commit to a huge DVD library to see the rest. I have good news for you, ALL 587 dubbed episodes, and 900+ Japanese episodes (with subtitles) are available over on FUNimation NOW for as little as $5.99 a month (though they will try to push you to the $6.99 tier, its largely unnecessary).
So what else can I say my friends? Let's set our sails to ADVENTURE!!!