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Old 04-17-2020, 03:43 PM   #28848
Luffy
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Join Date: Aug 2014
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My review of One Piece, Volume 1: Romance Dawn by Eiichiro Oda:-

Spoiler:
It's the first time I'm reading the first volume of One Piece. It more than compares favorably to the anime. The main difference between the manga and the anime at this point is that the latter did not start off from Luffy's childhood, instead electing to introduce us to Koby first. In hindsight, it seems like an odd call from the producers at Toei, though I had no grievances at first viewing, and still don't now. On another note, knowing what happens further on in the story in no way dampened my enjoyment of Romance Dawn. It was nostalgic to revisit the story in this form.

The design of the characters was slightly different from their post-time skip selves. Except for Zoro, maybe. The character art is a bit lacking, but is eventually much improved upon. The art style, although less elaborate than what it would evolve into in later arcs, is clean (I'm looking at you Togashi) and detailed. The way Oda depicts action already bears his trademark flowing, impactful visual style, with impressive structure from panel to panel, which makes action scenes a real treat to read. I sometimes find it hard to fully grasp fight choreography in certain mangas, but it's safe to say that I have never had that problem with One Piece.

Luffy is the typical Shonen protagonist - dumb, gluttonous, impulsive etc. But then again he isn't, really. Between gaining his (initially, seriously handicapping) powers at 7 and setting out for the sea, 10 years have passed, with him most certainly training his fighting abilities mindlessly in preparation for his future forays away from his village. In this way, he has more in common with Lemillion from My Hero Academia than the actual protagonist of that series, Deku. He isn't really selfless either, as we'll see later on, but he wants everyone to have the freedom to do what what they want. Until they end up hurting other people, that is. Luffy wants freedom for every one, but wants the greatest freedom for himself, which is why he is trying to become the Pirate King. Technically, being a Gum Gum Fruit user, he can never run out of gum, but that doesn't stop him from kicking ass anyway when someone asks for it, generally by messing with other people's freedom to do what they want. Simple, but not really.

But what is a Pirate King without his crew? Luffy sets out on his own and the first thing he does is try to recruit someone called Zoro, who is a pirate hunter. A bit self-defeating if you ask me, but that sort of thing never stops Luffy, which is the whole point of his character spurred on by the ROMANCE of his journey to Pirate Kinghood. Zoro carries an air of menace even after being bound up and starved for almost a month. But you know he is good at heart when he refuses to let even bad food go to waste. It is later revealed that he is the epitome of "badassery". Every feat of strength, every cutting repartee is delivered with panache by him. The perilous situation he faces even when he should technically be dead are ridiculous, and are always physically punishing to him the most. But to him, even after all the ordeal he has to go through, it will be as if... nothing happened.

Early on, the antagonists are almost jokes, but far from one-dimensional. Alvida and Morgan (he does not deserve the title of captain), are all deeply insecure about their respective bodies. The way they feel the need to constantly intimidate and needlessly abuse their minions (and in case of Morgan, his son) is despicable, but is rooted in their inability to contend with their own perceived imperfections. They are short-lived characters, but there will be a lot more of the same ilk in One Piece, and it is really a testament of Oda's skill as a writer that he manages to flesh out even minor characters as these two.

The last chapter is called "Introducing Nami". That whets the appetite. There is so much foreshadowing about her. This volume is what kicked off this epic sea adventure. At the time of writing, 96 mores have already been released, and we are barely past the halfway mark. I can't wait to see where this journey will take us. Loved this volume to bits.
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