Recently, I went to see One Piece Film Red with my friend Shirley. To be honest, I feel a strong 6/10 on the film – it wasn’t the best OP movie I’ve seen but there was a lot about it that was entertaining and the performances were good enough. Plus we got to see a good amount of daddy Shanks, which clearly the crowd was pining for. We are so down bad for Shanks. Regardless of how I felt about the film, being essentially one giant anime opening, there was a point near the beginning of the film where I got a little teary eyed. Yeah, your boy – the massive crybaby that I am – got a little emotional near the beginning of the film and here’s why.
I started getting into One Piece maybe between the third and fourth grade. I got into it as 4Kids picked up the North American release and would broadcast it on Saturday mornings on Fox. It was something that I would watch before going to Chinese lessons every weekend morning. As an Asian kid, I think that I was just excited to see anime on television and I looked forward to getting up early on those mornings just to see shows like One Piece. Eventually I would pick up the manga and read from then on and in reality, there are very few months between then and now where I’m not reading the newest chapter of One Piece. Whether it was when I was a kid and had to read it illegally or now as an adult, reading the official scans, I’ve always been with One Piece. Growing up around the GTA as well, I would spend a lot of time buying or downloading illegal episodes and movies of One Piece, as I just wanted to see what the crew was up to.
So to see that One Piece, although I wouldn’t say totally mainstream, is adjacent to mainstream and is something that we can watch in a North American cinema, is quite amazing. It made me think about how young I was when I started getting into the story, like 9 years old to now being 27 and still really being in love with the characters, more now than ever before. Just seeing the progress of how this story got so big, was a really started from the bottom now we here moment. And although I know that Oda doesn’t have me in particular in mind when writing One Piece, it just felt really good seeing that One Piece is this worldwide phenomenon now. It’s not quite mainstream, but it’s something that’s like if you know you know.
But when I think about the one piece of art that I’ve enjoyed that has connected me with the most people, it’s gotta be One Piece. Whether it was in school, traveling in Japan, connecting with cousins that I haven’t seen in years, or literally the other month when I was a tourist in Portugal – I literally connected with so many people by talking about One Piece. I think that it was amazing that when I saw the film in theatres – everybody in there was a grown person, there weren’t really any kids. Which is funny because One Piece is ultimately a kids cartoon/comic. It just goes to show how the story can really grow with any demo and age group. We’re not even accounting for those who have been intimidated by One Piece and it’s length and got into it later in life. As I get older, more and more friends cave into trying One Piece for the first time and every single one of them has found that the story has entangled them. One Piece is for everybody.
When I say that it’s the greatest story of all time, I mean it. It far surpasses anything else in terms of scale, volume, and lore. It truly is a once in a lifetime story that will leave a legacy that will stand the test of time. I know that the meme is that maybe the One Piece is the friends we made along the way but it’s gotta be true right? One Piece is a story about finding one’s true self, breaking free from the shackles of what is expected of you, and living a free life. It’s a story about how goals and dreams are worth chasing but they’re a whole lot more fun when you can share those aspirations with one another. Having dreams, doing your best, working towards the best version of yourself – it’s contagious. I think that seeing Luffy and crew do just that, is what keeps so many of us enamored around the world. If you’re reading this article and you’re not even an anime/manga fan – I implore you to give One Piece a try. It will open your mind to what life can be for you and will remind you of the bliss of childhood storytelling.