My recent reread of One Piece chapters and arcs that I remember fondly like Enies Lobby, Paramount War, Dressrosa, Whole Cake Island and many others has led me to taking a closer look at the Volume covers. I see people reviewing chapters and arcs, but I don’t normally see as much reviews on the actual volumes. If I do, it’s normally the volume as a whole as in the actual chapters within rather than the actual design and importance of the volume covers. The cover of a volume can say a lot and can be memorable in its own ways based off of what is shown.
I decided to do a ranking of all of the current volume covers, 97 at this point, and determine my own ranking based on a few things. It’s hard of course to not take into account the events that happen in each chapter, but I much rather would like to rank them based on memorability and actual design as a whole. In some cases the volume will remind me of certain events that were impactful to me, but to be the best, the volume also has to convey that importance and be designed well enough to be striking.
Volumes are very important to a manga series. A volume can be the one thing to truly set itself apart without having to require any knowledge of the story for you to become intrigued. I think about the Bleach volume covers that each have a different character on the cover, but it doesn’t actually tell you much about the story. One Piece has always for the most part been able to have a cover that spews its creativity and intrigue and is enough to get somebody on board to give it a try. With that, We start off this ranking with the bottom of the list, numbers 97-91 of my least favorite volume covers.
97. Volume 11
One of the biggest points I made in my intro was that the volume cover has to be memorable and striking to incite intrigue as to what kind of story is underneath that cover. When you pick up this volume, sure you see our main characters, but it doesn’t really tell you anything about them or relate at all to the story underneath. It is a major problem with the earlier volumes of One Piece where it was more of just a stylistic art design, but it feels more as if it should have been a color spread rather than that of an actual cover. Forgive me if I’m wrong but I believe it may have been an actual color spread that was just transferred to the cover. I may be wrong, but the problem is just that there isn’t anything exciting about this cover. If you had no idea what One Piece was about, I feel that this cover would do nothing to gain your interest to go to volume 1. I also don’t even remember this volume cover and only realized what was on it when I was going through each one. Because of all of these reasons, this volume ranks last.
96. Volume 14
Sometimes it’s hard to rank things that are just a personal preference, but then again we all do it all the time, so for some people there will be volumes that rank higher than others, but again I just go back to my criteria as I rank each one. Volume 14 takes place in the beginnings of the Baroque Works saga and this volume gives us our first real threat of the criminal organization being Mr. 3. His appearance in the background is kind of cool, but there just isn’t much going on with this cover that incites the excitement or events taking place. I wish there was just a little more going on, but the only reason why this volume is of any importance is that it reminds you of Mr. 3 who ends up coming back later on in the series. It’s just a bland cover.
95. Volume 27
My least favorite arc is the Skypiea arc and one of my favorite types of covers that One Piece has are the ones where we get to see the villain members. This is easily my least favorite of both of those. The villains are not memorable outside of Enel and aren’t doing anything to get me excited or interested in them. The designs are not great and unique so they don’t pop out on the cover. The only thing that pops is the inclusion of Luffy being the biggest face on the cover and the wink that he’s giving. I mean it is Luffy so it makes sense for him, but there just isn’t anything working for this cover to help it out. I like the dark blue color of the background, but it’s wasted on the non memorable villains. It would have been better to pull Luffy out and have Enel alongside them, it would at least pop a bit more and might have received more points from me.
94. Volume 4
My least favorite arc of the East Blue saga is represented by this early volume that gives a look a Kuro and his henchmen. We also have another cover with Luffy’s face as the biggest image on the cover. Again, I feel that leaving him out would benefit this cover with more focus being on Kuro and his gang. These were also the early characters where the henchmen weren’t very interesting until we got to the Arlong arc, so there’s a lot working against this cover. The biggest thing though is that I am truly not a fan of Kuro as a villain and have no interest in reading that arc again except for the fact that it’s when we get introduced to Usopp. Between the memories I have and the overall design, this cover just isn’t that great and is very forgettable.
93. Volume 5
This cover isn’t bad, but it’s just not that great. It’s a cover that I refer to as showing a sense of adventure that I will bring up with several other volumes. There is excitement in the eyes of our crew as they head towards their next adventure, but that’s about it. Usopp is front and center due to him being the newest member, but at this time I wasn’t a big fan of him. The sense of adventure is very important in this pirate story, but for the cover to pull it off in the way that they need it to, they need to have something else to show us what that excitement is towards. It’s good to have our crew front and center, but that’s all that’s going on here. There just isn’t much to remind you of this cover, like I said these early covers are all victim to not having the big punch that they eventually have in future volumes.
92. Volume 7
So this cover was tough for me to place. At first I had it higher, but then I started to drop it as I noticed more things working against it. The first thing that makes this cover not bad is that it has Sanji on the front which makes me think back to how much I liked the Baratie arc and Sanji as a new member of the team. It isn’t so much a memorable cover though with there not being much going on. Again we have a Luffy front and center face that’s more for the gag aspect of One Piece, but it actually takes away from the actual story. Why not have more of the characters involved in this arc like Zeff and some others. There was more they could have done with this than what they did. It’s not necessarily a bad cover, but it’s more of a disappointing cover for what they could have done with it.
91. Volume 9
This cover gets more points simply for the fact that they made Nami front and center this time with the other members serving as the background characters. It shows that the focus of this volume is on Nami rather than the others, but shows that she has them as a support. Outside of the significance of volume though, there isn’t a lot going on to help it out. I’m not sure what else you could have done to help this cover out more, maybe just focus more on her past for the cover like they do with later flashback volumes. It’s a good cover that actually starts to show the growth of Oda as he starts to focus the covers more on the importance of the story to show how they work hand in hand.
I anticipate this first batch of the bottom tier of my ranking to be the least interesting to you all. There really isn’t much to say about most of these covers because I really just don’t like them that much. Many of them were earlier volumes that all suffer from the same issues which is why they rank at the bottom. If anything though, maybe I’m in the minority and some of you disagree and if that’s the case then maybe this will at least spark interest in how I have the rest of the volumes ranked. As we get lower on the list, it becomes more difficult to rank them and there is a turning point where the covers are great but one is just better than the other. There will be plenty more to talk about as I move forward in this ranking so be sure to check out the next batch, volumes 90-81.
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