One Piece Volume Cover Rankings Worst to Best #10-#1

Welcome to the finale of this long and carefully orchestrated ranking of all of the One Piece Volume covers. I have spent many hours constructing this list and writing something about each individual one trying to make my point as to why they’re ranked where they are. It has been a long process and we finally made it to the top ten. I will be upfront and blunt about these last 10 though, they are in the top 10 because they pass the eye test for me. They are simply the ones I like the most and will gravitate towards more often when thinking about my favorite volumes. It was hard to rank them individually, but I’m also not going to explain how the cover is more meaningful than another cover to make a case. I just like them and I’ll tell you what I like about them, but that’s it. Anyways, let’s get to our top 10!

10. Volume 73

We have Luffy in his disguise as Lucy in the background since he’s fighting in the coliseum, but the inclusion of one of my favorite villains and one of my favorite characters, Doflamingo and Law is what makes this cover so great to me. I love the Dressrosa arc, and I love everything going on with those two specifically. Seeing them fighting on the cover does nothing but get me excited for the story inside. We also have some of the Straw Hat members that are protecting the ship, but they have a smaller role overall. I just really like how good the volume looks with Doflamingo, Law, and Luffy/Lucy.

9. Volume 52

This is a bittersweet cover that has many implications and is also very misleading in a way that works so well for me. I will go ahead and point out that I really like Rayleigh so seeing him on the cover is pretty cool, but having the whole crew on the cover in a feel good moment is awesome to see. They are all so happy and having a great time, just loving being with each other. I feel like this cover works really well because it shows a contrast between how happy they are on the cover and how traumatic the events are that happen within the pages. The crew is separated and all feels lost by the end, but you wouldn’t know that just by looking at the cover. I love it.

8. Volume 64

This is our first look at a hero cover post timeskip where we get to see our crew taking action and showing off their new skills. Luffy looks more confident as he leads his crew in the center, but the rest of the crew really makes their presence and growth known in this cover. They all have an awesome pose and the inclusion of Jinbei is awesome as well as this is actually before Luffy asks him to join his crew, but he is very clearly already considered a member. I love the designs of everyone on the cover and it all just works great and gets me excited to see what they can do coming into the New World.

7. Volume 51

As I’ve said many times before, I really like all of the Supernovas. As I understand it, they were a last minute addition from Oda that may have been one of the best last minute decisions he’s made in the series. They all have incredible designs and stand out from one another. They all peak my curiosity of wondering what travels they went through to get to this point as well. I think that the cover works well by showing us all of these new characters and I just love it. This has always been one of my favorite covers and before buying it, was one of my most excited to get. I love the designs and how exciting it makes me feel for meeting all of these new characters.

6. Volume 97

This is the most recent release of the volumes as far as me writing this right now. As I just said with the previous volume, I love the Supernova’s. I love their character growth and designs, so seeing Luffy, Kidd, and Law all teaming up on the cover here as well as in the story does nothing but make me so excited. I love all three of them as far as design and character goes and is one of the best moments of the Wano arrc. On top of that, we get to see the members of the Tobi Roppo. Some of them we don’t know much about yet, but one of them, X Drake, stands out as being one of the Supernovas as well. This cover is just awesome.

5. Volume 96

This is my favorite look into the past volume covers. There have been others like the one with Robin where it gives us some insight into what happened when she was a child or the one with Luffy, Ace, and Sabo, but this one is the best. It’s a look into Oden’s past, but more than that we get more information into who Whitebeard and Roger were back in their prime. More importantly this volume was used as a history lesson into when Roger made it to the last island and successfully became the Pirate King. It was one of the best history arcs that we’ve had in the series to this point and the cover shows that as well. We have Roger on the cover for the first time as well as a younger Whitebeard, Oden, Shanks, Buggy, and even Teach. The volume is not yet available in America, but I am so excited to get my hands on it.

4. Volume 58

The Paramount War arc or Marineford War was one of the most important stories in the series and for me as a reader. These volumes were when I started collecting the volumes as they were released and had to wait for them. This cover is just awesome because at the time we had only seen glimpses of the Admiral’s. Here though we see all three on the cover as they play an important role in the war. We also get to see Garp and Sengoku which was cool, but it’s Luffy looking awesome that tops it off. He is facing the might of the marines and it’s just a great cover that represents the major enemies he faced in this arc.

3. Volume 57

This cover is so simple yet is so awesome at the same time. We finally get to see Whitebeard in all of his might in this arc along with his big face covering most of this cover. We also get to see all of his crew and some subordinates in the foreground with Luffy at the center. It shows the might and power of the Yonko as well as them all being behind Luffy as he tries to save his brother. This is easily one of my favorite covers and will likely not move from this spot for some time to come.

2. Volume 89

This is not going to be this high on most people’s lists and that’s perfectly fine because it’s all a matter of preference. I think this cover is badass as it shows Luffy in his Gear 4 Snakeman form fighting his most powerful foe to date one on one in Katakuri. It’s an awesome sight to see these two going at it, but more than that, the cover represents how incredible the fight was between the two. Katakuri is easily one of my favorite characters, not just an antagonist and this volume shows just how cool he is and how powerful in comparison to Luffy. I love this cover for all of these reasons.

  1. Volume 59

The final volume on this list is topped off of course by my favorite volume and cover out of all 97 volumes to date. The design and art is of course perfect and amazing for this cover, but it shows and represents so much about the events that happen within. It’s bittersweet seeing Luffy and Ace on the front both smiling and reunited only for us to know that this is the volume where Ace dies. Whitebeard is at the top with his bloodied half missing face, but still standing as tall and powerful as he is. An incredible moment of writing and art. Shanks, Jinbei, and Blackbeard round out the other characters on this cover who all play a major role in this volume. This cover shows us so much and gives us some of the most important characters of the whole series all on one cover. It’s by far my favorite cover of the whole series.

Sadly, we’ve come to an end of my incredible ranking of all of the One Piece covers. Of course this is only my personal opinion and everyone will have a different way to rank them. I thank you all for reading and following along with me as I made this long list. I am equally as interested in how your rankings would look and I hope that you comment below or email us what you think. Be sure to email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

One Piece Volume Cover Rankings Worst to Best #20-#11

The penultimate part of this very long One Piece cover ranking, brings us to the start of the Top 20. There are so many manga series out there and many times, they have volume covers that only show one character or are not as inspired as some of these One Piece covers. It’s more of a testament to Oda to not only give us such a long running series on top of color spreads, but he also puts as much time into giving us a beautiful cover each and every time. It is much easier to rank these volumes than it probably is to rank any other series and that’s credit to Oda for sure. Let’s get to it though, #20-#11!

20. Volume 60

Ever since I first saw this cover, it has always been a favorite of mine, even before I had read the contents. This is the Luffy flashback volume where we finally get some more insight into Luffy as a kid with Sabo and Ace. We also get Rayleigh and Dragon on the cover to give us some living legends. I know Dragon is a bit younger and maybe not considered a legend, but he looks awesome on this cover and I believe is his first cover appearance. Rayleigh is also an awesome character that I love to see, but it really is the inclusion of Luffy and his brothers as kids that I get so excited for when I see this cover. The green used is also very great and I just love this volume cover. 

19. Volume 21

This is the original villain cover where we get to see the lineup of the villains that our crew will be facing. This one shows us the members of Baroque Works that will be facing off against our crew. It’s a memorable cover and brings me back to the good ole days of when I first started reading One Piece. I love so many of the designs and the decision to make this the first villain cover. It’s more of a classic for me like many other volumes that made it higher on this list. 

18. Volume 22

This volume gets the same credit as volume 21. I put them both together because they are both great and represent the original hero/villain covers. There really isn’t much to say about either one of these covers other than the fact that I just love the designs and art as well as the importance of having a villain and hero volume.

17. Volume 92

This volume cover is just awesome. We have Kaido in his dragon form which is awesome, as well as the hilarious faces of some of the Straw Hat crew at the bottom. The red background color is great visually as well, but it’s the inclusion of Luffy and Kidd that tops it off for me. As I’ve said before, I’m a huge fan of the Supernovas, specifically the big three Supernovas Luffy, Kidd, and Law. This is the first time we get to see Kidd on a cover since before the timeskip and I just love his inclusion in this arc because his design is awesome. This cover has so much that I like.

16. Volume 79

Gear Four Bounceman is all that really needs to be said here. We have Doflamingo looking down menacingly and we also have Akainu and Fujitora arguing. The design and art of this volume is just great and I love it. Bounceman was also a great reveal in the fight against Doflamingo so to show it here is just perfect. We also get the character who I can’t remember his name but he was the one with the microphone and was rooting for Luffy and telling everyone to help him until he can recover. That was an awesome moment.

15. Volume 78

The hero side of the Dressrosa hero/villain volumes. This time we don’t actually get to see all of the Straw Hats since some of them are actually off to the next island Zou, but we do get to see the members that are there and the allies they have with them. I still think that Luffy’s outfit in this arc is still one of the coolest that he’s had so far, but we also get Law and Zoro who look awesome as always. Surprisingly though it’s Franky in the background that I think sticks out the most and I like that he’s getting some more love on this cover.

14. Volume 77

Doflamingo is one of my favorite characters in One Piece and the dressrosa arc as a whole is one of my favorites. This is the villain side cover of this arc and I gave it a slight edge over the previous volume only because this highlights a bunch of characters that make their appearance in this arc and all have some pretty awesome designs. All of Doflamingo’s crew is unique in their own way and all have designs that are very fitting, I think this cover does everything well enough to represent how cool so many of these characters are and I think it works the best as a one of the villain covers.

13. Volume 69

This cover is just badass all the way around. Luffy, Zoro, and Law all look awesome on this cover with Luffy having one of his absolute best looks to date on a cover. Zoro looks like he’s straight up about to kill everyone in his path. We also have Smoker and Tashigi who look awesome as well, but this cover really hits the spot with how badass the whole design is with Luffy and everyone else. This is easily one of the best eye test volume covers there is out there and surprisingly didn’t hit higher on my list. 

12. Volume 70

I love everything going on in this cover. Doflamingo making his presence known in a big way with his big face as well as the new outfits for both Luffy and Law. They look awesome and the character who’s name I can’t remember, maybe Baby 5? I think that might be right. Anyways, her machine gun leg is just badass and unfortunate that she didn’t have a bigger role in the arc. I would love to see some kind of return of her because her devil fruit is just awesome. The other interesting thing we see on the cover is the newspaper clippings of the “alliance” between Kidd, Hawkins, and Apoo. As I’ve said before, I like the supernovas quite a bit, so getting to see some exploration with them was great as well along with their inclusion on the cover. 

11. Volume 65

There is a lot going on with this cover and it is a little busy for some people I’m sure, but I find a great liking to this cover. We see Hody looming in the background along with his subordinates, but Luffy in the center with his Red Hawk attack is just badass. The colors look great and seeing him in his action pose for his first big move of the New World just tops the cake for being an awesome look. Hody also had some pretty cool fishman subordinates that amounted to some cool fights so I give that a plus as well.

We finally finished with my penultimate entry in this long ranking list and are heading into the final part. This was not as easy as expected to figure out, but this last one is also probably the hardest of them all. As always, let me know what you all think and where you guys would make changes at. Be sure to comment below or email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

One Piece Volume Cover Rankings Worst to Best #30-#21

We now enter our third to last part as we carefully approach the finale to this incredibly long ranking. I feel like I bit off a bit more than I expected, but I’m holding strong and am now in the final stages of what will be one of my favorite projects I’ve done on here. I just want to point out something that always stands out to me about Oda. At his best, he gives us some incredible character designs that of course are typically showcased on the covers. At his worst he gives us some absolutely goofy looking characters that you could argue are not good designs. I’ve thought about this a lot and started to realize that his goofy characters aren’t exactly bad designs, rather they are more unique and inspired. I think about Orochi and how we expected him to be so much more intimidating, but that’s the advantage Oda has at being able to come up with such different designs. I think he does better than most at being able to come up with so many different and unique designs for so many characters and I think we take that for granted. Anyways, let’s get on with #30-#21!

30. Volume 35

I had to put this one right next to the previous volume on this list, volume 84. These covers both give us an important Straw Hat event. 84 gave us Luffy vs Sanji and 35 gave us Luffy vs Usopp. I think the battle between the characters is better represented in this one than the latter. We actually get to see them in action and I believe this fight is a lot more memorable. Usopp up to this point has had moments, but none as important as this one. I think it’s a pivotal moment for him and the crew and works better than the Sanji incident, but both are great. I think the cover works better in this case though because we actually see them in action against each other with Franky looming in the background as being an important reason as to why this all happened, sort of. Anyways, I love this cover for Luffy and Usopp and it just looks awesome and represents so much of what this volume holds.

29. Volume 75

This cover ranks up here for having some of the coolest and some of my favorite characters of this arc on the cover. Kyros, I think that’s his name, is just there and I don’t remember too much about him, but everyone else is a major plus for me. Luffy and Law make their appearance which gives it an edge, but I also love Sabo and Fujitora. Koala and Pekka are not too bad, but the real highlight is seeing Sabo and Fujitora on the cover with Luffy and Law. Sabo is a character that I have really enjoyed despite him making me wish Ace was still alive. Fujitora is just badass and fun to read. Overall this volume just gives me a look and reminder of some of my favorite characters, so it gets bonus points.

28. Volume 44

Ah yes, the end to the Enies Lobby battle between the Straw Hats and the World Government. The fight is over Robin of course who is front and center on this cover. Her overall design to me is a little much and is sexualized of course which is nothing surprising, but it always stood out to me as being a little much. That is not what I notice first though, the main point of this cover is the fight between Luffy and Lucci which is one of the all time best fights in the whole series. The cover looks fantastic with both of them on it and I just love how it looks as well as remembering how awesome that fight is between them. A true highlight moment for Oda and Luffy.

27. Volume 42

This is the opposite side of the coin for the previous cover that featured all of the Straw Hats on the cover. I like this cover more because it shows how much more series CP9 is and how uniform they are as a group. CP9 has been one of my favorite enemy teams to see and the cover really highlights all of the important members that we see our crew fight. The designs are all unique and the black background makes it even cooler. I just really like everything about this cover, except for Spandam. Screw Spandam, he sucks.

26. Volume 18

This volume gets credit for having the first Ace appearance on a cover. I remember this volume fondly from back when I was in high school reading One Piece for the first time. I think Ace is an awesome character and his reveal to be Luffy’s brother was an important point as well as the hints at the bigger One Piece world. I don’t care so much about the other characters on the cover as much I do care about how cool Ace’s design is. This cover has more sentimental value to me, so it gets an edge.

25. Volume 93

Speaking of Orochi from earlier, we get a look at him on this cover and yes he is ridiculous, but I love the unexpected design. We also get some of the new characters surrounding Luffy and Zoro. The only one that’s very notable is Queen who makes his first cover appearance and is very interesting design wise, but I really like it. Zoro looks right at home in his Wano outfit and of course is bloody like he always is. Seeing Zoro and Luffy on a cover together also gets me excited, but to top it off we also get Soba mask Sanji on the side. Everything in this cover highlights some of my favorite things about Wano and I just really like it.

24. Volume 1

This is the original volume that started it all. It has the sense of adventure on the introduction to our first three main characters. It’s a memorable cover that I will always remember and like for what it began the series with. There’s not much else to say about this cover.

23. Volume 61

This cover falls right next to volume 1 for showing us the updated version of the same cover after the timeskip. I will always remember the day that I got this volume and how excited I was. It’s awesome that we got to see Luffy, Nami, and Zoro in the same spots, but updated with the new designs. I also love that we get to see all of the other new members to show us how far we’ve come since that first volume. It’s just great.

22. Volume 94

We get to see some of the newer members of the scabbards with Luffy as well in his Wano outfit, but that’s not at all why I like this volume so much. It’s one thing to get Big Mom or Kaido on the cover, but when you have them both on the cover together to show that they are either about to fight or up to something shady then it just tops the beautiful cake of how cool a cover can look. Of course we know now that they team up, but seeing them face off on a cover is just awesome and I absolutely love it. Also the green background is very nice as well.

21. Volume 87

The only thing that can top having Kaido and Big Mom on the cover is when we get a cover that gives us a rampaging Big Mom along with her children and Katakuri in the forefront. This cover is just awesome and is the villain cover of the Whole Cake Island arc. I love everything about this cover whether it be the light blue background or all of the character designs. One thing I will let you know right now is that Katakuri is one of my favorite characters, so having him on the cover is very telling of how much I like him as well as all of the Big Mom family members no matter how weird they are.

And so we have closed out this third to last part on a high note with what I would say are some expected covers and some not so expected I’m sure. There are a lot of covers here that I love, but now we finally get into the covers that I believe are absolute top tier covers for One Piece. Like always, be sure to comment below or send us an email at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and be sure to follow us @TowerCityMedia

One Piece Volume Cover Rankings Worst to Best #40-#31

I just want to take a minute to gripe about something that is such a minor issue, but I’ve always had a problem with. The first half of the story before the timeskip in America, had each volume separated by arc on the actual volumes. You could also see where the arcs begin and end when you have them all lined up. We even got arc titles for Sabaody, Impel Down, and Paramount War. Now I understand that we are going to the New World and each arc is essentially connected in some way, but it’s annoying now to have everything up to Wano being titled “New World”. There were plenty of volumes for you to have them separated by “Fishman Island”, “Punk Hazard”, “Dressrosa”, and “Whole Cake”. They do eventually make the change for Wano, but it doesn’t make any sense to me and I wish they would rebrand them by arc like they did in the first half. Anyways, let’s continue to #40-#31!

40. Volume 49

This cover should not be as high up on this list as it is right now, but there’s something about the absolute ridiculousness of it that I think is peak One Piece comedy. If you have read One Piece but haven’t made it this far and just pick up the volume to look at it, you will likely be so confused and so interested at the same time that I think it makes this cover perfect. You have Nightmare Luffy, Nami in a wedding dress, and the super Franky battle form with the rest of the crew sort of making a giant. It’s all wacky and crazy and I love the representation on the volume cover. Peak One Piece comedy. 

39. Volume 48

One of the simplest volume covers, but still one of the coolest. I love my giant monsters like Godzilla and Oars served as the Godzilla of this storyline. It took the whole crew to take him down, but it came down to Luffy being the one to make the biggest moves against the giant. They are both highlighted on this cover as being the two biggest factors in the fight against each other. I really love this battle and how ridiculous it is, but it is also the first telling of how the Straw Hats might not yet be ready for some bigger threats in the New World. Especially with how easily Oars jr. was taken down in the war.

38. Volume 20

This is one of the last few earlier volumes to make it on this list, but something about this volume tells so much, without saying that much. You have all of these guys facing each other as they all stand on their own sides, while all fighting over the same cause. You have pirates, criminals, marines, royalty, and rebels all fighting over Vivi and the kingdom of Alabasta. It’s a simple cover that means so much more when you really take a harder look at it. I just love how much political and personal adversity is at work on this cover.

37. Volume 76

One of my favorite characters is Law, so him appearing on a cover is automatically going to get some bonus points. This one again like many others has lots of color which always looks great. We get to see a lot of the major players on this cover with the Straw Hats that elected to stay behind and help fight the Donquixote pirates. It is a bit of a testament to how much stronger they got since they only needed about half the crew to take down Doflamingo and his crew. Granted they had some help which we also see on this cover. Overall it’s just appealing and looks great having both Luffy and Law teaming up right in the center. It’s awesome.

36. Volume 68

This is my second favorite Punk Hazard cover. I think there are only three anyways, but I really like all of them. The light blue and white of the snow is what makes this cover standout for me. I also like how Caesar is above looking as if he’s manipulating everyone which in a way he is, but the best part is seeing Luffy, Law, and Smoker standing together. They are some of my favorite characters and this cover shows that they are teaming up against Caesar. It’s a simple cover, but everything works great and I just like it a lot.

35. Volume 40

Forget the enemies in the background for a minute because I really don’t like them, but Blueno isn’t bad. The highlight though is not the characters so much as it is just Luffy and what we see. The steam rolling around him shows us the new event that happens in this volume in his fight against Blueno. Unfortunately Blueno was the victim of being a test for Luffy to show off his Gear Second. It’s a badass moment and one that I will always remember. It was sad that Blueno had to be fodder for Luffy in this moment, but it’s because of the moment that I remember him as much as I do. This cover gets credit for having the first look at the new Gear Second and is the main reason why it’s ranked so high.

34. Volume 45

There is a lot going on with this cover, but all of it I absolutely love. I remember when I was buying the volumes, I used to look up the ones I didn’t have just to get excited for eventually getting them. This was one of my most anticipated volumes to get and I will always have strong feelings for it. The cover is one of the first major, what’s going on in the world covers and I think it does it the best. We see Garp with Helmeppo and Coby which is just awesome, especially seeing a more grown up Coby. We also get the meeting between Whitebeard and Shanks which is the first time we see them together. I think I was mistaken with Volume 25. Finally, we get Blackbeard and Ace facing off. There is so much revealed and so much that happens in this volume that it not only gets credit for the cover, but also all of the events that transpire within. This is the volume that really blew open the doors on the One Piece world.

33. Volume 56

A mixture of both new and old characters. Ivankov is a little weird but plays a major role in this arc. The design is outlandish and that is represented with how big his/her head is on the cover. The coolest part though is seeing Jinbei on one side and Crocodile on the other side of a team up between them and Luffy. Some of my favorite movies are Shawshank Redemption, and Escape from Alcatraz so I’m a sucker for prison break stories. This volume covers a lot of the break out and also gives us that old saying of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” so we see the return of Mr. 1 and Crocodile as they help Luffy escape. The purple background color is also a good addition to work with Ivankov.

32. Volume 43

A lot of times in big arcs we get a cover of our crew followed or preceded by a cover of the enemy crew. This is one of those covers in the Enies Lobby arc. We see all of our Straw Hat crew that shows us the great comedy with the look of Luffy, as well as a showcase of everyone ready to fight. The biggest highlight though is that of Chopper in his monster point form which is a badass moment and looks incredibly appealing on the cover. All of the other Straw Hats are ready to fight as well and it just makes for a great cover. 

31. Volume 84

I originally had this cover lower to start with, but slowly started moving it up the more I got to look at it. There are two awesome things to make note of on this cover. The first being the Vinsmoke family. Sanji’s siblings and father take center stage with each of their unique colors and appearances. They are badass and the designs are great and I hope we get to see more of them down the road. The other important thing to note is Luffy and Sanji at the top of the cover. It’s simple and only shows their face, but it’s the placement that I like so much. The Vinsmoke family is at the center, splitting Luffy and Sanji. Luffy is bloody and battered while Sanji is clean and unhurt. They are also facing away from each other representing their split and fight that they have. I grew to love this cover the more I got to looking at it so I moved it up to here.

It was a struggle just getting everything to feel right up to this point, but I managed to do it and feel comfortable with my results. I’m sure with this part as well as many others, we will have differing opinions, but it’s all fun. As I’ve said before, I welcome any differing opinions on any of my rankings and actually look forward to seeing where everyone else places some of these other covers on their own list. Please comment below or email us at TowerCityMedia@gmail.com and follow us @TowerCityMedia

One Piece: East Blue Saga is good but the weakest (a review)

The reigning king of Shonen Jump manga has continued to be one of the longest running and most consistent series ever. Over the many years it has broken several world records for volumes sold and continues to be one of the best received series out there on a week to week basis. I remember starting One Piece at a young age and collecting all of the volumes. Even now I read each new chapter every week and continue to love it as I have since first starting it. It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to reread from the beginning and now I’m going to begin my review of each major arc in this incredible story. It all starts with the East Blue arc where we first get introduced to our hero Luffy. 

From the very beginning this series gives us a take on the world of piracy. A fictional world of piracy, but one that very much delves deep into the history of our own piracy. While it never tries to mix real life with fiction, it does take time to reference known pirates whether by name or by details that we can relate back to our known age of piracy. The biggest references are names like  Blackbeard. He isn’t at all similar to our understanding of the real Blackbeard, but author and artist Eiichiro Oda takes time to utilize real world people to help influence some of his characters. It makes it a nice blend between real life and fiction that series like Naruto and Bleach can’t compare with. With that being said, the first volume of One Piece introduces us to our main character Monkey D. Luffy who by no means has any reference whatsoever to any known pirates in the real world. 

The first volume takes a brief amount of time to set up our story and our hero, but I believe it nails everything with its first chapter better than most series have. In what is the longest chapter of the series, chapter one not only introduces us to our main character, but it also gives the driving force of our heroes expedition as a pirate. It also gives us an interesting take on powers that characters in this world can have with Devil Fruit. I think it’s a bit difficult to explain how powers work in a series that makes it unique and different from everything else. While the fruits give us a simple explanation as to how people can have powers, it’s the ramifications of having those powers that sets itself apart from others. My point being that’s lot of times, stories will introduce powers or abilities and there’s no downside really to having them, but One Piece changes that. It changes that way of thinking in an interesting and ironic way. If you choose to eat a Devil Fruit to gain powers, you are also giving up your ability to swim with water being the weakness of having Devil Fruit abilities. Water. In a world where the characters are surrounded by mostly water for the majority of the story and where our main character is a pirate is incredibly ironic but also perfectly balanced. It makes sense and works perfectly as a kryptonite to our hero. He is always at risk when traveling the world with his new found abilities gained by accident.

Ultimately it is assumed that to be truly great in this world means to have some sort of power or Devil Fruit ability, but that’s also not entirely the case. In the first chapter we see how powerful Shanks’ crew is even without the use of powers and a hint at an even stronger power that doesn’t require any sort of action whatsoever. This comes when Shanks is able to scare away the sea creature with a simple glance. Now if you’re just getting into the series then you’ll just assume that he has some kind of death stare that’ll scare any kind of beast away, but this is of course a small hint in the coming revelation of more powers or abilities at hand. It’s something that will continue to be hinted at but not fully explained until later on. 

I wanted to highlight this first chapter more than the others because of how important it really is. In a short amount of time it gives us so much whether it be the introduction to Luffy and his new powers, or the introduction to his idol Shanks, or even the simple line from Roger regarding the “One Piece”. All of this sets the stage for where our story is heading by giving us a clear goal for our hero and a clear drive that he has to become the King of the Pirates. 

The rest of the arc really focuses more on building Luffy’s crew before heading to the grand line and that all starts with Zolo. It’s not that Zolo is forced into teaming up with Luffy over a debt of gratitude but rather it shows more of who Luffy is as a character. This only expands as he continues to build his crew full of friends that are unlikely comrades. Zolo was only the first and joined because of Luffy’s attitude to right any wrongs regardless of who the enemy is. He’s selfless and a genuine good at heart person with a carefree attitude but also with skills to back up his big talk. It’s easy to see Zolo join him not only because of how Luffy saves him, but also because of his leadership personality. Zolo never intended on becoming a pirate, but it’s the fun and powerful leadership Luffy has that pushes Zolo to become a meme bet of the crew. I think the relationship between these two is the best of anyone of the crew. Zolo very much wants to fight alongside Luffy but also do anything to have his back. He’s truly a loyal and dependable friend and crew mate to Luffy that all stems back to who he is as a character.

It’s a testament to Oda’s incredible work at developing a hero that is so easy to like. He’s not just a hero for the sake of being a hero, but rather a hero that you emote with the same way other characters do like Zolo. If not just with Zolo, Luffy was also able to change the mindset of Coby who was nothing more than an unfortunate prisoner to Alvida. It’s Luffy’s character that pushes Coby to decide to leave Alvida despite the consequences. A very small moment but powerful moment is when Luffy allows Coby the chance to say what he wants to say to Alvida and then Luffy steps in knowing full well that Coby doesn’t have a chance to win against her. He defends Coby but also gives him the opportunity to change as a person. This also comes in play when Coby decides to leave Luffy to become a marine. Luffy pushes Coby by starting to spill the beans of how Coby used to be on a pirate ship that would have ruined him becoming a marine. He does this knowing full well that Coby has to prove that he’s not a pirate or a spy and it’s up to Coby to make that decision and so he does by punching Luffy to shut him up. 

There are many more things that make Luffy such a great protagonist, but honestly it is his caring attitude and understanding of people’s situations that make him so great. He will do anything to help anyone that needs help and is a perfect punching bag of sorts to help people make life changing decisions. It’s all of this combine that drives him forward and makes him such an easy Captain to stand behind and to join. 

After the Zolo introduction and leaving Coby behind, our small crew of two soon realizes that neither one of them knows how to navigate and Luffy accidentally gets taken away by a bird. This leads us to our first big villain and recurring character in Buggy the Clown. We also get introduced to Nani the thief and professional navigator. What I like about Buggy is that he has a history that dates back to a connection with Shanks who were both on a crew together. At this time we don’t know who that crew was, but it is interesting to see a connection between the two. I’m not a fan of his Devil Fruit power but it does make for an interesting fight especially since it was our first Devil Fruit villain. It was pretty cool to see how one has to adjust their gameplan when fighting someone with powers. We also learn that Luffy doesn’t care to fight dirty if he has to. He is a pirate after all. 

This small arc does continue the character growth of Luffy and how he will do anything if it means helping someone else and in this case he took down Buggy not just for a map of the Grand Line but also to save the villagers of this town who were under his tyranny. At this point I’m enjoying the back and forth battle between Luffy and Buggy, but it does prove to be a little lackluster and not give us too much. It only starts to pick up some when our team of Luffy, Nami, and Zolo head to the next island where we meet the amazing Usopp.

I’m now going to go through each of the arcs briefly and then talk about them as a whole. Okay, this is easily the weakest arc of the whole East Blue saga, but it does give us a new crew member in Usopp. He’s an interesting character that shows some similarities to Luffy which makes him an easy target to join Luffy’s crew. There’s really not much that I like in this arc aside from Usopp joining and them getting their first real ship The Going Merry. The villain is weak as far as actual character goes and the action feels more like just a retread of what we saw in the Buggy arc. 

The Baratie Arc is probably the second best because it’s not just another arc where we get another new member in Sanji, but we also get more introduction to the larger world plus an emotional backstory for Sanji. Don Krieg was never an interesting villain for me, but he and Gin both ended up being some great adversaries fighting wise for Luffy and Sanji. This is when the art actually starts to pick up a bit more and the fighting is a lot more engaging and fun. 

The Arlong Park arc (that’s funny to say) is the best of the East Blue saga and gives us our best villain get up to this point. We also get a not so surprising betrayal when Nami reveals that she’s been working for Arlong. The story only gets more interesting as we learn more about her past and more about Fishman in general. Again it starts to build up more of the larger world and how people perceive Fishman. I’m not a big fan of the side villains that are on Arlong’s crew, but I do really like Arlong. It also has one of the most emotional moments in this saga when Luffy puts his hat on Nami before the final battle. 

This brings us to the final closing arc for the East Blue Saga with the Loguetown or Roguetown arc. (Say it however you wish to). This isn’t a long or incredibly impactful arc but it is one of the most important ones. I like that Alvida and Buggy are brought back into the fold to kind of close out Luffy’s travels through the East Blue before going into the Grand Line. I love that we get introduced to Smoker, a marine that becomes a recurring enemy to Luffy and that we get a glimpse at Dragon who we later find out is Luffy’s dad.

All of these arcs in order slowly setup the bigger world at hand. As we go through each arc, more is revealed to us that hints at future things that will become important but also starts to give us more insight into what is going on or how much crazier the world outside the East Blue is. A few major points that were noted as small details but are more impactful later on are the mention of the Seven Warlords like Mihawk and the mention of Jimbei. I honestly didn’t even realize till this time around that Jimbei was mentioned this early so that was actually a pleasant surprise. 

The East Blue arc for me is the weakest of all of the arcs but it’s not a knock on the series at all. It’s just that everything that happens is more for setup and getting us ready for the bigger and better stories ahead. I enjoy all of the new members of the crew that we gained through this early journey and most notably enjoyed the inclusion of Zolo and Sanji. All of the characters eventually get their moments, but I feel the best moments came from them. Luffy of course grows a lot from the beginning of his adventure up to this point as we see with his first bounty. Nami and Usopp both are good members of the crew and both have emotional moments, but they lack the real punch you in the mouth awesome moments. They need a little more development at this point before I can really say I’m on board with them. 

The art style is very basic and kind of bland in the beginning, but as Oda grows into his characters and story more, the art also continues to evolve and become better. By the end of it, the art was far more appealing than where we were at the very beginning. I also love that Oda takes time to tell a story on his chapter covers too. Like how we get to see what happens with Buggy leading up to his arrival at Loguetown. Or as we get to see what happens with Coby, Helmeppo, and Morgan after Luffy leaves. As I’ve said before, everything at this point has a clear purpose with a lot of thought in mind of where certain things or characters come back into play.

I love that by the end of this East Blue Saga and as we journey into Loguetown, we get some insight into the marines and how they now notice Luffy as a potential issue going forward. We don’t see much of the marines, but we also know that after each major saga, we will likely be getting another look at the Marines and how they perceive Luffy as a threat. Again all of this is just more subtle set up of eventual important aspects of this world for the future of where our story is going. There are a lot of questions that are raised and mysteries left to unfold as we go forward with our crew. 

The few downsides of the saga are that the villains for the most part aren’t that great. The only real notable ones are Buggy and Arlong and the overall saga feels a bit long. It takes 12 volumes or around 100 or so chapters before we actually get to the Grand Line. Now I know that you don’t want to rush the story either, but I feel like there were some points or chapters that could have been more brief or shortened to work better for the overall pacing. There’s also a lot of dialogue that isn’t really necessary and could be skipped over, although I will say that there’s some dialogue that doesn’t seem important now, but will play a bigger role in the future. 

Overall the East Blue Saga of One Piece will go down as being my least favorite, but not in a bad way. The story is still good and introduces us to this new world. It takes its time setting up the world and the many characters and details that we will eventually come to love even more. I say that though as someone who knows where exactly the story goes in the future. I do think that because of the pacing of this saga and the overall subpar quality of some of the arcs, it does make it a difficult thing to get through for new readers if they don’t know where the story eventually leads. I think this saga really shows the younger and not as experienced storytelling and drawing of Oda which of course makes sense. With that said, this saga still proves to be an excellent way of creating a world and introducing you to it in a way that doesn’t feel like too much content all at once. I think it’s definitely worth a reread if you’re a general fan of the series anyways and I think that for new fans it’s kind of like the first season of Game of Thrones. It starts off slow but starts to pick up towards the last 3rd and really hooks you as it gets more into the bigger picture. 

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Black Torch is a Manga you Can Judge by its Cover

Not to be confused with Black Clover

Black Torch is a Shonen SQ manga by Tsuyoshi Takaki, and follows Jiro, a boy you can talk to animals and is from a family of ninjas. One night he saves a cat that says he’s a demon (mononoke) and on the run. After a fight the demon, Rago joins with Jiro and are forced to work for the government unit Black Torch to combat the demons. Bonds are made, mysteries are revealed, and fights are had.

It is a 90s punk kids dream story (there are two demons named Fat Boy & Slim. It is pretty blatant). It’s a nice dark urban fantasy with big action, and cliché abound. It had lots of potential.

How edgy is this??

Cliches on their own are not a bad thing (no writing tool is bad on its own, only how it’s used). They just have to be built upon in some way. Black Torch likes to stay at that foundational level and build out, with some growth. It’s interesting to see how this young writer (this is his first full series as far as SJ can tell me) deals with the ideas of power, corruption, death, and even hatred based on misunderstanding.

Overall I would say it is a fun, quick read I want to like. There are sparks of what could be. Though the backgrounds art is sparse, the character designs are strong, the focus on nature backgrounds in volume 4 were beautiful, he really gets scale, and his more hatched art style makes it look different from other books on the market. The villain has a kind of interesting belief that’s a good foil to what our heroes believes. It has potential to be good. The problem is that those cliches I brushed off are holding it back. Those cliches are just elements adapted (let’s say) from Naruto and Bleach.

From Bleach it takes the modern character designs and a secret society killing demons in a modern fantasy story. It also has a full society of demons like Bleach that interacts and clashes with the human world. The main character having powers that release black energy, and a showdown in an basically empty arena with a horned demon. It all screams Bleach.

Jiro is posses by a cat demon, can go berserk, change appearance into an energy animal, and shoot lasers from his mouth. If that isn’t all Naruto stuff, oh and the fact their ninjas, I don’t know what is. If that does not sell you the main team consists of three ninjas, the main rival has an evil brother, the female member of the team’s character arc is to say they have no point, and their boss is a playful dope. That should sell you this is also Naruto.

I am sure there are other shows and manga you can make connections with, but those two are the biggest that stick out in the Shonen Jump umbrella it is in.

Again, all of this is a fine enough base, but the real killer is that this was clearly cut short. It is a 19 chapter/5 volume manga. It was never planned to end in 19 (that would be a weird, arbitrary number to end on anyway, 20 would be at least more round). The main tells is how much time is wasted (in so far as it sets up character development that would not be focused on as much if it were later. Pacing, I’m trying to say the pacing changed).

It takes seven of its 19 chapters for them to get a first mission. They only go on two missions, three if you count the final encounter, and deal with the main villain quickly and rush a wrap up. That whole final mission is only three chapters. It was clear it never meant to go that way. It makes sense what the main villains power is, and sells the themes of the book, but also a convenient way to clear up a bunch of extra villains you don’t want to use. All of this means that any ideas were scrapped in order to focus on the main conflict and get us to that. Takaki does make a case for why it can end. The villain just calls out the basic formula for a Shonen series, fight stronger foes to prove the main characters beliefs. It is actually kind of funny because I’m not sure why the villain would know that would be true. He seemed Ike the only real massive threat. It’s weird and makes it an overall weak manga, but makes it ripe for adaptation.

If this were adapted straight as an anime (single 12 season show) it would need to be done by a team with established action chops (Bones and Madhouse came to mind, but A-1 at its best [Birdy the Mighty]) could work. It would still have the same pacing issues, but sell it on big, cool action. That’s dumb, but valid. The real way I see this adapted is as a live action movie. I mean Japan Live Action like Ruroni Kenshin. Each side character has enough personality and background for a movie, and still focus on Jiro and Rago. That would be the cleanest way to make the series shine as it should.

I think Tsuyoshi Takaki has talent. He can easily make a good Shonen series when he focuses on his own ideas and really gives time. Jiro’s original power of talking to animals goes unused or developed. Aside from the start it has one scene of Jiro in a forest and talking to animals, that is it. He’s got potential.

Sidetrack: I love Malcolm Gladwell. He has the idea that genius is specificity. He uses a conversation he had with Vampire Weekend about their songs and how exact their influences and choices were in a song. What is emblematic of my previous statement, and all the problems the book had come from the authors self deprecating attempts at the end of volume 4. In the Afterward he says where he came up with Jiro’s name. That’s specific and worked, but his other team members, and rest of the cast come from just what he thought was cool. It’s not specific. It’s whatever is cool and not character or influence focused. It’s generic.

Black Torch is generic. This manga always will be, but that doesn’t mean the property has to stay that way.

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