Iconic Japanese manga One Piece is currently making waves globally after the release of its first ever live-action adaptation on Netflix, which has already been renewed for a second season.
With its eight Season One episodes covering the entirety of the East Blue Saga from the manga and anime, it’s actually a pretty decent adaptation that retains the nonsensical and carefree tone of the series while forging a clear identity of its own. In short, if you love pirates, you’ll love this.
If you love One Piece, however, you may or may not love the new show, but you’ll definitely feel some semblance of nostalgia for the story and characters it covers.
In case you haven’t heard of One Piece, it is a manga created in 1997 by Eiichiro Oda, and revolves around Monkey D. Luffy, who starts out as a wannabe pirate with an ambition to become the King Of The Pirates and recover the 'One Piece', the legendary treasure of the former King Of The Pirates Gold Roger.
To do so, he assembles a crew of various vocations – swordsman Roronoa Zoro, ship’s cook Sanji, navigator Nami, sniper Usopp, doctor Tony Tony Chopper, archeologist Nico Robin, shipwright Franky, musician Brook, and helmsman Jinbe.
The saga of Luffy and his Straw Hat Pirates (known as such due to Luffy’s trademark straw hat) has since gone on for over 1,090 chapters over 25 years and sold over 490 million copies worldwide. It has spawned an anime series with over 1,000 episodes, video games, animated feature films, and countless other merchandise, with Luffy becoming one of the most popular and iconic manga characters ever.
So, if you’re only coming to know about One Piece after watching the Netflix series, you’ve got a lot to catch up on. After the East Blue Saga that the show covers, there’s a whole lot of really, really long story sagas with dozens of sub “arcs” in which Luffy recruits the rest of his crew, defeats all manner of powerful foes, gains numerous allies, liberates literal nations, and pretty much becomes one of the most notorious and powerful pirates on the Grand Line.
Anyway, the story is currently in its final stretch, the “Final Saga” that Oda has promised will finally reveal “all the secrets of this world that I have kept hidden”.
“It will be fun. Please fasten your seat belt,” he added in a hand-written message posted on Twitter (now known as X) last year.
Oda also promised that it’s “OK to start reading from here. Because ... ONE PIECE starts from here”, as he assured fans who may not have followed the series as diligently over the past 25 years that the final arc is still a good jumping point for the series.
Still, in case you’ve not been following the manga and are interested to know the current status the Straw Hat crew is
in so far, then buckle up, me hearties, for here’s a quick recap!
Disclaimer: This article was written based on the assumption that readers are familiar with what’s been going in One Piece in the past 25 years, so spoilers abound. You have been warned.
Luffy has come a long way since his humble beginnings as a wannabe pirate. In the recently concluded Wano Country Saga, Luffy and his allies managed to defeat Kaido and Big Mama, two of the Four Emperors, who are the most feared and powerful pirates of all time.
Kaido and Big Mama’s defeats at Wano left a void in the Four Emperors lineup. Thus, two new Emperors were named – Luffy and, er, Buggy the Star Clown – alongside Red-Haired Shanks, leader of the Red Hair Pirates; and the notorious Blackbeard, Marshall D. Teach, leader of the Blackbeard pirates.
Luffy got in by virtue of being the one who defeated Kaido, and also being the head of the “Straw Hat Grand Fleet”, which is made up of seven pirate crewmen that have pledged to come to his aid should he ever need it.
Buggy, however, was named an Emperor almost by mistake. The bungling clown pirate had offered his ... advertising services to the Cross Guild, a powerful group founded by former Seven Warlords of the Sea members Crocodile and Dracule “Hawkeye” Mihawk, which offers bounties for the deaths of prominent Marines.
Unfortunately for Buggy, his crew misinterpreted his connection with Crocodile and Mihawk, thinking that he is the one who is commanding them, and places Buggy as the figurehead of the group in all the posters they put out.
This misunderstanding leads to the World Government ranking Buggy as one of the Four Emperors, much to Hawkeye and Crocodile displeasure, but they decide to go along with it in order to take the spotlight off themselves.
Luffy’s rubber powers are also unrecognisable from his early days of Gum Gum Pistols and Gum Gum Bazookas. With each major battle, he has gone from strength to strength, and during a two-year time skip in the story, he also learned how to use his “haki” spiritual energy freely. This allows him to come up with new levels of power he calls “Gears”, with the most powerful being “Gear 4”.
However, in the climatic battle against Kaido, he unlocked “Gear 5” of his powers, which was actually an awakened form of the Gomu Gomu fruit that not only makes his rubber body even more powerful, but also gives him the ability to manipulate and transform his environment to suit his moves.
So, what’s up with the Straw Hat crew right now? Well, it’s a far cry from the five-man crew the Netflix series eventually ends up with in its first season, that’s for sure.
All 10 members of the crew now have bounties on their heads (even though Chopper’s is still the lowly amount of 1,000 berries, as people think he is just the Straw Hats’ pet). Robin’s story is coming to the fore even more now as we enter the Final Saga, with details about the Poneglyphs and the “Ancient Weapons” she has been researching are revealed.
Most of the crewmembers have also leveled up their powers, for instance Zoro, who can also use haki freely and has three new powerful swords.
Meanwhile, Franky is now almost fully cyborg, Usopp and Nami acquired powerful new weapons. Oh, and they are all now considered senior officers of the Straw Hat Grand Fleet.
The manga is currently deep into the Egghead Arc, the first story arc of the Final Saga of Oda’s series. Having dispatched of two former Emperors, Luffy has a massive three billion Berry bounty on his head, and is now one of the most wanted pirates in the New World.
Here, Oda finally begins to reveal hints about the mysterious “Void Century” that Robin has been investigating, which will hopefully eventually lead to the reveal of what exactly the “One Piece” is.
In the beginning of the arc, the Straw Hat Pirates’ log pose leads them to Egghead Island, where the genius mad scientist Dr Vegapunk lives, and creates all the technology and weapons the World Government uses.
However, after being tipped off about Vegapunk’s research into the Void Century, the World Government decides to dispatch a CP0 team to assassinate Vegapunk.
Without giving too much away, the Straw Hats find themselves caught up in a government conspiracy, with a few old enemies surfacing as well. At the same time, the other Emperors, Blackbeard and Red Hair Shanks also begin their move towards the One Piece, effortlessly wiping out some of Luffy’s allies and some formidable foes along the way.
The Marines and Revolutionary Army are also beginning to make their own moves, with Luffy’s friends Koby (yes, the same Koby from the Netflix show) and Sabo in the thick of things as well.
If Oda’s previous arcs are anything to go by, the Final Saga looks set to take several years to complete as well, but so far, things have been moving along pretty fast, so here’s hoping he manages to finish the manga before the TV show catches up!