Now that Naruto and Bleach have wrapped up, there's no question as to which Shonen Jump series reigns supreme. One Piece, written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda, is the longest-running Shonen franchise, with the manga going strong since 1997. The anime is a hit in its own right, and is over 800 episodes long.
If you still haven't given the Straw Hat Pirate crew a shot, then get ready to binge, as there are a ton of reasons why you should watch One Piece. The series brings to life a world filled with strange creatures and dastardly villains, most of whom possess extraordinary powers. On top of that, the tone strikes a perfect balance between comedy and tragedy, and raucously funny moments are often followed by stories of genuine human pain. Whether you're a young anime fan or a seasoned adult viewer, everyone can find something to love about One Piece.
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Each Adventure Introduces A New, Interesting Setting
One of the things that helps One Piece stand apart from its competitors is its constant introduction of fascinating new settings. While exploring the remote corners of the world, the Straw Hat crew comes across places like Alabasta, an Arabian-themed desert kingdom, and Skypia, an island that floats above Paradise in the Grand Line. Each new island feels like a totally different world, as they all come complete with unique quirks, obstacles, and fascinating local residents.
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The Story Isn't As Childish As It May Seem
Compared to overtly-gritty Shonen Jump series like Naruto or Bleach, One Piece sticks out like a sore thumb, since its cartoony aesthetic can cause new viewers to think the show is meant for younger audiences. While the story has a playful demeanor, it still manages to include some crushingly heavy subject matter from time to time.
Many characters' backstories are filled with cruelty and tragedy. A young Nami watched her adopted mother die at the hands of pirate invaders, and Brook witnessed all his compatriots slowly waste away from a deadly poison, then awakened a year later in a pile of their rotted corpses.
The show's battles are no less grisly. Who would have thought a rubber man could bleed so much? Villains are appropriately brutal, and the Straw Hat Pirates aren't afraid to break a couple necks if it means stopping a power-hungry dictator from taking over the World Government. If the show didn't understand how to perfectly interweave moments of comedy and tragedy, it might be too bleak to watch.
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The Diverse Cast Caters To A Wide Audience
If free-spirited characters like Monkey D. Luffy aren't your thing, there's no need to worry. The ensemble cast of One Piece is sprawling, so chances are good you'll find some other reoccuring character to love. In the ever-growing Straw Hat Pirate crew, there's the greedy yet level-headed Nami, the strong-willed former pirate hunter Zoro, the suave chef Sanji, and the brilliant, adorable, ferocious reindeer Tony Tony Chopper, to name a few. The supporting casts for each storyline are always filled with winners, and even minor characters can be amazingly memorable.
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The Villains Are Horrifying, But Also Badass
There are plenty of fantastic villains in One Piece who sport a wide array of powers and personality types. Crocodile is a witty Italian mob boss whose body is composed of sand, making him strong enough to almost kill Luffy on two separate occasions. Arlong is an intimidating fishman who shows no mercy to the people he enslaves. Even the World Government opposes the Straw Hats, as their hunger for power causes them to turn a blind eye to the public's needs. No two villains' motivations are quite the same, and when they're first introduced, some seem impossible to vanquish.