The manga and anime came out in 1997 and 1999, respectively. Over two decades later, the show has only grown in popularity, with the franchise having been exported to different countries and translated into countless languages. Here are 10 reasons why One Piece is the best anime ever.
Whether you're looking to start watching and need some pushing or seeking some validation for your overflowing adoration for the series, we've got just the thing for you.
The anime has undeniably the most unique art and animation styles, at least among its contemporaries and fellow hall-of-famer anime shows.
In its 20+ years' run, the visual elements have remained consistent. These elements, which are characterized by outrageous exaggerations, loud colors, unbridled character design, and cartoony action illustrations, have never been once toned down to try and appeal to viewers who prefer the modern aesthetics defined by each new generation of anime watchers.
One Piece has undoubtedly owned this visual identity, and its consistent top ranking in viewership for over two decades is proof that people absolutely love it.
Related: Where to Watch One Piece
Great Choice and Use of Theme
As expected of a show whose source manga is still ongoing as of March 2022, One Piece is a pleasant coming together of various themes, each one properly presented and elaborated on.
One of the most prominent of these is the theme of nakama. In Japanese, the word means friend, compatriot, or comrade. One Piece visibly gives a lot of weight to the word, with Luffy's "closer than family" treatment to his crew. His strong will to protect them is an effective translation of this theme.
Another recurring theme in the series is the Inherited Will, which, as it implies, is the passing of one's legacy, dreams, goal (or collectively, will) to another. What it essentially means is that if for some reason, a character can't see through his mission, his will is inherited by another character who will then embark on his own journey to fulfill it. Dreams don't die in One Piece—someone is bound to realize them.
It might sound like stating the obvious, but keeping an ongoing series' plotline intact for decades doesn't seem like the easiest thing to do. Apparently, that's not a problem for the people behind One Piece.
While the pirate lore that the whole series centers on seems like it could easily get old with only a few episodes, the genius reimagining and mixing and matching of other subplots make for an engrossing watch. Everything that happens is somehow related to other situations in the show. There are countless plot twists, too, as you would expect from such a long-running series.
The fact that it has a pretty deep and solid storyline means that there's more to the show than petty fights and misplaced action. Unlike many of its fellows in the shonen genre, the battles in One Piece are mostly warranted.
One Piece is a deep well of inspiring quotes that could rekindle anyone's hope for humanity. Like any anime, the show also has its moments where the pacing can be a bit off (with over 1000 episodes, that's not such a bad thing), but its the exchanges between each character—whether happy, sad, funny—that keeps viewers hooked, even through the filler arcs and episodes.
Out of the many quotes in One Piece, a personal favorite would have to be what Shanks said about losing his arm to save Luffy when Whitebeard asked about it: "I bet it on a new era." If that's not hair-raisingly prophetic, I don't know what is.
Related: Top 10 Running Gags in One Piece
Out of all the truths in this list, the most indisputable would have to be that One Piece has some of the best-written anime characters ever.
Both the series' protagonists and antagonists have poignant and inspiring backstories that have been properly thought out. The character development of each persona are true to each of their histories and are naturally occurring.
The characters' individual personalities are realistically complementary to all others, and its this genuineness that wins most people over (I would know!).
Related: All One Piece Warlords Ranked
Mysteries (Lots of Them)
Probably the best thing about One Piece is that even now that we're years into the storyline, there still isn't a clear-cut endgame anywhere. Sure, there are lots of theories, but the truth is there's still quite a lot we don't know.
Arguably the best of these mysteries is the Will of D. We at least know that it has something to do with characters who have the letter 'D' in their names, and fans have come up with logical speculations about it. But Eiichiro Oda, the genius behind the whole series, has said it's a secret that he'll reveal when the time comes.
Another mystery that fans can't seem to stop talking about is Luffy's mother. Oda has once said that she is irrelevant to the story, but that hasn't stopped its audiences from coming up with questions and speculations. One Piece has been known to put a lot of importance on family relationships, so it's safe to tell Oda that we're not buying it. Plus, we've been told she's alive so it's a bit hard to brush off the theories.
I think the creator has a done a great job safeguarding these mysteries. I'd say they definitely play a huge part in keeping its fans absorbed in the whole story.
Luffy is Best Boi
In internet slang, "best boi" refers to people or characters who are so lovable that they must be protected at all costs. While it doesn't physically apply to Luffy, it's still a very appropriate title for him as he deserves all the love that fans of One Piece shower him with.
Many of the show's biggest fans think of Luffy as humanity's last hope. As made clear by the way he takes care of the crew he put together, he has all the qualities of a good leader and hero without any hint of pretentiousness.
A stark but favorable contrast to his seemingly all-wit and funny demeanor is his warm and firm personality. Luffy doesn't care about someone's past and befriends people without judging. Without him knowing, his charisma drives people to flock to him and love him along the way.
Eiichiro Oda is a genius, no doubt about that. In fact, many of One Piece's fans refer to him as God Oda as he might just actually be one.
As demonstrated by the series' continued success, Oda seems to know how to best create viable elements that make the very fantastical story realistic. His world building and power scaling are perhaps the best when compared to some the biggest shounen creators'.
With his unassuming aura and seemingly ceaseless imagination that knows no bounds, Oda is nothing short of a blessing to mankind.
Subtle Mirroring of Today's Society
If you aren't 100% sold yet, this might be the deal-sealer.
One Piece cleverly reflects some societal issues that still plague mankind in these modern times. Racial discrimination, corruption among authorities, historical revisionism, slavery, and war are a few of the issues that are tackled in One Piece. While not many anime can fare great as political works, Eiichiro Oda's masterpiece definitely comes off perfect as one, though not explicitly.
The show is an excellent reminder that not all villains come in tangible forms.
In More Ways Than One, Epic
One Piece is an epic anime that's repeatedly broken through tropes typical of shounen adventure shows, essentially redefining the genre each time. It's a story that doesn't only deserve to be hailed as one of the greats because it's been running for the longest time, but also and even more so because of its grandness that doesn't only stop at the adventures and battles.
Its brilliance extends to every aspect of the story—the character and world designs, subplots, and overarching themes all make the show the epic adventure that it is.
These are only some of the many reasons why One Piece is one of the most successful anime to date.
If you're looking for similar stories to get you going, check out these 5 Anime Like One Piece.