I have been an anime fan for decades, since I was twelve years old watching Cardcaptors on the WB and checking out Inu Yasha a Feudal Fairy Tale from my local library. I have pretty eclectic taste, liking anything from magical girls to horror and will give anything besides erotica a chance. One of the most popular anime and manga titles of this century has been One Piece, ranking top in sales, views and downloads, but the fact of the matter is I just don’t get it. I just don’t understand the appeal of One Piece.
Now, admittedly, long-running shonen series tend to rank pretty low in my interests in general. I never cared for Naruto, I could see the appeal of Bleach but not enough to follow it, and my brain pretty much checks out whenever I see anything related to Dragonball, but Once Piece keeps being that series that EVERYONE tells me I need to follow, that its characters, story and sense of adventure make it one of the greatest series of all time...and I just don’t see it.
Don’t get me wrong, I have tried NUMEROUS times to give One Piece a chance. I know that the 4Kids adaptation was a travesty and not a good representation of what One Piece actually is, but beyond that I just don’t see the appeal. I’ve tried reading various arcs of the manga, watched the original Japanese version, the Funimation adaptation and I cannot for the life of me understand why people find this series to be so superior. The characters don’t grab me, in fact, I find them to be annoying as hell. I don’t find the jokes humorous, they seem like the most generic of slapstick gags or weird little idioms that the Japanese find entertaining (like repeating non-sense sounds or words at the end of every sentence). I don’t get the stakes of the fights. I know Luffy is trying to be the Pirate King and find the One Piece, but what does that actually mean? It seems like pirates just fight all the time, fight the navy all the time and not very much is ever achieved. They go from place to place, stuff happens, and then go to a new place, and more stuff happens. Sometimes they get new crew members, sometimes they don’t, but none of it seems to move the characters any closer forward to any kind of narrative payoff.
Even the Bel Mer arc. I know that whole storyline is supposed to be one of the most important, character defining arcs of the series, learning why Nami the thief hates pirates so much but it seemed, I don’t know? Too predictable? Up until that point I found Nami too freaking unlikable to even care why she was so annoying, so finding out it was because her adopted mom got killed by pirates didn’t make me think she was any less irritating.
I’m sure every word of my thoughts is making some people’s blood boil, for an anime fan such as myself to state flat out that I don’t like One Piece, or figure out why anyone else would. Feel as you will. This by no means is intended to insult One Piece fans or to dissuade you guys from liking the series, but people, can you please stop recommending it to me?