Haha, the goal for this section is mostly to provide reviews for lesser-known manga, but I couldn't help but start with my favorite :D
Title: One Piece
Genres: Shonen, Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Author/Artist: Eiichiro Oda
Publication: Weekly Shonen Jump
Start Date: August 4, 1997
End Date: On-going
Number of chapters at review: 484
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 484
General Overview: Luffy, a young boy, travels the world in his goal of obtaining the legendary treasure "One Piece" and becoming the Pirate King. Along the way, he forms his crew of of outlandish and memorable characters, as they each strive for their own dream. The plot turns are intense and the stakes gradually rise as the crew realizes that not everything in the world is what it seems.
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
The character designs are simple, yet unique. Oda favors a more humorous style over a realistic one, but the results are well worth seeing. For a weekly shonen series, the detail level is fairly high, and remarkably consistent.
After more than 10 years of publication, Oda has made his reputation as a master story-teller. Equally adept at moving his readers from laughter to tears, he has slowly developed a richly complex world, as he has moved from the small-scale to the large. The plot is unexpected, full of twists and surprises, yet nothing feels contrived or forced.
One Piece has a very large cast of well-detailed, sympathetic characters. Each has a rich background that weaves well into the over-all story. These backgrounds provide excellent springboards for dynamic character development that feels very organic; there are very few "watch me monologue about how I just developed" moments, rather the characters slowly grow in a way that feels very believable.
As expected from a shonen title, the themes of "friendship" and "working hard for your dreams" are well-represented in One Piece. However, they are presented as well as they have ever been done. Also, there are several other, more subtle themes present throughout the series. "Redemption", "healing from tragedy", "worthwhile sacrifice", to name a few. All are well done and consistent.
While One Piece may owe a lot to Akira Toriyama for its initial inspiration, it truly stands on its own in execution. Oda-sensei has given us a world that is truly unique and refreshing.
If you haven't picked up on it by now, I love One Piece :D I could go on and on about all the things that make it great, but I just leave you with this: if you haven't read it, do yourself a huge favor and pick it up. If you can make it past the first 100 chapters without falling in love with it, I'll offer a public apology^^
Gosh, I sound like a total One Piece fanboy, don't I? I apologize, I'll try to keep the tone more objective in my future reviews, but for me, One Piece is something unique and amazing.
Spoiler: Manga's images taken from earlier chapters to avoid spoiler, generally the art improves show
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