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After 20 years, there’s a lot that blurs together. Having a reminder really helps.
One Piece is one of the most popular manga out there. Originally starting in 1997, the series has been ongoing for the past two decades. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, a special anime was aired last Saturday.
[Note: This article contains spoilers for One Piece.]
Titled, One Piece: Episode of East Blue – The Adventure of Luffy and His Four Friends, the two hour special focuses on the early travels of the Straw Hat Pirates through the East Blue region of the world. All the content is events from the early days of One Piece, but has been reanimated for the special. The story is divided into five parts with each part centering on each of the initial five members and how they came to join—or in Luffy’s case, found—the Straw Hat Pirates.
Episode of East Blue begins with the Straw Hat Pirates approaching a lighthouse marking the entrance to the Grand Line. As they near their first big hurdle, the five members, Luffy, Zoro, Usopp, Sanji, and Nami all restate their personal objectives in an oath of kinship. The special then moves on to their individual stories.
Image source: 東映アニメーション公式YouTubeチャンネル on YouTube
Part one, Episode of Luffy portrays the initial story of One Piece with Luffy’s friendship with Shanks, his gaining of his rubber abilities, and his heading out to find the One Piece and become the King of Pirates.
Part two, Episode of Zoro shows the swordsman, Roronoa Zoro, and his past that leads to his obsession with becoming the greatest swordsman in the world. The episodes ends with his first true defeat at the hands of Dracule Mihawk and his vow never to be defeated again.
Part three, Episode of Usopp shows the initial encounter of Usopp and his decision to leave his home and join the Straw Hat Pirates after their battle with the Black Cat Pirates.
Part four, Episode of Sanji, centers on the latest—at the time—crew member, the cook Sanji. It shows his debt to the pirate, Zeff, and the battle with the Krieg Pirates—which leads to Sanji leaving the Baratie to join the Straw Hat Pirates.
Part five, Episode of Nami, focuses on perhaps what is the most dramatic event of the entire journey through the East Blue: Nami’s past and the battle with the Arlong Pirates. These events were previously covered in depth in the film, One Piece: Episode of Nami – Tears of a Navigator and the Bonds of Friends.
Episode of East Blue ends as it begins, with the initial scene of the five crew members restating their objectives as they approach the entrance to the Grand Line.
The One Piece anime series began airing in Japan in 1999. Currently, the series has aired over 800 episodes. Even without the filler episodes, that’s a whole lot of happenings going on. Looking at where things are right now, many of the events of the past can become blurred and their emotional impact lessened.
Episode of East Blue doesn’t necessarily cover any unexplored ground. Some parts, like the aforementioned Episode of Nami, have been covered and recovered at length. Even so, it’s refreshing to look back with new eyes—and new animation—at the origins of the One Piece characters’ adventures. Seeing it now really makes it sink in just how long they’ve been traveling and just how much they’ve grown over the years.
Currently, the Straw Hat Pirates have crossed the Grand Line, gained a new ship and new crew members, defeated numerous powerful enemies, upset the world’s balance of power, and are now dealing with the family of one of their own. With all the chaos that is going on, it helps to take a breather and look back at where everything started.
One Piece: Episode of East Blue – The Adventure of Luffy and His Four Friends aired on Japanese TV on August 26, 2017 and can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.