• Viz (2002–ongoing)
• Shueisha (Weekly Shônen Jump, 1997–ongoing)
• Shônen, Fantasy, Adventure
• 13+ (violence)
The spiritual successor to Dragon Ball (the original series), One Piece combines unforgettable cartoon visuals with knockout fight scenes and an epic plot Akira Toriyama never aspired to. In a fantastic world of vast seas, teenage Monkey D. Luffy—possibly the most cheerfully stubborn shônen manga character ever—yearns to raise a crew, become the King of the Pirates, and find One Piece, a legendary lost treasure. His special ability is the power to stretch like rubber, used mostly to beat up opponents;
his special weakness is that, thanks to the same magic fruit that gave him stretchy powers, he can never swim. Eiichiro Oda’s gorgeous art resembles a cross between Disney and Peter Max (Yellow Submarine), gradually growing more detailed as the series goes on. The plot is set up like an RPG, as Luffy and his companions (which eventually include a skirt-chasing chef, the world’s greatest swordsman, and a cute talking animal, among others) sail into a new area, become involved in the local troubles, fight the bad guys, and move on. Within this rough formula, however, grand plot threads are laid, and with each volume the world of One Piece becomes richer and more glorious: a tall-tale world of sea monsters, faraway kingdoms, cloud islands, and superpowered pirates of every shape, size, and description. The mood is sheer over-the-top melodrama—every line is weeping, laughing, or shouting—written with enough winking humor to be enjoyed by jaded hipsters as well as kids. The series is notable for its incredibly bloody and intense fight scenes in which, however, no one ever dies: the shônen manga updating of the Looney Tunes aesthetic.