One Piece and life goals – realism in fiction

This is the second post in the “realism in fiction” series. In the first one I tried to describe the effect of having your story be as real life-like as possible, which is the most literal meaning of “realism”. I also talked about how breaking this sense of connection with real life in takes away from the feeling of the story. Here I want to talk about something different. I’ll focus on characters’ life goals and hopefully I’ll be able to make a convincing argument that this is directly linked to how realistic a story is.


I chose One Piece for this post because it is such a good fit for this topic (nothing to do with the fact that the manga is celebrating its 20th anniversary in a week, I swear!). The manga is very long and rich in detail for both the world and the characters, and it is well written too, allowing a meaningful discussion. Also it is a good excuse to feature Oda’s art on this blog ^^/

Perona Brook

Speaking of art, hope you don’t mind seeing a picture separating every paragraph, cause that is what I wanna do ^.^

Okay, let us start with simple examples, looking at the first members of Luffy’s crew. Luffy himself is famously going to become the pirate king, that is his motivation. It was rephrased as wanting to be the person with most freedom, which is supposed to clarify it, but it doesn’t. The “pirate king”, the “person with most freedom”, they are both completely abstract ideas. And it is very fitting that to become the pirate king Luffy seemingly needs to find One Piece, the McGuffin of this manga. You can easily wave all of this away as just an example of lazy writing. So how real is this motivation? Well in fact, it is very real. Almost anyone either experienced it or can understand how it feels, I think. “I want to become a great scientist!”, “I want to be famous one day!”, “I want to be a rock star!” and so on, all of those goals are almost as vague as Luffy’s. When you are a kid and you feel a desire to become something, you don’t necessarily imagine it in realistic (if any) detail. Neither does Luffy. He goes one step further though, refusing to learn what awaits him in the future (I am referring to the scene where he refuses to accept information about Raftel or One Piece from Rayleigh). In a way, his mindset is similar to that of a school boy who haven’t yet decided on his future occupation but is still thrilled about it and works hard to make it happen. So, on emotional level at least, Luffy’s goal is realistic and relatable.

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One Piece, up to the episode 3. Next is Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

I know, comparing to what One Piece has to offer I watched nothing. Three episodes, all they did was introducing three characters, one of them is a side kick. So, I basically have no right to judge this anime.

But I will ^_^

One Piece episode 3 Zoro

When you have watched some amount of fighting shonen anime you get used to the ideas those shows try to convey, as well as the story lines and personalities you are getting. Of course, each anime is unique, but there is a lot of similarities.

So I going to make a quick run over One Piece and compare it to other shonen fighting series I have seen, namely Soul Eater, Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tail.

The start of the show is quite good. It takes you in. It is a character driven story, so obviously the first N (put your number in) episodes are going to be character introductions. One Piece so far was doing ‘new character – new event’ type of thing, kind of what Fairy Tail and Soul Eater were doing. Though, Soul Eater made it awfully bad. I would say that the best character introduction belongs to Bleach, where characters appear only when the story needs them (I’m talking about the first 50-60 episodes). On the other hand, if we are talking about introducing the world, where the show takes place, then Naruto would take the lead. So, overall One Piece is not best, but very decent, when we talk about the start of the show.

One Piece episode 3 Zoro

Zoro, the first guy Luffy recruited

Tension. Well, I can’t say I felt any tension whatsoever so far. It is probably the most relaxed show of all on the list. And they even promised a flashback for the fourth episode, which makes me wonder. Even Soul Eater, with its bad start, managed to put some sort of uncertainty into the first couple of episodes.

Characters. I have seen only few of them, but they seem to be nice (in a sense that they don’t want to hurt others for no reason). I’m talking about good guys, bad guys are all obnoxious. Also, people have dreams and goals here. Much like in Naruto. Luffy wants to be the king of the pirates just as bad as Naruto wants to be hokage. I think I prefer Ichigo, who wants nothing.

The world. The world seems to be rather like the world in Fairy Tail. In a sense that the laws are not set too tightly and can be changed pretty easily. That is jut an impression I’ve got. I prefer Naruto model, where the world is both explained and have pretty tough rules that you can’t break. Though for long running series it has its fire backs, of which every Naruto fan can tell you. Basically strict rules make the author twist them around, which is painful.

one piece episode 3 Nami

Too bad I haven’t got to see her for real. Maybe later.

Fighting. Fighting is quite good, thanks to Luffy supernatural abilities. So far this anime avoided displaying blood, and that is really weird, if you think about it. It is a pirate anime, pirates kill people with knives, swords and bullets, how can you not have blood in your story. Well, so far I got an impression that this anime will have nothing to do with real pirates. I wouldn’t compare the fighting style here with anything else I have seen, mostly because I thing I should watch much more before I can really get the idea.

I think I should stop here. One Piece is a good anime if you like shonen fighting anime. If not, you will find some better application for 300 hours of your time (that is about how long the whole show is).

Here is an update to my “take a peek” list:

  • InuYasha (done – 123)
  • Mobile Suit Gundam (done – 12)
  • D.Gray-man (done – 12)
  • One Piece  (done – 1)
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes
  • Prince of Tennis
  • Dragon Ball
  • Pokemon
  • Sailor Moon
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Gintama
  • Hunter x Hunter (2011)

Here is what all this thing is about: “Take a peek”. New series here.

To be the first one to see the newest posts, follow me on Twitter or tumblr.

One Piece, episode 1. I’m starting to understand why people like it.

In my series of posts that I named “Take a peek” I watch 3-5 episodes of the biggest and most promising shows out there to form some sort of opinion. Well, that was the idea. This time I do one of the most famous and one of the longest anime series out here – One Piece.

As any anime fan I see stuff related to One Piece very-very often. Ever since I started talking on anime forums I have been seeing One Piece fanart, discussions and arguments about One Piece, how it is better or not than other shonen biggies. And to be honest, at the time I did not understand why people even like it. Art style of One Piece, when I was seeing it on static pictures, it used not to impress me at all. And I used to find the character designs being anything, not in my taste. Not to mention that the all the villains look comical.

Well, as the time passed I got used to the weird art style of this anime and it became obvious to me that there is something in this anime, otherwise people wouldn’t go for it as they do.

And now when I watched the first episode, I start to understand what people find in this show.

One piece Episode 1 pic3

First of all, Luffy. I haven’t seen much of him yet, but even in this one episode he made me like him. That is much more than I can say for most of the characters from the current anime I am watching. And I don’t even know why he is so likable. Great work of his voice actor played some role here, that is for sure.

Second, here is the atmosphere. Again, I don’t know what  is so special about it. I have seen other anime do see and ships, but well, One Piece does it in some special way that makes me like it. Maybe it is just the first episode, I donno.

And the last thing is the promise of something good next time. For example, I am interested to see this girl in action:

One piece Episode 1 pic1

Now about the villains. Or, rather, the villain. Her character design doesn’t make you feel anything close to fear or respect. And it is fine for the first opponent that Luffy encounters, but if it goes on the same way, I wouldn’t be happy with that.

One piece Episode 1 pic2

But I must say, on the static picture it looks much worse than in the actual anime, for some reason.

I am going to watch at least two more episodes of this show and then write what I think of it, if my opinion changes. See you then (^_^)/

Here is my “Take a peek” list:

  • InuYasha (done – 12, 3)
  • Mobile Suit Gundam (done – 1, 2)
  • D.Gray-man (done – 1, 2)
  • One Piece  (done – 12)
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes  (done – 1, 2)
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Kingdom
  • Dragon Ball
  • Prince of Tennis
  • Pokemon
  • Sailor Moon
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
  • Gintama
  • Hunter x Hunter (2011)
  • Hajime no Ippo
  • Samurai X

Here is what all this thing is about: “Take a peek”. New series here.

To be the first one to see the newest posts, follow me on Twitter or tumblr.