What makes One Piece such a pop culture phenomenon?

January 21, 2021

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Photo credit:  jump_henshubu Twitter page

One Piece is one of the longest-running manga around and just keeps happily sailing along through the years. Who knew that a pirate crew’s seafaring adventures could span decades’ worth of material? The One Piece series started its run on the manga anthology Shounen Jump way back in 1997 with the animated adaptation quickly following suit, airing in 1999. Think about that for a sec: Both the One Piece manga and anime series have already reached adulthood. And yet, Luffy has only aged a few years within that span of time, remaining more youthful than majority of the fans who grew up reading and watching the series.

Oh, and ICYDK: One Piece follows the exploits of Monkey D. Luffy and his merry crew called the Straw Hat Pirates. Together, they explore the Grand Line in search of the world’s ultimate treasure: the titular “One Piece.”

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Photo credit:  One Piece Youtube Channel

Why the hype? Well, many are drawn to the emotional roller coaster that the story and characters take you on where one minute you are laughing so hard and the next, you are in tears. Fans are also vibing the development throughout the series with characters constantly trying to improve as people, motivated by better intentions. 

Plus, Luffy’s wholesome love for adventure appeals to the inner kid in everyone, along with its strong themes of found families and the power of friendship, best described using the Japanese term nakama, a platonic bond that runs deep. 

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Photo credit:  One Piece Youtube Channel

The series is not only a fixture in Japanese pop culture but also a beloved classic of otakus around the world. And speaking of international recognition, back in 2015, the series was given a Guinness World Record for having the “most printed comic series by one author ever” and “most copies published for the same manga series.” Last January 4, 2021 also saw another milestone for the monster franchise as One Piece hit the 1,000 chapter mark, dominating the global trending topics on Twitter upon its release. 

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Photo credit:  One Piece 1,000 logs website

Creator Eiichiro Oda had a lot of feels about this, posting a heartwarming message online for his legions of fans. To give you an idea, those 1000 chapters took 23 years to come to fruitionthat is half of his life, which has been devoted to the serialization of One Piece. We definitely respect the hustle and dedication.

Even the creator himself was surprised that his readers stuck around as long as they did, saying “Your belief in Luffy has led me to believe in all of you, and that is what allows me to continue drawing the kind of manga I want to draw.”  

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Photo credit:  One Piece Youtube Channel

So what’s next for Oda and his team? Well, they aren’t stopping anytime soon, that’s for sure. However, the One Piece creator did mention before that the series may end around 2025. But for now, Luffy and the gang continue to set sail to the far reaches of the world, taking fans along for the ride.


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