Welcome one and all to the greatest show on earth! Or at least we aim to be! Old readers will know how this rodeo plays out, but for you new readers, let me briefly explain what this post is. Anime we Love is a project I began a few years back. The idea was to interview people on the internet who love specific anime series, and to get an inside look into why it is so very special to them. It varies so much from person to person, how could I not be enamored by finding the answers to these questions? The world, much less the internet, can be a very nasty place to be. People assault you daily for just having a different viewpoint. Not here though! We are creating a place to embrace all sorts of love in the anime medium. So come, and join us once again, for Anime we love!

Over the past 20 years, there has been a dominative force in the anime/manga world. The mighty One Piece has transcended mere popularity, and melded a place of historical relevance in that time. It is now the greatest selling manga series ever, in the top 5 comics world-wide, and the anime is no slouch in terms of media exposure either. One Piece is a gargantuan franchise with the legacy it has forged the past two decades. Today, I interview the lovely Kuroonuma, and get a personal insight on one mega-fan’s attachment to the beloved One Piece. Come forth and sail with us today, little wanderers of the sea!

________________________________________________________

DISCLAIMER: This post contains spoilers for the anime One Piece. If you have not seen the series and want to avoid spoilers I recommend coming back to this post afterwards. Thank you so much for your time and now on to the interview!

Do you recall when you first started watching the series? Was it something you already had planned to watch or was it on a whim of sorts?

Kuroonuma: I officially started watching the series in 2015, however I attempted to watch it in 2012 when I first started getting into anime. If I’m being honest it was like the 5th anime I ever tried to watch and I dropped it because nobody was “hot enough” lol. 13-year-old girls can be funny with things. But I started dating my boyfriend in 2015 and he was IN LOVE with One Piece and had been insisting for years of our friendship prior to dating that it was the best thing in the world, and so I was actually really stubborn and reluctant to watch it just to prove to him that it wasn’t all that. We made an agreement when we started dating that he’d watch one of my favorite anime (at the time it was Fairy tail yikes lol) if I watched One Piece with him. I was trying so hard not to like it and I remember trying to keep a straight face and hiding my enjoyment lol. But by the time we reached Arlong Park I went home and started bingeing it on my own because I was loving it. And I never turned back.

Doaki: Wow, to think your long relationship with One Piece started more recently than one would have assumed. I know you have rewatched the anime a few times, over the past few years too! How on earth did you manage to watch several hundred episodes of content multiple times in such a short span of time?! Are you sure you don’t actually have some sort of devil fruit ability that allows you do such impressive feats?

It is most amusing though to see how resistant you were originally to the series. I remember when I was getting into manga back in 2009, I wanted something more action-based, and I looked at some series like Bleach, Naruto, and Shaman King. The colorful covers, and character designs of early One Piece convinced me it was for kids similar to the likes of Zatch Bell. Little did I know what I was missing out on! I finally took the plunge and by the time I got to Alabasta I was fully sold forever on the series.

Kuroonuma: Yep! I haven’t had as long a relationship with One Piece as some people have, but it’s still just as deep :heart: I’m a pretty crazy binge watcher when I’m really into something and I just couldn’t put One Piece down. Many seem to be shocked when I say I’ve only seen about 200 anime despite how long I’ve been intensely watching anime for, but that’s all because of the time I’ve put into One Piece. I’ve watched the show in its entirety twice, read the entirety of the manga, have seen almost all the movies/specials and have rewatched many of my favorite arcs multiple times. It’s just so addicting to me, and I constantly feel I need more One Piece in my life! I was also convinced when first approaching One Piece that it was for kids, but boy is that such a wrong assumption!

Tell me a little bit about what makes this anime stick out so much for you. Why do you love it so much more than most other series?

Kuroonuma: What makes the series stick out to me… hmm there’s so many things. The world, the characters, the adventure, everything about it is special to me. Oda’s world-building is some of the greatest I’ve ever witnessed in the medium but that’s not something that sticks out from the beginning. I think the series just has a certain charm to it, especially with its characters and fun atmosphere. It never takes itself to seriously but knows how to get serious. It has so many overarching real-world themes that are displayed in such an interesting and unique way. But most of all One Piece is just such a fun adventure. It’s the only series I enjoy reading week by week. It’s like a game, reading the new chapter and picking out all the easter eggs/making theories each week is just so fun. When something big happens it’s so rewarding, because we’ve most likely been waiting to hear about it for years. One Piece is just fun. There’s no other word to better describe it.

Doaki: I feel the word you chose “fun”, is definitely the simplest and most effective one. Something most series that lack engagement with the audience is that trait. I know every time I open a volume of the series, the comedy, the action, the world itself, and of course the wacky cast are all just brimming with personality and so much fun. Adventure is something I always seek, and to have fun be at the center of it all I feel is absolutely essential.

 

The series has a plethora of characters and I assume you have a favorite of the bunch. Who are they and why are they the personal favy?

Kuroonuma: Oof favorite One Piece character is so hard. It changes all the time lol. I guess I’m gonna talk about two, my favorite Strawhat and favorite non-Strawhat. My favorite Strawhat Pirate is Nico Robin. I think she became my favorite pretty early on, her character design was cool first of all. I loved the sexy, mysterious design she had, but then once we learned more about her I fell more in love. I’m a sucker for sad backstories (and everyone in One Piece has one pretty much lol) but hers is one of the saddest as revealed in the Water 7/Enies Lobby arc. One of the greatest arcs of the series is centered around her, which is a testament to how deep her character story is. She’s so strong and I love hot and strong women in anime so she’s pretty easily my favorite (of course Nami is great too <3). My favorite non-Strawhat is pretty easily Trafalgar Law.

Smart, beautiful, strong, and filled with good story moments; Robin is a prime example of the strength of One Piece’s female characters at their finest.

He  has the most heartbreaking back story to me (I sobbed at the flashback). Often times the stoic “emo” character can be written very poorly but I love his character writing, and design as a whole. He’s very sexy (a plus in my book lol) and never feels too serious. His relationship with Strawhats is very funny as they force him to come out of his stoic shell, and they also keep ruining every plan he makes lol. Overall he’s just such a great character to me.

Doaki: I see you put a lot of weight into how attractive the characters are haha! I can definitely see where you are coming from though with the few you mentioned. Every single character in the world of One Piece gets a certain attention to detail in not only their designs, but also their stories and how they live within the universe. I can see so many different people loving different characters for a variety of reasons. You mention specifically how the women appeal to you as a woman yourself. What about the girls in the world of One Piece really strikes that chord with you?

Kuroonuma: I’m definitely a big person on character designs. If I don’t like the design its hard for me to love the character, and One Piece has so many interesting and unique designs that really reflect the character they are used for. The girls in One Piece are some of my favorites in all of anime/manga and that is for a variety of reasons, but mostly how they feel strong in realistic ways. Sure their actual designs are a little unrealistic but they are very attractive girls to me so that just gives them a bonus in my eyes, especially if their actual writing is amazing. I love the women of One Piece because they feel like they fit in the world perfectly. You don’t see a women with crazy buffed out muscles or something of that nature because that’s just not realistic. Most of the women of One Piece’s power lies with their intelligence, bravery, and leadership skills which I appreciate so much since those are the strengths I enjoy most in women. We can use our two leading ladies as prime examples of this.

Nami is the greatest navigator on the sea with insane knowledge of weather patterns, and an impeccable ability to chart the waters. She then uses these strengths as her power (the clima-tact that she wields). To me that is way more realistic than some woman that’s physically strong. Not to mention her mental strength, having been enslaved by the fishman pirates she went through hell as a child. Yet she finds it in herself to be a kind and forgiving person, which is also something I love about women.

Looking at Robin, she’s one of the only people in the world who can read the ancient language that will uncover the void century, one of the biggest mysteries in One Piece. She’s an important lady! Her devil-fruit power isn’t overpowered in any way, and she uses it cleverly as well. She also displays such amazing mental fortitude after we learn about her tragic backstory. I just love how the women in One Piece make sense in the world, and just display all the amazing traits I want to see from a female character in action anime.

Are there any particular scenes in the series that really exemplifies your love for it?

Kuroonuma: Oh goodness this is a hard one. There’s so many scenes I love (obviously for a series that’s over 20 years old). I’d say more recently there is one that really exemplifies why I love the series so much and that’s from one of the most recent arcs, Whole Cake Island. To give a brief summary (perhaps for those who have not seen One Piece). One of the most beloved crew members Sanji is forced to leave the crew due to his abusive family forcing him into a political marriage. He chooses to do this so that no harm will come to the crew as the marriage is with the daughter of one of the four emperors of the sea. We’ve been with Sanji for about 800 chapters at this point so its a pretty emotional arc, and especially since we learn about the child abuse he faced in his past. Luffy and the crew of course, are not letting Sanji leave the crew and so they go to take him back. It is soon discovered that the emperor has planned to kill Sanji and his entire family at the wedding. After a huge fight between the two, Luffy and Sanji finally reunite, and Sanji explains that he can’t come back, the situations too serious. Luffy gets angry at this and punches him saying “Tell me what you really want!”. From here is why I love One Piece so much. Sanji begins crying and exclaims: “I want to go back to the Sunny… but… I can’t the courage to run away. Once the wedding begins I know I can’t stop anything by myself…I don’t even consider those scum my family…but I want to save their lives!” Luffy then says “Well that’s how you are. You got us. Let’s crash the wedding!”

I thought that was just such a beautiful scene, and displayed the true kindness of Sanji’s character and the bond of the crew so well. It also showed how well Luffy understands his friends, and his love for them. And that’s what One Piece is about, kind people who love each other trying to help others and have a grand adventure. And the fact that such a fantastic scene can exist 800+ chapters into a series is amazing.

Even 20 years later, the most recent arcs prevail in creating moments of huge narrative payoff and emotion. A testament to why the longevity of One Piece has succeeded so well.

Doaki: Something I appreciate largely about your pick here, is how recent it is. Not because it’s fresher and of course you would have a more vivid memory of it, but because even in all the time the story has been building itself up, the most recent arcs are still creating that same wow factor with how they create the beautiful adventure of the bonds of nakama that is One Piece. 

You mentioned it above, with the Robin scene at Enies Lobby, and I do think the high-profile sad moments really do help make One Piece stand out. Everything from the goodbye scene in Alabasta, from Zoro taking on Luffy’s pain, to Luffy having to come to terms with the outcome of Marineford after his body is utterly broken. One Piece brings out the hard hitters. However, this series is also a gold mine for comedy! What comedic instances in the series do you find yourself laughing at the most?

Kuroonuma: Yes that is exactly why I chose that moment! I felt it hit even harder because it’s so far into the series, and is just a testament to what One Piece can truly be. Ah yes, the comedic moments are of course great as well. I have tons, ranging from the silly impressions Usopp and Luffy make of the crew members, Luffy getting the crew into trouble, Sanji being a goofy perv, and so on. Two moments immediately came to my head in terms of the funniest moments for me, one is cannon and one was actually from the notorious filler arc G8. The non-cannon moment was when everyone was trying to find this octopus and Luffy just ripped it out from his pants and the reactions were just priceless. The other is from the funniest One Piece arc Thriller Bark, where a zombie crawls out from a hole and Luffy just kind of… pushes it back in lol. One Piece makes me giggle all the time and I find its comedic moments to be very unique to the series

Doaki: You know one of my favorite funny times? That boxing match with Luffy when Usopp gives him that giant afro! That is quality stuff right there. That one always stuck out to me because of the bombastic slapstick nature of it all. One Piece can be a series of extremes, and the comedy is certainly no different. 

Are there any particular episodes in the series that stand out to you as being especially important to your love for it?

Kuroonuma: I think my favorite episode as a stand-alone episode is the in the Enies Lobby arc. Another emotional one similar to the one explained previously but this one just had such a great mix of emotions and badass-ness. That is of course, the episode where Luffy declares war on the world government. After the government takes Nico Robin to Enies Lobby for her execution, Luffy and crew go to stop them after learning she turned herself in to keep them safe. As the entire crew finally makes their way to the main area of the island where she is being held they all stand in front of her, and she yells at Luffy to leave saying that she just wants to die. Spandam then yells saying that the organization who is pursuit of Nico Robin is far to great for them to defeat, the World Government is made up of 180 countries. Luffy then says “I’m well aware of who Robin’s enemies are” he then commands Sogeking (Usopp) to shoot down the World Government flag. He does so and Spandam yells “You just declared war on the entire world” causing Luffy to yell “Yeah Bring it On!!!!!”. Not only was that super cool and badass but there’s more!!

Robin begins crying, and Luffy yells “Robin, I haven’t heard you say it yet… say you want to live!!” and Robin beings thinking that if she were allowed to say just one thing… make one request of what she truly wants.. then this is what she wishes: “I want to live!! Take me to sea with you!!.

Such a great episode filled with emotions, badass moments, and a beautiful scene between Robin and the crew. I think almost no anime episode compares to that one for me except Gintama 304 and Natsume Shi 13 but that’s for a different day lol

This is an expansively large world and story, and because of that it is split into tons of mini stories, and larger arcs to cover major events throughout. Which arc in One Piece is your all time favorite, and of course why?

Kuroonuma: Ahhh favorite arc is always a hard one as well as the answer always changes. I’d say my favorite (as is many peoples) is still the famous Impel Down/Marineford arc where Luffy tries to save his brother Ace from being executed. It’s emotional, you meet tons of new characters, it changes the entire story after its finished, and it expanded the world and our knowledge of it so much. Not to mention Whitebeard being introduced as the most badass old man of all time. It was just such an amazing arc, but I’m actually predicting the current arc, Wano to become my new favorite once its over.

Doaki: It certainly is difficult to find an arc that hits all the beats better than Impel Down/Marineford. It’s funny, explosive, and the most important section in the whole series to an extent. I take it you are enjoying Wano because of the samurai goodness? Some fans have found many of the arcs that follow the biggest ones to be let downs, such as Skypiea, Thriller Bark(personally of my favorite), and Fishman Island. What are you thoughts on this? Is it a case of them actually not being of the same quality, or is it fans not understanding the peaks and strides of how you build narratives?

Kuroonuma: I’m very much enjoying Wano and it will probably be #1 when it finishes. The samurai designs are so cool, the art is gorgeous, its funny, its badass, its everything the best One Piece arcs are! Now in terms of other arcs that some fans regard as “let downs” frankly, I heavily disagree with them. Each One Piece arc brings something special to the table, and something important to its overall narrative. There are some arcs that are better than others, but non have ever let me down. Skypiea was hilarious, and felt very adventurous which is what the true heart of One Piece is. Thriller Bark gave us Brook and his beautiful backstory, one of the most badass moments in the series (Zoro taking Luffy’s pain), some very hilarious moments, and other factors that have been brought up to be very important later on. Like Lola who ended up being the daughter of Big Mom, and Ryouma who is now being brought up in Wano. Fishman Island, which probably receives the most criticism, has some amazing moments in regards to one of the major overarching themes of One Piece and that is the racism in the universe. I thought the arc handled that theme fantastically, providing multiple different perspectives of handling racism, and many very beautiful moments. We also saw Fisher Tigers backstory (a VERY important character) and we get see Koala introduced along with this. Not to mention some super moments when they fight in the plaza. Each arc that is considered a let down, provides so much to the story that I find calling them let downs to be highly incorrect. One Piece is of course not perfect, and not every arc is at the same level of excitement and enjoyment but to me, there are no arcs that are let downs.

Doaki: Well said! I couldn’t agree with you more. A major part of large-scale storytelling are peaks and valleys. Sometimes the series goes straight climax, and other times it likes to use the current arc to set up an even larger one like Punk Hazard to Dressrosa. I think once understood, most people come to appreciate the finesse the author has to summon to properly balance tone in a series this long without draining the life from it. If you keep the pace elevated for 150 chapters straight, readers will either get tired, or it makes an expectation for the following arc to match that pace. The “smaller” arcs have their own importance in the grand scheme of things.

Music always plays a large part of any anime. It’s rarely an exception. What musical tracks were your favorite and why?

Kuroonuma: My favorite track actually just got introduced! It’s a new track they added for the Whole Cake Island arc and that is the theme music for the “antagonist” Katakuri. The track really stands out in comparison to other One Piece tracks, as it has a more rock and electronic vibe to it that’s super cool and hypes you up.

One Piece has many, many opening sequences. They are known for their length, and for being involved. Which openings are your personal favorites and why?

Kuroonuma: I like to call myself a bit of an anime opening connoisseur and One Piece certainly has many of my favorites. My top 3 openings are Opening 4 “Bon Voyage” Opening 20 “Hope” and Opening 14 “Fight Together” Bon Voyage is one of the cutest anime openings I’ve seen not mention is very nostalgic as it shows all the crew when they were children. The chorus goes over all the crew in chibi form sailing away and laughing and it’s just so sweet and easily puts a smile on my face. Hope is just such a beautiful opening. The song’s lyrics actually describe the relationship between Luffy and Sanji and this opening is displayed during the arc about Sanji “Whole Cake Island”. The visuals for it are really great and match up with the song fantastically. But of course, nothing beats opening 14 for me. It is the opening after the events at Marineford and the death of Luffys brother Ace. It’s a gorgeous song that shows Luffy’s friendship with his crew and his relationship with his 3 brothers. It has a beautiful moment with Ace pushing Luffy towards his straw hat that is very symbolic. It gets me emotional every time I watch it

Now you also have seen most if not all the One Piece movies as well. They are mostly stand alone works, but also work as companion pieces to enjoy similar to massive properties like Dragon Ball. Which movies would you say really capture the feel of One Piece the best?

Kuroonuma: I would say the movie that captures the feel of One Piece the best is Strong World. Its a really good stand-alone movie, with a great mix of adventure and serious moments. It displays the crews bond really well, and I think it’s also really great for getting people into One Piece. My boyfriend actually had me watch Strong World first to get me interested in it, and well it kind of worked. The action is great, it has a really iconic scene in it (When the crew barges in, and Luffy looks like a king OOF), and the animation is really good too. It’s a great movie, not my favorite One Piece movie, as that is probably Movie 6 or Film Z but that one describes One Piece the best.

Doaki: I finally got around to seeing the 6th film not too long ago, and it was a blast. If you had to rank the One Piece films from best to worst what order would you put them in!?

Kuroonuma: oof that’s tough. I would probably order them as follows:

1.) One Piece Film: Z

2.) One Piece Movie 6: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island

3.) One Piece Film: Strong World

4.) One Piece Film: Gold

… and the rest are pretty much not on the same level as these ones lol They are enjoyable but just pretty much all mediocre. These 4 movies are amazing though. I would also like to throw in some good specials (that are essentially movies) 3D2Y and Nebulandia. There’s also a new movie Stampede coming out that looks to be the best one yet as it is in celebration of the anime’s 20th year! I’m very excited for it.

Despite its long length, If you had to say one reason that is the definite reason you would recommend this series to someone, what would it be?

Kuroonuma: One reason that is the definite reason I would recommend this series to someone is that it is truly the most fun series I’ve experienced. And I say experienced because it’s not something you just watch, its something you experience. It’s a grand adventure like no other!

Doaki: If I were to sum it up myself I would say it hits all the notes you want a story to hit. It’s deeply dramatic, ridiculously hilarious, intensely action-filled, grand in scope, filled with heart in its cast and world, and just a ride you want to be along for.

If you could visit one island in the One Piece universe, as of now, which one would you want to see?

Kuroonuma: I would probably want to go to Skypiea (after Enel was defeated lol). An island in the sky with a city of gold is insanely cool. The cloud sea looks so fun to swim in, and all the interesting technology on the island looks fun to play with.

Doaki: I’m surprised you didn’t say Wano with your love for Feudal Japan! I suppose the pollution might ruin it a bit haha! For me it would hands down be Whole Cake Island, because I mean come on, you can live in a house of chocolate and eat sweets all the time. It’s like pure bliss in one place! 

Kuroonuma: Yeah I try to think in terms of actual survival and Wano is just too polluted and everyone is starving so it doesn’t seem like the best place to live haha. Whole Cake Island would be pretty fun though, but I fear I’d get fat living there!

What do you think the One Piece will be in the end, and would it upset you if it didn’t deliver to your expectations?

Kuroonuma: I think I legitimately have no idea what the One Piece even could be lol. Oda has confirmed it will be a physical object but I really can’t tell. But in all honesty I don’t think I will really be disappointed no matter what it is because the point of finding the One Piece is the adventure it took to get there, and the title of being the freest on the ocean. Of course I want it to be something cool, but for me it almost doesn’t even matter what it is.

Doaki: Personally, I don’t really care what it is either that much, since the series is more about the lives and adventures of Luffy and the Straw Hats, but I as super curious! I have a deep gut feeling it might be something terrible, and that’s why it has been so difficult to find, because Gol D. Roger was trying to protect others and the sea from whatever the hell it is. I could be way off base, but I could see that being the final challenge to overcome for Luffy and crew! 

Kuroonuma: That’s an interesting theory! I always suspected the One Piece would be the final poneglyph that led to the void century, but I feel that would be too obvious. But I also think Oda said it would be an actual reward so who knows! All I know is the final arcs leading up to it are probably going to be the greatest danger to them.

Doaki: I just wonder so much why it is hidden the way it is. So few know about it! It even requires an ancient language to have a chance to discover. For it to be coveted with the pieces by so many powerful pirates, something good has to be waiting for us! 

Describe your perfect day together with the Straw Hat Crew!

Kuroonuma: Perfect day with the Strawhat crew is Sanji cooking my favorite meal while Luffy, Usopp, Brook and Chopper put on a goofy show, Zoro trying to be cool but pretty much just being a goof, Franky showing off his cool gadgets and Robin and Nami looking at them all like their idiots lol

Doaki: Well, now that you mention it, what is your favorite food then!? I’d love to spend the day getting exhausted with the antics of Luffy, Usopp, and Brook especially. I would more than likely just oogle and be amazed by the gals. Not sure how I would manage to even talk with Zoro but hey maybe I could! I just want to be like Law or Vivi though and get sucked up into what it is like to live on the Thousand Sunny with the gang! 

Kuroonuma: My favorite food is sushi haha! And ahh yes that’s exactly how I want to be! Like Vivi or Law just getting swept up in their goofy shenanigans

Describe One Piece to someone who hasn’t seen it in 10 words or less!

Kuroonuma: The greatest adventure to become the freest in the world!

Thank you Kuroonuma for joining me on this project! It’s been a long time coming, but I wanted to share even more for One Piece even after my huge dedicated month to it. I thoroughly enjoyed having you here for this, and I hope fellow One Piece fans got a taste for why this series is so special to others. I appreciate everyone who took the time to read this, and wish you all the best of days until the next post. See you my little wanderers!