Sunday, December 18, 2011

One Piece Review

If you could have one superpower or supernatural ability, what would it be? Invisibility? Super strength? Laser vision?

One Piece follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a 17-year-old boy who gains elastic abilities after accidentally eating a supernatural fruit; Luffy explores the ocean with his diverse crew of pirates, named the Straw Hat Pirates, in search of the world's ultimate treasure known as the One Piece, and with it the right to become king of pirates. His strong desire to become a pirate can be seen when he once cut his face with a sword in order to prove that he was tough enough to be a pirate.
One of the running themes is Luffy’s sense of justice and camaraderie, which helped him build up his pirate crew. He demonstrates this several times; he rescues Coby from a slave's life in the pirate crew of Albida, and he saves the three-swords-wielding bounty hunter Roronoa Zoro from being executed by the Navy. When Luffy fights the evil pirate Buggy the Clown, the thief Nami teams up with him to defeat Buggy.

In the manga One Piece, the author Oda Eiichiro uses oriental, dynamic visual tools to express and emphasize certain components in the manga’s storyline.
One of the things that should be noted about One Piece is the frequent use of background onomatopoeia, or sound effects. Unlike many American comics, Japanese and other East Asian style comics frequently use onomatopoeia in the background to enhance the imagery that the reader gets from reading the manga. Because the comic was originally produced in Japanese, we as the readers of a different linguistic background could not understand the background onomatopoeia. The background sound effects were only translated from time to time in the gutters. However, we must understand that these onomatopoeias play a significant role in One Piece and enhance the imagery being depicted in the reader’s mind.

The drawing style of the comic is also used to help show the dramatic shift in moods that occur frequently within the story. During the light-hearted majority of the story the drawing style is soft and there is lighter shading to show brightness within the pages. However, during the drastic shifts into violence, this changes drastically. More shading is used to darken the scenes and fit the dangerous situations. Sharp lines of motion and blurring are used to depict the fast, intense motion, giving a sense of urgency and speed that makes you begin reading faster to match the pace of these action packed fights. Facial expressions are often exaggerated to illustrate the characters’ emotions, such as anger, with eyes growing dark, shadows covering their faces, and lines of anger drawn into them. In addition, the drawing style also changes to accommodate the many flashbacks that help give One Piece its back story. Most notable amongst these changes are the darkened colors of the panels, which turn almost completely gray, along with the use of blurred lines filling the images. These two details really help add to what is felt when reading through these panels, making them appear blurry and hazy; it is like how you might feel when thinking back to a distant memory that you can’t completely picture.

Another thing that should be noted about One Piece is the dynamic angles of some of the panels. As one works his way through One Piece, he/she will see that Eiichiro frequently employs dynamic view points for the panels that are packed with action. The view point is angled in a certain way that all the key components that make up the action are emphasized. Also, Eiichiro frequently draws lines that point to the figure that should receive the focus of the action. This was an aspect that was discussed in Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. With the usage of the “focus lines”, the reader’s attention is drawn into the element or elements that act as the core of the ongoing action, and the imagery in the reader’s mind is in a way amplified.

Through the usage of several unique tools, Oda Eiichiro was able to make One Piece a dynamic, action-packed manga that people from all over the world could enjoy.

1 comment:

Michael Hancock said...

Your review begins with a compelling series of questions to draw in your reader. The concise summary of _One Piece_ introduces new readers to the story's premise and themes. You go on to identify several distinctive devices of this manga (e.g., onomatopoeia, visual style, camera shots). I'm curious about what you think of the story itself, apart from its visual dimensions. Moreover, which volumes served as the basis for your review?