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I recently took the bold step of starting One Piece from the beginning, and I just reached episode 14 where Kuro and his crew are fighting with Luffy, Zoro, Nami, and Usopp during the attack on Syrup Village.

I feel like the main characters Luffy, Zoro, and Nami, didn't really get thorough introductions, especially compared to Usopp, and this gives a very rushed feel to the early episodes of the show.

The first three episodes introduce one character apiece (Luffy, then Zoro, followed by Nami), and the fourth episode goes a little into Luffy's back story, but not enough in my honest opinion. From here, we meet Captain Buggy and his crew, and episodes 5 through 8 cover the battle between Buggy's crew and Luffy, Zoro, and Nami.

While the Syrup Village arc has done a great job introducing Usopp, I can't help but feel like everything up to this arc are just really rushed.


Does this pacing change in the near future, or does it always seem a bit rushed? Was there a reason for this initial pace?

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The answer from Is there any particular reason behind why Dressrosa is such a long arc? should partially answer the question. Roughly speaking, in the beginning, there are only fewer characters and generally no need for elements incorporated in order to avoid repetition and make things convincing. So the story goes quicker.

Another possible explanation is the "10 episodes cut off" system of Shonen Jump, the magazine where One Piece started (and of course is released even today). Basically, the magazine gathers questionnaires from readers to measure the popularities of the mangas, and unpopularity leads to the ending. In particular, a fresh manga can be cut-off (forced to end, 'uchikiri' in Japanese) in 10 episodes = 10 weeks. This means that a new manga cannot start with long episode so that it can be finished naturally enough in 10 episodes in the worst case. Today it is a little hard to imagine that One Piece was under such pressure, but considering it is the first series of the author, editors may have had in mind that it could end in 10 episodes.

I don't know how Shonen Jump is nowadays, but the system was notorious for a long time. To my knowledge, Shonen Sunday (famous e.g. for Detective Conan) or Shonen Magazine (e.g. Fairy Tail) is/was more patient.

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  • I think the 10-episode cutoff is a very likely culprit since it's episode 9 that introduces Usopp and starts the Syrup Village arc. Additionally, the Syrup Village arc is 10 episodes, while the Baratie arc is 12, and both felt very well written. Furthermore, I'm now in the middle of the Arlong Park arc (14 episodes), and it feels well written too. So I would gladly concur that the 10-episode cutoff likely had a big hand to play here. May 9 at 20:07
  • YO! this is how the story goes (quicker).
    – Daron
    May 10 at 21:03
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This answer only applies to the English dub.

The English dub was heavily edited for the American audience, on of the most famous and obvious edits was Sanji's lollypop as he couldn't be seen smoking.

A less obvious edit is that they combined several episodes together to advance the plot faster, Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of how the original Japanese amination compares to the edited English dub.

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I'm not very far myself seeing as I'm on episode 77 but even then, I've met all of the starting crewmates: Nami, Usopp, Zoro, and Sanji. And to put it bluntly: yes, it does change.

We get a whole arc dedicated to Nami that happens right after we meet Sanji, and Zoro's initial back story happens during the Baratie Arc, so don't give up just yet cause it gets a lot better.

And from what I've gathered, it's just like that for the rest of the characters that hold major significance like Brook, Franky, Robin, and Tony Tony Chopper. So it may feel rushed, but it evens out over time.

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