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January-March 2003

One Piece

One Piece
Luffy, with his favorite straw hat, and his friends sail the seas on a ship called the Going Merry. (Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, Fuji TV, Toei Animation)

"My treasure? It's yours if you can find it. Look for it! I've left it all there." With these words, the legendary pirate king Gold Roger dies, and so starts a mad race among the pirates for his ultimate treasure: the One Piece. The age of pirates has begun.

This is the setting around which the popular TV cartoon series One Piece evolves. The protagonist is Monkey D. Luffy, a happy-go-lucky, straightforward young man who has the ability to stretch his limbs like rubber, which he acquired from eating a fruit with strange powers. Luffy has dreamed of becoming a pirate ever since he was a little boy, and one day he sets sail in the hope of finding the One Piece and becoming the king of pirates.

The cartoon is based on a comic series of the same title carried in the weekly comic magazine Shukan Shonen Jump, published by Shueisha. With its rich and exciting plot, One Piece is the favorite title of many readers. An English version of the magazine debuted in the United States in November 2002 as the monthly Shonen Jump, and the comic series is included in this version as well.


Luffy, who has valiantly set out to sea, has many adventures along the way. One by one, he gains trustworthy friends who join his crew. Among them are Roronoa Zoro, a swordsman who fights with three swords; Nami, a female thief and navigator; and Sanji, who is highly skilled at both kicking and cooking. Perhaps the most unusual character is Tony Tony Chopper, a doctor who used to be an ordinary reindeer but became a "reindeer man" after consuming a magical fruit. The wealth of highly unconventional characters is one of the reasons why people are so captivated by the series.

The TV series is aired every Sunday from 7:30 PM. It's a good time for whole families to watch TV together, and this has made it all the more popular. One Piece is an exciting adventure geared primarily for boys, but the distinctive characters make for a humanistic tale that satisfies even grown-up viewers. "I watch the series with my mom, and sometimes the story makes her cry," says one kid. Another kid comes from a family of One Piece fans: "My little sister, parents, and grandparents all love the series."

The fourth movie based on the series, One Piece the Movie: The Adventures of Dead End, is showing in theaters from March 1. Luffy and his friends decide to take part in Dead End, a ship race in which the winners will receive a huge sum of money. Many pirates have gathered to compete for the money and the glory, and a no-rules survival race begins. What they do not know is that a great trap awaits them. . . . Children can look forward to many more amazing adventures from Luffy and his crew.