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20 Years of the ‘One Piece’ Anime: How Will It End?

With twenty years of swashbuckling animation under its belt, how will Eiichiro Oda’s masterful One Piece conclude?

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With twenty years of swashbuckling animation under its belt, One Piece packs a treasure trove of characters and stories. Recently surpassing its 900th episode, how such a behemoth of a tale will conclude is anyone’s guess. Eiichiro Oda no doubt has it figured out, but that doesn’t mean us plebs can’t take a stab at guessing. So here’s my take!

What’ll happen to these guys?

To theorize about each and every character would take longer than 3D2Y, but here’re some thoughts on a few…

One Piece Shanks

Shanks: Luffy’s pledged to pummel all four of the super-powered Yonko, even his beloved childhood inspiration and savior. So, the Straw Hats battle the Red Hair Pirates in a Davy Back Fight, with the winner taking the Poneglyphs (Shanks is likely in possession of a Road Poneglyph). This gives the divisive Long Ring Long Land arc added relevancy, and allows Usopp and his father, Yasopp, to engage in a sniper showdown.

One Piece Garp

Garp: The veteran of justice fights and kills fleet admiral Sakazuki, avenging Ace and liberating the Marines from the magma bodied monster’s reign, but succumbs to wounds sustained during said battle and dies. Koby becomes fleet admiral and promises to make his mentor proud.

One Piece Blackbeard

Blackbeard: The murderous traitor to Whitebeard with the power of darkness; Luffy races him to the One Piece. Blackbeard claims it first, only to be disappointed. It’s a spyglass that held personal value to Roger, and Blackbeard’s reaction of letdown mirrors that of fans. But knowledge is power, and the One Piece’s value is in its role as a final/ultimate Poneglyph detailing the Void Century. Upon looking through its lens, it answers every question fans could possibly have (and then some). Luffy beats Blackbeard and retrieves the One Piece, becoming the Pirate King, and the truth unearthed holds vital importance in the inevitable war between Dragon’s Revolutionary Army and Im/the World Government.

One Piece Kuzan

Kuzan: This ex-admiral and icy geezer joined the Blackbeard pirates as a Marine spy. He eventually dies a hero, and his arc serves as a tale of redemption (take notes Jaime Lannister).

What’ll happen to the Straw Hats?

What’re the finish lines for Luffy and his crew of loveable oddballs?

One Piece Jinbei

Jinbei: This fearless fish-man never wholly joins the Straw Hats (i.e. travels with them). It’s too late in the story for him to hop on board as a fully-fledged crewmate. Instead, he gives his life for Luffy to become the Pirate King. His sacrifice, and Luffy’s success, triggers a peace between fish-men and humans, ending the history of discrimination and cementing Jinbei as an icon to his people.

One Piece Brooks

Brook: The Straw Hats’ musician returns to Reverse Mountain, where he sings Binks’ Sake to Laboon. After performing to countless audiences as Soul King, he puts on his best performance for his favorite fan.

One Piece Franky

Franky: Upon attaining the title of Pirate King, Luffy sparks a peaceful/non-criminal era of piracy, and is hailed as a hero. As such, Franky’s regarded as the world’s best shipwright for building the Thousand Sunny. He returns to Water 7 and reunites with Iceburg and the Galley-La company, but Koby unexpectedly requests the funky haired cyborg designs and constructs the newest iteration of Marine Ships. After Tom was executed by CP5 for building the Oro Jackson years before, Koby pledges to never let the World Government and their wicked corruption rise again.

One Piece Robin

Robin: After learning the world’s history, she sets to rebuilding Ohara in all its glory.

One Pirce Chopper

Chopper: The adorable reindeer returns to Drum Island, where he discovers a dying Kureha. She’s contracted a supposedly incurable disease, but Chopper uses the vast medical expertise he’s gleaned from his journey, most notably his stint on Zou, to save her. She cries, an expression she commonly bottles up, telling him he’s become a doctor capable of working miracles and curing any disease. She emphasizes how proud Hiriluk would be of his ‘son’.

One Piece Sanji

Sanji: the Straw Hats’ cook reconciles with Pudding, and they get married (for real this time, sans betrayal and attempted assassination). He discovers the All Blue, and opens his own Baratie-like restaurant. Zeff visits and Sanji concocts the best seafood meal ever for his mentor, accompanied by dessert courtesy of his new wife.

One Piece Usopp

Usopp: A ship approaches the shores of Syrup Village. Ninjin, Piiman, and Tamanegi bellow to the villagers that pirates are coming (a habit inspired by a certain someone), but said pirates are only the Straw Hats. Usopp’s back from his adventure, and he talks with Kaya. The long-nosed liar tells tales of his travels, but this time they’re true. From fighting alongside the Tontatta Tribe in Dressrosa, to visiting the kingdom of Elbaf and kicking back with the giants; Usopp’s a liar no longer, and is regarded as a fearless pirate throughout his humble home.

One Piece Zoro

Zoro: Dracule Mihawk’s mortally wounded by a ferocious opponent, and Zoro fells the foe in his place, proving his superiority to the Shichibukai in the process. With his dying breath, Dracule Mihawk remarks he’s never seen such swordsmanship, and that Zoro’s indeed the world’s strongest swordsman. Following this, Zoro establishes his own dojo, akin to the one he trained at as a child, in Wano, and Momonosuke becomes his student.

One Piece Nami

Nami and Luffy: Nami returns to Cocoyasi Village, where she reunites with Nojiko. One day, Luffy visits her in a battered up boat (like the boat he first took out to sea with Zoro, pre Going Merry), asking if she wants to go on another adventure. Commenting she still has some spots on her map in need of charting, and she’ll never turn down the chance to snatch some treasure, they set off. One Piece begins with Luffy and Nami (on Alvida’s ship), and it ends with them too.

One Piece Luffy

The final scene shows the Straw Hats reuniting at Sabaody Archipelago years later, à la a second timeskip. They reminisce about old times, and with that, the journey ends.

With so much at play, it’s tough to hold predictions for everything, so feel free to fill in the blanks, or point out the possible idiocy of my thoughts, by sharing your own theories in the comments. But however this odyssey ends, Toei Animation’s rigorous commitment to animating Eiichiro Oda’s masterpiece for 20 years and counting is worthy of a tip of the (straw) hat!

Watch One Piece on Crunchyroll HERE!

I have spent my life in England finding entertainment in both video games and music. Whilst not indulging in the latter, I invest my time in playing all manner of video games, and as of 2017, writing about all manner of video games. Email: harrymorrisharrymorris@yahoo.com

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‘Weathering With You’ Isn’t Quite the Storm It Wanted to Be

Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You delivers a gorgeous film that doesn’t quite resonate as much as it wanted to.

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Weathering With You Hina

Climate change and global warming have been topics of concern and discussion for years now, with melting ice caps and rising ocean temperatures being some of many signs. Director Makoto Shinkai — acclaimed the world over for his 2016 work Your Name — aims to show just how at the mercy humans are to the weather with his newest animated film, Weathering With You. Although he presents a visually stunning depiction of Mother Nature in all her various moods, Weathering With You ultimately lacks the storming power it seeks to bear upon its audience.

Tokyo has been having a particularly rainy year, seeing precipitation almost every day and nary a sight of the sun or clear blue skies. It’s during this unusual time that high school boy Hodaka arrives in the metropolis seeking escape from the suffocating life he had on his island. The young teenager naturally has trouble finding his bearings on his own in the oftentimes unforgiving hustle and bustle of the city. It’s in these early scenes that Weathering With You has some of its strongest moments, depicting the uglier side of Japanese society not often seen in anime, while also highlighting Hodaka’s strength of character to make it on his own. 

Weathering With You Hodaka and Hina

As Hodaka gradually carves out his own place in the city, he eventually has an encounter with a young girl named Hina. Matching her sunny and cheerful disposition, Hina has the ability to make it stop raining and have the sunshine in very localized spots by praying to the sky. In a place where the rain never ceases, it’s easy to see why Hodaka latches onto Hina to use for the greater good (while also making a little pocket change along the way).

“The hand-drawn rain is downright mesmerizing in all its forms — fierce and calm — while the sunshine that follows seems to hang in the air caught by the leftover humidity.”

Gloomy skies and damp grounds can take their toll on one’s mood and psyche, which someone who lives in such a climate can surely relate to. Even the briefest moments of sunshine revitalize us and give a glimpse of the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Hodaka and Hina’s “100% Sunshine Girl” services to those in need of that light boldly underscore that fact, and make for a strong argument for how the weather affects us all beyond its objective physicality, along with providing some much-appreciated levity to the story. 

That power of weather is beautifully illustrated by CoMix Wave Films’ stupendous animation efforts. The hand-drawn rain is downright mesmerizing in all its forms — fierce and calm — while the sunshine that follows seems to hang in the air, caught by the leftover humidity. Tokyo itself isn’t to be outdone either, with its streets running the gamut between peaceful neighborhoods to grimy and dark back alleys with dilapidated buildings. The animation is punctuated by the return of Japanese band RADWIMPS, who create numerous memorable tracks to complement the wild swings in mood that weather can elicit.

That makes it all the more unfortunate, however, that the greater narrative is so weak.

The progression of Weathering With You is made painfully obvious right from the outset of the story — so much so that it’s hard to wonder if it’s actually the set-up for a bait-and-switch. As a result, much of the first half of the film is simply waiting for the other shoe to drop, making it difficult to really settle in and become intimate with its characters. 

Weathering With you Hodaka and Hina

This would be less of an issue if the cast had smaller interactions that were a delight to watch, but they fall short in that regard as well. All of the characters have a charm to them for sure — with Hina’s younger elementary school brother, Nagi, putting modern playboys to shame being a particular standout — but the story never quite makes a compelling case as to why they are as close as they are, especially Hina and Hodaka. They’re fun enough to watch be together, but don’t quite make that emotional attachment with the viewer that the story wants to create.

That lack of an emotional connection is distinctly felt in Weathering With You’s second act, when unnecessary confrontations and bizarre plot directions converge to create an artificial sense of stakes amidst a central conflict that would have been fine on its own. What’s meant to strengthen the impression of the characters’ bonds instead cheapens it, undermining the already faulty progress the first half did make. The result is a narrative that’s hard to care about, although its ending does leave the viewer with some potentially interesting questions to ponder.

Weathering With You is far from a bad movie, however. It has a clear direction and vision with a message to say about our climate crisis. The characters are endearing enough, and there are a handful of heartfelt scenes because of that. It also cannot be understated just how drop-dead gorgeous the animation is. The story, however, is simply too straightforward for its own good, resulting in an experience that is at times enjoyable, and at others plain boring.

And that’s only when being judged in a vacuum on the movie’s own merits. When compared to Shinkai’s recent masterpiece that is Your Name, it’s hard to see Weathering With You as anything but a disappointing follow-up. That’s perhaps the film’s greatest weakness, but fortunately, it’s one that Shinkai’s next work won’t have, and we can still look forward to it because of that fact.

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How Rimuru Tempest Changed the Game for Isekai Protagonists

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime shines within the vast sea of generic isekai thanks in no small part to protagonist Rimuru Tempest.

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that time i got reincarnated as a slime

The core premise of the isekai genre–a character being transported from their everyday life on Earth to a parallel universe–has become wildly popular for a reason: it’s an immensely appealing fantasy. Just as audiences everywhere fell in love with the seminal Spirited Away in the early 2000s, it’s still exciting to fantasize about discovering a new world and going on all manner of crazy adventures. However, the incessant flood of new isekai every season to capitalize on this trend has resulted in some of the most generic, overly-manufactured protagonists in any genre.

Though this sea of formulaic main characters is vast, it makes it all the easier to recognize when one bucks the typical conventions and actually proves that there’s room for unique takes on the genre. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime adheres to a few cliches, but it also manages to set a new bar for what a captivating isekai protagonist can be.

Rimuru in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

Breaking the Mold

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is as wholesome and optimistic an anime as they come. The tone can be deceptive at first; when Satoru Mikami is suddenly stabbed when trying to protect his junior, his dying wish is for his computer’s hard drive to be destroyed. But after being reincarnated as a slime–and gaining the new name Rimuru Tempest–his true desires become clear: world peace and a simple, comfortable life with friends.

What’s immediately striking about Rimuru as the main character is that he starts off as an average 37-year-old man. He spent his life working hard and appeasing his higher-ups to climb the corporate ladder. Shady hard drive aside, he lived a respectable and long life compared to the vast majority of protagonists in the genre. This significant age difference is evident in nearly every action and major decision Rimuru makes; he looks at situations practically before jumping headfirst into conflict.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

When Rimuru gets a drink poured on him by a noble in a bar, for instance, he quells his anger in consideration of the bar and the friends around him. When someone asks for his aid in an impending battle, he pauses to go over all the available information and reaches a consensus among everyone before agreeing. And when protecting a goblin village from a pack of wolves, he doesn’t just mindlessly slaughter all the wolves; he looks for the way of least resistance (killing the leader of the pack) before ultimately integrating them with the goblins as equals. Though his human form looks young, it’s the wisdom behind his actions that makes those around him respect his leadership.

This is especially impressive considering just how overpowered Rimuru is. His transformation into a slime came with resistances to fire, cold, electric currents, pain, paralysis, and the ability to absorb, analyze, and take the form of anything he wants. In other words, he could go down the path of the typical shounen protagonist and solve his problems with his fists, but he never lets his overwhelming power dictate his decision-making process.

Rimuru meeting with his commanders.

Leading a Nation

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is as much about Rimuru’s adventures as it is about the rise of the independent monster nation he helps establish. Instead of running off in search of adventure, the little slime decides to nurture the goblin village he protected at the outset. He helps the goblins and wolves “level up” by naming them, shows them sustainable ways to gather food and build makeshift defenses, and even brings back dwarves to introduce blacksmithing and carpentry.

Through expansion, industrialization, and conflict, Rimuru manages to orchestrate the creation of his country in a way that’s genuinely believable. His ambitions for a peaceful and integrated world play out in his willingness to accept other goblin tribes, ogres, lizardmen, and even friendly humans in his country. Being able to rationally read situations makes forging alliances and negotiating with neighboring nations possible. When a major calamity threatens all life in the forest, Rimuru wastes no time in holding a summit and allying with other forest dwellers over a common interest.

None of this would be possible without the uncanny, Luffy-like ability to inspire a sense of trust and reliability in those he comes across. Just like the members of the Straw Hat Pirates follow Luffy out of respect and loyalty, Rimuru’s commanders follow him because of his sound judgment and dedication to seeing everyone in his nation be happy. It’s satisfying seeing members of Rimuru’s guard take personal offense when others talk poorly of him because it’s clear that he’s earned the respect he’s given.

If isekai is to continue growing in popularity and thriving long-term, room must be made for different types of protagonists. Be they depraved, refreshingly honest characters like Kazuma or upstanding yet easygoing leaders like Rimuru, both demonstrate how valuable it is to shake up the formula and try new approaches to the genre. If the constant barrage of isekai has bittered your tolerance to it as a whole, That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime is well worth giving a shot.

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Anime Ichiban 23: New Decade, Same Questionable Tastes

Hatsune Miku at Coachella? Mangadex getting targeted for legal issues? People defending OreImo? 2020 is off to a crazy start!

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Welcome to 2020, Anime Ichiban listeners!

Lots of things have happened in the past few weeks, not the least of which is Hatsune Miku making her Coachella debut. After catching up on industry news, we take a look back at some of our more questionable choices in anime and how on earth we manage to defend them.

TIMESTAMPS

0:00 – Introduction and what we’ve been playing
17:46 – Hatsune Miku to Perform at Coachella
25:29 – Crunchyroll’s “Most Watched Shows of the Decade”
30:03 – Funimation’s Popularity Awards
38:13 – Wages in the Japanese Animation Industry
45:38 – Miki Yoshikawa’s New, Fan-Picked Serialization
47:08 – Legal Trouble Brewing for Mangadex
57:02 – Highest Grossing Domestic Anime Films for Japan in 2019
59:33 – What shows surprised us and which ones do we struggle to defend?

TRACKS

Intro – “Dream X Scramble!” by Airi (Keijo!!!!!!!! OP)
Outro – “Lucky☆Orb feat. Hatsune Miku” by emon(Tes.)

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