By Sean Aitchison
In 1997, Weekly Shonen Jump debuted Eiichiro Oda’s pirate shounen manga about a boy with dreams of becoming King of the Pirates—One Piece. Over 20 years later, the series has cemented itself as an all-time adventure epic, bringing joy to Straw Hats around the world. And now, the manga has hit an incredible milestone: 1,000 chapters.
In 1,000 chapters, One Piece continued its stride, never faltering or lacking aim, keeping its forward momentum and steadily up-leveling its quality with each new chapter. It’s these qualities that make it one of the most impactful and impressive manga of all time.
To celebrate this incredible milestone and the timeless work of Oda-sensei, we’re taking a look back through more than two decades of One Piece to celebrate just some of the fantastic adventures Luffy and his Straw Hat crew have been on as we look forward to what lies ahead in the search for the ultimate treasure.
The journey so far
Since the world of One Piece is broken up into oceans, regions and islands, the story of One Piece can be easily broken up into a retrospective of the journey so far. The first part of the series is known by many as the East Blue Saga and it encompasses everything up until the Straw Hats enter the Grand Line.
This first major saga introduces the core members of the Straw Hats, including Pirate-Hunter Zoro, navigator Nami, sniper/carpenter Usopp and cook Sanji, as well as the Straw Hats’ first ship, the Going Merry, the first major villain in the form of Buggy the Clown, and the Loguetown arc, which set the Straw Hats off on their journey for the One Piece.
When the Straw Hats first enter the Grand Line, they reach Reverse Mountain, followed by Whiskey Peak, Little Garden and Drum Island, all before arriving at Alabasta. This encompassed the introduction of Chopper, Baroque Works, Vivi, Crocodile and the peril that Alabasta was in, all culminating in the defeat of Crocodile by Luffy, the liberation of Alabasta, Vivi’s departure and Nico Robin joining the crew.
The Straw Hats then journeyed to find Skypiea, which, on top of expanding the worldbuilding and island variety of the series, also marked the introduction of Blackbeard on Jaya. Up next was Water 7, which saw the bittersweet end of the Going Merry, the introduction of Franky the cyborg, the history/origin of Nico Robin and her major character moment at Enies Lobby, as well as Franky building the Straw Hats’ new ship, the Thousand Sunny, and of course, Franky himself joining the Straw Hats as their shipwright.
Then there was Thriller Bark, which pitted Luffy and crew up against a warlord of the sea, Gecko Moria in a classy movie monster-themed arc that nearly left the Straw Hats dead and brought aboard the musician that Luffy always wanted for his crew, the talking skeleton Brook.
The final piece of the Grand Line’s first half was the Summit War, which encompassed…a lot. At Sabaody Archipelago, the Straw Hats reached a turning point in their journey, suffering their first major loss, before being separated across the world by Kuma and Admiral Kizaru.
Luffy was sent to Amazon Lily, where he met Boa Hancock and learned that his brother Ace was about to be executed, leading to the Impel Down arc, wherein Luffy caused a massive prison break, leading to the Marineford arc, wherein spoiler Ace and Whitebeard spoiler met their end, Blackbeard gained a secondary Devil Fruit power and Luffy told his crewmates to wait for two years so they could all get stronger for their journey into the new world!
This led us into the next major part of One Piece, which begins with the Fish-Man Island arc, as Luffy and the Straw Hats reunite on their journey, which leads to yet another revolution that changes a nation and their people for the better, as well as the promise that former Warlord of the Sea, Jimbei, will join the Straw Hat pirates one day.
Then we came to Dressrosa, a saga that began with the Punk Hazard arc and led to Dressrosa proper, resulting in the unveiling of Doflamingo, his eventual defeat and the liberation of Dressrosa from the Donquixote family’s iron fist.
It also planted the seeds for the current saga of One Piece, Four Emperors, an arc that appears to be rocketing the series towards its endgame, bringing Luffy and crew closer and closer to the One Piece—starting with the events on Zou, then the plan to rescue Sanji on Whole Cake Island and finally the current arc of One Piece, Wano Country, where Luffy and friends are currently in a battle with the now-allied Emperors, Kaido and Big Mom, to save the country of Wano from Kaido’s rule.
The horizon ahead
As you can see, a lot has happened, and this is just recounting the events of the manga and key moments of the anime—One Piece is more than just (pardon the pun) one piece of media, there’s also the non-canon, but still very fun and beloved anime films, over a dozen video games and a handful of crossovers with other manga and anime!
Here at Funimation, we continue to celebrate all things One Piece in a major way, from the series ongoing simulcast and new batches of English dub episodes, the arrival of the episodic series on Blu-ray, and even a podcast we produced in 2019 recounting early moments in the series for the very first time.
The entire One Piece franchise may seem like a lot, but those who love it really love it, and having recently caught up on the series myself, I can say I’m one of them. But what lies ahead for such a long-running, impactful, important and beloved series?
Chapter 1,000 is a huge milestone for One Piece, and Episode 1000 is just around the corner at less than 50 episodes away! At the adaptation rate of the series, it is likely that the events of Episode 1,000 may even line right up to what we see in this latest chapter, but we’ll just have to wait and see!
For now let’s celebrate the mind-boggling milestone that is 1,000 chapters of One Piece, a series that is easily one of the greatest shounen stories of all time, earning its 1,000 chapters, prestige and massive loving fandom as it continues to inspire generations of honorary Straw Hats. Thank you, Oda-sensei!