Catch Up on ‘One Piece': Jumping On for the Two Year Jump [Spoilers]
Eiichiro Oda's One Piece is one of the best adventure comics on the stands. It has been one of the most, if not the most popular manga in Japan for over ten years now. The translated releases are up to 55 volumes thus far, which means there is something like eleven thousand pages of One Piece out there for you to read.The manga recently jumped ahead two years in time, a storytelling device that dramatically altered the status quo. But what if you were never familiar with the status quo to begin with? Here's a quick set of (spoilery) Cliff's Notes on each character so you can jump into the fray.
Monkey D Luffy began the series as a bright-eyed kid with nothing to lose and everything to gain, living in a fantastic oceanic world rife with pirates. He ate the magical Gum-Gum Fruit as a child, which gave him powers similar to those of the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards, but geared far more towards high-speed fighting. Luffy decided to become King of the Pirates even before he had so much as a real boat, much less a crew, but now the leader of the Straw Hat pirates seems like he's well on his way to superstardom. He's earned a bounty on his head of three hundred million bucks, making him one of the Eleven Supernovas, the top rookie pirates.
TWO YEARS FROM NOW: Luffy's got a brand-spanking new tattoo to show off in the preview image from two years in the future, joining the scar under his left eye from early in the series. Otherwise, Straw Hat Luffy is the same old Straw Hat Luffy. His grin is still bigger than life, his eyes are bright, and he's still rocking Shanks's straw hat. Even the colors of his clothes have stayed the same.
Once upon a time, the most important thing in Nami's life was money. Now, over fifty volumes later... the most important thing in Nami's life is money. She started out hating pirates, but after Luffy and the gang showed her what true friendship looks like, she gained a soft spot for her crew mates. When it comes down to profits, though, Nami is queen. She is the crew's navigator and an expert meteorologist. Of course, since One Piece an adventure story, forecasting the weather and being good with directions simply isn't enough, so Nami has access to a weapon called the Clima-Tact. It allows her to harness the power of weather itself to save the day. She can generate simple things like lightning bolts or rainstorms, or even more complicated weather phenomena like mirages.
TWO YEARS FROM NOW: Nami's measurements have fluctuated over the course of the series, often rising over the course of an arc only to, er, deflate at the end, but it looks like she's been adjusted in favor of fan service in the two year time-skip. Her figure isn't so much coke bottle or hourglass-shaped as... completely absurd and in keeping with Oda's often counter-intuitive character designs. The longer hair is an interesting change, and quite a departure from her previously sensible short style. Nami's gone through the most changes in terms of design over the course of the series, with Oda frequently updating her clothes, so this look may stick around, but the bra and low-rise jeans will probably change fairly soon.
USOPP ("Sniper King")
Calling Usopp a coward and a liar would actually be unfair to upstanding cowards and liars everywhere. When Usopp gets into trouble, his first thought isn't "How can I help my friends?" or even "How can I save myself?" No, his first thought is "Oh no, I'm gonna die!" Usopp is a regular human being on a team full of people with extraordinary powers, and he knows that fact all too well. While he occasionally mans up and goes into battle with his bag full of dirty tricks and traps, Usopp can most often be found leading from the rear lines of the battle. After a particularly traumatic experience in the field, Usopp adopted the identity of Sniper King, an expert marksman and courageous superhero who wears a mask. The mask doesn't disguise his unique nose, but his crewmates play along and pretend not to know his secret identity anyway.
TWO YEARS FROM NOW: Usopp's got facial hair! It's easy to forget with a few exception that the cast is made up of teenagers and children, and the little onset of puberty here is pretty surprising. Usopp's streamlined his goggles, too, and the bucket hat is a good look.
RORONOA ZOLO ("Pirate Hunter Zolo")
Before he met Luffy, Zolo used to beat up pirates for money. He gained a rep as being one of the most feared swordsmen on the planet due to his three-sword style and absolutely monstrous strength, and joined the crew so that he could fight the biggest and best the ocean has to offer. This purity of purpose and focus on bettering himself has led Zolo to massively increase his skill after every new encounter, turning his three-sword style from a funny visual (the third sword goes in his mouth) into something truly fearsome.
TWO YEARS IN THE FUTURE: Zolo's grin got wider, and the scar Mihawk gave him is still stitched across his chest, but his only other major change is the loss of his eye. In keeping with the rules of fiction, of course, losing the eye undoubtedly made Zolo more awesome, like Nick Fury or Yagyu Jubei, rather than being any kind of actual impediment. His sense of direction can't get any worse, either.
SANJI ("Black Leg")
Sanji is a firm believer in the power of love. Or something like it, anyway. Are you a lady? Congratulations, because Sanji loves you and will make you delicious and fancy pastries, whether you want them or not. He redefines sexual harassment, is what I'm saying here. Sanji left the floating restaurant he grew up on to join Luffy's crew as a cook, with the hopes of eventually finding the All Blue, a sea where every cookable fish in the world congregates. Sanji has a short temper with everyone who isn't female, but most especially Zolo, his main rival on the crew. The two of them are the strongest humans on the team, and Zolo's brusque style clashes with Sanji's outgoing nature.
TWO YEARS FROM NOW: Sanji's gone through the least number of changes, I'd say, but one of his changes is huge--see his left eye, there? We haven't seen that before. His hair was always parted the other way. And his swirly eyebrow... it still swirls in the same direction as his other eyebrow. How weird is that?
CHOPPER ("Cotton Candy Lover")
Chopper is a blue-nosed reindeer who ate the magical Human-Human Fruit. Logically, this gave him the ability to turn into a variety of shapes between reindeer and human. He used his newfound intellect to become a doctor Drum Island, his hometown, before joining the Straw Hat Pirates as the ship's doctor. The problem is that Chopper is adorable. Too adorable, in fact. When the government was handing out bounties for the Straw Hat Pirates, Chopper received a bounty of only fifty bucks, and was nicknamed "Cotton Candy Love," since he was seen as their pet, rather than a true shipmate and an extremely skilled doctor.
TWO YEARS IN THE FUTURE: After the time skip... Chopper gets cuter. I mean, the sky blue hat with the furry trim, the little tank top and shorts... Chopper's turned into the human/reindeer equivalent of one of those little dogs whose owners dress them up in elaborate costumes for shows. Except actually cute, rather than creepy.
For a lady who took part in a couple of plots to kill the Straw Hats, Nico Robin has now been accepted into the crew with surprisingly open arms. Thanks to the Flower-Flower fruit, Robin has the power to grow new versions of her body parts on any surface she can see. She originally appeared in the series as part of Baroque Works, an evil conspiracy to take control of an entire country. After that plan fell through, she joined Luffy's crew on a whim and ended up sticking around for the long haul. Robin spent most of her life on the run from the authorities and shunned by everyone she met for her unusual physiology. With the Straw Hats, she found true friendship for the very first time. She's older than most of the crew, a relatively mature 28, and an accomplished historian. She is on a quest to learn the secret history of the world, and meeting up with Straw Hat Luffy and friends may have been the best thing to ever happen to her.
TWO YEARS IN THE FUTURE: Nico Robin's forehead is a new sight for longtime One Piece fans, but the rest of her looks to be about the same as she ever was. She still has her wry smile, which fits her sometimes dark sense of humor, and the sunglasses are a nice addition, too.
Brook is dead. That's not a spoiler -- it's his gimmick. Before dying, he ate the Revive-Revive Fruit. That fruit gives its user's soul one chance to find its body after dying. Brook took too long and found his body after it had rotted away, leaving only his skeleton and afro behind. Despite his horror flick looks, Brook is generally a happy guy and a good friend. He's very fond of telling lame puns, seeing panties, and rocking out at parties. When confronted with ghosts and monsters, though, Brook becomes just as scared as everyone else. Yes, despite being a walking, talking, undead skeleton, Brook is afraid of ghosts.
TWO YEARS IN HTE FUTURE: Brook is clearly Jimi Hendrixed out, but he hasn't changed too much. He still has his high collar; he still has his afro, and he's still a skeleton.
FRANKY ("Cyborg Franky")
Franky is the crew's shipwright and he's absurdly talented at his job. When faced with a yawning gap and a broken bridge, Franky will not only build a new bridge in a matter of seconds, but trick it out with stylish rails and decorative molding. He's a man who believes in going big or going home, and after taking some serious damage as a kid, Franky had to rebuild his body as a cyborg. How he did this out in the middle of the ocean is still unclear, but just roll with it. He's now powered by three bottles of cola, and has everything from extendable limbs to machine guns to bombs hidden all over his body. He prefers to wear a Hawaiian shirt and speedo at all times, which causes strangers to assume that he's some kind of pervert. (He isn't, but Brook and Sanji are.)
TWO YEARS IN THE FUTURE: Franky went from being a cyborg to being... even more of a cyborg. He's embraced a number of mecha traits with his new body, and if his new giant robot arms don't spin and his hands don't shoot out like missiles, I'll eat my hat.
The Straw Hats have come a long way. They began as a crew that barely got along and soon became one of the most respected and hunted pirate crews in the seas. The entire cast has grown nearer to their individual goals, and in the process, have grown closer to each other. They began as acquaintances, but now they're a true family. Recently, the entire crew was split up against their will and sent all over the world, and Luffy has become the sole star of the book while most of the crew has took a backseat to his exploits.
Luffy is in the process of infiltrating Impel Down, the most feared prison in the land, to rescue his brother, Fire Fist Ace, who is due to be executed very, very soon. Of course, infiltration requires stealth, and if there's one thing Luffy's good at, it's... getting into huge fights, causing a ruckus, and being the living embodiment of the opposite of stealth. You know what that means: more fighting and crazy times.