Reflecting on Two Decades of Adventure with One Piece

As One Piece hits its iconic 1,000th episode, I look back on the show’s impact over the past couple decades and how it remains fresh.

For over 20 years, the One Piece anime has captivated and thrilled fans worldwide. Last night, they aired their 1,000th log (episode), continuing the war for Wano. However, it was far more than just about progressing the story. The 1,000th episode, titled “Overwhelming Strength! The Straw Hats Come Together!”, was a celebration of the characters and the journey they’ve been on for past two decades.

One Piece 1,000 kicked off on a nostalgic note with the original theme song “We Are” updated to reflect the current state of the Straw Hat Pirates and their enemies.

Chills. The whole time this played I had goose-bumps from the nostalgia. I hadn’t realized how much I missed this theme song until it began playing. The song brought me back to season 1, a much simpler time in the One Piece series. A time when the series was more about adventure than it was about waging wars. A more fun, innocent time. The nostalgia gets me every time. It was the perfect way to start the celebration and set the tone for what we were about to experience.

Once “We Are” ended, the episode began where episode 999 left off, with Big Mom being carried away by Nico Robin’s Devil Fruit powers and the Minks taking on Kaido’s Beasts Pirates led by their mortal enemy Jack. The scene following featured Luffy and Zoro climbing the towers to reach the roof where the Akazaya 9 were facing off against Kaido and his minions.

Once Luffy and Zoro were caught by Queen in his Bracchio form, we got our next bit of nostalgia. This episode’s eyecatcher featured the familiar sights and sounds of the first One Piece eyecatcher with an updated crew. The eyecatcher saw the current Straw Hat Pirates crew looking upon the sunset with the 1,000 Sunny docked and a familiar bugle tone playing while Luffy’s wanted poster blew into frame. Much like the opening theme, this was a nice touch.

Following the eyecatcher, the second half of the episode saw the formation of the Iron Pirate, but the best part was the retrospective for each member of the Straw Hat Pirates. Each pirate retrospective was a brief history of each character’s journey, showing some of their major moments throughout the series. It all led to a really cool conclusion to the episode where each Straw Hat Pirate did a signature move, before striking an epic team pose.

What’s so interesting about the 1,000th episode of the One Piece anime is that it was actually about 8 issues behind the 1,000th issue of the manga. The 1,000th issue of the manga was a thrilling altercation between Kaido and Luffy that ended with Luffy proclaiming that he will be the King of the Pirates. Conversely, the 1,000th log of the One Piece focused more on the Straw Hat Pirate crew. Each one got the limelight and I loved that.

There’s no rule that the manga and the anime HAVE to air at the exact same pace. I really enjoyed that the two forms of the story were different, but both celebrated the history and its characters in their own way. Both epic, both retrospective. I couldn’t get enough of either. Series creator Eiichiro Oda and his team did it right.

The 1,000th episode of One Piece had me reflecting on my own journey with One Piece and anime in general. I’ve watched anime for countless years, stemming all the way back to the days where I’d wake up at 5am to watch the WB 39’s airing of Dragon Ball Z, which basically played the Saiyan and Namek saga on repeat. That’s really where I became infatuated with anime.

Since then I watched loads of anime either through Toonami, VHS, DVDs, or when streaming services finally rolled around, but for some reason I had never started One Piece, probably because people told me that there was no way I could catch up and also because I was in the middle of a big Naruto binge (another anime people said I could never catch up on).

It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I finally started One Piece and from then on I was positively hooked. In about nine months, I was able to catch up to the series. I adored it so much, I even started the manga right after I had caught up.

One Piece is without a doubt, in my Top 3 of favorite animes and favorite mangas and I kick myself for not getting on board with it sooner. Just the whole construct of the One Piece world and its characters and how each has layers upon layers to them is what really makes it so amazing to me. In the two decades that we’ve followed these characters in this amazing world, we’ve so much growth and development. These aren’t the same characters that we met in the East Blue or on the Grand Line. Much like people, they’ve evolved and continue to evolve.

What gets me too is how brilliant the storytelling is. While there are arcs, the whole story of One Piece is connected and feels very fluid. Throughout my catch-up there was never really any fatigue and every new arc became my favorite. That’s the mark of a truly great series. Plus, this series has managed to maintain a solid pace with the source material so there’s hardly ever a time for filler. Thank goodness for that.

If you’re even remotely interested in catching up on the One Piece anime or manga, it’s never too late. There’s no rush, you can do it at your own pace. Unlike what those people told me all those years ago, you can catch up.

While we may not know how much longer the journey will continue or if another 1,000 episodes are in store (probably not). It’s a massive accomplishment to get to 1,000 logs in both anime and manga form. Congratulations to Eiichiro Oda, his team, Toei Animation, and all the One Piece fans for making this all possible. We look forward to seeing what comes next!

My story is just one of many fans have with One Piece. Let us know yours! What is your favorite arc? Who is your favorite character? What did you think of the 1,000th episode? Do you prefer the anime or manga? Tweet us your answers @cinelinx!

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RPG Gamer by Day, FPS Gamer by Night. Matt has been covering games for nearly a decade. The quickest way to his heart is discussing anything The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Naughty Dog, Bungie, just any game really. Also into movies, TV, travel, and anime.