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So… I started watching One Piece

(Technically, I started watching One Pace, a fan-edit that cuts the series length down from a daunting 1,000+ episodes to a still-daunting-but-slightly-less-so 500+ episodes.)

I’ve had my eyes on this series for a while now, at least a year or two. That’s a year or two of hearing about how great it is, how it’s worth the incredible time investment, how it starts okay but keeps getting better and better with every arc—and on and on.

And then season 1 of the live action Netflix adaptation came out, to surprisingly positive reviews! Finally, an anime-to-live-action adaptation that was actually good?! A shining gem in the middle of an expansive sea of Netflix Avatar: The Last Airbender and Netflix Cowboy Bebop and Netflix Yu Yu Hakusho and Netflix Death Note—you get the idea. Live action adaptations of anime being terrible is a cliché at this point. (Or maybe it’s just Netflix adaptations.)

But then comes One Piece, apparently defying everyone’s expectations. What’s so special about it? I don’t know, since I didn’t watch the live action adaptation. Instead, as of about a week ago, I decided to watch the (abridged) anime.


I have a complicated relationship with ultra-long-form media. When I was in college, with infinite time on my hands, I binged through a LOT of long TV shows. Lost, Buffy, Angel, Supernatural (through S5 at the time), Alias, Farscape, Smallville, Babylon 5, Six Feet Under (although that one wasn’t quite a “binge”; I watched that at exactly 1 episode per day, to maximize its emotional impact on me. 10/10 would recommend) and a bunch of others that were less than 5 seasons.

I don’t really do that anymore. In part because I already watched all the series I had my eyes on; in part because I just don’t feel like it anymore; in part because dang dude that takes a lot of time to do and I have other things I want to do.

And then there’s all the long book series I’ve read. Many of which I adore (The Dresden Files, Cradle, The Expanse), but some of which just went on for way too long (I’m looking at you, The Wheel of Time).

And then, leaving the safe realm of traditionally published novels, there’s the wild west of web serials. Some of them being millions upon millions of words long, and in dire desperate need for an editor to tell them “hey, this chapter could have been 10 pages long instead of 20. stop bloviating and fluffing up your prose to such an absurd degree.”

Okay, to be honest, it’s really just web serials I have a complicated relationship with. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed a few (HPMOR, Worm, Ra, Unsong), but others… many MANY others… god, why do they go on for so long? My sincere impression of the medium at large is that it’s a decent place for certain authors who can handle the endless grind and the endless competition, but that it’ll always be full of excessive self-indulgence in terms of word count and chapter count, and that’s just not for me.

I guess my overall point is, part of the reason I’ve put off One Piece for years is that I was afraid it would be like that too. That I’d be in the middle of episode [insert random 3 digit number here] with the characters in the same place they’ve been for ages, going in circles, accomplishing nothing, the run-time being dragged out into oblivion for the sake of giving the manga time to publish new chapters, and I’d be screaming internally, “just get on with it already! let some plot actually happen!!”

But… the manga is ALSO over 1,000 chapters. Could it be that, even without anime-exclusive run-time padding, the actual base story is just that long?!

Considering the existence of One Pace, I suppose the answer is yes.


I don’t want to binge this.

Binging this would mean it becomes my entire life, for approximately the next 4523.29057 years solid. Instead, I’d like to treat this kind of like I treated my watchthrough of Six Feet Under many years ago: only one episode per day. Maybe more on weekends if I feel like it. But overall, just a passive background thing.

Watching through it that way will mean it’ll instead take 9,999,999,9999999 years, but at least it won’t be the bad kind of exhausting. The kind where you feel like you need to devote yourself fully to some gargantuan task to ever have any hope of finishing it in a reasonable time frame, and then resenting it all the while. That’s what I’m trying to avoid here.


  1. joimassat

    Last night I dreamed that Luffy had a major new form. It was called Cat Luffy and it was an older-man Luffy with small black horns that vaguely looked like cat ears. He was a kung fu master.

    I read up to about Volume 55 a few years ago. There are elements of One Piece that I really love, and things that are OK and things I could severely do without. I’m here with a One Piece-related shoulder to One Piece-cry on.

    Also, hm, outside of wacky YouTube video review channels, I’m not sure I’ve ever binged stuff unless it was with somebody else, and nine times out of ten, they initiate. The last thing I bingewatched was, um, probably reality cooking shows with my mother. When I started watching The Prisoner about a year ago, I had the same thought as you do and went “I don’t want to binge this. Maybe one a week.” It was so good that I had to restrain myself (…until I got like halfway through and thought it became, sadly, just adequate😫).

    • Jesse

      I really tried to like The Prisoner, but I think I was spoiled by my experience with 2000’s and 2010’s TV series myth arcs. It teased so much, and I wanted so much more than it gave me! I get that it was groundbreaking for 1967, though. (Unless you’re talking about the 2009 remake. I haven’t seen that.)

      Volume 55 goes up to Chapter 541 apparently, so you’re only halfway through… That sentence alone has me rethinking this entire daunting media exercise. Why did I choose this? Can I even make it ten percent of the way? Why is this series so dang long?!

      • joimassat

        Hey…..”ran half a marathon” still sounds impressive… B) … :'(

        I don’t mind shows that are near-purely episodic and crusty. But also I haven’t seen any of the serialized heavy hitters you mentioned, at all, so I indeed haven’t had that experience.

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