One Piece is a manga and anime series created by Eiichiro Oda. Weekly chapters appear in Weekly Shonen Jump magazines in Japan and are collected in tankoban or volumes by Jump Comics in Japan and Viz Comics in the United Sates. The anime is produced by Toei in Japan and by 4Kids in the US. The manga began in 1997 and is up to almost 450 chapter and over 40 volumes. The anime premiered in 1999 and is currently approaching its 300th episode. One Piece is currently Japan's best-selling series and the third highest selling series in the history of Shonen Jump.
The story follows a highly unusual group of pirates led by their captain Monkey D. Luffy, who has eaten a magical fruit that gives his body the ability to stretch like rubber but makes him lose all strength and ability to move in water. Luffy's goal in life is to follow in the famous Pirate King Gold Roger's footsteps and become the Pirate King himself by finding the One Piece, Gold Roger's greatest treasure.
As silly as the premise sounds, the series has an incredible amount of heart and depth as well as a deep-laid plot running throughout that gradually emerges as the series continues. The drawing style, while unconventional, is highly unique, engaging, and expressive. While the series is supposedly aimed at young men and boys, it actually has a tremendous amount of universal appeal that mostly comes from the incredible characters and the heartbreakingly strong bonds they share.
If you're unsure about giving the series a shot or need to convince a friend, I recommend you take a look at darkeyedwolf's enthusiastic ruminations on the series, which contains a whole lot of love and many screencaps. For a more rational approach with less pictures, beckerbell has a wonderful post of her own.
Fandom Summary and Resources
One Piece fandom is tremendous and only a portion of it is on Livejournal. The series is followed enthusiastically by readers and viewers worldwide. I'm focusing mainly on English-speaking, Livejournal-based fandom here, but I though I'd provide some useful links to get you started on fandom in general, off and on Livejournal.
The series has an enthusiastic creative community that constantly outputs writing and art, spread out over Livejournal, fanfiction.net, deviantArt, and many other sites. Discussions and fandom meta mostly occur off Livejournal but is definitely not unheard of in the general communities and is known to occur on a limited basis in the character- or pairing-specific communities as well.
Speaking of pairings, there's a highly diverse cast in One Piece and they get paired together in many combinations and permutations. Some of the ships have names, but most either simply list the characters or are a simple name mash or portmanteau. One named ship is Nakamashipping, which ships the entire crew together (nakama is the Japanese word that can be roughly translated as any/all of the following, depending on circumstances: friend, crewmate, teammate, comrade, and several others; see the "Terms to Know" for more information). Name mashes seem to mostly occur in the slash side of fandom: SmoAce (Smoker/Ace), Zosopp (Zoro/Usopp), ZoSan (Zoro/Sanji), etc. One commonly mashed het ship is LuNa (Luffy/Nami). Otherwise shipping is pretty straightforward.
There are many popular pairings, and I don't have space to discuss them all here. The most popular pairings tend to be among crew members, although there are a small number of canon or ambiguously/near-canon relationships between side characters. The slash side of fandom is dominated in large part by Sanji/Zoro, while the het side seems pretty evenly split among the various crew combinations. Explore the communities, find what you like!
Terms to Know
One Piece fandom is not exactly overrun by Japanese terms, but there are several that recur often and are generally good to know because they're important and/or hard to translate. I'm listing mostly Japanese terms that are often left untranslated in fandom, but there are many other (very spoilery) important terms that are useful to know. Please note that these are just terms that the fans often use in the original Japanese, not officially adopted terms used in the official English translations of the series. With the exception if nakama (by far the most important), the following list is alphabetical.
Nakama: can be variously translated as "friend", "crewmate", "teammate", "comrade", and several others of similar track. This is an extremely important concept in One Piece -- it can be argued that it's the very core of the series. In the series it tends to mean a group of people who are closer than family. This is what Luffy calls his crew and fans often leave the word unstranslated for various reasons, though most of the time it has at least a little to do with the word's multiple meanings and lack of one-size-fits-all direct translation. A brief discussion of the term can be found here.
Akuma no Mi: "Devil Fruit" (changed to "Cursed Fruit" in the American dub). These are the strange, rare fruits to be found throughout the One Piece world. They grant special powers at the price of the user never being able to swim or even stay afloat in sea water. Individual fruits are named on the pattern of Gomu Gomu no Mi -- "Rubber Rubber Fruit" ("Gum Gum Fruit" in the dub). Fans usually translate the general term, but will often leave specific fruit untranslated. For a (spoilerific) list of Devil Fruits, their users, and their translations, take a look at the Wikipedia article on Devil Fruit.
Kaizoku: "Pirate", not usually left unstranslated by itself but sometimes included as part of Mugiwara Kaizoku-dan -- "Straw Hat Pirates".
Marimo: A type of round green seaweed. Sanji calls Zoro this due to his hair. The translation of the epithet in English is somewhat clumsy, along the lines of "seaweed-head", and so this is often left untranslated, especially in Sanji/Zoro slash stories.
Mellorine: A type of frozen dessert. This is what Sanji exclaims to express his appreciation of women, usually accompanied by swooning and hearts in his eyes. A little more information is available here.
Mikan: A type of citrus fruit, known in English as clementine or tangerine. These are the fruit that Nami's stepmother and stepsister grown in their orchard and the trees that are in the little arbor on the Going Merry. In Japan these fruit are associated with wealth and prosperity, so they are particularly appropriate for Nami.
Mugiwara: "Staw Hat", often translated, but sometimes not. Sometimes used in conjuction with the Japanese word for pirates to get "Straw Hat Pirates" -- Mugiwara Kaizoku-dan -- to designate Luffy's entire crew.
Shichibukai: This is the name of the seven most powerful pirates in the series who have signed deals with the World Government to avoid persecution. The literal translation of the term is somewhat awkward and even a more elegant translation like "Seven Warlords of the Sea" is a little clumsy, so this term is sometimes left untranslated.
The Wikipedia series of articles on One Piece is fairly reliable and a decent place to start looking for information.
Possibly the best place to start off-LJ is Arlong Park and most especially the forums, which is where most of the action takes place. Two extremely helpful threads on that site are the Newbie Guide and Character Names FAQ. There are also threads that will tell you where to find the manga and anime, and in general this place is heavy on discussion.
For more media-centric content, GumGum.org is a great place to go, as is EastBlue.net. Although the latter is in French, it's very easy to navigate and contains tons of information and media.
For fanfic writers or anybody just curious, there are several resources on sailing and ships that are good places to visit for relevant knowledge. Some of these links are specific to other sailing fandoms -- namely Master and Commander and Pirates of the Caribbean -- but the information is relevant (and interesting!) nonetheless. I'd like to thank fabu for leading me to some of these in her fabulous PotC newbie guide. The Salacious Historian's Lair contains information on the history of piracy, but also has lots of relevant information on travel by sea, firepower and weapons used at sea, and ship anatomy and construction. Erin's PotC Photo Gallery and Nautical Notes also has helpful information on ships and sailing. For general historical facts, Historical Resources for Fanfic Writers is a great place to go. A couple other places that might be good to visit is this page on sword care (for Zoro fans) and common cooking terms (for Sanji fans).
Aside from the many visual aids available in the form of the manga and anime itself and the various artbooks, scans, and other materials available on the sites listed above, here's something that fan artists may find of use: Settei Pre (model sheets) from EastBlue.net. A helpful artist on the Arlong Park forums has also provided a couple of amusing and helpful guides to drawing some of the characters: Usopp; Franky, Sogeking, Nami eye, Robin eye.
Livejournal Communities and Resources
General Discussion and News
One Piece fandom newsletter. Published every day. Collects news, canon materials, discussions, activities, recommendation, fanfics, fan art, and anything else One Piece from all over the Internet.
Closed community "for real life or long-term friends who have met and shared experiences through the One Piece community to chill out and exchange stories, plans, and pirate loff".
General One Piece community posted to frequently with news, discussions, art, scans, and other stuff. Not much fic is advertised here.
Exchange community for stories and art. Great place to request things, as long as you're willing to make something in return.
"For those who enjoy discussing (read: spazzing about) recent and past events in the series, historical allusion, visible inspirations in creativity, literary ties and just in general the deeper side of One Piece."
Russian One Piece community for genereal news and discussions.
ship_manifesto's list of pairing-specific essays
General Themes and Fan Works
Specific Length Fics
Pairing Specific: Het
(Pairings listed in alphabetical order)
Pairing Specific: Slash
(Pairings listed in alphabetical order)
Pairing Specific: Misc (OT3, other)
(Pairings listed in alphabetical order)
opcrackpairings Crack pairings
naruto_op_icons Naruto and One Piece
golden_bell AU university-based roleplay
7swordsofline Crossover Naruto/One Piece roleplay
croc_works Doujinshi group
op_claims Claiming community
nakama_ratings Ratings community
General, One Piece-Related
pirateslash Slash fic community for any canon with pirates
shounen_jump Community for Shounen Jump, the magazine One Piece is published in
weeklyjump Shounen Jump news -- tables of contents and summaries for every issue.
Please feel free to respond with comments, corrections, and/or additions!
Last Updated September 18, 2006.